The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 5

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Lilly Prescott, dressed in a pale green evening dress, and Alistair Prescott, dressed in white tie and tails, arrived at Wentworth Hall at around 7 PM. Mr. Yates welcomed them. Alistair Prescott handed Mr. Yates his briefcase, who gave it to Frank, the footman, and told him to take it to the library. Mr. Yates then ushered them to the drawing room, where Margaret Wentworth, dressed in a light yellow evening dress, and George Wentworth and Spencer Wentworth, both in white tie and tails, were already having their cocktails.

Mr. Yates tapped the door lightly, opened it, and announced their guests. Margaret and George put their drinks down and stood up to greet them. Spencer did the same thing. Mr. Yates stood in the background, waiting.

“Hello, Spencer. How are you? Sorry to make you come home so soon,” Alistair said as he shook hands with Spencer.

“No problem. I was thinking of coming back anyway. I’m happy to be home,” Spencer said.

“You look great,” Alistair said.

“Thank you.”

“How about a drink?” George asked.

“I’ll have vodka martini with a twist,” Alistair said.

“Gin and tonic for me,” Lilly said.

George looked in the direction of Mr. Yates, who nodded and went to the console, took a couple of glasses, and made the drinks.

Alistair and Lilly sat on the sofa across from George and Margaret.

Mr. Yates came back with their drinks on a silver tray and handed them to Alistair and Lilly.

“Thank you, Yates,” Alistair said.

“You’re welcome, sir,” Mr. Yates said. He turned to George and said, “Anything else, sir?”

“No, Yates. That’s fine. Thank you,” George said.

Mr. Yates retreated to the door and quietly left the room.

They clinked glasses, and Alistair asked Spencer about his sojourn abroad. Spencer gladly told them about his adventures, all the countries he visited, and all the people he met. They found his stories fascinating. The conversation continued at dinner, which was served at 7:30 PM. Alistair did not want to bring up the reason for the telegram, which Spencer was dying to hear. Spencer knew it was reserved for later.

After dinner, George Wentworth led Alistair Prescott and Spencer into the library while Margaret Wentworth and Lilly Prescott stayed behind.

The library was a great room but rather stark compared to the other rooms in the house. Spencer looked around the library, seeing it for the first time after his long absence. It looked the same as he remembered it. This was still an impressive room, baronial in stature with its immense high-flung coffered ceiling and grand proportions, its paneled walls of deep mahogany, and its collection of leather-bound editions of literary masterpieces. Books were of the greatest importance to his grandfather, and he collected the best of them. To his grandfather, the best room in the house was the library, where he spent most of his days while at Wentworth Hall. The floor was made of polished oak. Hand-knotted fine Sarouk Persian rugs of vibrant red and ochre on tan background were spread across the polished wood floor. A pair of comfortable Chesterfield sofas, upholstered in leather of ruby-wine color, was positioned next to the enormous marble fireplace with a Carrara marble mantelpiece imported from Italy. Above the mantelpiece was the only picture in the room, a formal oil portrait of Spencer’s grandfather, the senior George Wentworth, done by one of the best portrait artists of the era. Flanking the fireplace were built-in bookshelves from floor to ceiling containing scholarly tomes. The wall on the west side opened up to the enclosed terrace with a hydraulic wall that opened up on three sides. One opened to the south-facing veranda, with a panoramic view of Long Island South Shore, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Another wall led to steps going down to the Italian garden, and the other wall led to the front courtyard. On the far end of the opposite wall, flanking the French door to the terrace, were more built-in bookshelves with more leather-bound editions. On the corner was a big globe about 36 inches high, along with a pair of deep Queen Anne wing chairs of dark wine leather matching the upholstery of the Chesterfield sofas across the room. Facing the Queen Anne wing chairs were the mahogany desk and chair that belonged to George Wentworth Sr. A Palladian window behind his grandfather’s desk shed some light in an otherwise dark room. On the right of his grandfather’s enormous desk stood a refectory table overflowing with newspapers, journals, and magazines. Opposite on the other side was a French marble-topped chest serving as a bar, which held a silver ice bucket and crystal decanters filled with port and brandy, as well as leaded Waterford crystal glasses on a huge silver tray.

