Another more troublesome irregular marriage - Chapter 1 *BB*

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AnneM
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Another more troublesome irregular marriage - Chapter 1 *BB*

Post by AnneM » Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:14 pm

The scene is a cold, slightly damp bedroom, poorly lit by an ill-trimmed oil lamp. In the bed lies an older man, his thin body racked by occasional coughs. He appears to have difficulty breathing. His name is Adam Kerr and from the blue tinge on his almost transparent skin he appears to be near to death.

Fussing around the room is his housekeeper, Euphemia, known as Effie, Redpath, who has tended to all Adam’s needs in the past 15 years. She is trying to look busy and emits the occasional sob.

Effie is his sole comforter. No neighbours or friends have come near the house nor is there a minister or priest to offer spiritual solace. This may be because Adam is a quarrelsome, suspicious minded, tight-fisted, sacrilegious old scunner, who has lived in a state of mutual antipathy with all his neighbours for longer than anyone can remember and has not set foot across a kirk door in 20 years. Nonetheless a large turn out is expected at his imminent funeral…..all in attendance to assure themselves he is really dead.

Once a prosperous farmer, he did very well selling some land to the railway and, realising that this was the way of the future and that his son had no taste for agriculture, eventually sold up and invested in railway stocks and shares. A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that he had brought himself to ruin thereby but the appearance of penury in the house is deceptive. The signs are those of miserliness rather than misery.

There is no doctor in attendance. Adam scorns and despises all medical men. This scorn is also extended to many others, particularly lawyers and above all the clergy. However his particular venom is reserved for one individual, his only surviving child, Ninian Kerr.

Married young, Adam’s nuptial bliss was to be relatively short lived. After only 6 years of marriage his young bride expired following the worst of 5 extended and painful labours which had yielded only one child who survived more that a few days. Anyone would think that this would render the infant Ninian precious to his grieving father, Not so. Adam was forever resentful that the modest amount of money brought to the marriage by his wife was settled on his son by their marriage contract. Sufficiently comfortable though he was, his avarice could not bear to see this bounty pass him by.The infant was left to be cared for by his brothers in law, two serious minded merchants, elders of the kirk. In due course Ninian used his mother’s money to get an education and horror of horrors, entered the ministry. Nothing could have served to lower him further in his father’s estimation if such descent were possible from an already low point.

Ninian now has a charge in Edinburgh and has acquired a wife with some social pretensions, Bella Renton the robust daughter of a local solicitor. Their union has been blessed with 10 children, of whom 8, inheriting their mother’s constitution, have survived the perils of infancy. All this causes some difficulty for a man on a reasonable stipend with modest private means.

Adam stirs in his bed and looks at Effie through watery eyes. His body may be failing but his mind is totally sharp:
“Effie”, he says “I always said I’d see you all right did I not?”

“Aye” replies Effie.

“You go and fetch up Jessie and George then. I want them here”.

Effie runs off and calls her fellow servants. They shamble up the stairs and creep into the room, Jessie Wightman the kitchen maid wiping her hands on a grubby apron and George Steel, the gardener doffing his cap and causing a shower of dandruff. Both look anxious, fearing that with minimal natural advantages they may never find another position, even on the wages Adam is willing to pay.

“Now you two”, gasps Adam, “I want you to pay attention”

Jessie nods, attempting some semblance of understanding.

“Effie, come here.” Adam stretches one claw-like hand from the bedclothes and grasps Effie’s plump fingers. “I hereby take you Effie Redpath from now on as my wife. Do you agree?”

Effie stands for a moment in total shock and then realising she has nothing to lose replies: “Aye Adam and I take you for my husband”.

Despite his erratic breathing Adam manages something approaching a smile. “Now bring me some paper and a pen”

An interval ensues during which Effie hunts for writing materials and Adam seems to weaken before their eyes. Finally pen and paper are found and Adam rouses himself to scratch on the paper:

I, Adam Redpath, do bequeath all of my estate that I can freely leave to my beloved wife Euphemia Redpath,

His signature and the date are painfully added to this document.

Just at the moment, the door of the room swings open and a tall man in his 40s dressed in clerical black enters. Jessie and Effie bob a curtsey. The Reverend Ninian Kerr looks at the scene in puzzlement.

“Father, what is happening here? Why did no-one send for me? I only got word today from the parish minister Dr Denholm that you were much worse”

“Have you come to see what you can get before I’m in my grave? You can take your interfering, canting self off to hell and your godly nonsense with you.” Adam falls back into his bed choking with the effort of cursing his only child. Ninian controls a temper almost as quick as his father’s with the effort becoming a man of the cloth.

