This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 800 words.
Goody Tuppy could no longer walk without assistance, and had lost all of her teeth. She claimed to be the oldest living person in the town, perhaps even in the county, stating her age as four score and ten years. Whether that was true or not, she certainly looked old enough to warrant the claim. Despite all those years, she loved to sit on a chair in her doorway, and listen to the gossip. Much of it was supplied to her by servants from the Dakin house, when they came into town on errands. When she was fully apprised of recent events, she would happily pass on her stories to any who would listen.
Matthew Dakin was negelecting his business. His dark moods and heavy drinking had left affairs in the hands of managers. Purity was sufering badly with her nerves, and young Josiah was mostly left in the care of a maid, and his tutor. Life in the grand new house had been blighted by the misfortunes that had befallen the family. Goody had a theory of course.
“It must go back to the old master, Isiah. He never conceived any of his children, so their real father is unknown. Surely that must have been a rogue of some measure? I tell you, whoever was the father has a lot to answer for. His sins are being visitied on his offspring, I speak the truth. Is it not written in the Bible?”
That same afternoon, the old widow retired to her bed for a nap, and died peacefully in her sleep.
Thomas returned from his studies at Cambridge three years later. There was no time for him to try to take up religious duties anywhere, as regardless of his youth and inexperience, he was forced to step in to try to manage the failing business. He spent many hours with his father in the study, trying to get some grasp of all the affairs, and visited London to meet with the men managing Hobbs and the tannery. After some weeks had passed, he concluded that his father must be shaken from his mood, and arranged for Josiah to go to into the army, his commision purchased as a junior officer of foot. The tutor had been a lazy person indeed, evidenced by Josiah’s apparent lack of good learning, and he was not suited for business. The army was the best place for him.
Good Queen Anne died the following summer, and a new king, George II, took the throne. By that time the attentions of his son had restored much of Matthew’s good nature, and he returned to the correct and proper running of his business. He also secured a parish for his son to become minister of, finally allowing Thomas to persue his religious life. Generous donations saw Thomas installed as the new minister of All Saints Church in Maldon, and that came with a comfortable residence nearby. What was going to happen to the previous minister was of no concern to Matthew, and his substantial generosity to the Bishop of Chelmsford guaranteed that no questions would be asked.
The new young minister was soon very popular. His fresh sermons and genial manner earned him a good reputation in that growing town. And the wealth of his family didn’t hurt either. It wasn’t long before he had caught the eye of a few local spinsters looking to make a good match for themselves. Thomas eventually settled on the rather portly Arabella Turgoose, the youngest daughter of a wealthy boat-builder. The substantial annual income bestowed upon her by her father had tipped the scales in her favour, so some remarked.
Josiah arrived for the wedding looking fit and handsome in his fine uniform. Army life had suited him well, especially as his regiment was not called upon to engage in any conflict. Matthew and Purity travelled down for the ceremony, and Purity whispered that Arabella had the body for child bearing indeed. His mind ever on business, Matthew took the opportunity to learn something about the boat building industry from Jeremy Turgoose, and paid a visit to his boat yard and workshops. Before his return to barracks, Josiah made calls on many eligible young women in the district, flirting outrageously. He left many flushed cheeks behind him in that town.
Upon their return, Purity remarked that she was happy life was now settled, and the future of their remaining sons secured.
The next month, Matthew wrote to Jeremy Turgoose, and offered to invest heavily in his business, for a one third share. It was accepted readily, and the two men met with lawyers to discuss the terms and sign the necessary contracts.
It had not escaped Matthew’s notice that the elderly Turgoose had no sons to inherit his wealth.