Branscombe Hall: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 754 words.
My thanks to Sue Judd for the use of her photo.

Having made up my mind not to chase around trying to find out where Gregg had gone, I went into work. Yes, I had to deal with my husband at some stage, but meanwhile we still had to salvage what we could from the sale of the Hall. Lady Branscombe’s lawyers had told dad that they could sell everything with no reserve, so I headed in for a meeting with dad to discuss that insanity.

Dad shrugged. “I told them, Alicia. This decision could cost her well over a million pounds, not to mention the commission we would lose. But what does she care? They have already instructed a local estate agent to sell the Hall, and all the surrounding land. She has already inerited whatever was left to Julian, plus Julian’s Chelsea apartment that she intends to keep for visits to London. Besides, she has the house in France, and a huge sum of money left to her in her late husband’s will”.

As frustrating as it was to someone like me who really cared about Art, I knew dad was right. If we didn’t act on the instructions, she would just use an auction house from elsewhere, probably in London. We couldn’t hold her to a contract signed by Julian, not without a costly legal battle. We sat around for a couple of hours arranging dates for the forthcoming sales, with dad relying on me to arrange the items in suitable groups of the same period or style.

Local rumour had it that the tenant farmers on the Branscombe Estate were to be offered favourable terms to buy the land they already farmed. A group that ran private clinics was very interested in buying the building for use as a trendy alcohol and drug rehab centre for rich people, but they didn’t want to pay for any more of the land than that part immediately surrounding the building. That left a huge amount of non-farmed land with no apparent buyer. Builders were not interested, as planning permission for new homes would be hard to achieve in such a rural area.

All we could do was to arrange our auctions, and wait to see what else happened.

It was almost five in the afternoon when Gregg phoned the office at work. He had been in a fight in a pub in Gloucester last night, knocked unconscious, and taken to hospital. There was no lasting damage, but he had lost the day’s pay with the building company, and now needed collecting. At least he hadn’t been arrested, that was something. I told him to get a taxi home, and I would pay for it when he got there.

Then I slipped away without mentioning anything to my dad.

To say he was contrite was an understatement. But on that occasion, I stuck to my guns. I carefully explained to him that I could not live with his anger, his Diazepam addiction, or his constant alcohol binges. I made it clear that our brief marriage would end up in divorce if he continued. Yes, I appreciated what had happened to him in The Falklands, but he needed to get help, some proper counselling. I was happy to pay for that privately, but only if he agreed to attend every session. In the short term, I suggested he take time off from work and go and talk to his family in Essex. I was sure they had no idea what I had been going through, and I insisted that he tell them every detail.

Talking to you now, I appreciate you will be wondering why I gave him so many chances, I really do. But you have to take into account that at the time, I genuinely loved him and fancied him too. At least I was sure I did back then. And I felt sorry for him. Who wouldn’t? He had been through a terrible time in that war, and it had changed his personality. I couldn’t blame him, as it wasn’t his fault. I hoped his dad would make him see sense.

Gregg paid for his own train ticket, and I drove him to the station. I could hardly bring myself to kiss him goodbye, but I did. When he got back to Basildon, he rang me to say he was home safe and sound. I was quite cold on the phone, and ended the call quickly.

At the time, I wasn’t to know that I wouldn’t hear from him again for almost a month.

34 thoughts on “Branscombe Hall: Part Seventeen

  1. (1) “Having made up my mind…” is something we’re going to hear a lot more frequently from A.I. personalities.
    (2) A manor in Gloucester. A flat in London. A house in France. What about Lady Branscombe’s ranch in New Mexico? Or her bungalow in the Seychelles? Or her inflatable habitat on Mars?
    (3) Alicia should buy Branscomble Hall and rename it the White House. Alicia White, the first lady, could then meet with dignitaries from around the world, thereby elevating her social status!
    (4) Alicia stuck to her guns. Has no one accused her of stealing them from Branscombe Hall’s left wing armoury? They were supposed to be auctioned off!
    (5) Overheard:
    Alicia(!): “Talking to you now, I appreciate you will be wondering why I gave him so many chances, I really do.”
    Travis(?): “You talking to me? You talking to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? You talking to me? Well, I’m the only one here!”
    (6) Gregg paid for his own train ticket. When other travelers begged him to pay for their train ticket, too, he threatened to run them out of town on a rail.
    (7) Alicia was quite cold on the phone, and ended the call quickly. As she exited the phone box, chilled to the bone, she slipped on a patch of ice… Fortunately, she fell to the side, and was spared injury by a fresh mound of snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think at the beginning of the serial we are actually 26 years in the future of what we’ve been reading about, and again at the last paragraph in this episode. I think.

      Liked by 3 people

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