This the final instalment of The Rise & Fall of Donald Trumpet Esq. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.Critiques and comments welcomed.
Trumpet set Phibbs to examining the legality of the charges and what his potential liability might amount to while he marched to the door of Mademoiselle Fifi Fontaine.
It was Mrs Mayfly who greeted him.
‘Why Alderman Trumpet,’ she purred, ‘how nice to see you again, so soon?’
‘I wish to see your mistress, Madame.’
‘Certainly, Alderman, the young mistress is taking breakfast in the drawing room. She’s all packed and ready to hand over the keys.’
Trumpet paid no heed and stormed past her, into the drawing room where Mademoiselle Fifi was, indeed, talking a breakfast of madeleines and cafe au lait.
‘Bonjour, cherie,’ she greeted him, her face beaming in the late morning sunlight as she sat in the curve of the drawing room’s bay window. He paused for a moment, entranced, then shook himself, as though to shake off her greeting and the image of her.
‘I have been charged with owning this business,’ he said, ‘I have no recollection of buying it.’
‘Mais oui, cherie, you bought it from me last night. I did not want to sell but you made a very generous offer.’
‘I never made any offer or bought this place…’
‘I am so sorry to hear you say so, cherie, but we made a detailed letter of agreement which was notarised and then signed and witnessed by both of us in the presence of Mrs Mayfly and the notary.’
‘Oh and who was this so-called notary and how much am I supposed to have paid for this business?’
‘One hundred thousand guineas, cherie, that was the price because you bought not just the building and the service of the girls but the goodwill also, as for the notary, here he is now.’
Trumpet turned to see Bench walk into the room.
‘What the…Bench? What, in the devil’s name, is going on?’
‘I’m not obliged to speak to you since this matter is sub judice, however, I can say that I helped you draft the document of sale and then notarised it since I am a legally licensed notary although I’ve never practised.’
Trumpet felt his head turn light and he slumped into a chair, his wig adrift.
‘We can, however, resolve this issue,’ Mademoiselle Fifi said.
Trumpet turned to look at her.
‘I didn’t wish to sell La Confiture but your price was so good…’
‘Would you be interested in cancelling the sale?’
‘Oh, no, Monsieur, that would not be good business, n’est-ce pas?’
‘But I’ve never really owned it…’
‘Au contraire, M’sieur, we have the documents and the bill of sale to prove it.’
She was delighted with Trumpet’s discomfort but sick of his company, so she said, ‘perhaps there is one way we can resolve your predicament?’
Trumpet looked up, anxious to hear her proposal.
‘I could buy La Confiture back from you, at a price?’
‘One hundred thousand guineas,’ Trumpet exclaimed.
‘Oh no, m’sieur, I’m afraid not, especially since last night when the house has gained notoriety and some legal problems. No, the most I can offer you and, under the circumstances, it’s a generous offer, is 20,000 guineas.’
‘That’s extortion. It’s robbery,’ Trumpet looked pleadingly at Mademoiselle Fifi, Mrs Mayfly and Bench but found no solace in any of them.
‘This is business, m’sieur, you can always take your chances with the court…’
Trumpet waited impatiently for his lawyer, Arthur Phibbs. He was, at least, rid of La Confiture and the serpentine Mademoiselle Fifi. Now he must turn his attention to the issue of the fisheries and his operation on the foreshore. He didn’t give any thought to the election although he felt at least that was in hand and his fellow councilmen would support him if they knew what was good for them.
By the time Phibbs arrived he’d worked up a sufficient lather of indignation and entitlement, he was considering counter charges against everyone lined against him. He told the lawyer about the deal over La Confiture and how he was cheated out of 80,000 guineas. Lawyer Phibbs soon took the wind out of those sails.
‘Your political career is dead in its tracks, ‘Alderman’ Trumpet, you’ve made the worst mistake someone like you should ever make, you’ve been caught and with your hand in more sweet jars, than your most venal rival could imagine.
‘You cheated the fishermen, the migrants and at least half a dozen prominent businessmen, even your predecessor, Sylvester Crook an aptly named man that even your antics might embarrass.’
‘To top it all, you bought a brothel, which might be no bad thing in its own right except most of its best customers would never go there if your hands were on the reins. About the only thing anyone might’ve said in your favour was to take the Government’s coin for the use of your name while never paying a penny tax yourself.’
‘Except you did it on the backs of decent workers, old families and all of them, stalwart voters. The only analogy I might entertain for you, sir, is of Icarus, vain, greedy and stupid, overburdened by entitlement, he learned the price of pride and fell crashing to the ground.
‘My advice to you is to make a settlement with the fishermen, sell your properties and then throw yourself at the mercy of the Magistrate in the hope all this stays here, in this court and doesn’t inflate itself and your trouble to Crown Assizes.’
Rejected and dejected, Donald Trumpet failed to contest the election at the hustings. It didn’t matter, Thomas Wellspring II had mustered the old money and influence in the town against him. Most were particularly incensed, not just by the Trumpet tax but changing the town’s name to Trumpet Cove, too.
Secretly, many of them, as the Honourable Arthur Phibbs had predicted, held a grudging admiration for how he’d cheated the government and then exacted his own tax on them to use his name.
Mortimer Bench conducted the final conveyance on Trumpet’s property interests since the disgraced and ruined Trumpet could no longer afford the Honourable Arthur Phibbs. He also secured a licence for the Independent Fishermen’s Co-Op to fish the foreshore.
Alderman Thomas Wellspring’s first actions in the council was to repeal the name change and return to Failsafe, thus abolishing the Trumpet tax. He also repealed the work permit ordnance to allow the free movement of migrant workers.
Jack Connell and Consuela and their three children bought their little house on the salt marshes and rebuilt it.
As for La Confiture, nothing ever came of the legal problems, Mademoiselle Fifi sold the premises and its goodwill to the two gentlemen who were her guests on that fateful night when Donald Trumpet bought it. The house fetched the handsome price of 100,000 guineas and Mortimer Bench was rewarded handsomely for his part in that sale. Mrs Mayfly remained in the house as Madame and Mademoiselle Fifi returned to Paris.
Trumpet, his courtroom travails concluded, returned to his family home where his long suffering widow mother welcomed him. He was down and out but undefeated. Pretty soon he opened the family home to lodgers and, with his mother handling the kitchen and the housekeeping, business picked up. After the first summer season, Trumpet built a large extension with extra rooms and by the following summer, the first Trumpet Inn was opened.