Emmett freed his foot for the rope hobble and remained on the floor, mostly because Renald still held his cravat.
The last name was read and the lawyer looked up, coughed and said, “now to the conditions I have already mentioned.”
“All my relatives will receive the previously itemized gifts on the day when my grand son, Emmett Joyce Farrah has married a woman both plain and pious. The daughter of a honorable clergy man, or something of that nature. A woman of virtue and solid English sensibilities. Gentle mannered and dedicated to raising children with the proper respect that is demanded by God of his children and a man of his sons and grandsons. Unless and Until Emmett Joyce is wed to a woman both proper and plain none of my bequests will be distributed.”
Silence sank and spread broken finally by a roar of laughter - from Emmett.
His relatives turned and stared at him.
“There is nothing for it, Emmett, you must wed at once,” declared Great Aunt Rebecca.
“I shall no such thing, Aunt,” said Emmet, wrenching his cravat free and climbing to his feet. “Oh, how delicious the irony. Sir Joyce had you all leaping about to his piping and now you receive your reward - leaping about to mine!”
“Yes, Yes,” said cousin Renald, ignoring Emmet’s outburst. “The day you wed a proper woman. A vicar’s daughter. My cleric has a girl of suitable age and demeanor. Very plain and proper. I shall call the banns as soon as I return home and you shall be wed in three weeks.”
“You shall not,” roared Emmett. “You fools. All those years you did exactly what he said, everything he said, without a thought to your own pride or your own common sense or honor. You ignored my mother, at his command. You let her die alone, uncared for because he would not permit you to aid us. You …. You hypocrites. I am delighted that Sir Joyce put into my hands the weapon with which to punish you. Hear me! I shall never, never wed and you all will never, never never receive your inheritances! Now, you fools, you will dance to my piping! He has died and appointment me your king and god!” Emmett laughed again. Long and hard then when he finally sobered he finished. “May you all have joy of your rewards.”
And with that he turned and strode from the room.
In the silence that followed his departure Rebecca rose and glared about the room. “Well, Well, will you yield to him and let your inheritance molder, unused? What is the plan? What is to be done?”
Adria paused on the steps of her home and sighed. Her current situation probably contributed to her inability to write a good novel. She did not live in a dank, dark castle on the moor - either swamp or Shakespearean hero - with a chill wind rattling the windows and a dour, voiceless butler who hovered just behind the shoulder of those who were not paying attention, but in a neat, recently built stone and red brick, three storied house in a well-to-do part of London. There she lived with a polite, caring humorous gentleman she referred to as Uncle Burnside (since no one knew his first name), and her duties, such as they were, were light.
She climbed the stairs with a heavy heart. Before she reached the door a footman opened it and held out his hands for her outerwear. Adria put her manuscript on a side table and removed her pelisse and bonnet before taking up the manuscript again and walking further into the house, patting her hair into order.
“Adria? Adria, is that you, gel?” came a deep voice from the front parlor
“Yes, Uncle Burnside. “
“Well, come in here girl, and tell me how it went!”
Adria drew a deep breath and gathered her strength as best she could before going to face her inquisition.
Uncle Burnside was, in fact, not her uncle. He was a retired sea captain, knighted for some victorious battle by the mad King George and a cousin of some sort of her mother’s sister-in-law, Clara Devonham. After her parent’s deaths of a fever Adria was placed in his house by Aunt Clara and ordered to make herself useful, since Uncle Burnside had fallen victim of the gout and was no longer able to be as active as before.
Burnside himself was a tall person, well fleshed without being stout, with a storm beaten face that smiled more than it frowned and he was fond of the small girl who had been foisted off on him.
At this moment he was sitting in his favorite chair, his gouty foot elevated on a cushioned stool and watching the door for Adria’s entrance.
“Oh,” Uncle Burnside’s face fell. “I can see you are not happy with the results of your interview.”
“I did not have an interview, as such,” said Adria. “I… he… he wouldn’t even look at it…” and finally Adria burst into tears.
“No. No. Oh, poor dear,” Uncle Burnside reached over and patted her shoulder as she clutched the bundle to her body. “But you did know that a rejection was likely.”
“Yes. Yes. I did but I thought he’d read it at least.”
“He refused to read it, at all?”
“Wouldn’t take it out of my hand?” cried Adria. “Refused to listen to me at all. He was so cruel. So… so crude. I did not expect him to be so… Oh, I cannot say it.”
“Good heaven’s, what happened? You must tell me all!”
Adria stuttered and stammered and wept her way through the five minutes she’d endured in the publisher’s office. Uncle Burnside went by turns furious, outraged and horrified.
When Adria finally reported the words “blood and bone,” she stared into his old, wise eyes.
“But I am not certain what he means by that. He said, he suggested I should…” Adria blushed and stopped.
“Dear girl, I can hardly help if I do not know.”
Without raising her eyes from her hands Adria whispered: ”He suggested that I should become a … a…. a Ladybird and then I will be able to write a book worth reading.”