The bell was ringing in Wentworth Nisbet Linley's ears.
"Where the devil is Willard, dash it."
He strode from the main parlour, where his guests were, over to the second parlour.
"Shan't be long chaps." The brightly dressed people chatted happily. He adjusted his bowtie and collar.
"Willard, are you there man?"
In the second parlour was an elderly overweight man. Weakly the man rang the bell. Linley pulled his eyes away from the dribble and food stains on the man's waistcoat, and focussed on the view of the grounds.
"Grandfather, the footman will be here as soon as practicable."
"Are there you are Wentworth, my boy. Be a good lad and fetch me some tea would yer." The man was short of breath."
"Grandfather, we have servants for that now, it's not the 1840's anymore."
"What's that yer say. Four sugars, and a little cream." He coughed lightly.
"Really grandfather, a footman will be along shortly." His grandfather tried to lift himself from the wicker chair, the armrests were well used. His blanket slipped from his legs onto the shiny patch of parquet flooring that surrounded the chair. He gave up after a few seconds, preferring to settle back into the cushions, and running his fingers through his thin white hair.
"Your a good boy Wentworth, helping yer old grandad like this." The old man lifted his knee and farted.
"Really grandfather, I must protest."
"Before we had all this, I started as a clerk to a poultry salesman yer know."
"Grandfather, you've told me this narrative dozens of times, we have guests to attend to."
"I was one of the lucky ones yer know, what with being able to read and write back then. The Franciscan monks taught us. Proper strict they was. No nonsense, not like these days. They'd learn yer they would. Slap around yer head, or locked in the cupboard if you didn't learn. And none of these new fancy fountain pens mind. Slate and chalk we had, and jolly lucky we were to have those." He stroked his moustache, slowly. "One fellow got hisself locked in a cupboard all day long, and we could hear his blubbing. He was made a proper example of. The monks would not stand for any of the malarkey young fellows today get up to.
"Mind you, those monks could be a tad too much sometimes. After school, they'd go back to their monastery and start on the demon drink. Brewed their own they did. A few were downright vicious, after a few bevvies." He farted again.
"They even had special pockets in their robes for bottles of the brew."
Nisbet Linley slipped away back to the main parlour, catching a footman.
"There you are man. How aggravating, where in blazes did you get to. Mr Nisbet will take elevenses."
"Yes sir." The footman hurried off again. Nisbet Linley then strode to the main parlour, to continue interracting with his friends.
Back in the second parlour the old man continued talking,
"Came down to London back in 1839 as a boy. Took twelve days by rough cart, with all the chickens for company. None of these steam engines back then. Rough place it was back then, I can tell you. The seven dials had some characters I can tell you. Steal a chicken as do an honest days work for one, and hang for it, they would. Mind you justice was fair back then. Nowadays they just get sent to Australia." As he closed his blue eyes he pictured everything, like yesterday.
"Why if things continue getting worse, the way they are, we may have to bring back Newgate. They'd be a lot less murdering and thieving of folk, if they had to do the tyburn jig, you mark my words.
"Where's my tea? I'm an old man now and am feeling parched. It'd be quicker for me to fetch me own. If I was 10-years younger.
"It was hard times back then. We finished schooling at twelve and straight onto work." He dabbed his nose with a handkerchief.
"With so many good people, Irish, Jews, Polacks, Scots all coming to London after old King George and King William passed, they needed chickens you see. So the governor and I could not get enough of 'em to sell. Every week we'd take our cart to market and make a mint we would, and always sell a bit more stock too. My governor bless him, made me a sort of junior partner. And we took on more fellows to sell wholesale to all the grocers, why even old Mr Charles of Fortnum & Mason insisted on stocking our chickens and capons, and geese for Christmas best. The Smithfield of course helped with our sales.
"When his nibs passed, god rest him, he left me in charge of the company. Proper good fortune it was. Wentworth my boy, we were in the money. I made sure your father Robert had a good start. When he was old enough he came on and helped with investments. We had some hard times though with the 1880s we lost a lot of poultry through disease."
He looked around, as if startled.
"Where's my tea? Will no one help and old man with his tea?" The footman entered with a full silver tray of tea and cake, and began attending to the senior Mr Nisbet.
YOU ARE READING
Homage to London 1914 to 1918Historical Fiction
1915 - This true continuing story is based on the men of London, who wanted to do their bit during World War 1 as well as how their choice to serve affects their families at home. Characters: James Rannow - former ganger of the labourer...