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    Mark Arbour
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Odyssey - 77. Chapter 77

The Final Chapter

December 26, 1798

Portland Place, London

 

Granger climbed into the carriage, and Winkler followed him, both of them dodging the light rain as they did. “Not the best day for a trip, my lord,” Winkler noted.

“You are fortunate that I am fond enough of you to allow you to keep me company,” Granger noted. Otherwise Winkler would be stuck on top of the coach with the coachman.

“It is a dubious honor, my lord,” Winkler said, making Granger chuckle. Granger had enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with his family, and had even gotten to meet his nephew. It was difficult for Granger to know if the baby was his or Freddie’s, but perhaps as the child got older, his true parentage would be more discernible. Celebrating Christmas had reminded Granger of his duty to his men, who were down in the Abbey, and he had decided that it would do him good to get out of London for a day and go visit them. That he had chosen a day when there was miserable weather was unfortunate, but he decided that it would be undignified to change his plans over a few drops of rain.

Granger looked over at Winkler, who sat there, gazing out the window, and then in at Granger, his countenance betraying the apprehension he was guarding. He had done this a few times since Granger had gotten back, and Granger knew that in order to find out what was bothering Winkler, he’d have to get it out of him. “What is disturbing you, Winkler?”

Winkler looked at Granger, about to deny that there was an irritant, and then realized that was futile. “I promised to be loyal to Your Lordship, and to relay information that may involve you.”

“And you have such information?”

“I do, my lord, but if I tell you, I worry that you will be vexed at either your wife, or other parties involved,” Winkler said.

“So you must decide whom you fear more: me or my wife,” Granger said with a smile.

“I will trust Your Lordship’s usually sound instincts,” Winkler said, frowning. “There was an unpleasant exchange while you were gone between Her Ladyship and Captain Calvert.”

Granger’s brows began to furrow to show his anger at both Caroline and Calvert, but he manfully stopped them and forced himself to remain calm, especially since he did not know the details. “I had wondered why Captain Calvert was shipped off to the Caribbean with such haste. Now I know.” So Caroline had once again interfered with his relationship with Calvert, and had once again engineered his transfer to the Caribbean. Granger was seething inside.

“Yes, my lord, but she did it for your own good,” Winkler said.

“Explain that,” Granger demanded skeptically.

“My lord, I heard the entire conversation because I was eavesdropping. I apologize for my impertinence.”

“I am not angry at you for being a good sleuth, I am angry at my wife for shipping Captain Calvert off to the West Indies,” Granger said.

“Yes, my lord,” Winkler said. “Captain Calvert and Mr. Gatling were very close.”

“They were lovers?” Granger asked. And then the tumblers in his brain clicked, as he remembered his last encounter with Calvert aboard Santa Clarita. He remembered how Calvert had kept Granger distant from him, not in an obvious way, but on a deeper level that Granger would know, because they had once been so close. And he remembered the strange looks he got from Gatling, a combination of genuine affection and another emotion, one that Granger only now understood to be jealousy.

“Yes, my lord,” Winkler said. “They were talking in the study about you, and Lady Granger overheard them, as did I. I do not think that any of them knew I heard the conversation.”

“And what did they say?” Granger asked.

“They both pledged, my lord, not to be intimate with you, but to be faithful to each other,” Winkler said. He was blushing furiously as he said this, and if the situation weren’t so wrenching, Granger would have laughed at Winkler’s discomfort. “They vowed their love for each other, and swore to be with no one else.”

“I see,” Granger said coldly, his voice matching his mood.

“Captain Calvert admitted that he loved you, my lord, but he promised that he would be faithful to Mr. Gatling despite that love,” Winkler said, trying to help, but only making things worse. “He said that he always wanted a monogamous relationship, and even though he loved you that was something you could never give him. Mr. Gatling said that if Captain Calvert continued to have relations with you, it would cheapen their bond, their relationship.” It was just as Granger had feared. Calvert had found someone else to replace him. Because Calvert couldn’t have all of Granger, he evidently wanted none of him. But what of the passionate but brief encounter he’d had with Calvert on Santa Clarita? Did that mean Calvert had broken his pledge to Gatling, or did it mean they had changed their minds about him?

