He woke with the sun. It must be admitted that this was not his normal habit. Normally, even during the past few years when he had been in some very difficult positions, he preferred to sleep in as much as he could, all the better to stay up late and engage in the king’s business under cover of the darkness, but it so happened that the rising of the sun, a rare event in Yorkshire even in summer, it must be admitted, led him to wake up far earlier than was his habit. He looked around at his room and realized the cause was that there was an open window facing the east in the hotel in Market Weighton which was the furthest he could get to after having arrived in Hull the previous day on the way home to Orient Hall.
He was reminded that he had some business to attend to, so he got to it. He took out a letter of some pages long that he had written to Lord Sydney while he was on the ship coming from the Caribbean where he had recently finished some loose ends that involved preserving the honor of his ruler and of his regime, but those details did not have to become part of the public record, and he had given the official a detailed report of his actions, noting that he had arrived back in England and was willing to come to London to talk about matters face to face if it was worth doing so, although he had some business to attend to at home first and would need at least a few days to do that, he expected.
After he finished this first letter, signed it, and wrote the address of the colonial office, and sealed it, he turned to his second letter. He opened up his copy of Burke’s peerage and had noted various corrections onto the information provided about the Viscounts Lipton, a relatively recent creation. He had corrected the information about who inherited the title after his grandfather, the second Viscount Lipton, died, and copied these corrections and additions onto a letter to the publisher, whose information was provided in the book, and also sealed that letter.
He then picked up another sheet of paper and wrote a short note to his household staff, who he had still not met, telling them to go to the __________ in Market Weighton. He wrote the address as Orient Hall in the village of _________, in North Yorkshire, and also sealed that letter. With the three letters finished, he took his walking stick and hobbled downstairs, not moving very quickly because his right knee was bothering him from a suspected gout attack, and when he reached the bottom of the stairs he politely gave the letters to the innkeeper telling them that they should go out this morning as early as possible, gave a generous tip, and reminded him that his trunk should be brought downstairs and prepared for the carriage that would be arriving and picking him up to return him home.
“Are you sure you don’t want our carriage to bring you home? It’s only a couple hours away at this point, right?”
“There is no need for that,” Lord Lipton answered politely. “It is better if I return home in my own carriage and that my household gets used to handling my transportation.”
“You’re right about that sir,” the innkeeper answered.
“Is there any breakfast ready?” The innkeeper informed him that there was, and he enjoyed a repast of bread and cheese, washed down by a bit of punch, before taking his walking stick with him to take a stroll nearby around the town. He took the innkeeper’s leave with a tip of the hat and then walked around the small town to check it out. This was the first morning he had spent in his home country for almost thirty years, he reflected as he walked along the muddy streets, drawing no looks of curiosity from the people around.
As he came to the edge of town, he saw a pleasant townhouse of what must have been a pretty substantial burgher, and he looked approvingly at it, as a girl rushed out of the door of the house, chased by two older and larger boys who looked like they were involved in some mischief. The girl, a somewhat skinny child with a head of dark, wavy hair, rushed over to the man and held onto his waist tightly, her head buried in his chest. He gently ran his hair through her hair and patted her on the upper back to help her calm down a little and to realize that he was kindly disposed to her. While doing this he took a somewhat severe look at the boys, who felt it necessary to offer him an explanation of what they were about.
“We weren’t trying to hurt her,” the older one offered, lamely.
“We were just trying to have some fun with her,” the younger one helpfully added.
“She doesn’t appear to have found it very much fun,” the man replied.
There was an awkward silence before the girl offered her thanks to the gentleman for his protection and kindness.
“Is this your house?” he asked. The girl nodded yes while the boys looked at him, somewhat unsure of what to say and do. The gentlemen then remarked that they should go inside and expressed his hope that their father was awake. They entered the house and went to the sitting room and saw that this was indeed the case.
“I do not mean to bother you,” the gentleman began, “but it appears that your sons were bothering their”–he paused for a second–“half-sister, and she sought my protection from them.”
