Theodore Luxton-Joyce was a millionaire widower. He inherited wealth from his father Lord Joyce and he lived in a mansion on the edge of town in beautiful countryside surroundings. He drove a very old classic car which he prized above all else – or so it seemed, and he always wore a three-piece suit made of heavy woolen cloth and a Sherlock Holmes type hat. He carried an expensive gold watch in a small pocket in his vest with a gold chain leading up to a button hole to which it was attached.
He had a thick white toothbrush moustache punctuating a clean shaven thick set jaw and square face.
He often carried a walking stick with a silver plated lion’s head for a handle. It was just for effect of course, he being a fit and truly handsome sixty year old gentleman.
He was certainly quite a sight around town in his luxury old automobile, his attire and walking stick, not to mention of course his perfect English accent no doubt taught him in the best private schools.
He was often teased by people saying he’d been born in the wrong age; and he’d fit better in Victorian times or thereabouts. He’d chuckle heartily and say “And what grand times they were for England … I’d certainly would have improved them by my mere presence …”
Perhaps he didn’t know it, but he was a real romantic at heart, not that he would admit it to anyone of course. It would probably ruin his image, he thought, as the tough talking lord of the manor with no time for such nonsense.
Deep down, however, he was a kind and gentle man and had never forgotten his beloved departed wife. He prayed for her, as best he could, and often asked Father Ignatius to celebrate Mass for the repose of her soul; on her birthday, their wedding day and on the anniversary of her death.
But secretly of course … he never announced the Mass intention in the Church’s Newsletter as was customary in St Vincent Parish. The Mass, always on a Sunday, would be posted in the Newsletter as “Private Intention” and he’d attend and sit on the front pew, and wink gently at Father Ignatius as he came out of the Sacristy and on to the Altar.
One evening Father Ignatius visited Theodore in his mansion, at the man’s invitation, for a private chat.
Father Ignatius was rather intrigued as he waited in the large library filled with books which had never been opened or read for ages. He’d never visited the mansion before, and from what he had seen so far, he understood why people suggested Theodore was born in the wrong age. He’d only been there for half-an-hour and he’d already met the gardener busily pruning the prize rose bushes, the butler who opened the front door and the maid who brought him tea served in the best porcelain and expensive biscuits which you would certainly not find at the supermarket!
Theodore claimed he lived alone, which is strictly true, if you don’t count the live-in entourage of staff to look after the house and surrounding land.
Moments later the butler opened the door and in came Theodore. He was wearing bright red tartan trousers, a dark blue open-necked shirt and a large cravat round his neck held together by a red jewel on a ring, and a navy blue blazer with the initials TLJ embroidered in gold on the lapel.
Father Ignatius did not flinch a muscle, but smiled silently deep within his soul.
“How nice of you to agree to meet me …” said Theodore, as the butler left the room closing the door behind him, “I’d like a private chat if I may … one cannot be seen visiting you in Church you understand!”
“I understand …” said the priest sitting down again.
“Jolly good … but first let me offer you something stronger than Darjeeling tea … I have the finest selection of single malt whisky … or a glass of vintage wine if you prefer …”
Father Ignatius preferred to continue with the pot of tea, whilst Theodore helped himself to some wine.
“Well …” he hesitated, “I’d like your opinion on certain delicate matters … you being such a knowledgeable individual and all that …”
The priest smiled feebly.
“It’s about my dear wife …” he hesitated again, “I really miss her … do you think she’s in Heaven?”
“I would say so …” replied the priest hesitating in turn and wondering where this was leading to, “she was a good person, and I was there in hospital administering the last Sacraments when she died … so I would say the angels were with her that night …”
“Jolly good … jolly good …” repeated Theodore as he sipped a little wine, “I really miss her … as I said … terrible thing her dying so quickly after such a short illness …”
“I understand …” repeated the priest still confused about this conversation.
“How long is it decent to mourn for someone’s death … do you think?” asked Theodore abruptly.
“Well …” Father Ignatius was taken aback by the question, “there’s no set period of decency as such … different people deal with death in their own way and in their own time. Matilda died six years ago if I remember right …”
“You remember too damn right …” interrupted Theodore, “pardon my language Father … and not a day passes by without me thinking about her and hoping she’d be with me here …”
The priest said nothing and put his cup down on the table.
“Is it right for an old man like me to be in love?” he asked, “I am 60 you know …”
“There is no set age to be in love …” continued the priest gently as he was interrupted once again.
“The thing is … I love my wife … I love her dearly believe me … But …” he hesitated once again, and the priest said nothing, now totally baffled at what was going on here.
“Ok … let’s get to the point …” Theodore blurted out putting down his glass of wine, “the thing is I have needed an accountant for the last six months or so. I don’t have a head for figures and all that … it is all Greek to me … yet the tax people want the accounts properly audited and all that … sheer nonsense I say … so I spoke to my solicitors … you probably know them … Sterling Cash and Banks in the High Street …”
The priest nodded silently, now totally overcome with confusion at what Theodore was leading to.
“Anyway …” said Theodore, “the solicitors put me in touch with this accountant … Geraldine Leamington … a lovely young lady of thirty odd years … she’s very competent you know … if ever you want an accountant to do the Sunday collection for you …
“Anyway … as I said … Geraldine has been coming here for at least six months now … she’s like a magician you know … she went through those figures like a hot knife through butter … she checked the books for the past six years … I’d made a right mess of them apparently … all Greek to me as I say …
“Ha ha …” he laughed heartily pouring himself another glass of wine, “turns out I’d made such a pig’s ear of the accounts that the tax man apparently owes me money … I’ve been overpaying for years … she managed to claim back a tidy sum I tell you … I received the check from the tax man last week …
“You don’t need her to count the Sunday collection do you?”
“No thanks …” mumbled Father Ignatius politely.
“Back to business …” continued Theodore, “the thing is … she’s been coming here for six months or so and we got to know each other and her family … and, not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve fallen in love again and wish to get married … is that all right do you think?”
“You wish to marry the young lady?” asked the priest cautiously.
“Of course not …” said Theodore getting a little red in the face, “what do you think I am? She is half my age you know … wouldn’t have the energy old boy …
“No … you’re way off beam Padre … I wish to marry her mother. She’s a widow … about my age … fifty-nine actually … but don’t tell her I told you. Women you know … they never reveal their age apparently …
“I’ve been meeting Geraldine’s mother in secret for a while … we meet in the Grand Hotel for tea … do you know it … in the High Street.
“We get on rather well … but I’m not so sure about love at my age … is it possible? And is it OK to marry again? Will my dear wife understand?”
Father Ignatius asked for a drop of vintage whisky to calm his nerves a little.
The wedding is scheduled in four months time at St Vincent Church with Father Ignatius officiating.
Theodore has still to decide on what music will be played in church on that day. Father Ignatius suggested that he leaves all decisions to his bride to be … at least then matters would be organized in time!
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