Granger realized that Winkler was looking at him with his worried mother-hen expression, and that resulted in Granger rediscovering his pride. There was no way he would let the world, or even Winkler, know how badly it hurt him to lose Calvert. “That is most touching. I wish them both much happiness,” Granger said, miraculously keeping the sarcasm out of his voice.

Winkler stared at Granger, unsurprised because he understood his master’s moods perfectly. He pressed on, anxious to relay the rest of the story. “Unfortunately for Captain Calvert, Lady Granger heard the entire conversation, my lord. She became quite furious.”

Granger stared at Winkler, totally shocked by that. Why would Caroline be angry? He would have thought she’d be happy to have Calvert out of his life, or at least as one of his lovers. “Indeed?”

“She accused them of being ungrateful, disloyal, treasonous scum, my lord,” Winkler said. Granger raised an eyebrow at such strong accusations. “She told them that you had done everything for both of them, lifted them up to their current positions, befriended them, and protected them. And then they would turn around and hurt you when you came home.”

Granger sat in the carriage, his back straight, staring ahead, trying to understand Caroline’s logic. “What else did Her Ladyship say?”

“She swore that she would have them posted to the Indies, my lord,” Winkler said. “If you will allow me to speculate my lord…” Winkler said, and then hesitated.

“Go on,” Granger ordered.

“I think that Her Ladyship was worried that you would come home to a reception similar to the one you had last time. I think she was worried that you’d get back and find that those two had rejected you, and that you would take it amiss.”

“Thank you, Winkler,” Granger said. “I am grateful that you have explained things to me.” Winkler said nothing; he just sat back and let Granger ruminate over what he’d been told.

Granger knew Caroline and Calvert so well; it was easy to fill in the blanks. Calvert had always yearned for a lover who would return his love, and only his love. He had known that Granger could never give that to him, and he’d professed that he’d accepted that condition on their relationship. Only then he’d fallen in love with Gatling, probably on their long voyage across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Gatling could give Calvert what he wanted, or maybe needed, so Calvert discarded Granger like yesterday’s newspaper. He paused and forced himself to be fair about that, and realized that Calvert still loved him at some level; he just didn’t love Granger like he had before.

Caroline must have carried the guilt over his last homecoming around with her like a ball and chain. She would have agonized over the memory of having to tell him she was pregnant with another man’s child, and she would have tortured herself with recollections of how hard that had been on him. She would factor in the trials and tribulations he’d labored with over the Spithead Mutiny, over Dr. Jackson’s trumped up charges and near-execution, and most dastardly, his abduction and rape by his sister-in-law. She would have known how miserable his last homecoming had been. She must have made it her mission to ensure that this time; he would find a happy loving family waiting for him. She must have worked hard to eliminate the political traps that could have engulfed him. And when this issue arose, she must have known how much it would disturb him, and how devastated he would be.

He smiled when he thought about his redoubtable wife. She had attacked Calvert and Gatling because they were inadvertently going to hurt him, and had probably done so with the ferocity of a mother lion defending her cubs. She had Calvert shipped off before they could cause him pain, removing him to the pestilent West Indies, far from England and from Granger. She had done all of these things because she loved him.

Granger relaxed back in the seat and allowed his smile to broaden, a reaction which Winkler did not expect, and which caused him to show his surprise in his own expression. That was satisfying to Granger, who had to work hard to shock Winkler, a man so in tune to his moods. He thought of his wonderful wife, who had accepted his relationships with other men to the point that she defended them, and who was flawed in her own ways, only that just made him love her more. And despite the news that he’d lost Calvert as a lover, Granger was smiling and happy, because he still had Caroline, and she was worth ten of Francis Calvert. At least. “I suspect Her Ladyship was less than delicate when she explained things?” Granger asked Winkler.

“You might say that, my lord,” Winkler said, and then they chuckled together. “She was also distraught, because she’d just received news that the Leander had been captured.”

“I was distraught when the Leander was captured too,” Granger said, making Winkler laugh. “Would you mind overmuch if I pried into your personal life?”

Winkler’s laugh was cut short at that. “Of course not, my lord.”

“Jacobs is a very handsome man. He is quite large, and seems to be a gentle giant,” Granger noted.

