Tales Of Every Day
Accordingly, I called Kylie to come in, then offered Mr. Jones a cup of tea, which he
declined. “I’d like to get right down to business,” he said. “I have come a long way to
deliver this package to you today.”
I looked at the packet in Mr. Jones’ hand. It didn’t seem unusual, but the solicitor’s words
seemed to imply that it was somehow valuable. I wondered what could possibly be in it.
“I’ll come straight to the point, Mr. Morton,” said Mr. Jones, interrupting my musing. “You
are almost certainly unaware that you have, or rather had, an uncle in Sussex.”
“I definitely didn’t know anything of this uncle,” I replied.
“As we thought. Your uncle had had no dealings with your father for almost twenty years;
since he married your mother, that is. It was not a happy parting of the ways, I understand.
However your uncle, who was the Honourable Charles Edward Morton, has now,
unfortunately, passed away, leaving behind neither widow nor heir. The provisions of his
will mean that the nearest blood relative on the male side will inherit all of Charles Morton’s
The solicitor paused to clear his throat. He went on, “However, there are some conditions.
The inheritor must take up residence within a year of Charles’ demise; he must be married,
and he must take up the responsibilities as Lord of the Manor of the village which comes
as part of his estate. I understand that the reason for the estrangement between your
father and your uncle was that he refused to take on the requisite burden, leaving the
estate to your Uncle Charles.”
“Didn’t my uncle have any children?” I asked.
“Unfortunately not. They did have one son, but he passed away through meningitis when
he was in his teens. Charles’ wife herself passed away not much later; they say she had
lost the will to live.”
“And did my uncle not remarry?”
“No, he didn’t.”
“But what of the condition that he must be married?” I asked.
“The full condition is that, if the heir has not reached the age of majority, he must have a
guardian until the age of 21 or until he marries, whichever is sooner. If he is an adult, he
must be either already married, or marry within a year of taking up his responsibilities.
Thereafter, if he divorces or his spouse passes away, before he has been fifteen years as
Lord of the Manor, then he must remarry within the year.”
“So, because my wife is no longer with us, if I wish to accept the inheritance, then I must
be married again in the next twelve months. Is that correct?”
“In essence, that is correct,” Mr. Jones replied.
“What would happen should I decline the inheritance?”
“Then, I am afraid, the Manor would in all probability be broken up. There are no other
surviving male relatives of a close enough degree. I might add that there are several
property developers who are at the moment rubbing their hands in the expectation of a
forthcoming sale, so that they can buy up the land cheaply and make a lot of money
building an expensive new housing estate, which would be devastating for the local
community and, I fear, costly to the environment.”
“You’re asking a lot of me and my daughter,” I said. “I’ve lived all my life in
Northumberland. I’ve hardly ever been to London, and know nothing of the south-east.”