Dear Master Victor Fevrier;
On behalf of our esteemed firm, Stephenson & Holly, and with regard to the many years of patronage that you have given us, I regret the delay in responding to you, sir. For all accounts, we had not anticipated receiving a letter from yourself since your unfortunate retreat from your father’s estate. We are very grateful to hear that you and your father have recovered from the incident and out of respect for your wishes, dear sir, we should not wish to trouble you more than need be. There are still some very minor issues to be tended to with regard to your role in the estate in France. While there is no urgency at the moment, it would be within your best interest, and in the interest of expedience, if we might be able to wrap these up at your earliest convenience.
My colleagues and I are pleased, if not a little surprised, to find that you have relocated to American soil and have established a great deal of success for yourself there. On behalf of all of us here at the firm, we are truly grateful for your continued trust and patronage considering the distance from which you operate. The generosity that you’ve shown in your previous letter is well beyond what we are accustomed to and, if I may be so bold, a true indication of the level of success that you have found. For such a grand show of trust, sir, we are very grateful and honoured to continue to serve you. Please rest assured that your previous requests remain our top priority and we will do everything within our means to accommodate your wishes. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further requests or instructions.
Moving on to some rather unfortunate matters of business regarding your father’s estate, we must inform you that we have yet to hear from him for the month and that this comes to us as a surprise. We do not wish to worry you, sir, but please note that my colleagues and I are only bringing this to your attention with the consideration that you have established in another country. Also, in the interest of making sure that you were aware, we are obligated to put in writing that he has not contacted our firm nor has he mentioned any plans to travel to the summer home or vacation property in Wales. While this is not necessarily common for the elder Master Fevrier, please know that we do not wish to raise alarm at this time. If, however, you are aware of his whereabouts and have contact with him, please tell him to contact us at once in regards to certain paperwork that has been since sent to us. We wish him to verify a signature that one of my colleagues has some spotted a slight inconsistency with. While we are certain that this is nothing to be alarmed about as well, we do wish to be cautious about the matter.
There is also the matter of paperwork regarding your marital status, sir. Allow us to offer sincere congratulations on your recent marriage and furthermore, the good health of your wife. We understand completely the stresses that accompany the coming of a child and we offer our full support of your wishes for privacy at this time. With that established, please do contact us at your earliest convenience so that our papers may be put in order for your newest family members. The account that you requested be established for your unborn child has already been arranged for and all that is needed now is your signature. The following papers that accompany this letter will give you further instructions on what is required that we may put all in order for you and allow you the time to do what is needed of you at home with your family.
Finally, though we are terribly sorry to have to bring up such dreadful matters with you at this time, please contact us as soon as possible regarding the final arrangements concerning your inheritance of the Fevrier estate. Please note that this is not being sent as an indication of our thoughts on your father’s well-being or in response to his absence. Any and all aspects regarding the transfer of his estate to your name will only be finalized on the day that we receive his death certificate via his trusted medical officer and we wish to establish that we have not been contacted by anyone in regards to this matter at all. Our concern over this matter is merely to ensure that when the elder Master Fevrier passes, however long in the future that may be, we are prepared to fulfill his wishes in regards to his estate as soon as possible. Consideration has been given to your new location and this must be factored into future plans regarding what is to be done with your father’s estate in France and whether you wish to appoint someone to act in your stead to finalize the allowances given to your siblings or if you wish to come to France to sit in on those proceedings in person. Should you decide the latter, please advise on how best to accommodate you during your journey and we will have the arrangements at the ready the moment you have need of them. In closing on this unpleasant business, please also note that the assets that you have set aside into the separate account are frozen as requested and will remain until so until we receive word that we are to do otherwise. They will not be factored into available funding for your father’s final arrangements, which are also pending.
Thank you again, Master Fevrier, for your generosity and your decision to continue working with our firm. If there is anything more you require of us at this time, please post your reply at your earliest convenience and we will have a response sent via airmail within the same week upon receiving your letter. We look forward to hearing from you and once again wish you fond congratulations on your marriage and the upcoming arrival of your first child.
Stephenson & Holly
Victor read the letter a second time but still felt ill. The widow’s warnings had been ringing in his mind since he had been handed the envelop and saw the letterhead. He had been pacing slowly around the drawing room alone, listening to the fall of his footsteps on the carpeted floor but unable to focus. He had no energy for anger or even any kind of fear at the moment, though he was well aware that once he was able to find his breath, he would feel both in painful measures. Already he could feel the start of the rage simmering in him at the betrayal that he felt. Someone had indeed accessed one of his private accounts in London and they were indeed frozen. It would require him to travel back to England to take care of the matter personally in order to correct it and at this time, he was in no position to do so. Someone had been in his midst and that same person was responsible for tampering with his affairs. He was only thankful that this person had only managed to access one account and it was not enough to halt his business activities nor his daily life but it might well affect his dealings with his European contacts. That was only the best case scenario if the culprit had managed to get her fingers only in his London account. He was comforted that the wretch was dealing with Edward Holly because it meant that she was likely only able to meddle with the European accounts for now. It would likely be a month before he heard of any further communications from any other accounts if they were affected unless the vile fiend had been active before she arrived here.
Gritting his teeth as he paused before the fireplace, Victor felt a stab in his chest of anger so pure, it was perfect in its wretchedness. Ah but who might be the target? Which of his wicked sisters had committed this crime? Either of them could have been the one to send the offending letter to Edward Holly but it was a question of whom he trusted more and which had the resources to send a large sum of money. Alas, the letter offered little solace nor any direct clues as to the identity of the sender.
It was easy enough to want to blame the shrew. Charlotte would not hesitate to kill him for his money if she thought for a moment that she could get away with it. He was sickened to think that he had her staying beneath the same roof as himself again but he knew better than to allow her to roam in he town. Whatever damages that she had in store were easier to track and thwart if he could see her in person. It was a risk, of course, but it was the better of the two options. He wished with all his being that it might be her that could be to blame for this. The story that she told him upon her arrival that Caroline was hiding family resources was too difficult for him to truly believe and the longer he lived with such a story, the more it sounded like a lie. Still, there was too much in this letter that seemed so very unlike his diabolical sibling. He knew her too well to believe that she might lower herself to posing as his wife. Charlotte would never attempt such a clumsy charade. It was also of great concern to him that some of what she had said was being confirmed by the letter that Edward Holly had sent to him. There was no indication that his father was as ill as he’d been told and the discussion that he was still set to inherit the Fevrier estate was something that Holly would never have made such a careless mistake on. Victor dared not think of what it would mean if Charlotte had told him even a fraction of the truth in this matter.
If that was indeed the case, however, that meant that he must find Caroline and discover what it was that she knew and why she had really come to Courtland County.