“Father, have you lost your senses. You are about to meet your maker. At least make your peace with him and cease your blasphemy.”

Adam rouses once more: “Make my peace? I’ll meet you in hell first and that’s for sure. Here’s something to warm you in the meantime.” He waves the paper at Ninian.

As Ninian reads it his face becomes almost as white as his father’s.

“It’s all legal”, croaks Adam, “I’ve taken Effie as my wife this very night. That gormless pair will confirm it. There’s no question of it not being consummated either. We saw to that a long time ago!” A coarse laugh comes out like a choke. Effie blushes; the Rev Ninian looks pained and Jessie and George look confused. “You can ask your stupid saintly father in law if you don’t believe me. I learned something from these damned legal vultures”

Ninian gazes once more at the paper which deprives him of two thirds of all his father owns except this ill maintained house. He thinks of his ambitious wife and the children all needing the education and clothing fit for the sons of a gentleman. Could he cope with a long and expensive legal battle which would inevitably attract publicity?

Adam sinks back into his pillow, exhausted by the effort of thwarting his son’s expectations. The breath enters and leaves his body harshly and painfully till it enters no more. A faint smile lingers on the lips of the wasted corpse.

Ninian turns and leaves the room without a word or a backward glance at his father’s body. Effie smoothes the rough blankets covering her dead husband and makes little clicking noises with her tongue. Jessie, quite overcome by the drama, bursts into tears.

Anne


PS The characters mostly have the names of my Border ancestors but none if them had wills or servants or anything worth leaving!!
Anne
Researching M(a)cKenzie, McCammond, McLachlan, Kerr, Assur, Renton, Redpath, Ferguson, Shedden, Also Oswald, Le/assels/Lascelles, Bonning just for starters

CatrionaL
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Location: Scottish Borders

Post by CatrionaL » Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:37 pm

Thanks, Anne.
That was great. We've a talented lot on TS.
Catriona

HeatherH
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Post by HeatherH » Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:45 pm

I was on the edge of my seat Anne,what a talent.Hope you'll not be hiding it away.If nothing else you have to let us know how the son gets on.
HeatherK
Looking for ...but not limited to Haldane ,Keir ,McLauchlan ,Walker ,Torrance , Reid ,Clark ,Johnstone ,Holmes ,Laurie ,Lawrie ,Strachan , McIlwee ,Welsh ,Queate ,Stewert ,McNight ,Steele ,Cockburn ,Young ....whew! That's more than enough for now.

JustJean
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Location: Maine USA

Post by JustJean » Tue Mar 29, 2005 1:47 am

Hi Anne

Instead of sitting on the edge of my chair I actually settled in quite comfortably and was sorry to see I had reached the bottom of the page!! Please keep going!!! =D> You could have a veritable Genealogy Soap Opera there....tune in next week for the continuing saga of :?: :?: :?: :?:

Jean

marilyn morning
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Post by marilyn morning » Tue Mar 29, 2005 2:29 am

Anne

Great story! Like Jean, I was sorry to get to the end. When is the book due out?

Regards
Marilyn
Dogs leave paw prints on your heart.
Maxine Morning b. 23 April 1998 d. 14 Nov. 2008
http://talkingscot.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-1718

Moonwatcher
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Location: North West Highlands. Scotland

Post by Moonwatcher » Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:40 am

That's it! Between recent poetry contributions and now this level of prose, I'm definitely redundant! :)

Excellent story Anne - looking forward to more.

Bob.

DavidWW
Posts: 5057
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:47 pm

Post by DavidWW » Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:22 am

Moonwatcher wrote:That's it! Between recent poetry contributions and now this level of prose, I'm definitely redundant! :)

Excellent story Anne - looking forward to more.

Bob.
Bob

I for one haven't seen an application for redundancy and greatly doubt that such an application would be accepted :shock:

Davie

MaryE
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Post by MaryE » Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:50 am

Great story, Anne!

(Are you getting your own back on those Berwickshire Bafflers???)

Mary

CatrionaL
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Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:11 pm
Location: Scottish Borders

Post by CatrionaL » Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:50 am

DavidWW wrote:I for one haven't seen an application for redundancy and greatly doubt that such an application would be accepted :shock:

Davie
The application has already been refused!

Catriona

DavidWW
Posts: 5057
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:47 pm

Post by DavidWW » Tue Mar 29, 2005 1:15 pm

CatrionaL wrote:
DavidWW wrote:I for one haven't seen an application for redundancy and greatly doubt that such an application would be accepted :shock:

Davie
The application has already been refused!

Catriona
The Guid Lord be thankit 8-[

Davie

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