Most Unlike Him

William Larkins was not a happy man, Not that he was usually cheerful, for he was not. After all, being the steward of a great estate like Donwell Abbey was serious business. On this particular hot June day, the absence of his employer, George Knightley, was the source of his consternation. They had been scheduled to meet in the Donwell Abbey library nearly three quarters of a hour ago to discuss the new tenant's lease.

As his somber brown eyes scanned the expansive fields, pastures and farms that constituted much of Donwell Parish, Larkins noticed a tall figure approaching. Lifting a hand to shield his eyes from the sun he squinted at the distant silhouette. It was about time! was walking toward Donwell at a relaxed pace, no signs of consternation at his lateness.

Larkins tapped his foot impatiently. was usually a punctual man, well aware of his responsibilities and duty. Perhaps his trip to London last week, a rather sudden affair, had not gone well. Spontaneous trips rarely did. But that idea of tragedy was not compatible with the smile which Larkins could now see on 's face.

"I trust all is well, ? No bad news from London or Hartfield, I hope."

Mr. Knightley looked quizzically at his steward.

"No, nothing bad at all. Why do you ask?"

"Well sir, in all 23 years of working for your family, I have never known you to be late for a meeting. However, we were scheduled to meet almost an hour ago to discuss the lease for the new tenant"

"Oh, were we?"

"Is not that what I just said, sir?"

"Well then, shall we go to the library?"

'Mr Knightley didn't even apologize', thought Larkins. 'Most unlike him'.

"After you, sir."

A smile still on his face, George Knightley walked toward the front doors of Donwell, knowing he had the privilege of being the happiest man alive.