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Sir Geoffrey Reflects on the Royal “Request”


By Serenek Timeless, 2014-09-10

If Sir Percival Timeless were still alive he would know exactly what to do. Geoffrey often missed the sane, sensible approach his late business partner took to decision making and as much as his companionship. Come to think of it, he also missed Sir Percival's ability to judge character and understand the motivations of the people they dealt with. And Sir Percival's late wife, Elizabeth, however blunt and outspoken she had been, could manage property and oversee construction like no man he had ever met. Their daughter, Sere, had certainly inherited all of their better qualities. How sensible and able she was. It was no wonder that he had been able to leave her to manage this beautiful little island in the Bay of Naples and have things come out well. Too well, perhaps.

One thing was for certain - and he made a particular note to speak to Sere about this - she was not a girl anymore and was much too old to be calling him Uncle Geoffrey. That was cute enough when she was little and needed a name by which to address her father's business partner. But he was not her biological uncle. And she was not even his legal ward any longer because she had reached the age of majority. Legally she was his business partner, for heaven's sake. And that made it an additional bother to try to find her a husband among the noble houses of Europe - someone who would come into possession of half the firm of Edwardstone and Timeless; someone he could work with; someone who Sere would agree to marry. It was easy enough to generate interest in her since if her money was not enough her looks always did the trick. She had turned into a very pretty young woman, and was delightful company. She understood the family business. But she was damnably stubborn about who she would consider marrying and had more than once turned her back on a potential suitor he had chosen. This issue was simply too complex to think about so he put that it aside for now because it was giving him a headache. He would speak to her only about not calling him "Uncle Geoffrey."

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An early morning walk around the Rocca Sorrentina would clear his mind and let him see, first-hand and undisturbed, how things had fared in his absence. When he had first invested in the island, the young Elswit ruler had come to him wanting funding to refurbish the Villa and construct the magnificent series of waterfalls and pools that had become the island's signature. He understood from Sere that it had been necessary for her and the Professore to oversee some reconstruction recently to correct a few design flaws, but really the whole thing was quite spectacular.

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He found the Professore's assistant, Don Alfonso, in the Accademia sorting records. He was a quiet fellow and spoke English with a liberal sprinkling of Italian thrown in, but could wax eloquent on the most abstruse topics if asked the right question. Certainly nothing on the island escaped Don Alfonso's careful eye and record keeping.

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Don Alfonso had nothing but good to say about the workings of the Council of Magistrates: how they had carefully nurtured the island's tourist and commercial trades and expanded the vineyards and honey businesses. Indeed Sir Geoffrey's own observations confirmed the commercial success of the island.

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Tiring a bit from his walk, Sir Geoffrey sat down to review the sequence of events for the umpteenth time in his own mind. The firm of Edwardstone and Timeless was now the legal owner of Rocca Sorrentina. The documents he and Sere had presented to King Ferdinand and Queen Marie Carolina had secured the royal deed of ownership. But the question of how to handle the governorship of the island arose at the very first dinner he and Sere had at the palace. Sir Geoffrey was not sure it had been wise of Sere to blurt out that no one on the island, and certainly not the Council of Magistrates, had so much as set eyes on Colonello Pompeo Vecchio who had been the putative Royal Governor for several years. A few days later, after some inquiries, which included a personal visit by Prime Minister Sir John Acton to the old Colonello himself, it became clear that the redoubtable Pompeo Vecchio, hero of numerous battles in the past, was descending into his senile dotage and had altogether forgotten that he had been appointed governor of Rocca Sorrentina.

It had been quite a surprise to Sir Geoffrey to be summoned before the Queen and told that he, Geoffrey Edwardstone, loyal subject of King George III of England, would be appointed Royal Governor of Rocca Sorrentina. The queen, it seemed, was much interested and a bit amused by this new idea that regions could be adequately administered by a Council of Magistrates composed of ordinary people rather than by a nobleman. It was, she said, a personal request of him to act as governor, and she made it clear how terribly useful it would be to the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily to have Sir Geoffrey close at hand. Sere had been delighted with all this, though he himself had not been pleased at all.