“He is, my lord,” Winkler said, unwilling to admit they were in a relationship. “And he is a good friend.”

“As he is merely a friend, then perhaps you would not mind if I asked him to join me for a bath,” Granger said, laughing hysterically behind his stoic mask, as Winkler struggled with his own emotions.

“Perhaps it’s a bit more advanced than that, my lord,” Winker grumbled, and then Granger could restrain himself no more, and he burst out laughing, getting a true scowl from Winkler.

“You pride yourself on your ability to read and anticipate my moods, yet you think that despite our close bond for all these years, I am oblivious to yours?” Granger asked.

“I would have thought that Your Lordship would have more important things to worry about,” Winkler said.

Granger stopped laughing and looked Winkler in the eye, in such a piercing way that the young man recoiled slightly. “Winkler, you are very important to me.”

Winkler’s eyes teared up, and he brushed the tears away with irritation. “You’re very important to me too, my lord.”

“You love him,” Granger accused.

“Yes,” Winkler said simply.

“I am happy for you. I will do what I can to make sure you can remain together,” Granger promised.

“Thank you, my lord,” Winkler said, with genuine appreciation. “My lord, may I pose a question?”

“Certainly.”

“I expected you to be more upset at these revelations,” Winkler said, which wasn’t a question, but it implied one.

“I found out that a man I love no longer loves me, or at least he does not love me as he had, and that is indeed a sad thing,” Granger said. “But I realize that my wife loves me very very much, and that more than outweighs the loss I have endured.”

“I think you already knew that she loved you, my lord,” Winkler said.

“True, but sometimes it is important to be reminded of it, and to remember to show your partner that you love him or her back,” Granger said sagely.

“Wise words, my lord,” Winkler said. They rode on in silence, and then made small talk, until they got to the Abbey. Granger was all but mobbed by his former crewmen, some one hundred men who had ended up at the Abbey, and took great pleasure in dining with them in the great hall, and in hearing of their tales from the voyage.

Andrews, Jackson, and Jeffers managed to corner him in Jeffers’ office to brief him on their activities. Winkler opted to remain with the men, avoiding Jeffers. Granger wondered if he’d feel that way about Calvert, the way Winkler appeared to feel about Jeffers. There was clearly no love left there, and Winkler seemed to want, above all else, to simply have nothing to do with Jeffers. Jeffers took it all in stride, and did not seem bothered by it at all, which could be genuine, or a great façade.

“My lord, most of the men are skilled with carpentry, or with other talents that are useful for construction,” Jeffers said. “We’ve worked with Mr. Broadhead on projects at Brentwood, and at your other estates. We’ve also done some work for some of the other local landowners.” Mr. Broadhead was the manager of his estate at Brentwood, and had assumed a larger role over most of Granger’s holdings. He was an honest and compassionate man.

“That sounds splendid,” Granger said. “I am glad to find they have something to keep busy with, since I will not have a ship for some time.” He could not keep the sadness from his voice when he said that.

“My lord, you provide the men with free room and board here, and we’ve also been paying them for their labor,” Andrews said. “They are well compensated.” He seemed nervous about that, and as Granger looked at the combined pay the men received, he agreed that it was substantial.

“That is fine,” he said. “They are worth it.”

“Most of them are so rich after the voyage, my lord; they could probably leave and set up shop on their own. But they seem to like it here,” Jeffers said, surprised at that.

“It is their home, and I would like it to remain as such for as long as they like or until I go to sea and drag them along with me,” Granger said with a smile. With that, he and Winkler took their leave of the men, and boarded the coach for the ride back to London.

 

January 10, 1799

London

 

“I am of course happy to attend His Majesty, Father,” Granger said as the carriage bumped along the road to St. James Palace. “But I am surprised that I was specifically asked to do so.”

“I was told by Salisbury that His Majesty wanted our entire family here,” the Earl of Bridgemont said firmly. Salisbury was the Lord Chamberlain.

“What do you think this means?” Granger asked.

“I would guess it is an additional honor for the family,” Caroline opined, getting another foul look from her mother-in-law for her political proclivities. Granger found that mildly annoying, since his mother was certainly not uninvolved in plots and schemes. But as soon as he thought about that, his annoyance evaporated, replaced by happiness, happiness that he loved his wife so much that he instinctively defended her from his mother, even in the depths of his own mind.

