Lady of the Manor

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(This is a newly written story which I intend to share elsewhere. I hope you enjoy it.)


Lady Ann Heathcote-Gibson reached for the cafetière and poured herself another cup of freshly ground Colombian. Apart from a G & T in the evening before dinner, it was the one little indulgence she allowed herself. Breakfasting in the drawing room of Welford Ferry Manor, looking across at the ivy-clad tower of St Michael’s, was nothing unusual for Lady Ann.

Now 37, she’d unexpectedly inherited this glorious pile some sixteen years ago, shortly after graduating from Oxford. Older people in the village still spoke fondly of her grandfather, Sir Gregory Gibson – ‘Old Squire Gibson’ as they called him. There was more than a touch of sympathy too. Lady Agnes, his wife, had died shortly after giving birth to Lady Sarah, Ann’s mother. That was in 1958. Sir Gregory gamely engaged the services of a nanny – and then a governess – until Lady Sarah was old enough for boarding school. Not a man to show his emotions in public, he was painfully aware of his status as a single parent and, in private, quite frank about the inadequacy of his capacity to fill that role.

There was a feeling in the village that Lady Sarah had married Harry Heathcote when she was far too young and, if anything, married beneath her. It was felt that the absence of authoritative maternal guidance had left Lady Sarah far too exposed and handicapped by an over indulgent father who compensated for his shortcomings as a single parent by letting her have everything she wanted. Harry Heathcote wasn’t a bad man but he lacked the stability and maturity which his position demanded, especially after Sir Gregory died. Marrying into money had done nothing to restrain his taste for adventure or an inclination to show off. As a Silver Wedding present, Lady Sarah treated him to the light aircraft he’d craved since leaving the Air Force. Little did she realise that Bostancı escort his poor judgment and tendency to show off would cost them both their lives on a November Saturday morning when visibility wasn’t really good enough for a spin in that plane.

News of the accident left young Ann, now Lady Ann as she’d inherited a title, both grief-stricken and with her plans in disarray. A job in London and with it a flat in Mayfair had to be abandoned as she took on her new role as Lady of the Manor. There was much business to attend to and big shoes to fill. At the outset, Lady Ann realised that she couldn’t – and shouldn’t – attempt to be everything that her mother and her grandfather before her – had been. On top of running the estate and his London legal practice, Sir Gregory had been churchwarden, chairman of the district council, chairman of the school governors and lord lieutenant of the county. Shortly before his death, rumour had it that his was likely to be invited to serve as High Sheriff before long. Lady Sarah hadn’t attempted to fill all her father’s old roles, but she’d ran the estate well and kept up his reputation for kind, even handed dealing, despite being hampered by a playboy husband.

At the outset, Lady Ann had sought to preserve her family’s hard-won reputation in the village. When Arthur Briggs, the eldest of her tenant farmers, decided it was time to retire, she let him stay on in the house for a peppercorn rent whilst selling off most of the attached land to a developer. This decision had met with some criticism in the village but Lady Ann instinctively felt that the benefits would outweigh any potential drawbacks. As in so many small villages survival of the school, pub and, indeed, the church, hung by a thread made ever narrower by an aging population. Whether the school survived or not would ultimately be down to County Hall and, in the final analysis, the Secretary of State. However, Anadolu Yakası Escort Lady Ann technically owned the pub – or at least the land on which it stood- and most of her ancestors were buried in the chancel of St Michael’s Church. It was therefore in her interest to keep as much of the village infrastructure going as she could. If that meant growing the village by fifty new houses and introducing a dozen affordable homes, so be it. She continued as her forebears had done to allow village fetes on the manor lawn and PCC meetings took place in the relative warmth of her parlour rather than draughty St Michael’s.

In keeping with her position, Lady Ann rode with the local hunt a couple of times a year, although nowadays, thanks to Mr Blair, it was drag hunting. Of course, hounds would be hounds and the occasional fox met its maker at their hands, but that was bound to happen once in a while. Bert, her trusty gamekeeper, kept an eye on the land and organised beaters ahead of the occasional shooting parties which she allowed to take place, whilst not participating herself. Long gone were the days when the big house employed servants on a grand scale, in fact they’d ended when her grandfather was a boy, but she kept on the services of a part time gardener and a cleaner who came in once a week.

Most mornings Lady Ann would rise at six thirty, walk Toby her trusty border collie, exercise her horse, check on her remaining tenants, have breakfast and be at her desk writing or doing her consultancy translation work by nine. This morning she was in a reflective mood though and breakfast was a little more leisurely.

If providence favoured it and she looked after herself, there was no reason why she shouldn’t be lady of the manor for another fifty years. However, she was unmarried and had no direct heir to inherit. At 37 the old biological clock was ticking away and the window of opportunity Kadıköy Escort was narrowing. True enough, with long blonde hair, a slender figure and penetrating blue eyes she was easy to look at and, with a net value somewhere north of eight million, a most eligible lady. She loved the single life though, not least of all because, like the single market, it had four freedoms. Freedom to fart in bed, freedom from in-laws, freedom to be the village big shot instead of the big shot’s wife and freedom, within reason, to do as she pleased. Expressions of interest from potential suitors had not been in short supply but they’d all been politely declined. This had given rise to a little speculation about her sexuality and the odd rumour that she might be a lesbian. Chuckling to herself, Lady Ann couldn’t help wondering how they’d react if they learned the truth, something that none of them, she was sure, could possibly imagine.

As she collected her thoughts there was a clattering of the letter box and Toby barked, as he invariably did, when the postman came. There were no bills, begging letters from charities or missives from old friends this morning though. Instead there was a rather formal looking envelope. Opening it, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was from the Lord Chancellor’s office and contained an invitation asking if she would consent to serving as a deputy lieutenant of the county. Lady Ann sat down and considered the matter but she didn’t have to think long. As a deputy lieutenant she would not only have a badge but be entitled to use the honorific style ‘DL’ on correspondence and formal documents. To those in the know, however, DL also stood for diaper lover, something she’d been all her adult life. By accepting this high honour, she could at once assist the lord lieutenant in his duties when required to do so, whilst at the same time coming out, albeit in a slightly cheeky way, about the thing that gave her greatest pleasure. She was well padded this morning but could feel the wetness spreading as that strong Colombian coffee made its way southwards. Soon she would have to change into a fresh diaper, but not before typing up a response to this letter. How could she not accept?

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