What the Queen means, Sir Geoffrey had groused to Sir John later, is that it will be terribly useful to have the financial resources of Edwardstone and Timeless close at hand. I dont see how I can continue to do business elsewhere if I am stuck on a little island in the Bay of Naples all the time.

In reply, Sir John Action had put it all in perspective, "Well you own it, why not govern it too? You can't turn down the Queen. And anyhow, old Pompeo Vecchio has conclusively demonstrated that Rocca Sorrentinas governor need not actually be there to govern it, hasnt he? Just let things continue as they have been."

Perhaps Sir John was right. There would have to be one more trip back to Naples to receive the sash and the Royal Governor's Seal. There would be a proclamation of appointment and some celebratory folderol, and then Sir Geoffrey could come and go as he pleased. Of course he would have to leave Sere on the island indefinitely to continue to work with the other magistrates. This thought made him frown. Their just-concluded business trip reminded him that she was wonderful company and had good business judgment, both quite valuable in a traveling companion and business partner. He could certainly use her skills in other ventures. What's more, it would really be so much easier to find her a husband if he could take her with him. Now his headache was starting to come back, which made him very cross.

There must be something quite magical about the ocean breeze on a warm summer day on a little island in the Bay of Naples because, suddenly, the perfect solution came to him. Yes! That's exactly what he would do assuming Sere was agreeable.

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Lady Sere's Journal, Part 1


By Serenek Timeless, 2014-08-12

From Lady Seres Journal, 9 August 1784

Our business in Brussels was concluded quite successfully, though at times I felt as if I was being given an examination by my old tutors. Once the late Principe was declared legally dead, the matter of the extensive loans he took out to complete the renovation of the Villa Vesuviana, the gardens, and the magnificent waterfalls and cascades took quite some time to be resolvedsatisfactorily. He had pledged the ownership of the island as collateral on the loans, and the banking firm of Edwardstone and Timeless was a principal holder of those notes of debt. Our trip to Brussels was for the purpose of buying out the interests the other debt holders. The transactions were based on the set of reports and inventories I had prepared, and it seemed to offend several of the gentlemen involved that they could find no flaws in documents prepared by a woman, especially when I was able to give thorough answers to their detailed, picayune and, at times, pointless questions.

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We were detained in Naples on our return by news of the Yellow Fever quarantine on Rocca Sorrentina. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria Carolina were most hospitable during our stay, perhaps because Uncle Geoffrey also had important financial business to conduct with the Neapolitan Finance Minister, Sir John Acton. We had stopped in Naples only to obtain an ownership deed for Rocca Sorrentina, but the King and Queen made an additional request, one that has made Uncle Geoffrey quite cross since he can hardly refuse a royal request. Of course in the case of Rocca Sorrentina he couldnt follow his usual habit of selling property acquired as settlement for unpaid loans at a profit anyhow the firm owns the property and hed need my approval too to make a sale, which I wont give. But the King and Queen have definitely complicated any arrangements we might otherwise make. So Uncle Geoffrey has come to appraise the property as he so artlessly puts it, and we will have to figure out what we are going to do about the royal request.

Posted in: default | 3 comments

Lady Sere's Journal, Part 1


By Serenek Timeless, 2014-08-12

From Lady Seres Journal, 9 August 1784

Our business in Brussels was concluded quite successfully, though at times I felt as if I was being given an examination by my old tutors. Once the late Principe was declared legally dead, the matter of the extensive loans he took out to complete the renovation of the Villa Vesuviana, the gardens, and the magnificent waterfalls and cascades took quite some time to be resolvedsatisfactorily. He had pledged the ownership of the island as collateral on the loans, and the banking firm of Edwardstone and Timeless was a principal holder of those notes of debt. Our trip to Brussels was for the purpose of buying out the interests the other debt holders. The transactions were based on the set of reports and inventories I had prepared, and it seemed to offend several of the gentlemen involved that they could find no flaws in documents prepared by a woman, especially when I was able to give thorough answers to their detailed, picayune and, at times, pointless questions.