“It would not be an admonishment,” Granger agreed. The King would not summon them all merely to humiliate them in public. “Will Freddie and Davina meet us there?”

“That was the intention,” the Earl said, and even though he was fairly certain they would be here, the fact that they were only expected to return from the country today was worrisome. Travel by carriage on substandard roads in the winter was a dodgy business, and it would have been much smarter for them to have returned yesterday.

“Normally women are not allowed at Privy Council meetings,” Granger noted.

“That is correct,” the Earl said. “Yet His Majesty specifically asked for your mother, your wife, and Davina to join us.”

Granger looked at Caroline and raised an eyebrow. “That is unusual.”

Their carriage pulled up to the palace and halted, allowing another in front of it to discharge it’s passengers before advancing to let them out of their carriage. They entered the Palace, and were announced as always.

“The Right Honorable Earl and Countess of Bridgemont,” the herald boomed. “The Right Honorable Viscount and Viscountess Granger.”

It was a larger than normal crowd, because the news that the Earl of Bridgemont and his family had been specifically summoned had caught the attention of most of the denizens of the court. They made their way to the throne, bowing as they went. “We are pleased to see our cousin the Earl of Bridgemont,” the King said.

“It is our pleasure to be here, Your Majesty,” the Earl said.

The King then turned his attention to Granger. “We have enjoyed your company at Windsor.”

“It is always an honor to attend Your Majesty,” Granger said, since it was an honor, but it was rarely a pleasure.

They backed away from the King and saw Freddie and Davina, so they migrated over to their corner. “George!” Davina said, and gave him a friendly embrace, though not so bold as she had prior to his abduction. “I am so sorry we were not here for Christmas!”

“I heard you were at Bridgemont,” Granger said. “I am sure they appreciated having you there.” The ‘they’ Granger was referring to were the tenants and servants on the estate, and Granger was fairly certain they would not enjoy Freddie’s presence, and they would enjoy Davina’s even less, but he was polite.

“You did a smashing job on this voyage, George,” Freddie said, giving George a stunted embrace. “We’re all so proud of you.”

“Thank you,” George said politely. “It was certainly a long time to be gone.” It was an interesting phenomenon for George, for this was the first time he’d been with Freddie where he felt as if he were the senior of the two. As the older brother, and with his imperious demeanor, Freddie had treated his brothers much as if they were his lieutenants. In this situation, Freddie’s posture was more relaxed, as if to acknowledge that he was the lieutenant now.

The King moved a bit, leaning in to talk to Salisbury and Chatham, and shortly after that, the meeting of the Privy Council was called to order. “It is His Majesty's pleasure to command the Right Honorable Earl of Bridgemont to attend his Majesty at once,” the herald boomed.

The Earl of Bridgemont approached the throne as commanded, with his family behind him, as if to support him. They bowed the requisite number of times to their sovereign, and then stood, awaiting his pleasure.

The Lord Chamberlain handed a parchment scroll to a herald, who unrolled it. Granger had seen one of those not too terribly long ago, when he’d received his own peerage. He fought back the smile that was threatening to expand across his face. This could only be an advancement in the peerage. Granger tried to remember this moment, this historical moment for his family, when his father finally achieved his goal of acquiring his marquessate.

Standing next to him, Caroline was able to hide her grin easily, since she had no grin to hide. She knew what that piece of parchment meant too, and while she was happy for her father-in-law, she was disturbed because if he was made a marquess, as was obviously going to be the case, then Freddie would now become the Earl of Bridgemont, gaining the earldom as his courtesy title. As a courtesy viscount, Viscount Blankford, Freddie had ranked behind George in precedence at state functions, since George was a viscount and a peer in his own right. When Freddie became an earl, he would have precedence. And while that did not unduly bother Caroline, the fact that Davina, as Freddie’s wife, would have precedence over her was maddening.

