Forge men, Garibaldi biscuit, General Custer, Ha-ha, moniker, Monte Cassino, Montgomery, Napoleon, National Trust, Royal Fusiliers, Royal School of Church Music, stirrup cup, time spent in reconnaissance, Vickers machine gun
Sonia brought in a box of Kleenex which she had foreseen they would
Dru unfolded the obituary and passed it over to her mother.
Diana looked over the top of her bifocals:
It’s very comprehensive, she said. It covers his detective work in the
discovery of The Honourable Peregrine Wivern who was trapped in that
awful priest hole and his war-disrupted degree from Durham University,
not to mention his service with The Royal Fusiliers at Monte Cassino. He
was sent back to Blighty with some wound from a Vickers machine gun,
but it can’t have been too disabling, given his subsequent fertility. So young
to have experienced all that by the time he took up tutoring at Wyvern
Bet it beat Teacher Training!
How did he pass away? asked Sonia, munching a Garibaldi biscuit a shade
It seems to have been linked to a fall which he had a couple of years ago,
which literally precipitated his admission to Snodland Nursing Home for the
Debased Gentry. He stepped backwards, indicating some special
architectural feature on the roof to some visitors and fell down the ha-ha.
Not funny, sympathised Sonia and then wondered why Diana stifled a
I think it was all downhill from then on, stated Dru and then smiled
broadly, before checking herself. I mean, once the connection with
Wyvern was severed, he seemed to lose his marbles.
Did it say where he was from originally? Sonia enquired.
Northumberland, I believe. Dru was trying to recall the details. It
mentioned his favourite saying which was: ‘Time spent in reconnaissance
is never wasted.’ His nickname was ‘Iron Sides’, which even his charges
adopted, but it must have come from his military background.
Oh, that’s an old saying, supplied Sonia. People have attributed it to
everyone from Napoleon to General Custer and Montgomery.
Diana wasn’t listening: It mentions that his family were forge men,
some of whom went to Virginia.
Ties in with his moniker very neatly, Sonia commented.
Monica? Dru looked puzzled.
Sonia didn’t elaborate.
He has left large bequests to The Royal School of Church Music, whose
patron in HM, the Queen..
Why? Sonia was curious. She should have known.
Dru broke in to the conversation: Because he had a very fine baritone voice
and he was a church warden. He’s left the rest to St Birinus Middle School to
endow a music scholarship and his entire collection of antique silver stirrup
cups will be placed in Wyvern Museum.
Yes, clarified Diana, but it says here that if anyone thinks they have a claim,
then they are to contact Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil, Solicitors
in Rochester, who are administering the estate… Oh, within six months.
I don’t see the point, said Dru. The apartment would have been grace-and-
favour for life only. It will revert to The National Trust.
Sonia took a second Garibaldi and came up with a revolutionary thought:
Suppose there are some papers which should be retained in the family?
Gus had better ring them up.
Dru replied, We can talk business after we have broken the news to him.
It’s all so cataclysmic. I mean, Dad would have to have a DNA test,
There’s no point in upsetting Aunt Augusta, as she did not remember him
as being connected to Wyvern in any way. She just enclosed the cutting
because we had been told of his nocturnal escapade in the home.
Berenice is dead and Anthony was nothing to do with Hugo de Sousa.
So, let’s be discreet and break it to Father over a meal, if he can get away
from school for a couple of hours.
You can ring from here, Sonia suggested. It’s more private than speaking
from the boarding house, or on your mobile.
Thanks, Sonia. I’ll try him now while I’m feeling brave.
Diana squeezed her hand.