Spencer studied his grandfather’s portrait above the finest marble fireplace. The picture was staring at him and seemed to be speaking to him. Spencer could not help thinking about what his grandfather wanted from him. His grandfather, who he always adored, had something in store for him, and he could not wait to hear it from his attorney. His eyes moved around the room and thought the room had a certain degree of masculine dignity compared to the drawing room, where the decoration evoked more feminine graciousness. Like his bedroom, the library reflected man’s tastes. His grandfather could have spent most of his time here in the library when he was home in the summer unless they were entertaining guests. In the wintertime, the family settled in the city at their Fifth Avenue house and enjoyed the social scene in New York.

Alistair Prescott was watching Spencer intently. He just thought what a big responsibility he would be handed tonight. Spencer had no idea what the attorney had to say. His father was vague about it when he arrived this morning, and the attorney did not say much on the telegram either except it was urgent that he comes home.

Spencer joined his father at the bar and took his drink from George. Alistair joined them. George handed Alistair his drink. Then George motioned them towards his desk. Alistair took one of the leather Queen Anne wing chairs, and Spencer took the other one while his father sat on the opposite side of his grandfather’s desk.

“Cheers.” Spencer took the lead and took a sip of his drink. The two older men raised their glasses.

Without preamble, Alistair brought up the subject of the will of George Wentworth Sr. He opened his briefcase and pulled out some papers from it. He cleared his throat, took a glance at George, who nodded and started reading it. Spencer gave him his full attention.

Alistair began.

“I, George Wentworth, of Wentworth Hall, Meadow Brook, in Nassau County and State of New York, being of sound mind and body do hereby make, publish and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all wills and codicils at any time heretofore made by me.

FIRST: A. I give and bequeath to my son . . .

Alistair paused, and both George and Spencer waited. Alistair looked at the paper, then looked at both George and Spencer. “This is such a long document full of legal terminology, and it will take me all night to read the more than one hundred pages, word for word. It is easier to tell you in simple language what your father,” he looked at George, “and your grandfather,” he turned his gaze to Spencer, “wanted to do with his tremendous business holdings, a large number of properties, and immeasurable wealth.” George and Spencer looked at each other without saying a word and nodded their heads. Alistair turned to Spencer.

“As you know, your grandfather was the chairman of the board of Wentworth Bank, which his father founded in 1875. In addition to that, he invested heavily in public utilities. By the time he died, he had accumulated a fortune estimated at almost $500 million in public utilities, making him one of the wealthiest men in the country.”

“I did not know that,” Spencer said in awe of his grandfather. He looked at his father, who nodded. It never occurred to him that his grandfather was that wealthy. He knew his grandfather was rich but not this rich. He was not really paying much attention to what his grandfather did for a living. All he knew was money was not a problem when he was growing up, and he went to the best private school and then to Harvard. When he went abroad, his stipend was always in the bank, and he spent it the way he wanted to, knowing full well that money would always be there. Now he was stunned at the revelation, the enormous figure of his grandfather’s wealth.

“Let me explain to Spencer how his grandfather got his money.” Alistair looked at George, who nodded. “He knew plenty of rich people, and George invested in their businesses, and some of them became big depositors in his bank,” Alistair Prescott said as if giving a lecture on Business 101. Spencer listened intently. “Your grandfather was a friend to big names in business, like J.P. Morgan, who lives not far from here.”

“That I know,” Spencer said. “He built that large mansion in Glen Cove designed by Christopher Grant LaFarge just before I left for Europe.”

“That’s correct. J.P. Morgan owned J.P. Morgan and Co. and chairman of the board of U. S. Steel Corporation. Your grandfather invested a chunk of money in U.S. Steel, and the company did very well, and your grandfather made a lot of money.”

Spencer smiled and nodded. He picked up his glass and took a swig of his drink.

Alistair continued, “Your father had been appointed the executor of the estate and I as the co-executor. The whole estate was in trust to you except the Fifth Avenue house, which goes to your father, and five million dollars which goes to your sister.”

Spencer opened his mouth but could not speak. He closed it abruptly and stared at Alistair, who continued, “The income from the trust will go to your father during his lifetime, which could amount to about five million dollars a year. Your grandfather gives you an outright ten million dollars in cash, and the rest goes to the trust. All your grandfather’s shares of several utility companies, railroad companies, and U. S. Steel Corp. were transferred into the trust in your name.”