Everyone looked at him. The girl blushed, the father, a stout man of balding and salt-and-pepper hair and a somewhat stout build, tilted his head and raised his eyebrow, and the two boys looked at him aghast, having never thought that this girl was in fact their relative. “Who are you?” the eldest one said, after a while.
“I am Lord Lipton,” he answered. Turning to the man and the girl, who was sitting happily on his lap, he said, “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” and touched his hand to his hat in greeting.
“We are kin then,” the gentleman replied. “My elder sister married the second son of the previous Lord Lipton.”
“That man was my father, and so that means you must be my uncle,” Lord Lipton answered, smiling. “I did not realize I had relations in this town.”
“We did not always live here, but business has been good enough for us to have a townhouse here besides our warehouses in Hull,” the man replied.
“I am glad to hear that business has been good,” Lord Lipton happily replied. “I wish we had been able to meet on a more pleasant errand.”
“You have certainly been pleasant enough,” the man replied. “I knew that your grandfather had died, but I did not know exactly who was the heir. Perhaps I should have sent you my condolences.”
“You would have hardly known where to send them, I imagine. I have been here and there over the past few years,” Lord Lipton replied. “You should send your sister some congratulations. After having spent some time as a widow after my father died, she recently married the Lt. Governor of New Providence and is well-settled in Nassau. I did not know if you had been informed of that.”
The man colored a bit at this. “I was not aware, but I will send her a note of congratulations and ask and talk to her about family business.”
“I am sure she would appreciate it.”
The children looked at him in astonishment and wonder. The girl’s thoughts were most happy of them all, that she had picked upon a stranger who ended up being a cousin, and a viscount at that. The boys, though, were very ashamed that this man, with his imperious looks and attitude, was someone that they had to respect for a wide variety of reasons, and they cursed their fate as they knew they were going to be beat something fierce for having brought shame upon the family name to one of their nearest and certainly their most important relation.
“Do you have time to stay?” the father asked.
“I am afraid I do not have time to stay long,” Lord Lipton replied. “But I do have time to stay for a bit before my carriage arrives to pick me up and deliver me home.”
“You have not been home yet?” the father continued.
“No, it was already late afternoon last night by the time I arrived in Hull, and I hurried to get as close to home as I could, but it was night by the time I reached Market Weighton and the carriage was unwilling to go further because of fears of highwaymen,” Lord Lipton answered.
“There have been a few footpads around,” the father replied, seriously.
“This is an outrage,” Lord Lipton answered.
“It is indeed, and you would certainly be a target in a chaise and four, especially since you are unfamiliar with these parts.” Lord Lipton owned that this was indeed the case and the reason why he had consented to spend the night in an inn in this town. “It is fortunate at any rate that you have been able to visit our town and see us.”
“I am glad you consider it fortunate,” Lord Lipton answered, looking at his two scapegrace cousins with pursed lips.
“Have you already had breakfast?” the father asked. Lord Lipton replied that he had, but was then asked if he wanted to have anything to drink. He asked about what the options were and chose some breakfast tea to have with a few lumps of sugar to continue their conversation for a bit. During that time they caught up a bit on his affairs, how it was the had found out he was the Viscount Lipton, and why he had not immediately rushed home. Lord Lipton did not give away any confidential details, but they were all interested to see that he had been involved in various affairs in Florida and then in the West Indies and had gotten the news from the government rather than from anyone in the family.
This struck the household as rather ominous, but Lord Lipton replied that there was scarcely anyone in the household who would have known who he was anyway, considering that his father and mother had never lived in Orient House while they were married and had long lived in the southern colonies where his father was, like him, engaged in the king’s business. They all owned that this was true, but that it would be rather strange for the household to recognize that they had a new master in charge whose will they would be subject to and whose ways they did not know.
“I trust that they will pick up on things soon enough,” Lord Lipton replied. “I expect them to be fast learners.”
“I hope they are, for their sake,” the father replied, as a man well-aware of the ways of servants. Lord Lipton heartily agreed, and before too long, not wishing to overstay his welcome, thanked his relations for their kind hospitality, politely waved at his cousins, and walked outside and then made his way back to the inn. It had been an eventful morning by the time that the carriage came to Market Weighton to pick him up and bring him to his new home.