Susanna signs over Point Pleasant Estate to her son Stuart
The morning is wet as it has been for most of the week. Edward Ryall has arrived an hour earlier, and after some light refreshments, Susanna leads him into the study and is joined by Stuart and Elizabeth. Sitting into her chair, she allows Edward to take charge. Her thoughts are relaxed which surprises her. The time has arrived to relinquish Point Pleasant. Keeping her eyes focused on her old friend, she watches him remove the file from his bag. It is the file that will change her future.
“Stuart, here are the papers granting you full ownership and rights to Point Pleasant East, covering half of the Point Pleasant Estate extending to one thousand, six hundred and fifty-three acres,” Edward begins on clearing his throat. “This will include Point Pleasant House, out buildings and all labourer cottages on the specified acreage. The estate will include all current staff, stock and tillage in storage. You will be granted access to the estate funds in which a monthly payment as stipulated in the contract is paid to your mother. All outstanding monies due to the estate from rents and additional fees are split between your brothers depending on where the income falls. The school built by your mother on the estate falls under the responsibility of Point Pleasant House. It is therefore your responsibility to maintain it and its operational costs.”
Edward removes two sheets and places them on the table in front of him.
“Once the papers are signed, your mother will have no more control over the estate. However, she has the legal right for her life to live at Point Pleasant House and carry out her duties accordingly. Do you understand?”
“Yes I understand,” Stuart answers. “What of Castlefort Estate?”
“Castlefort Estate is no longer a part of the holdings of Point Pleasant. Legally, your mother has already removed Castlefort. You do not have any rights or access to that estate.”
“You would deny your own son his birthright,” Elizabeth interjects with sharpness directed at Susanna. Keeping her composure, Susanna continues to hold her gaze on Edward ignoring Elizabeth. “Edward, if you can continue please?” Susanna states.
“Very well. I need you and your mother to place your signatures on both sheets and that will complete the transaction.”
Without commenting, Stuart reaches out, signs the papers and passes them to his mother. Taking the quill between her fingers, Susanna dips it into the ink before signing next to her son’s signature. Placing the quill on the table, she has released herself from the duties to her husband and forefathers in protecting and maintaining the estates. A wave of relief curiously washes over her body. Unsure of the emotion, she hands the document to Edward.
“That concludes everything here. Susanna, I will wait outside for a few moments,” Edward continues, nodding briefly at Susanna while gathering his papers into his bag and leaving the room.
Without a response, Elizabeth rises and strides from the room.
“Congratulations Stuart, I wish you a good life and fortune with Point Pleasant Estate.”
“What did you do with Castlefort?”
“I had it removed and signed it over to Victor. It is back in the Villiers’ name once more. He has agreed to continue to let me help him, and when the time is right, he can decide what he needs to do with it. I no longer have any decisions on the outcome of either estate,” Susanna answers rising and eyeing her husband’s portrait briefly.
“Aunt Katherine will not be happy about this!”
“It is up to you Stuart to ensure she is happy and explain to her that the estate is in Victor’s hands and he must do with it as he deems fit. You must also make it clear to her that if she threatens me, or attempts to ruin your name or the name of your home, Castlefort will never be hers. Do you understand Stuart? Or else you will make an enemy out of her. This is your future now that you claim you are ready for.”
Resting her eyes on her eldest son, she worries for his future. At the age of twenty-four she has placed a huge responsibility on his shoulders, one he will refuse to allow her to help with. He is young and blind to many things. Besides, what support, if any, will he have from his wife? Under protests, she disapproved of his marriage to Elizabeth for these very reasons. The girl, she believes, is not duty bound to Point Pleasant, and she questions if she is to her husband. Everything she has tried to help her son with, he has seen as a burden or restriction she was placing on him, but it has only been in preparation for this day when he would be responsible for Point Pleasant. The anger reflects in his eyes and he turns from her leaving the room.
Facing the window, the rain pours heavily outside. August is turning out to be a bad month. She wonders what impact it will have on summer’s tillage. A warm tear rolls down her left cheek. The gentle touch behind her informs her that Edward has returned to her side. Turning, she buries her head in his chest releasing the flow of emotions.
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