Spencer rolled his eyes, looked up at the ceiling, and could not believe what he was hearing. He kept on shaking his head. The number was staggering, and he could not comprehend it thoroughly.

Alistair continued, “He bequeathed the Meadow Brook house, this house, Wentworth Hall, and its contents together with its 500 surrounding acres to you with the proviso that your parents can have a lifetime privilege to live in the house. Your father will remain President and Chairman of the board of the Wentworth Bank until such time as your father thinks you are ready to take the helm. You have to learn the banking business from the ground up.”

Spencer’s head was spinning. He was not expecting this sudden responsibility entrusted to him. He had lived a carefree existence for the last three years, and suddenly he was thrust into an enormous task. He was speechless after hearing the news. It did not occur to him that he would get the bulk of his grandfather’s estate. He was so sure it would go to his father. Not that his father would go to the poor house, they still could live in both places at Fifth Avenue and Meadow Brook, and five million dollars income a year was not something to sneeze about.

Spencer picked up his drink and emptied his glass. He stood up and paced the floor. George and Alistair watched Spencer in silence. They knew how he must have felt. Spencer went to the bar and poured himself another drink. Then he finally sat back down. He looked solemn.

“I could not believe Grandfather gave me the whole thing. What was he thinking?” He ran his hand through his hair and shook his head.

“Your parents are well provided for. Eventually, you’ll get it anyway, so he decided to do it right now. That way, he knew you would get it.” Alistair looked at George, who nodded in agreement.

“But Father should have them, first,” Spencer argued.

“He does not have to. Your grandfather had a reason,” Alistair blurted out.

“And what was that?” Spencer could not help getting agitated.

“Your father is the president of Wentworth bank, and if something happened to the bank, say it goes bankrupt, he would be liable to the creditors. They can go after his money. This way, they can’t because the bulk of the estate is in trust in your name. It’s solid tight. No creditors can touch it.”

Spencer pondered on the idea. He had to agree with that reasoning. Still, it shocked him to know that he would be so wealthy so soon. It was a little bit scary. His life changed abruptly. He thought he could continue his frolicking life, but now, felt he suddenly should grow up with this wealth and the responsibility attached to it. He quieted down.

When Alistair finished, Spencer emptied his glass, stood up and went to the fireplace, and looked up at his grandfather’s portrait as if asking him, “Why? Why are you doing this to me?” Alistair and George waited patiently. They knew it must have been a complete shock for Spencer to hear all this. Obviously, he was not expecting this at all.

Spencer put his head on the mantelpiece. He was thinking hard and fast. Silence prevailed in the room. After a few minutes, he walked back to his chair. He decided to do something. Something unheard of. It was the only way he could think of. They might disagree with him, but it was the only way he knew how to tackle his present predicament. If it was inevitable, he had to act quickly and now.

“All right. When do I start working at the bank? I want to learn everything I can about the banking industry, which I know nothing about,” he said with conviction, looking at his father.

“Next week is soon enough. I’ll have your office ready,” George said.

Spencer knitted his eyebrows and shook his head. It was not what he wanted to do. He had other ideas which his father might disagree with, but he had to do it his way. Spencer said, “No, I don’t want an office.”

“You don’t? Why? I don’t understand,” George said and looked at Alistair, who was also puzzled.

Alistair said, “I don’t get it. Don’t you want an office? What do you exactly mean by that? Where will you be working?”

“I want to start as a teller.” Both George and Alistair’s jaws dropped. They stared at him. Now it was them who were in shock. They were in total disbelief.

Finally, George said, “Are you kidding?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?” George wanted to make certain that was what Spencer really wanted to do. He could not believe what he was hearing.

“Grandfather was right. I have to learn from the bottom up. That is the only way I will know how the bank works. Then I can move to be a loan officer in a couple of months. Eventually, I want to work at the finance department and learn how things work in that end,” Spencer said with conviction.

George looked at Alistair, “What do you think of Spencer’s idea?”

Alistair shook his head. He took a drink from his glass. After a brief moment, he said, “If he is comfortable with that, let it be. We’ll give it a try.”

“I meant what I said. I’ll start as a teller,” Spencer insisted. It was the only way he knew to learn the banking industry since he had no clue about what banking was all about. All he knew was money went into his bank account, and he spent it like water.

