you,â she managed.
Ten days later she arrived home from school as her aunt was leaving the house, bundled against an icy wind. âHeâs gone,â she said. âThe hospital needs us.â
Elisabeth stood shivering in the snow as her aunt moved past. Agatha stopped and looked impatient. Elisabeth had thought she was prepared for this day, yet the pain bit a hole in her that would never be filled. âIâm sorry for your loss, Aunt Agatha,â she said quietly.
Agatha Erastus squinted and cocked her head. âYes,â she said. âThank you. And the same to you for yours.â
At the hospital, her fatherâs nurse friend, red-eyed, handed Elisabeth a business card with the name and address of a lawyer on the front and a note scribbled in pencil on the back. âPlease give to Elisabeth at the appropriate time.â
As Aunt Agatha signed papers, Elisabeth sat alone with her memories. Pastor Hill soon joined her. He simply sat and wept with her. His was the most poignant response of the hundreds who attended the funeral. The only other who knew enough to say nothing was Will Bishop, whose own father was near death.
Two weeks later Elisabeth came home from school to find her Aunt Agatha stewing in the living room with a well-dressed man in his late forties. âWonât speak to me, Elisabeth,â Agatha said. âOnly to you.â
Marlin Beck, Esq., whose card Elisabeth had been given at the hospital, rose briefly to greet her. âI have been assigned executor of your fatherâs estate,â he said, settling back down. âMuch to the consternation of your aunt, Iâm afraid.â
âAnd weâll see what my lawyer says about that,â Agatha chirped.
âHeâll find the documents in order, maâam,â Beck said.
âMy brother was in no condition to draw up a will. I couldnât get him to so much as look intoââ
âPardon me, Mrs. Erastus, but there was no need. He had prepared his will very early on in his illness and was of sound mind. You would be ill-advised to contest it.â
âAre you my lawyer now as well?â
âI beg your pardon. But you might wish to hear the will before deciding to contest it.â
Elisabeth eyed her. âDo you have a lawyer, Aunt Agatha?â
The old woman turned away. âI can easily retain one.â
âYou would contest your own brotherâs will?â
âIâd let you have everything before Iâd fight you over one shoestring,â Elisabeth said, desperate to keep from raising her voice.
âMiss LeRoy,â Mr. Beck said, âI urge you not to speak from emotion. Your father precluded eventualities such as this by having his affairs put in order. I should think everyone involved would desire to accede to his wishes.
âThose wishes, as outlined in his will, were that his entire estate be put into a trust for Elisabeth and that she be given full access to it at age eighteen. In the meantime, his sister is to be allowed to stay in the house in exchange for her guardianship. The property is not to be sold before Elisabeth is of age, and its disposition will be solely at her discretion.â
Mr. Beck read, ââIt is my expectation and hope that my daughter, Elisabeth Grace LeRoy, shall treat my sister, Agatha LeRoy Erastus, with the Christian charity she deserves for the rest of her natural life.ââ
âHow do you interpret that, Mr. Beck?â Agatha demanded.
He seemed to fight a smile. âHow much Christian charity do you deserve?â
âThatâs not amusing.â
âDr. LeRoy was a plain-speaking man, Mrs. Erastus. I expect he wishes Elisabeth to provide reasonably for you in gratitude for your years of service.â
Agatha pursed her lips and shook her head. âI came here years ago in the midst of my own grief and had to be reminded every day of the precious baby
Cari Quinn, Taryn Elliott