Word of the Day Prompt: Vehemently
Sheryl’s Word Prompt: Honourable
Ragtag Prompt: Precedent
Three Things Challenge: stamp collector, tile, popsicle
An Honourable Uncle
Her great-uncle had died. She’d had a letter from his Solicitors, ‘Markham, Warley and Stoat’ telling her that he had left her something in his will.
She was quite surprised because she hadn’t been particularly close to Uncle Henry. He was a rather eccentric gentleman who didn’t like children. Growing up she had rarely seen him and he never sent birthday cards. He’d told his Mother that although fond of her, he didn’t send cards because he didn’t want to create a precedent.
He used to cloister himself away in his study with his stamps. He was a rather avid stamp collector.
She remembered on one rare visit she sat on his knee in his smoky old study in his rather rambling house and he had read a story to her about an honourable man. She asked him,
“are you an honourable man Uncle?”
He replied “Oh my dear, do not accuse me of such a thing, I will deny it most Vehemently.”
One thing about her great Uncle, after visiting him she’d had to look up the words he’d used in the dictionary. It had meant she would get good marks in English at school, they were always impressed that she knew such difficult words.
She remembered too when they had visited him on a really hot summer day and she asked him for a popsicle. He had looked rather amused and had just given her an ice-cube to suck on.
Although he was decidedly odd and eccentric, she had rather liked him, though she could count on one hand the number of times she had seen him.
Although he had never married and had no children of his own, he still had a niece (her mother) living plus herself and another distant cousin called Alexandra.
The letter from the Solicitor asked her to attend a meeting in London the following Thursday.
It turned out her Mother had also received a letter and so they went to the meeting together. The offices were in Bloomsbury so they went around the British Museum in the morning before popping along for the meeting at 1pm.
Her Cousin Alexandra was there. The last time they had met had been at a family funeral and they had only been 11. For some reason they had hated each other on sight, started rolling around on the church’s tile floor thumping each other and had to be separated. One glance at her cousin and she could tell that she remembered all too well. She gave a smile and nod, but there was no friendliness in it.
Mr Markham, the solicitor explained to them that after death taxes had been paid and other debts, there was very little money actually left. The house was falling apart and so would fetch next to nothing. He had given most of his money away over the years to Dr. Barnardo’s, a charity that looked after poor children and orphans.
To Cousin Alexandra he had left an umbrella with a handle carved in the shape of a flamingo, which she had apparently admired once.
To her Mother, his niece, he had left his gold pocket watch.
To her, he had left his entire Stamp Collection and a letter.
“To little Charlotte,
although I am sure that you are no longer little. You may have not been aware but I have never really been overly fond of the company of children. They reminded me too much of the fact that I could never have any of my own, being a lonely life long bachelor with no inclination to alter that status. You were, however, one of the few really well-behaved children and I was very fond of you. I have left you my stamp collection because you always seemed so fascinated by it. It should pass through probate undetected, but one or two of them are rather valuable specimens. After a little while, you should get them examined by an expert. You should receive a nice surprise. Please sell them to the highest bidder and enjoy yourself, my dear. Life is far too short for collecting anything other than memories.
She was careful not to let the solicitors or anyone else see the letter. What her Uncle had said was true, probate valued the collection at a few hundred pounds. However, a few months later she took the collection to an expert who had fallen off his chair with excitement. Two of the stamps were of the variety that had been printed with an error, this made them unique and extremely valuable. Those two stamps were worth Fifty Thousand pounds!
She was now booked on a world cruise and decided to take her Mother too. Her Uncle had been quite a darling really and she was determined to take his advice and collect as many memories as she could.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 25/June/2018