George thought about it and finally considered it a brilliant idea worth trying. What could possibly go wrong? If it does not work and he does not want it, he can always go to the executive office.

George agreed and said, “OK. It’s settled then. You’ll start Monday, and I will take you to meet Tom Cartwright, the manager at the Fifth Avenue branch.”

Alistair said, “Great. One more thing. Your grandfather did something, which was smart. He liquidated half of his holdings at some companies, and the cash is now sitting at your bank. He thought it better to diversify and have some cash.”

“How much cash are we talking about?” Spencer asked.

“Ask your father. Several million dollars, I believe.” Alistair glanced at George.

‘Whew! Why would he do that?” Spencer was curious to know.

“He thought cash was better than a piece of a stock certificate. He was probably right with the way the stock market is acting now.”

“Hope he was right.” Spencer was beginning to wonder about the logic of this move.

“With your grandfather, I would not doubt it,” Alistair said.

Alistair looked at his watch. “I think it’s getting late. I better take Lilly home. The ladies must have run out of things to talk about.”

“I would not worry about that. Ladies have plenty to talk about all the time,” George said.

“I guess so.” Alistair paused. “Now that we have settled everything, I’ll start working on the probate.” He gathered all his papers, and they all went to the drawing room and fetched the ladies.

Mr. Yates brought Lilly Prescott’s silk wrap, handed it to Alistair Prescott, who put it around his wife’s shoulder. Then George, Margaret, and Spencer said good night to Alistair and Lilly.

As soon as Alistair and Lilly left, Spencer excused himself. “Goodnight. I think I’m going to bed. It was a trying day.”

Margaret noticed her son’s sudden need to be alone. “Is everything all right?” She looked at her husband, whose expression did not reveal anything.

“Yes, Mother. Everything is fine. I’m just tired from my trip.”

“Goodnight, dear. See you in the morning,” she said.

“Goodnight, son,” his father said.

Spencer gave his mother a quick peck on the cheek and hurried going up the staircase.

George took Margaret’s arm and guided her to the parlor. “Poor Spencer,” he muttered softly. Margaret gave him a questioning glance.

Spencer entered his room. It was dark except for the soft glow from the full moon outside. He did not bother to turn on the light. He went straight towards the window. He opened it and let the cold air in. He breathed in the fresh air. He looked up at the sky. The moon was a bright orb in the sky, casting a dance of shadows over the surrounding landscape. Millions of stars were twinkling above. He looked at the vast landscape. He suddenly thought of the tremendous responsibility that now lies on his shoulder. This land was now his, and as a steward of this land, he had to make sure it stays within the family for future generations. It’s his legacy, and he promised to work hard to make do his promise.

He looked up at the sky and said, “Grandfather, if you are looking down on me, I want you to help me. I’ll do my best of what you expect of me. I promise you that.”

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at or Barnes & Noble.

The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 4

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

There was a chill in the air, although the sun was a golden orb in a clear blue sky. The early daffodils with their bright yellow petals were swaying against the clipped green lawns that rolled down to a nearby pond. Spencer drew in a breath of fresh air. He smelled the sweet fragrance of spring bulbs heralding spring after a hard winter. It rained earlier in the day, and even if it was almost noon, the dew from the shrubs gave an iridescent quality on a cool spring day. Spencer looked up at the house and could not help admiring its majestic grandeur surrounded by acres of rolling meadow, gardens, and rare specimens of trees just like Paul had told him earlier. The brick façade, flat balustraded roof, five-bay central block flanked by the extended bay on each side, with mullioned windows looking more Elizabethan than Georgian architecture made him feel like he had never left England.

As soon as Paul parked the car in front of the portico, the massive front door opened, and a few household staff members came out to welcome him. They formed a semi-circle in front of the front steps. Spencer saw his mother, Margaret Wentworth, in her morning dress with his father, George Wentworth Jr., in his morning coat came out of the house. Following them was the butler with two footmen. Paul went around the car and opened the car door, and Spencer stepped out. He smiled and nodded to the servants and walked towards his mother, standing by the front stone steps with his father by her side. She looked him up and down and saw the changes in him. He was now a full-grown man, not the young man who went abroad three years ago. Spencer saw his mother had not changed. She still had a slim figure. His father had put on a little weight.

