Will Creedle ©2004
To Gilbert Derry
October 11, 1972
I know that asking you to take care of my estate is a difficult task. And I am profoundly sorry that I will not be here at this time to help you, I have the utmost faith in your strength and perseverance. I wish only that your parents had lived long enough to see the strong man you have become. They would be so proud of you and your successes, of that you can be assured.
Now we must move to the task at hand. As it was stated at the formal reading earlier today, I have left you the townhouse in Queen's Park as well a tidy sum of money. However, there is one piece of this business that has no doubt left you in a bit of a quandary: that being the matter of 'Montcalme'. Let us dispense of the few bits of fact surrounding it that are simple enough to explain. First, it is a 135-acre estate in the north of France that now belongs to you. Second, the estate derives its name from the hill named 'Montcalme' (literally 'Calm Mountain', it is neither) on the southern end of the property. Third, there is no house on the estate, though, at one time in the not so distant past, there was. Fourth, I ask that once a year, on St. Anthony's day you pay the parish priest a small sum to bless the grounds of the old chateau. I would never place such a burden upon you without explaining my reasons for it, so what remains of this letter is my best and true account of the reasons behind how we came to possess and ultimately must try to retain 'Montcalme'.
In the spring of '25 I was not as you knew me, I was just a simple teacher. I was also a veteran of that 'Great' war and I reaped the rewards of my sufferings in a perpetual state of alcohol fueled celebration and jazz music.
I will say this about the war and continue with the story: I was ashamed of my behavior in battle. I had expected fear in me, and there was a little of that, but honestly, there was more, something of a bloodlust, or 'lustmord' as the Germans call it. I enjoyed it; I took pleasure in the kill. Man cannot be blamed for his behavior in war, but I drank away those bleak memories, as so many others of my day did. But this celebration eventually took its toll on my ethic and teaching position at University.
It also pushed me dangerously close to not being acceptable enough to marry your grandmother. Faced with this uncertainty, I spent a depressingly long summer break with my best friend Alex by my side, (a man is lucky to have at least one friend he thinks of as his brother; the man who has no such friend is a hollow man indeed), inside a bottle of bourbon with no real hopes of emerging. No hope that is, until I found out, quite unexpectedly, that I had inherited an estate in France!
You have no doubt guessed by now that the estate in question was Montcalme. I had always known that I had a French uncle named Pierre Derry; I had even spent a day in London with him when I was 10 (he struck me as a bit 'off' even at my tender age). However, it never occurred to me that he had such possessions or wealth, even more astounding was the question of why would he leave them to me? The answer was simply that I was the last of the Derry line.
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