926_blogs.png?width=750

We were detained in Naples on our return by news of the Yellow Fever quarantine on Rocca Sorrentina. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria Carolina were most hospitable during our stay, perhaps because Uncle Geoffrey also had important financial business to conduct with the Neapolitan Finance Minister, Sir John Acton. We had stopped in Naples only to obtain an ownership deed for Rocca Sorrentina, but the King and Queen made an additional request, one that has made Uncle Geoffrey quite cross since he can hardly refuse a royal request. Of course in the case of Rocca Sorrentina he couldnt follow his usual habit of selling property acquired as settlement for unpaid loans at a profit anyhow the firm owns the property and hed need my approval too to make a sale, which I wont give. But the King and Queen have definitely complicated any arrangements we might otherwise make. So Uncle Geoffrey has come to appraise the property as he so artlessly puts it, and we will have to figure out what we are going to do about the royal request.

Posted in: default | 3 comments

Homecoming


By Serenek Timeless, 2014-08-08

Constanzo had finished cutting down the sea grasses by the edge of the little island with his scythe and had cleared the courtyard garden of weeds. Donna Sere is unduly particular about her flowers, he thought, but then all English ladies have their pequeos fastidios, and as employers go she is really not so bad.

Donna Sere was away on business, and he and the household staff had been lucky this past week. The workload had been light, and none of them had gotten ill from the fever that had overtaken the main island. Young Gino, the cooks son, had been on the main island getting fish and wine when the quarantine had been imposed, and had stayed there so as not to bring back any contagion to the rest of the household. Gino waved to them from the end of the long pier across the harbor twice a day to assure them he was ok.

Constanzo was just leaving the garden by the back gate to start in on the hedges when he saw a large and impressive schooner slowing to a halt a short distance offshore. As the anchor dropped, Constanzos jaw dropped too. For just below the Royal Neapolitan flag, the ship was also flying the coat of arms that appeared on all the official correspondence of Donna Seres family banking enterprise.

Donna Sere does not raise the Edwardstone and Timeless insignia when she travels by ship, he muttered aloud.

If she is returning from her trip, then why .? but his thought was cut short when he noticed the tall, erect, and very dapper middle-aged gentleman standing next to Donna Sere on the foredeck.

Constanzo had met this gentleman only once before several years ago but it was someone he could not fail to recognize. Santa Mara, madre de Dios, nos salvar a todos! There would be no rest for the household staff; Sir Geoffrey Edwardstone had arrived. And so shouting through the back door to rouse the rest of the staff to their stations, Constanzo ran around the house to the dock, cast off, maneuvered the household skiff to the schooner, and moored alongside.

No sooner had he come within hailing distance, than he heard Donna Seres familiar voice call out, Is it safe to come ashore, Constanzo? We were held up in Naples because of the quarantine. Is there illness in the household?

Si I mean no I mean there has been no illness out here in your household and s, it is safe to come ashore here. The fishermen who have been passing by here today have shouted to us that the fever has been waning on the main island and the quarantine may soon be lifted.

Very quickly a wide plank was set between the two vessels and the First Mate came across carrying a large number of boxes. Donna Sere obviously had time to shop on this trip. The mate offered his hand to Donna Sere and she stepped across followed by Luisa, her maid, and finally Sir Geoffrey himself. There was room for just one more trunk when the mate crossed back to the schooner - but from the amount of baggage and cargo stacked amidship ready for offloading, it was clear to Constanzo that he would have to make several more trips.

Sir Geoffrey was already studying the outside of harbor masters house and the rear garden, appraising the reconstruction that Donna Sere had overseen the previous winter. Although fastidious in appearance, Sir Geoffrey was obviously a well-travelled gentleman who was as at home at sea and on horseback as he was in the royal courts and noble homes of Europe and the Turkish Empire. He had an eye for detail, a preference for order and precision, and nothing of importance escaped his attention. No wonder the banking firm was so successful.