“Welcome home. It’s good to see you back,” his mother said. Spencer kissed his mother on the cheek, and they both embraced tightly. She then took a step back to look Spencer over. His mother thought he looked more serious and cosmopolitan now than when he left.

“You look wonderful,” she said.

“Thank you, Mother,” Spencer said with a smile.

She looked at her husband, who was watching his son and appraising him too with keen interest. Spencer turned to his father and gave him a handshake,  and then hugged him.

“Welcome home, son,” his father said as he released Spencer from his embrace.

“I’m glad to be back. It has been a long time,” Spencer said.

Both his parents smiled. His mother concluded that living abroad or away from one’s parents could change any child when they left their nest. They grew up pretty fast. His father thought the same thing.

Spencer looked around and did not see his younger sister. “Where is Emma? Is she home? I was expecting to see her here today to welcome me.”

“She’s with some friends in Bar Harbor. She apologized she could not be here today, but she’ll be back this weekend,” his mother said. He was a bit disappointed, but he let it pass.

“How’s everything? The house looks magnificent.”

“Very well. Come on inside,” George said.

George led him inside as the servants went back to their posts, and the footmen gathered his trunks and suitcases to bring inside the house. He heard the butler, Mr. Yates, told the two footmen, Frank and John, to bring them upstairs to his bedroom.

They walked into the huge entrance hall, a room with black and white marble tiled floor and a majestic Waterford crystal chandelier hanging from the lofty ceiling, the light dancing on the multifaceted glass. There was a large marble-topped French commode by the front door with fresh arrangements of spring flowers and a small silver tray for calling cards. Above the table was a Neoclassical mirror flanked by two carved wooden brackets with Chinese porcelain jars on them. As they entered, Spencer stopped and looked around. He saw the beautiful curving staircase leading to the upper floors on the left side of the entrance hall. It was a relief to know that it was not altered with the latest renovation. He loved the staircase where he used to slide down on the banister when he was a youngster. George Wentworth saw the look on Spencer’s face.

“We keep it the way it was,” George said.

“I’m glad. Thank you,” Spencer said.

They then proceeded to the drawing room, a gracious room with its understated elegance and good taste. Their interior decorator did an excellent job with it. She was knowledgeable about American antiques and knew how to use them to their best advantage. The result was elegant but now overpowering. The dark polished floor gleamed against the exquisite silk Heriz carpet with muted colors in the center of the room. The drawing room with wallpaper of cabbage rose on a trellis design on the palest of yellow background gave the whole room a sunny, airy feeling of one enclosed in a garden. It was a very comfortable room for anyone to linger and relax.

Two long sofas, facing each other across a butler’s tray table in front of the fireplace, were covered in romantic chintz with beautiful roses of soft pink and butter yellow on a white background carrying the rose motif from the wallpaper. At each end of the sofa, the Pembroke tables held priceless crystal lamps with pale cream pleated shades of the finest silk and rare porcelain bowls filled with fresh spring nosegays of yellow jonquils and blue hyacinths sending their aromatic scents around the room. The Neoclassical fireplace was ornately carved with a caryatid figure on each side. On the mantel was a pair of antique silver candlesticks holding white candles, and in the center was a Cartier’s carriage clock. Above the fireplace dominating the wall was an oil landscape painting by Thomas Doughty, one of the artists of the Hudson River School, an artistic movement developed in the United States during a period of roughly fifty years (1825-1875) based on Romanticism and inspired by the wild areas in the vicinity of New York’s Hudson River.

On the other end of the room was a Chippendale cabinet of great beauty filled with fine Sevres porcelains. A pair of other landscape paintings of the Hudson River School by Thomas Cole graced the wall over a couple of Chippendale chairs upholstered in gold damask flanking the Chippendale cabinet. Whoever decorated this room had an unerring eye for color, form, and skill at placing and arranging furniture. It was evident everywhere, and yet this was not an extremely feminine room devoid of useless clutter. It was a gracious drawing room where a man could feel at ease in great comfort amidst its simple beauty.

George Wentworth walked across the room while Spencer and his mother stood by the fireplace. Spencer put his hand near the fireplace to warm them. George Wentworth went to a small console that held crystal glasses and a silver tray of drinks. He picked up three glasses.

