Tuesday, 27 July 2010
The Millionaire (Part 2).
Father Ignatius had been invited once again to Theodore Luxton-Joyce’s mansion in the country. This time the eccentric millionaire wanted the priest to meet his bride-to-be and to discuss the arrangements for the forthcoming wedding.
There was no way that Theodore would agree to such a meeting at St Vincent Church. “It isn’t done old boy …” he said to the priest on the phone, “one cannot be seen in public accompanied by a woman if she isn’t one’s wife you know …
“We do meet from time to time, in secret of course, at the Grand Hotel tea rooms where we enjoy a cup of chai and cream cakes … but I always make a point of telling the concierge there that it is purely business … she is after all my accountant’s mother you know … and for all any body cares we may well be discussing my finances …”
“I understand,” said the priest shuffling through his diary for a free date.
“After all … you’re not seen in public with ladies are you Padre?” asked Theodore not thinking what he had just said.
“I try not to …” replied Father Ignatius raising his eyebrows to the sky and scribbling an agreed date in his diary.
On the appointed day Father Ignatius was led to the Reading Room by Theodore’s butler.
It was a large well-furnished room annexing the Library with a small table at one end with three leather armchairs around it, and another large table at the other end on which a tea service had already been set.
Theodore and an elegant tall lady stood by the armchairs. Father Ignatius walked towards them and was welcomed by his host.
“Hello Padre …” said Theodore, “how gracious of you to attend once again. May I introduce you to Mrs Leamington, the lady whom I spoke to you about at our last encounter …”
Mrs Leamington shook the priest’s hand and said smiling, “does he always speak like that?”
Father Ignatius smiled back and said nothing.
Theodore missed the comment altogether and proceeded to say, “My dear … this is Father Ignatius … the priest at St Vincent I referred to in our previous conversation …”
“Yes … I gathered …” she replied sweetly as they sat down, but not before Father Ignatius noticed that the three leather armchairs were emblazoned in gold with the letters TLJ.
No sooner had they sat down that a maid came in the room and placed a plate with a large chocolate cake on the table at the other end of the room. She was accompanied by another maid, a little older, carrying a pot of tea and a pot of coffee on a large tray. The butler waited until they placed their trays on the table and he followed them out closing the door behind him.
“Let me serve you some refreshments,” said Mrs Leamington standing up, “would you like tea or coffee Father?”
“Tea please …” replied the priest as she walked to the other end of the large room.
“Tell you what Padre …” said Theodore, “we went to a lovely new restaurant in town last night … just off the High Street … I can really recommend it … can’t remember the name right now …”
Then he lent a little forward in his armchair and whispered to the priest, “what do you call that red flower you give someone when you’re in love?”
“A rose?” whispered the priest.
“Jolly good …” cried out Theodore, and then looking at the other end of the room, “Rose … what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?”
“The Golden Cup” said Rose as she joined them to the table with a tray full of drinks and cake.
“Ha ha ha …” chortled Theodore and winking at the priest, “I bet you thought I’d say the restaurant was called Rose … hein Padre?”
Father Ignatius smiled.
“OK … down to business …” said Theodore taking control as ever. “As you may know Padre … I am half English and half Scottish … and proud of both I tell you.”
“I didn’t know,” mumbled the priest.
“My father Lord Joyce was as English as you can be … generations of English blood leading back to monarchy I tell you …” said Theodore proudly, “I once traced our family tree all the way back to the time my ancestors lived in it …”
He laughed heartily at his own joke, and went on.
“Anyway … Lord Joyce married Morag Luxton of the Clan Luxton from Northern Scotland. She was an only child and there was no way her father would see the family name die out on marriage. So my father when he wed her changed his name to Luxton-Joyce.
“That red tartan on the wall is her family’s colors. I have bought a lot of cloth and had a pair of trousers made of the stuff and a kilt too …”
“I see …” said the priest gently, calling to mind the bright red tartan trousers Theodore was wearing the last time they met.
“So bearing this in mind …” continued Theodore, as Rose poured him another cup of coffee, “I think I’ll get married in a kilt and full Scottish costume if that is OK …
“There’s no Catholic Church objection to this is there … bearing in mind the history between the Catholics and the Protestants in England and Scotland … is there?”
“No … no objection at all …” said the priest stifling a smile, “you can get married in Scottish costume if you wish …”
“That’s jolly decent of you Padre …” smiled Theodore putting down his cup, “and now something else …
“At the end … after the ceremony is over and all that … instead of departing straightaway Rose and I, … I thought if she stays there by the Altar with you I could play a short piece on the bagpipes … I’ve been practicing for some time … any objection to this from the Church?”
“No … not at all,” said Father Ignatius, “the congregation could remain seated whilst you play the bagpipes …”
“Jolly good …” enthused Theodore, “I had thought of playing this piece here …” he said handing over some music score to the priest, “Chopin Piano Concerto Number 1 … do you know it?”
“Do you intend to play Chopin piano Concerto on the bagpipes?” asked an incredulous priest.
“Better than walking up and down the center aisle carrying a grand piano …” said Theodore in all seriousness, “I have adapted it to the bagpipes you know … took me ages to re-write it but it works quite well …”
At this point Rose came to the rescue.
“Perhaps dear …” she said coyly, “you could leave the bagpipes for the reception afterwards … there would be more guests then to enjoy it …”
“Never thought of that … jolly good idea my dear …” he declared, “and so be it, … now Padre … that’s all I had in mind … any information or anything you’re unclear about for the special day?”
“Well … there are some formalities,” said Father Ignatius, “I’d like some documents such as Baptism certificates, Confirmation and …”
“Ha … paperwork ...” interrupted Theodore, “I thought as much. Fortunately Rose here has thought of that and has prepared a large file with all bits and pieces …
“Now if you’ll excuse me Padre I have an appointment with the estates manager to discuss the adjoining land we’ve just bought … so I’ll leave you to sort things out with Rose.”
And with that he stood up, kissed her hand and walked out of the room.