The Waverly Estate had been founded by an Englishman in India and he had left it to his heirs. Pete now owned it and after he had passed on...... I am going too fast! I am Martha a maid in Pete’s household. I practically grew up in Waverly. Pete had arranged for me to wed Dick who ran the farming wing and we lived in a quarter on the grounds while he lived in the spacious main bungalow alongside where I would cook and keep house. Pete was a very large hearted and good natured man who remained a bachelor. One day he suddenly died following a stroke. He had made his will and Waverly went jointly to Fred and Kate with Fred having the larger share. Fred was Pete’s nephew and Kate was daughter of Pete’s distant kin.
Dick and I had a daughter Maud. When she was only 5, Dick died. Maud grew up under my care and grew up to be very shapely and attractive. I educated her and she did well at studies.
Kate lived in a separate wing of the bungalow as she was poles apart from Fred in everything. Pete had once told me that one day Fred would wed Kate. The old man had probably seen Fred eying Maud, and when Pete’s will was announced I came to know that if Fred married Maud he would lose his inheritance. Waverly started to decline after Fred took over. He was indifferent to the needs of the staff and about how the estate was run. I however continued to work for Fred.
Fred started dissipating the money he had inherited: He went to the Antarctic to see penguins! He made trips to Paris often. He arranged lavish parties in Waverly. Quite near where I stayed there was an open space termed quadrangle which would be the venue of the parties. I came to know that Fred would invite bad characters to attend. I knew the boisterous nature of those at the parties where alcohol would be supplied in plenty. One evening, as Maud and I were at home, a man who was drunk barged in quite naked. He was followed by a half clad woman who also appeared drunk. They physically threw Maud and I out and locked themselves in our bedroom. We could get back in only after 3 hours. And I felt quite unhappy about the incident as Maud was just 15.
Years passed and Waverly was sinking. Kate couldn’t help stopping Fred from squandering money. Maud had moved away after she got a job and I was alone. Suddenly one day when I was seated at home after finishing work in the kitchen, Maud came in. She was behaving a bit strangely and I questioned her about it. She said she was in the family way. I was distressed as the child would be illegitimate, but she said she wanted the baby. Even after I grilled her she refused to say who the father was. In due course she took maternity leave and produced a male child she named Bill. Maud went back to work leaving Bill to me. I looked after him giving reports on him whenever Maud sought them.
My parents weren’t well off when old man Pete took a fancy to me. I knew his property would come to me. However I hadn’t expected Pete to bring in Kate as well. She was the daughter of a widow – a relative of his – who was struggling to make a living. Something about her impressed Pete and she came to live in our household. Pete was a sworn bachelor and had none to move with. He would spend hours talking to Kate. After he died I found he had willed his property jointly to Kate and I, only Kate got a minority share. The old man was crafty. He had expected me to wed Kate and had said in his will that if I married Maud I would lose title to his property.
I was quite happy with my inheritance. I decided to live in style. I made several trips to Paris and held parties there. I went to New Zealand and to the South pole. I found Kate was a nuisance as she would oppose my trips abroad. Not only that. She would tell me that my parties were proving very expensive and money was being spent on low class people. I would say that it was my prerogative to call my friends to parties but she would insist saying the parties were becoming too many. With my majority holding in Waverly I had my way!
My friends would ask me why I hadn’t got married. The old man had had his say in his will: I would lose the inheritance if I married Maud. And it was Maud I loved. I would meet her in the apartment in which she stayed. Of course we kept it a secret. I was happy with Maud and we would make love often taking adequate precautions. One day Maud said she was pregnant and wanted the baby. I couldn’t talk her out of her wish. That was how Bill was born and was taken care of by Martha.
I come from a family of school teachers who had a modest income. I had lost my parents and my grandfather was finding it difficult to cope with family expenditure when Papa Pete had offered to bring me up. I was grateful for his kindness and remind myself every time that but for Papa’s grace I would have been in poverty in some low paid job. Papa had hinted that I could marry Fred but I was somehow sure he wouldn’t suit me. Fred also perhaps felt that I wouldn’t suit him though it would’ve been to his advantage if I – a minority share holder - became his wife. He would look with lecherous eyes on Maud. After Papa’s death Fred became a spendthrift. He seemed to love bad company as I could see from those he moved with. As I was a part owner of Waverly I advised him against frequent overseas travel. That he should curtail expenditure on parties which were too frequent but my advice fell on deaf ears. Suddenly one day Fred said to me “I need money and propose to dispose of Waverly.”
I straightaway opposed the idea.
He said “Otherwise how will I get money to pay off someone to whom I owe money?”
I said “Are you being blackmailed?”
He thought a long while and came out with the truth: “Maud’s baby Bill is mine. She wants to safeguard his future. I’ve to pay her.”
I said “Give me time to think it over.”
A week passed without him reminding me about sale of Waverly. It was at this time that I got a tip off that Fred had taken to using drugs and the news leaked.
The narcotics authorities swooped in on Fred to trace the source of his drug supply. At first he wouldn’t reveal it, but then he had to. A couple of days later he was found dead in his car. I guessed the drug mafia had acted.
As per Papa’s will I now became sole owner of Waverly. I had been in love with Roger who practically ran our estate and he had told me the ways to make the estate more prosperous. I married him and in due course Waverly became very prosperous and we extended operations to other fields as well. Pete’s memory lives on. To perpetuate his benevolence, I have suggested to Roger to give employment to Bill in case he comes to need it.