The herald began to read, truncating their ruminations. “George the Third, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, To all Lords Spiritual and Temporal and all other Our Subjects whatsoever to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting!” He paused for but a second to catch his breath, before he continued. “Know Ye that We of Our especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion do by these Presents advance, create and prefer Our right trusty and right entirely beloved cousin and counsellor Frederick George Albert Granger to the state degree, style, dignity, title, and honor of Duke of Suffolk, and also to be held the honors of Marquess of Preston, Earl of Bridgemont, Viscount Blankford and Baron Haverleigh. And for Us, Our heirs and successors do appoint give and grant unto him the said name, state degree, style, dignity, title, and honor of Duke of and by these Presents do dignify, invest, and ennoble him by girding him with a sword, and putting a cap of honor and a coronet of gold on his head, and by giving into his hand a rod of gold to have and to hold the said name, state degree, style, dignity, title, and honor of Duke of unto him and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten and to be begotten. Willing and by these Presents granting for Us, Our heirs and successors that he and his heirs male aforesaid and every of them successively may have hold and possess a seat place and voice in the Parliaments and Public Assemblies and Councils of Us, Our heirs and successors within Our United Kingdom amongst the Dukes; And also that he and his heirs male aforesaid successively may enjoy and use all the rights, privileges, pre-eminences, immunities, and advantages to the degree of a Duke duly and of right belonging which Dukes of Our United Kingdom have heretofore used and enjoyed or as they do at present use and enjoy. In Witness whereof We have caused these, Our Letters, to be made Patent. WITNESS Ourself at St James the tenth day of January in the year of Our Reign 1799.”

Granger heard his father uttering words of thanks to the King, and then watched as his father was presented with a sword, a rod, and a coronet. He saw these things, but his mind was reeling. A promotion in rank to marquess was a major achievement, but this was so much bigger. A double promotion was rare, and a mark of extreme favor. Granger was pleased that the King had finally recognized his father for years of loyalty and service, but could not help but wonder if this was also a swipe at the Guild. By making his father a duke, the King had made him even more powerful, and more immune to their wrath and schemes. It was as Caroline noted: it was the accumulation of power that made them unassailable by the scum that was the Guild. That train of thought brought him to the disturbing conclusion that if that was indeed the case, his own efforts may have contributed to this advancement, and that seemed too much like arrogance, and he became irritated with himself.

Caroline knew all of these things, and appreciated the political benefits this promotion would offer, but internally she seethed at being still lower in precedence than her sister-in-law. Davina would now rank as a marchioness, significantly above her rank as a viscountess. She forced herself to smile gently, and focus on the happiness this would give her father-in-law.

Davina’s thoughts echoed Caroline’s, only as the one who had achieved a higher position, she was gloating inside, and began thinking of ways to lord it over her self-important sister-in-law. Davina found Caroline to be contemptuously bourgeois, with the way she so assiduously managed George’s affairs, as if she were a man of commerce. And she found her sister-in-law, who never lost thousands of pounds at a table, and who never got so drunk as to lose control and make an ass out of herself, to be a bit too prim and proper. And now the goody-two-shoes was two notches, effectively, beneath her. Davina was of a mind to dance with glee.

“Lord Granger,” the King said, to focus the attention on Granger.

Granger pulled himself out of his fog and advanced a pace toward the King, bowing as he did. “Your Majesty?”

“We are pleased to offer you, our beloved Governor and Constable of Windsor, special precedence to sit at Our right side, alongside Our beloved cousin, the Duke of Suffolk.”

“I must thank Your Majesty most profusely for such an honor and a privilege,” Granger said, and he was genuinely flattered that the King singled him out in such a way. He did not pause to realize this was a very public confirmation that the advancement of his father had much to do with Granger’s efforts and successes, but that fact was not lost on Freddie.

Nor was it lost on Caroline, who could not stop herself from beaming happily, knowing that she was now slotted into a position above her sister-in-law, and just below her somewhat hypocritical mother-in-law.

Davina just managed to hide her extreme irritation that her sister-in-law had once again managed to get the better of her. She made a mental vow to humble that little spitfire who treated her with such condescension.

And halfway around the world, unbeknownst to him, Albert Granger had just gained a new title, and would henceforth be known as Lord Albert Granger, his courtesy address as a younger son of a duke.