George Wentworth turned around and asked his son, “Can I offer you a drink? It’s that time of day already. A brandy perhaps.”

“I’d love to, Father. Brandy would be great.”

He turned to his wife, “Sherry, my dear?”

“Yes, please.”

George poured sherry for his wife and brandy for himself and his son. Spencer excused himself from his mother and walked toward his father. He took his mother’s and his drink from the console and went back to where he was by the fireplace. George was behind him.

“Welcome home,” George said again and raised his glass.

Spencer did the same. “Cheers.” His mother smiled and raised her glass too. They all took a sip of their drinks.

George pointed to the sofa, and they moved and sat down on the two sofas in front of the fireplace. George sat next to his wife, and Spencer sat across the butler tray table on the other sofa. Spencer suddenly realized that Prohibition was in effect. He wondered where his parent got the liquor.

Spencer looked at his drink and asked his father, “How did you get this?”

George knew what Spencer was thinking. “We have the right connections. We know where to get them.”

“Isn’t that too dangerous?”

“Only if you get caught.”

Spencer wanted to argue but decided not to. He needed that drink anyway. He took another sip of his brandy.

“How did the Prohibition come about?” He asked his father.

“If you remember, although you may not since you were still at prep school on your last year. It was January 16, 1920, when they legally abolished every saloon in the United States. The manufacture, importation, and sale of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes were prohibited. This was the result of a battle waged for over two centuries.”

“We were not paying attention at that time,” Spencer said.

“If I go back in history, the first laws in America against the use of intoxicating liquors was made in Massachusetts in 1639, and at about the same time in Connecticut. Governor Oglethorpe in 1733 had the importation of rum into Georgia prohibited, as well as the importation of slaves. Then in 1774, the first Continental Congress proposed to the different states the passage of laws to stop the distilling of liquors. Even the United States Army got into the act and changed the ration of “grog” to coffee in 1832,” George said and took a swig of his drink.

“Really? That’s terrible for the soldiers. I bet you they did not like that one bit,” Spencer said, smiling.

“No, they did not, but they had no choice in the matter,” George said. “At about the same time, laws were passed in some states requiring a license for the sale of liquor. There were other efforts to pass Prohibition laws over the years but were soon repealed. In recent years the liquor problem has been seriously considered in all parts of the world.” George took another sip of his brandy.

How was it in England?” Margaret asked.

“There seemed to be no problem, at least for me. Where ever I went, I could get a drink, granted it was mostly on country homes of my acquaintances,” Spencer said, looking at his mother.

“I don’t think we had a problem at private homes. The saloon is a different matter. Besides, saloons are more and more regarded as a nuisance and a danger to society and the state,” George said, then continued. “In 1908, the government enacted a law that after 1922, the Great Britain saloons could be closed without paying the owners for the loss of license and that the magistrates could close as many saloons as they saw fit.”

“That would be difficult since the British like their pubs,” Spencer said.

“Well, here in the United States, the Anti-Saloon League has taken the lead in the campaign since 1903, its platform – the suppression of the saloon. It had the support of both the total abstinence believers and the not total abstainers who were convinced of the evils and dangers of the saloon.” He paused, seemed to think harder. “Then on December 17, 1917, Congress passed what is known as the Webb resolution submitting to the states an amendment to the Federal Constitution providing for national prohibition. Mississippi was the first state to ratify, followed by other states until the required 36 states had ratified, making the law effective on January 16. 1920.”

Margaret said, “With the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, the sale of alcohol in America was made illegal. However, the Mafia in New York and Chicago became kings of crime by filling the public’s bottomless highball glasses and teacups in clandestine speakeasies with ‘hooch’”.

“That’s fascinating. Anyway, I’m glad you have some liquor in the house,” Spencer said.

“You just have to know where to get it,” his father said.

Spencer turned to his mother and said, “I can’t tell you enough how great it is to be home again.”

“We missed you very much,” his mother said.

They heard a soft knock, and Mr. Yates entered the drawing room. “What is it, Yates?” Margaret Wentworth asked the butler.

“When do you want us to serve lunch, ma’am?”

She turned to Spencer and asked, “Is 1 o’clock good for you? It will give you time to relax and change your clothes.”

