The Larnachs

The Larnachs by Owen Marshall Read Free Book Online

Book: The Larnachs by Owen Marshall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Owen Marshall
father’s abilities. The Otago papers regularly refer to William Larnach as one of the richest men in the colony, with interests and involvements that go from one end of the country to the other, and overseas. But he is, as Donny says, an expansionist, full of optimism about potential. He possesses an instinct for a good deal, and the banking and business experience to create an enterprise. When things were going well, when finance could be easily obtained, then most things thrived, but money’s being called in now, and people like Stout, Vogel, Ward and Father are feelingthe squeeze for that ready cash he talks about. Guthrie & Larnach has officially been wound up, but proceedings drag on and he bleeds money because of it.
    I know he’s drawn Alfred Brandon into land speculation. I assume Conny is aware of her brother’s involvement. I hope the association remains without recrimination on either side, for Father can be hasty at times and Alfred was initially cool about the marriage itself. I know for a fact that before the wedding he asked Father what settlement he was prepared to make on Conny, and was dissatisfied with the answer: no settlement, just the pledge of a loving husband to support her and provide for her in his will. The de Bathe Brandon family have an assumption of privilege, but there’s no evidence of significant importance in their past. Most in the colony are in the same position, and that’s the main reason they’re here, I imagine. I’ve had little opportunity to get to know Alfred. He’s nine years older and he patronises me also because I lack the gloss that Oxford has given him.
    Donny, Colleen and Alice are even more uneasy, for a contrary reason: the fear that Father will leave everything to Conny, and so our inheritance will be lost, including the money Mother brought to her marriage. I’m prepared to trust Father, and Gladys is too young to understand the matter. He’s been generous to us in the past, and has told me several times that he intends The Camp eventually to be mine. I see nothing in Conny that leads me to think she is hostile to the rest of us, and Father has never been one to be led by the nose in anything! Perhaps Conny has yet to learn that.
    If Kate were alive, she may have been the one to achievefamily harmony. She saw no reason for people to be at odds, and thought goodwill and toleration would solve everything. We all loved her; Conny liked her. Donny is offhand and scoffs at Father’s third marriage. No fool like an old fool, he says openly, though he admits Conny is a fine figure of a woman, and has no particular animosity towards her, or the Brandon family. For Colleen and Alice something more personal seems to be at work, which I don’t fully understand. No one expects them to see Conny as their mother, but they also make it clear that they don’t recognise her as Father’s wife in the way to which she’s entitled. Colleen bridles because Conny’s less than a decade older than her, and more than twenty years younger than Father. It’s embarrassing when they’re in society together, Colleen and Alice say. The way Father displays Conny and attempts to play the younger man. It’s like a slap in the face for our mother. In some female fashion they seem to find it logical to blame Conny for Father’s wish to have her.
    For myself, I hope to make a more reasonable, less immediate judgement. And I won’t have Gladys prejudiced by her sisters’ opinions. At her age she’s still essentially of the household and must be allowed the best opportunity to be happy with her father and Conny when she is home from school. Colleen and Alice prefer not to come to The Camp. They have much of their lives elsewhere and make obvious their preference for other company.
    I met Conny first in Wellington as the daughter of Father’s friend, just one of a rather self-assured and outspoken tribe. The marriage was as much a surprise to me as to the rest of the family, and to

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