“Yes, the surveyor told him, but the Colonel was a man who knew what he wanted and meant to get it. He asked how long it would be before Cliffsby fell into the sea, and the surveyor told him fifty years. To that, the colonel replied that he was a sixty-year-old man and he wouldn’t live another fifty even if he took up residence in the operating theatre at St. Bedford’s.”

“And now that time has come?”

“Soon enough. You’ve seen the cracks. The Colonel wanted Cliffsby as a retreat, as a symbol, and as a place to put all of his money so that his children, whom he loathed, wouldn’t see a cent.”

“That’s where I come in, I suppose. His daughter Bertha wants all the furniture appraised so it can be sold. I’ve one week to do it.”

“Ha! Ten years ago that never would’ve happened. But now that Agnes and Clara have died, and Doris is an invalid drooling at a wall, I suppose Bertha sees her way clear.”

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