“That will be fine,” Spencer said.

“Very well, ma’am,” Yates said.

“Thank you, Yates.” Yates turned around and closed the door softly. He hurried back into the kitchen and gave the order to Mrs. Conley, the cook.

After Mr. Yates left the room, George Wentworth turned to Spencer, “How was the crossing? Hope you did not encounter bad weather.”

“Yes, we did, as a matter of fact, on our second night at sea. I met some very interesting people on the ship before we hit the rough seas. It was terrifying.”


“When passengers started leaving the dining room, I decided to do the same and headed to my cabin.”

“That was smart,” his mother said.

“But it was no better in my cabin. The ship was rocking violently. I did not sleep well that night. All I could think of was the Titanic and hoped to make it to New York.”

“That was awful,” his father said.

His mother put her hands on her mouth.

“Do you know that your ship, the Olympic, almost rescued the Titanic?” George said.

“How?” Spencer knotted his brow in disbelief.

“When Olympic was about 100 nautical miles away from Titanic’s last known position, she received a message from Captain Rostron, the captain of Cunard Liner Carpathia, explaining that continuing on course to Titanic would gain nothing, telling the captain of the Olympic, ‘All boats were accounted for. About 675 souls saved.’ Rostron requested that the message be forwarded to White Star and Cunard. He said that he was returning to harbor in New York. When Olympic offered to take on the survivors, she was heatedly turned down by an appalled Rostron, who was concerned that it would cause panic amongst the disaster survivors to see a virtual mirror-image of the Titanic appear and ask them to board. Olympic then resumed her voyage to Southampton, with all concerts canceled as a mark of respect, arriving on April 21.”

“I did not know that. That was terrible rejecting Olympic’s offer to help since shewas close by.” Spencer was shocked to hear that.

“But something good came out of that disaster,” George said.

“I know,” Spencer said, aware of that. “Apparently, White Star withdrew Olympic from service and returned her to her builders at Belfast to be refitted to incorporate lessons learned from the Titanic’s disaster six months prior and improve safety. Besides increasing the numbers of lifeboats, they corrected a flaw in the original design in which the bulkheads only rose as far as E or D-Deck, a short distance above the waterline.”

“That flaw had been exposed during Titanic’s sinking, where water spilled over the top of the bulkheads as the ship sank and flooded subsequent compartments,” George said.

“Yes,” Spencer said. “In addition, an extra bulkhead was added to subdivide the electrical dynamo room, bringing the total number of watertight compartments to seventeen. I understand improvements were also made to the ship’s pumping apparatus. These modifications meant that Olympic could survive a collision similar to that of Titanic and the ship could remain afloat.” Spencer rubbed both his hands on the snifter. He stood up, placed his glass on the marble mantelpiece, and put his hands close to the fire to warm them up.

“You said you met some interesting people on the ship. Anyone, I know?”

“Yes, a Wall Street fellow named Bloomberg. I have to go to the city later this week and have lunch with him. I asked him to meet me at the Knickerbocker. Will there be a problem to take him there, he being Jewish? ” Spencer looked at his father and saw what he would say. He remembered when they used to go to the city. His father always went to the Knickerbocker Club. His family had been a long-time member.

“No problem if you take him. I’ll let them know to include you in my account.”

“Thank you.”

His mother looking at Spencer’s outfit, asked, “Will you change before we have lunch, my dear?” It was more a command than a question. He was in his traveling clothes, and he knew he had to change. He could not possibly sit down to lunch wearing his travel outfit. That would be deplorable. His mother would be horrified.

His father nodded his head and said, “You may go check your room now and freshen up a bit and change.”

Spencer stood up. “I think I better do that right now. I will change into something more comfortable.”

“Splendid idea. Then after lunch, we can show you the grounds,” his mother said. “We’re putting you in the last room on the east wing facing south. You’ll have a fantastic view of the grounds and might even see the Atlantic Ocean from your room on a clear day. It was built with you in mind. See if you like it.”

“Fabulous. Let me go and check it out.”