Donna Sere sat very quietly and still as the skiff cast off and headed around the island to the dock. Stepping off first, Sir Geoffrey took in the front of the house and then turned and offered his hand to Donna Sere with a wide smile and a nod. Constanzo saw Donna Sere make that little roll of her eyes accompanied by a slight smile - the expression she reserves for her moments of silent annoyance like when Don Aldo rattles on too long about some arcane matter. But the annoyance passed quickly and she smiled.

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And as the travelers were ushered inside by the butler, Constanzo set off for another trip out to the schooner, wondering to himself, Why in the world is Sir Geoffrey here?

Posted in: default | 3 comments

Homecoming


By Serenek Timeless, 2014-08-08

Constanzo had finished cutting down the sea grasses by the edge of the little island with his scythe and had cleared the courtyard garden of weeds. Donna Sere is unduly particular about her flowers, he thought, but then all English ladies have their pequeos fastidios, and as employers go she is really not so bad.

Donna Sere was away on business, and he and the household staff had been lucky this past week. The workload had been light, and none of them had gotten ill from the fever that had overtaken the main island. Young Gino, the cooks son, had been on the main island getting fish and wine when the quarantine had been imposed, and had stayed there so as not to bring back any contagion to the rest of the household. Gino waved to them from the end of the long pier across the harbor twice a day to assure them he was ok.

Constanzo was just leaving the garden by the back gate to start in on the hedges when he saw a large and impressive schooner slowing to a halt a short distance offshore. As the anchor dropped, Constanzos jaw dropped too. For just below the Royal Neapolitan flag, the ship was also flying the coat of arms that appeared on all the official correspondence of Donna Seres family banking enterprise.

Donna Sere does not raise the Edwardstone and Timeless insignia when she travels by ship, he muttered aloud.

If she is returning from her trip, then why .? but his thought was cut short when he noticed the tall, erect, and very dapper middle-aged gentleman standing next to Donna Sere on the foredeck.

Constanzo had met this gentleman only once before several years ago but it was someone he could not fail to recognize. Santa Mara, madre de Dios, nos salvar a todos! There would be no rest for the household staff; Sir Geoffrey Edwardstone had arrived. And so shouting through the back door to rouse the rest of the staff to their stations, Constanzo ran around the house to the dock, cast off, maneuvered the household skiff to the schooner, and moored alongside.

No sooner had he come within hailing distance, than he heard Donna Seres familiar voice call out, Is it safe to come ashore, Constanzo? We were held up in Naples because of the quarantine. Is there illness in the household?

Si I mean no I mean there has been no illness out here in your household and s, it is safe to come ashore here. The fishermen who have been passing by here today have shouted to us that the fever has been waning on the main island and the quarantine may soon be lifted.

Very quickly a wide plank was set between the two vessels and the First Mate came across carrying a large number of boxes. Donna Sere obviously had time to shop on this trip. The mate offered his hand to Donna Sere and she stepped across followed by Luisa, her maid, and finally Sir Geoffrey himself. There was room for just one more trunk when the mate crossed back to the schooner - but from the amount of baggage and cargo stacked amidship ready for offloading, it was clear to Constanzo that he would have to make several more trips.

Sir Geoffrey was already studying the outside of harbor masters house and the rear garden, appraising the reconstruction that Donna Sere had overseen the previous winter. Although fastidious in appearance, Sir Geoffrey was obviously a well-travelled gentleman who was as at home at sea and on horseback as he was in the royal courts and noble homes of Europe and the Turkish Empire. He had an eye for detail, a preference for order and precision, and nothing of importance escaped his attention. No wonder the banking firm was so successful.

Donna Sere sat very quietly and still as the skiff cast off and headed around the island to the dock. Stepping off first, Sir Geoffrey took in the front of the house and then turned and offered his hand to Donna Sere with a wide smile and a nod. Constanzo saw Donna Sere make that little roll of her eyes accompanied by a slight smile - the expression she reserves for her moments of silent annoyance like when Don Aldo rattles on too long about some arcane matter. But the annoyance passed quickly and she smiled.

916_blogs.jpg?width=750

And as the travelers were ushered inside by the butler, Constanzo set off for another trip out to the schooner, wondering to himself, Why in the world is Sir Geoffrey here?

Posted in: default | 3 comments