 

THE END

The Final Chapter

Copyright © 2014 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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Chapter Comments



On 02/05/2014 04:22 PM, impunity said:
Nice wrap up! Looking forward to the next installment of the Bridgemont saga.
Thanks!
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What? The end? :no: Say it isn't so.

 

Lovely job wrapping it up with a visit to his men and a nice interchange with Winkler. George is truly a good soul and deserving of all his advancements. The Schadenfreudenist in me loves that Davina plans to rub her title in Caroline's face were foiled.

 

Thanks for for your great work. :2thumbs:

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For a long time, the Earl had hoped and prayed for an advancement, but this to became a Duke. And everybody with know who helped, George. Such a happy event, but a little sad. The end of a wonderful story, which must rack with your best work so far. Thanks for this great story and creating our noble hero, George Granger!!

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Wonderful story! Thank you for sharingGeorge's adventures with us. I hope you will find many more to share!

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The sun has finally set on our 'Odyssey'. And what an ending it was. Georges' Father created a Duke, a life long dream. George himself being given special precedence to sit beside his Father to the Kings' right. His love for Caroline fully realized. Yet knowing he has a crew (well at least 100 men) also waitng for his next command. It is with a tear that darkness descends upon us, but as is in life (and as you have told us) there will be a dawn with a new adventure for our hero and that gives us cause to smile. Thank you Mark for every thing and of that yet to come.

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Thank you for this excellent set of tales.

I look forward to the continuation. I fully expect Granger to be land-bound at least until Napoleon changes things to his personal benefit in France. Perhaps we get to see Granger slogging through unwanted duties for the Admiralty, counting spars for the Navy Board or quizzing midshipmen trying to become commissioned lieutenants or something equally tedious and amusing.

Of course, I expect the rest of the time to be boiling in politics. I doubt Granger will be content to let the Guild lick its wounds. I suspect he'll be investigating the pirate ship Vulture and many of the other little strings that Spencer is content to let remain untouched. Will he become a parliamentarian and actually use his seat in the Lords? How about form up a little group to handle, behind the scenes, the worst of the Guild?

I know you're not one to throw out the troublemakers, like the Wilcoxes or the sister-in-law Davina, but I wonder if George's elder brothers are long for the world? Bertie in a dangerous place and Freddie having married such a horrible, scheming woman. Surprise us, please.

After all, the name of the series remains Bridgemont so something will have to happen with that estate (and its now more exalted Dukedom) and I doubt it'll end up falling to folks less worthy than our captain.

You've set yourself up with some excellent material to get the next story moving. What else? Some of the other suggestions among the comments here are great, but I'm sure you'll find your own way. Please craft many excellent little voyages for us.

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On 02/05/2014 04:42 PM, JimCarter said:
Fantastic wrap-up Lord Arbour! I look forward to the next in the series. :worship:
Thank you so much!
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On 02/05/2014 04:58 PM, Miles Long said:
What? The end? :no: Say it isn't so.

 

Lovely job wrapping it up with a visit to his men and a nice interchange with Winkler. George is truly a good soul and deserving of all his advancements. The Schadenfreudenist in me loves that Davina plans to rub her title in Caroline's face were foiled.

 

Thanks for for your great work. :2thumbs:

Thanks Miles. I didn't mean for "The End" to be so prominently symbolic. There will be another story.
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On 02/05/2014 05:04 PM, rjo said:
For a long time, the Earl had hoped and prayed for an advancement, but this to became a Duke. And everybody with know who helped, George. Such a happy event, but a little sad. The end of a wonderful story, which must rack with your best work so far. Thanks for this great story and creating our noble hero, George Granger!!
Thank! It was a long, but fun, journey. If you think about it, that's really what the concept of family embodies: all the members working to aggrandize the family as a whole.
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On 02/05/2014 05:08 PM, Stuff15 said:
Wonderful story! Thank you for sharingGeorge's adventures with us. I hope you will find many more to share!
I'm glad you liked it! Nothing like a dukedom to cap things off.
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On 02/05/2014 05:08 PM, Daddydavek said:
A very satisfying ending to an incredible Odyssey!

 

Thanks!

I'm so glad it was good for you. I try hard to make sure my readers are, uh, satisfied. ;-)
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