“And terribly bad form,” Wislydale drawled. “Please curtail your instincts, Pinsnip; we mustn’t invite a scandal, no matter how simple it might make things. And as for you, Kolb old chap, I quite agree,” he turned to face his cousin. “This paper won’t stop her; she’ll think of something, but it will keep her tied up for a year at least, and the estate will transfer to her legal guardian while she’s away. And that would be her closest living relative who, thanks to her preemptive action, is…?” He paused suggestively like a schoolmaster, the question hanging in the air for someone to answer.
“Someone much easier to manipulate,” Kolb smiled. “You think we should simply shift our attentions to a somewhat simpler target?” Junapa nodded slowly, while Tunansia remained still and silent. Edmund leaned an inch closer. Were they talking about him?
“He would be far easier to deal with than Matron, that is without question,” Junapa said, cocking her head to one side.
“I don’t like the idea of having to butter up that brat,” Tunansia muttered darkly, fingering her locket.
“Than you needn’t bother,” shrugged Wislydale. “Go back to Grimms empty-handed. I’m sure the rest of us will be more than willing to deal with the situation without your interference.”
“No, it won’t work,” Pinsnip suddenly groaned, sitting down heavily on a nearby chair. “The estate won’t fall to him…because…well…legally…he’s not of age yet. Any contract he takes part in becomes…his guardian’s. Control of the estate would fall to… his legal parent…”
“That’s absurd,” Wislydale sputtered, waving the paper in the air like a flag. “She’s mentally unfit!”
“I’m sure your well paid lawyer would love to lever open that legal whip-lashing of the law,” Kolb chuckled. “But it seems things are not quite as clear cut as you’d hoped, dear cousin. I hope you haven’t sent a copy of that letter to anyone else? The newspapers, perhaps?”
“Certainly not!” said Wislydale, looking offended. “It’s none of their business!”
“So at the moment, we’re right back where we started from,” Junapa said, walking slowly across the room, sipping at her drink.
“Well… not quite,” Wislydale rallied. “If nothing else, I believe Pinsnip gave a very reasonable suggestion earlier. I’m lead to believe that adopted children tend to run away or vanish all the time. There’s hardly any scandal in that, now is there?”
“You can try and explain that to the other families if you’d like,” Kolb shrugged. “I’m sure Matron would have a few things to say… and now that you’ve mentioned it in front of all of us, I assume we all would too, if anyone asked.”
“I’m afraid there’s not much else to be done,” Pinsnip shrugged. “Unless you think we should start flattering two people, now, instead of just one.”
“Why bother?” Tricknee snorted. “He won’t last long anyway.”