Introducing The Earl
The Earl of Kenby (surviving) had never been very close to the Earl of Kenby (deceased). In fact, were they to pass each other on the streets, it’s not this author’s opinion they would even recognize on another but for the crest on the latter’s carriage. The crest, the Earl (surviving) knew quite well.
It was no secret that James Summerville, Earl of Kenby (deceased) despised the idea that his “nephew” Royce Summerville, a member of the impoverished until inheriting, was the only surviving male of the Summersville family. Related by marriage several cousins up, over, removed and quite honestly forgotten about, he and the Earl (surviving) shared a healthy correspondence of hatred tempered only by intense hatred.
They met once, when Royce was all of eight, after the Earl essentially shot himself in the foot by searching out the nearest male relation when his wife died without producing an heir. (This author also believes that had he Earl died without ever knowing to whom his entailed estates would go, he might have died happier…but that might give the vile little man more credit than he was due.) He could possibly even have liked the boya sturdy, strapping and quick minded child that redefined healthy and halewere it not so widely known that not a single Summerville male had light hair, blue eyes or could ever be described as hale in any dimension, thus their predicament of no viable male heirs.
It was rumored, actually, that the Earl himself had been born coughing and that he simply had no idea how to breathe silentlyanother Summerville regularity that may have had a hand in the declination of their species. The introduction led to investigation after investigation, meaning the boy was well versed with the word “bastard” before he reached his first decade. Upon having no male issue himselfdespite efforts that just short of ruined his reputationthe previous Earl sought to find a loophole of any sort that might allow him to pass the title onto one of his hand-chosen sons-in-laws, who would no doubt fear him even in death and see that the Earl’s wishes were paid attention to. He was stymied again and again. Worse, though he had made several efforts to quash the scoundrel, Royce was well-received by the Tonwho found his obvious bastardy a hilarious counterpoint to his natural charm, wit and typical rakehell qualities.
In the end, none of the Earl’s machinations were able to prove Royce’s mother’s unfaithfulness (the lad’s resourcefulness must needs have originated at some point) and so it waswith a wry twist of his lipsthat the Earl of Kenby (surviving) took on the properties, stocks, seats and , most importantly funds of the Earl of Kenby (deceased).
It was also how he, at the stout age of thirty and three, found himself the only suspect in the murder.