Sitting in the offices of Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil Solicitors
in Rochester, Dru was digging her metal-tipped heel into the Japanese
oak parquet, which was irritating Mr Bunbury Junior considerably, though
he tried to remain professionally impassive, only occasionally clearing his
throat, like a Pit Bull on a restraint lead.
With his monogrammed handkerchief – BQ&Q- he mopped at
excessive saliva, which her small time act of vandalism was
provoking...so the stirrup cups are endowed to the museum, but
I have some personal papers for you. He handed over a brown
envelope to Gus. Can you initial for receipt, please? He then
reached down and lifted a few school magazines bound with a
perished rubber band from the floor.
Gus immediately recognised back numbers of St
Birinus Middle‘s annual publication, from the 60s.
They seem to cover 1955-62, Mr Bunbury explained. Your father
apparently treasured your team photos. He asterisked the year when
you captained the 1st XI. He has annotated the Prize-giving List for
1961, when you took the Classics Cup for Latin Public Speaking.
I remember that, said Snod, flicking through the yellowed pages.
I had to memorise and deliver some Pliny. Something along the
lines of Ridebis et licet..
..rideat, supplied Bunbury Junior, who had come second in his prep
school’s Latin Verse Speaking Competition with the very same passage
and had his defeat bitterly imprinted on his memory forever. Pliny the
You will notice a communication from Lady Wivern, your mother,
which outlines the financial arrangements she made with Miss
Snodbury over your welfare and protection, when she released you into
Mehercule! Snod ejaculated. Deus quem punire uit demerat.
What? said Dru, digging her heel into the floor even more deeply.
Whom God will destroy He first makes mad, supplied Mr Bunbury,
eager to show his linguistic prowess.
Pliny the Younger, Snod stated firmly with an anaphoric reference
which Bunbury was incapable of tracing.
Instead the solicitor cleared his throat, glared at Dru’s foot and
continued, The codicil clarifies her wishes and we have drawn up
instructions as to how you may gain access to the bank vault and its
contents. We will send you further details along with your-ahem!–
(here a further glare at Dru’s heel).. with a note of our charges.
And a bill for repairs to the floor, he wanted to add.
He burbled on in a factual manner for a few more minutes.
Snod and Drusilla retired to The Cafe Moroc– a ‘fusion of Regency
decadence and Moroccan chic’, according to its advertising blurb.
Gus had had enough decadence for one day, so they concentrated
on twelve different meze dishes (to share) and a lamb kofte.
I don’t understand, whispered Dru. What’s been going on?
Snod was in deep shock, but it didn’t prevent him from demolishing
eight out of the twelve dishes, which Dru thought was somewhat
unfair, especially as he went for her favourites with a vengeance,
adding yet another stain to his, thankfully, polka-dotted tie.
Berenice was not his mother; Hugo de Sousa was not his half-brother;
Aunt Augusta was not his aunt, nor Dru’s great-aunt. The other
Augusta who had run wild in the Bosphorous was not his grandmother,
nor Dru’s great-grandmother, though the sale of the inherited kelims
had paid for his music lessons and ‘extras’..
Dru could see the carrot of being Aunt Augusta’s sole legatee
vanishing as rapidly as the meze.
So, she slowly worked it out, Anthony Revelly, the toy boy tutor, had
an affair with the widowed Lady Wivern. The Vickers machine gun accident
didn’t knock the balls off his potential coronet then.
Okay, I suppose it was Lord Wivern’s then. Or was the title in her family?
I don’t know, Snod said wearily. They clearly did not marry. Mmm.. I
suppose Lionel and Peregrine were my half-brothers. I may be entitled to
pre-fix ‘The Honourable’ to my name.
But the boys are both dead, aren’t they? And they didn’t have any family?
Not as far as I know. There’s nothing mentioned in the paperwork. Oh,
really, it’s all too much.
You mentioned your name, Drusilla persisted. But you may have been
given the Christian name ‘Augustus’ to help to recreate your identity.
She refused to use the PC term ‘forename’. In that she was her father’s
Yes, apparently Lady Wivern called me Arthur Parsifal. Snod looked
abashed. I’ve never really liked Wagner. Too narcissistic.
The Honourable Arthur Parsifal Revelly? Dru choked on a chick pea.
Ah, like Kundry, you are the first to address me by the name my mother
In the opera. ‘The wound, the wound, it burns within my heart’
Right. Dru didn’t know what he was rambling on about. What was Lady
Aurelia Tindall, according to all this bumf. Of Coquetbrookdale. Her ancestors
had owned a pele tower in the Borders.
Oh, I’ve always wanted to live in a pele tower, breathed Dru. Murgatroyd, he
whose name must not be spoken, is renovating one up there, according to
Well, we won’t be inheriting a domesticated fortification either. It was in ruins
and so it was unsaleable and couldn’t alleviate her insolvency or save Wyvern
Mote from being left to the nation.
So, Berenice dumped you after she received payment to take you on as her son?
She tried to foist you off on her mother and then her sister took charge of the
whole sorry mess. All that in spite of having been paid a fair whack,
Enough to cost Aurelia Wyvern Mote; but enough to pave Berenice’s way to
decamping to the land of her hero, Simon Bolivar.
There’s a detail that you’re missing, Dru pointed out, quickly mopping up
some sauce with a torn corner of pita bread.
Only one? Gus sighed.
You are Arthur, King of Camelot.
So, in that case I must forgive Guenevere and Lancelot if life is to go on.
Anthony and Aurelia, I suppose, Snod nodded. Oh, you’ve finished all the
Yes, I have you greedy old.. She checked any outward expression of her
inner turmoil. And Aunt Augusta? Shall we still take her out? she asked
Morgan le Fey! But at least she didn’t plot against me, so we shouldn’t
punish her, though she’s no water sprite, that’s for sure. No, let the healing
And he tossed her the envelope and its contents. Some of this applies to