A Grandfather’s Promise.
A kidnap victim learns the reason behind the crime. He vows to help his captor though hard times, and get an old woman a snack.
“I am Drummond St. Clair!” The boy struggled against the rope that restrained him in the Victorian chair. His breath frosted the air as he spoke, “My grandpapa was the first Earl of Saanich.”
“Sandwich?” The old woman who sat across the dusty storage room of Grey’s Classic Antiques asked. “I could eat.”
“No, Nini,” Her grandson, Clyde said from beside the boy. “Not sandwich. Saanich. Them’s this toff’s people who are gonna pay up, or we gonna make sandwiches out of him.”
Clyde poked his knife into Drummond’s imported Italian overcoat, then simulated slitting his own neck.
“You’ll hang for this,” he shook the chair. “If you think you’ll profit from this, you’re daft.”
“Yes, I does feel a draught.” Nini said.
“No, Nini. Daft, not a drau– Oh bother.” Clyde sheathed his knife. “Me Nini’s cold. Consider this a down payment.” He snatched the scarf from the Drummond’s neck and crossed the room.
“Thank you.” She slipped the smooth silk between her fingers. “Oh no, Clyde this is too nice. We cannot afford this.”
“It’s okay, Nini. Soon we’ll be gitting all the nice things you want. Maybe git out to the country, buy us a bunch of cows.”
“A herd.” Drummond said.
“Heard a what?” Clyde asked.
“A group of cattle is called a herd of cows.”
“Of course I have heard of cows.” Nini replied.
“We ain’t daft.” Clyde added.
“No dear, I don’t feel a draught anymore.” Nini said.
“No—” He rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. “Okay, Nini. That’s good.”
“Why are you doing this?” Drummond asked. “Why don’t you simply sell all this old junk and move?”
“It ain’t that easy, you bleedin’ toff,” Clyde said as he looked back. “Since Pops passed, it’s just me and me Nini. Now she ain’t got the good sense God gave her, and she ain’t doin’ too well otherwise.”
“Petition the county for assistance. There’s support if you need it.”
“We ain’t taken welfare. Sides, your family owes us, you wouldn’t exist if it ain’t for Pops, so shuts yer trap. I got a letter to deliver.”
Clyde kissed his grandmother on the cheek. “I’ll be back in a trice, Nini. Don’ lissen to this tosser any while I’m gone. I just need to drop off a post.” He stopped as he passed Drummond, patted his knife, drew his thumb across his neck, and left through the curtain between the back room and the main store.
The bell jangled above the front door.
“Madam, my family is very powerful in these lands. Release me and I’ll see that no harm comes to you. You’ve had no part in his criminal act.” He pulled on his arms bound to the chair. “And what a heinous crime it is.”
“What time it is? Three o’clock young man. Are you and Clyde still playing your game? His Mum and Dad should be home soon. They stepped out for a pint to celebrate the new King.”
“Madam?” Drummond’s face pinched. “We haven’t had a new King since George the Sixth. That was five years ago.”
“Oh, I cannot let you go. Clyde would be so disappointed if you didn’t say farewell. Best you wait until he returns. He’s been so lonely since his grandpa passed. He was a good man, my husband. A hero. Went to fight in Austria during that nasty business on the continent. Came back with a gammy leg and one eye.”
“Austria? My grandpapa commanded a regiment there. They fought together, surely.”
“M’name’s not Shirley, sir. ‘Tis Gwendolyn Scottsdale Grey McTavish.”
Drummond eyes blinked with recognition of the name. “McTavish? Was your husband, Gregory McTavish?”
“No sir, m’name’s, Scottsdale Grey McTavish.” She bowed her head, and using her right hand did the sign of the cross, “Bless my poor Gregory’s soul.”
“I believe your husband saved my grandpapa’s life in the battle of Isonzo. His company fought so valiantly, the Crown deeded my grandfather this land. Along with the title, Earl of Saanich”
“Yes please, a sandwich sounds nice.”
“Madam, my family does indeed owe yours a great debt.” Drummond raised his voice, “My game with your grandson is indeed done. Untie me and I’ll await his return.”
“Very well, young man. But there’s no need to shout.” Each step seemed an eternity to the captive Drummond as she rose and crossed the room, unbound him, and returned to the loveseat that matched the chair to which he had been tied.
Now freed, he recognized the upholstered fabric of the furniture.
The sound of the bell alerted Drummond to his kidnapper’s return.
“I’m back, Nini.” Clyde called from the front of the store.
“I say, my good man. It seems your—” Drummond looked at the old woman’s tattered clothes, heard the clicking knitting needles in her hands. She had no comprehension of what was going on in her family’s closed antique store. His tone softened, “Your… Nini, and I have come to an understanding.”
“Nini!” Clyde ran into the storeroom, knife in hand, and saw that his captive had been untied.
Drummond held up his open hands, “Wait, I understand. I beseech you, hear me out.”
Clyde halted, but did not sheath his weapon. He looked at his Nini, seated where she had been when he left. Seated where she had been throughout the year since his pops had died.
“Our grandfathers were comrades during the war. Gregory McTavish carried my grandpapa from atop a mountain during a blizzard. It cost him all the toes on his right foot and the sight in one eye. My grandpapa vowed to repay that debt. For years, this store was given all of our old furnishings to sell. When he died, my father, the new Earl, stopped that tradition and it has cost your family dearly.”
Drummond turned to Nini, “I promise you justice, madam. It is my duty as heir to the Earl of Saanich.”
“I could eat.”