The Heir of Grittoch

Silently but surely the heir to the the castle will be found.

It seemed like the right sort of day for a funeral. The sky was light yet pitted with darkness where the clouds broke, and there was not a rain of sorts, but a dense mist, one that removed long visibility but stuck to the clothes.

The gravedigger patted his shovel on the mound and wiped his forehead. The last Farringley was now six feet under the sod and most probably warmer than he at this time.

"Come on now John, lets get a meal in you. I have much to do in the kitchen and I'm sure in exchange for a bit of help you'd like something hot and maybe even a drink to warm your cockles." The chef looked at the boy with the shovel; he was only a scrawny boy, barely taller than the tool in his hand and most probably as light. His shirt was both a cold and wet damp, a mixture of the air and his working sweat. She pulled a hankerchief from her pinafore and dabbed it to her tongue before wiping a smidgen of the muck from his face.

"Thanks Mam, what's cooking then?" He pulled his sleeve from his elbow and wiped the spittle from his face, smearing a clear line across his nose in mud.

"What isn't dear." She sighed and put her arm over his shoulder to bring him closer to her own heat. Her son was merely a shadow beneath her frame. Not large but robust and slightly muscular about the neck, ruddy in complexion and with her hair rapidly going a wiry grey; she looked a picture in her faded black dress and a what-used-to-be white apron.

They turned from the gathering of mourners and started down the estate toward the castle. It really was a castle, all stone and flags and ghostly in the countryside. Old fashioned too, everything worked as it had done for years and everything would change soon. They walked not far apart but at a distance that she would not get in the way of his swinging spade and become covered in the deaths dirt.

"I suppose we'll need to look elsewhere to work soon eh?"

"Hush my love, there is always someone else to take over; a distant cousin perhaps."

"That doesn't mean we'd stay, it just means the estate continues, they might bring their own servants and want us to move on."

"We'll be fine. Pick up that piece of wood by the way, it'll dry out enough for the fire tonight if we're lucky." The boy tucked the log under his free arm and kept quiet for the rest of the journey.He was sure his mother had only said it to keep him quiet, because he had already spent the weekend chopping wood at their cottage

Back at the grave the pastor placed the first flower atop the newly laid soil and wiped the top of the gravestone with a cloth. Because no family had shown up today the service earlier had been short, no-one wept but had been silent the whole time. Now they finally spoke, softly and without much meaning, he caught the odd clip of  what someone was going to have for dinner and some excited whispers about the coming christmas and the gifts that were being made already. It was odd not having a family mourning at the grave. Yes; they were sad but without the lord Farringley their lives would go on almost the same.

A group of clerks were discussing something in a closed circle with a man whom had turned up at the end of the service. From the gist of it he was to be the manager of the lord's affairs in the event of death, so he was obviously talking to the clerks to get some sense out of them. 'That must be it' he thought, and he started with the rest of the group down to the castle. No-one was behind him.

The End

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