MORBIDITY BOOK 2 IS TITLED VEXATION.
Evelyn smiled at her brother Richard who sat opposite her at the table. She picked up her tiny, bone china cup and sipped from it.
"So, Evelyn," he mused. "What of the council? Have they had no say in this?"
She put her cup down, grinning. "Actually, the council have sent a letter. Everything that has occurred is, to say the least, internal. And whilst the police are going about their business with the death of our lovely father, the state of his personal items and finances are ours. As far as they are concerned, we're dividing it amongst ourselves. With mother in London, I feel everything should be frozen until her return."
Richard grimaced. "Evelyn, we should split it between myself and Eric. Forget mother - she's been away."
"Do you feel no remorse? This is the Colin Estate. It should be handed to her, and then split as she deems wise!"
"No, Evelyn, it doesn't work like that. She's a woman, and, her miscarriage not long ago means she just isn't stable to handle the affairs... not to mention her husband has just died."
Evelyn slammed her hands against the table and stood up, a few strands of her blonde hair dropping down from her loose hair-bun. "I refuse to listen to your horrendous statements any longer!" She turned, and her maid swooned over, following closely, holding the parasol. "Come to me when you've grown up, Richard."
"Evelyn, wait!" He stood, attempting to make her stop in her tracks, but he failed. She slammed the door behind her.
Pain washed over Evelyn as she opened the tiny brown locker, containing a small amount of clipped hair and a black-white portrait of her recently lost father. Lord Colin had been a stocky man, with a bold combover and small blue eyes, and he always seemed to wear the same black tail-coat.
"He really is gone, isn't he?" Her maid finished brushing Evelyn's hair.
"Yes, ma'am. Though I fear with the war in the Crimea, nothing will get better." Evelyn and Joyce, her maid, had developed a relationship. Joyce was a fragile old woman held in high regards in the Colin estate and she had been the Nanny of Richard and Evelyn. In her latter years, she'd adopted the role of handmaid for Lady Evelyn and declined offers at other places. Her advice, opinions and ideas were generally held in high regards.
Evelyn put the portrait back into the tiny locker and looked up at Joyce. "Oh dear Joyce, please tell me that none of my family are being called to war?"
"No, not as far as I know. I dare say that the Colin family is too high ranking to be called for service." Joyce smiled, putting her hands over Evelyn's. "Please don't worry, ma'am." Evelyn stood up, smiling. Her smile faded almost instantly as she stood up, her long blonde hair hanging in a plait over her left shoulder, and her delicate lace night-coat fluttering behind her. "Come, ma'am, to sleep. You will feel better in the morning."
She sat down, pulling the sheets beside her and then twisting her body so as she could melt down into the sheets. Joyce pulled them up and tucked them beside her, fluffing the pillow beside her. Joyce placed her palm above Evelyn's brow and stroked it lightly. "Everything will work out in the end, ma'am."
"I do hope so, Joyce." Joyce pinched the candle wick to dim the room. The windows were cracked open only a little, enough to let fresh air swirl around the room every time a gust of wind hit the walls.
She lay there, for only moments before her mind vividly began playing memories of her father. Though in Evelyn's youth he had been rather aloof, they'd grown stronger in her teenage years due to her natural abilities with numbers and the way she could charm every coin from someone's pocket just by looking at them. She was a natural business-woman yet at every turn she was considered weaker and less able than her male counterparts.
Every second that passed, a new memory would fill her mind. Playing with him as a child, taking notes with him. Though she had to at least appear stony-faced and cold-hearted in public or with her friends and family, she was weak. When she heard of her fathers death, she refused to enter the drawing room at first, but the day after, she was told that 'business was business' and that it must go on. With or without Lord Colin.
There was a sharp breeze through the window, and a screeching noise in the distance. Shortly after the noise, there was the gentle sound of horses and a carriage. Then there was the quiet announcements from within the hall outside Evelyn's bedroom. "She's back," she heard. Another voice said that they should tell Lady Evelyn. Shortly after, her door opened and Richard entered.
"Mother's back." He quickly left, and she stood up hesitantly. Though she was only wearing her night clothes, she felt comfortable around her family and maids.
The whole house appeared to be in chaos as practically everyone in the house was about, scurrying around for one reason or another. The main doors opened, and Lady Samantha Colin appeared in her black mourning clothes with veil and gloves. Her two handmaids continued alongside her holding the bags. Samantha looked grey, solitary, unnerved even.
"Mother!" Evelyn called as she quickly ran down the stairs. Samantha didn't reply. She bleakly looked over, lulling her head slightly, walking at the exact same speed to the stairs.
"I wish to go, Evelyn. I wish to be in my quarters." Her word were slow, and slurred. "I will... speak..." Lady Samantha dropped to the floor. Her veil ripping upwards to reveal her eyes, deepened with almost instant age and anguish. Her cheekbones were protruding and her red hair was duller than normal. That was the last they saw of Samantha before she vanished into her bedroom for the night. Samantha was never reclusive, but she was rather the opposite. She was a social butterfly, hosting many parties and gatherings. But, with the death of her husband, she'd changed. Well, everyone had simply thought that she'd changed because of the death. Nobody had spoken to her enough to confirm that was the reason for her... change.
Evelyn sat at the large table with her siblings, cousins, and relatives. Samantha sat at the top of the table with a list of documents underneath her left hand. Again, she looked dismal, bleak. "We are here... to discuss what is of my husbands belongings. You have squabbled for the past day, and I do not feel as though I am responsible for the large majority."
"I believe Eric and I should share the lot!" Richard exclaimed.
Samantha smiled. "If you believe that, you will receive nothing. The majority lies nestled in a will he wrote up many years before... before this week." There was a silence as Samantha shuffled through the papers. "For seventy percent of his shares, it shall be shared amongst his three children Eric, Richard and Evelyn." Richard and Eric let out a small laugh. "Do not consider this victory. Evelyn, our only daughter, receives the largest share of forty percent. You get fifteen percent each." Their smiles faded.
"That's outrageous!" Richard yelled as he stood up, hitting his fists on the table. "You better tell me I get the estate!"
Samantha shook her head. "You bloody... Father owes us!" Eric yelled as well.
"As your mother, I reserve the right to strip you of your name. And therefore revoke your share." She dismissed them. "Anyway, to Alice, you get five percent of shares." She smiled a little. Alice, the young, bright-eyed, black-haired girl of eighteen years expected nothing. "And as the new owner of the estate, I grant you, Alice, as long as you need in our home."
"Thank you, ma'am." Alice was new to the family, a recent addition through marriage but was warmly welcomed by Lord and Lady Colin and had been a family friend for many years.
"As for the estate, I own the main building, and the stables are being held as part of the main building. The hunting fields are being sold off and the money added to private reserves for myself and the main building."
The table descended into chaos again as everyone argued about their rights to money and property. Lady Colin simply stood up, and left the room. Evelyn couldn't get a word in edge-ways and sat there, trying to understand why she was left the most. Suddenly she felt cold, weak, sick, and there was a pain in the bottom of her stomach. Everything went to black.
"She's gone!" The loud voices echoed through the halls. "She's gone! Call the police, hurry!"
"Where is she?"
"Where did she go?"
"Someone wake Evelyn!"
But Evelyn was already awake. She'd been awake for the last hour. She'd been awake for the silence. Then she heard the shouts, the heated arguing, the sobs, the pleads. Their family was falling apart.