The Fifteenth Lord of Stultshire, sat in his drawing room, watching the motorcars pull up outside of his historic abode. His family tree was lain bare on his gravel pathway leading to the mansion. Sons mingled with Daughters, Aunts with Uncles, obscure cousins no one seemed to know. There they all headed towards the ancient manor house, the epicentre of this branching network. He had summoned them there, he had an important issue to discuss. The inheritance. His Lordship was an exceptionally old fellow. Now it was time to arrange what would happen on… well, he didn’t like to dwell on it.
His Lordship caught a glimpse of his half-reflected face in the window. His features now exaggerated by time. His “distinguished” nose was now a reddened swollen mess. His brows were a thick tangle of black and white hair, almost like they were compensating for the lack of any on his scalp. Deeps wrinkles snaked across his plump face, he had a life of decadence to thank for that.
The bell rang from the entrance, his loyal staff eagerly answered the door. He could hear the footsteps of his faithful butler, Lawson, as he approached the drawing room. The door slowly creaked open.
“Your lordship, they are here.”
His Lordship rose slowly from his seat, his joints grinding and groaning as he did so. He slowly turned to the door held open by Lawson, who was standing bolt upright like one of those statues from the parlour, or was that in the smoking room. His Lordship had never been one to ask for help. That was something that had been thrust into his lap. The proverbial silver spoon was permanently held between his lips. He made his way past and headed down the stairs slowly taking his time. Awaiting at the bottom was a group of some of the most influential people in the country. Politicians, writers, actors. They all bowed down to him. His Lordship made his way to the main dining hall as a gaggle of desperately clingy young men eagerly held doors open for their beloved uncle or grandfather or whatever. They were licking his boots as he made his way to his seat. There was a brawl going on as minor relatives eagerly held his seat back for him. He took his seat at the head of the long thin dining table. Before him on either side stretched relatives as far as the eye could see. They were all eagerly discussing any slander they could. So and So got his maid pregnant, What’s his name preferred gentlemanly company and old thingy was still as mad as a box of frogs. God how much energy must they waste in this endless gibberish.
Finally, the food arrived. A cornucopia of perfectly cooked nourishments was laid before them. His Lordship’s extended family wasted no time as they quickly devoured anything that was laid before them. They were almost animalistic in their hunger. His Lordship could swear he could see the salvia drool from their mouths like a hound’s. The feast continued, course after course of some of the most lavish food imaginable. Strange new food from the far flung corners of the earth quickly devoured with gusto. The raw greed in these people’s hearts, laid bare for all to behold. The feast continued. Drink, drink and more drink. Wine, liquor, anything was eagerly drank down with great aplomb. Bacchus himself would be shocked at the level of alcohol that was easily imbibed by his extended family. The discussions grew rowdier, louder and more salacious with each glass. Thankfully, the meal finally drew to a close. Now it was time for what they all really wanted to sink their teeth into. His Lordship slowly forced himself to his feet.
“I have an announcement.” His Lordship croaked. The dynasty looked on, eyes intently focused on him. The drooling was back, greater than any food could conjure up.
“I have decided who should inherit the estate when I’m gone.” Insincere cries of shock came from various points at the table. Some insisted His Lordship had a long life left, all the while secretly hoping for him to leap off the mortal coil as soon as possible.
“Well, I look at this family and do you know what I see?” His Lordship paused for dramatic effect. “I see a horde of fair weather friends. A group of cads, scoundrels and vagabonds.” Murmurs of slightly confused laughter rippled across the table. Surely this was some kind of farce? “I can say with an absolute certainty that none of you reprobates deserves this position of honour and great wealth. Thus, I’ve decided to bequeath the Lordship of Stultshire to, my beloved butler, Lawson.”
The room was deathly silent, until a loud metallic clattering could be heard as the most powerful butler in the land collapsed in shock. Like boxers set to work by the ringing of a bell, a full blown kerfuffle sprang to life. Desperate pleas for compensation were mixed with angry threats all aimed at His Lordship. His Lordship calmly turned from the table as the anger and accusations of his family began to turn in on itself. Each member claiming that it was someone else’s fault and not their own. His Lordship continued up to his room, as the commotion downstairs continued. He took his seat and watched as the family feud spilled out of the manor and back towards the cars. Drunken shouting echoed across the estate, as bandy legs wearily weaved their way down the path. His Lordship had a chuckle to himself. That’ll teach them.