Spencer picked up his glass, took another swig of his brandy, put the glass back on the coffee table, and walked out of the drawing room. He felt the exhilarated comfort and pleasure of being back home with his family at Wentworth Hall. He walked towards the curving stairway to the second floor. On top of the stairway, he turned left, walked down the long corridor passing through rows of bedroom doors towards the end. A selection of rare hunting prints graced the hallway wall, obviously the favorite pastime of the family. He walked into his bedroom with lofty oyster white ceilings and bluish-gray paint on its wall. It felt soothing and restful to his senses. A maid must have pulled back the curtain, and the room was filled with light and airiness. A slight breeze was coming through the wide opened window facing south. He looked down and saw the Japanese garden just below his window. A parterre was laid down just beyond it with its central axis directly opposite the terrace by the drawing room. Spring flowers were abloom. Hyacinth, tulips, daffodils, and scillas were all vying for attention, and the roses and perennials were beginning to green up. He looked further and could see the whole of South Shore toward the ocean.

He noticed the trunks were already empty with his clothes hanging in the closet in the adjoining dressing room. He was astounded at the efficiency of the staff.

To keep a big house like Wentworth Hall, the owner had to hire a cadre of servants to maintain the house in tip-top condition. The butler was the head man among the staff. Then there were under butler, footmen, and the housekeeper. The housekeeper was equal to the butler and was the supervisor over all the female servants except the kitchen staff. There were upstairs maids and downstairs maids, laundry maids, and a cook and her helpers. There was a head gardener and his crew who maintained the ground and the greenhouse. The stableman and his boys took care of the stable and the horses. The chauffeur and under chauffeur drove the master and his family in ten cars, including five Rolls Royces.

His room just suited him fine. There was a large mahogany four-poster bed flanked by two mahogany night tables, one on each side. A secretary desk was on one side of the room. There was a fireplace in the Robert Adam style across from the bed where the fire would warm the room on this chilly morning. A landscape painting by Turner with its misty greens and clear blues was hanging above the fireplace. A pair of Queen Anne wing chairs in light tan leather and a small table flanked the fireplace. Above the mantelpiece was a bronze equine sculpture by Remington. The room felt comfortable and not stuffy at all.

He glanced at the bed and was tempted to lie down, but he decided otherwise. Lunch was just a few minutes away, and he better not be tardy on his first day at home. That would not go well with Mrs. Conley, the cook. Instead, he washed up a little and quickly changed his clothes. He put on a white shirt, a regimental tie, a tweed jacket and put on his riding breeches. He intended to go riding after his parents gave him a tour of the garden. He brushed his blond, straight, finely textured hair across his shapely head and went back downstairs. His parents came back to the drawing room in a short while after changing for lunch.

In no time, they heard a knock at the door, and Mr. Yates walked in. “Lunch is served, ma’am,” he said to Margaret.

“Thank you, Yates.” The butler turned around and headed toward the dining room. They all got up and walked through an adjoining door into the dining room, following Yates, who stood by holding the door open and closed it after entering the room.

The dining room was a lovely room with a chinoiserie design wallcovering. It faced the south adjoining the terrace. It was bright and airy and furnished with fine furniture from the three great furniture makers of the eighteenth century. The huge Hepplewhite table was set for three with the finest china and silverware. In the middle of the dining table was a floral arrangement of spring flowers flanked by a pair of silver candelabra with five glittering arms. A Waterford crystal chandelier hung above the dining table. On one side of the room was a mahogany Sheraton sideboard with a silver tureen in the middle and knife caddies on each side. Above the sideboard, there was a Dutch Master still life painting of flowers, including roses in a baroque style with swirling brushstrokes of the flowers in its vitality that practically jumped at you when you look at the picture. On the opposite wall, a Chippendale cabinet housed a collection of fine Rose Medallion china. A fireplace with a rich, detailed carving on its mantelpiece graced another wall. Above it was a convex mirror reflecting sparkling silver and crystal images against the mellow patinas of the handsome furniture.

As soon as they were seated, the butler and a footman came and served them their lunch of quail eggs, small potatoes, and creamed spinach. As they were eating their dessert of chocolate soufflé, Spencer brought up the subject which had been in his mind since he got the telegram in England from Alistair Prescott.

Spencer asked his father, “Do you have any idea why I was summoned to come home immediately? Prescott did not say much but sounded rather urgent. I was thinking of coming back home soon anyway, so it did not matter much to me, but I am still curious.”

“Well, when your grandfather died, there was a provision on the will for you. The estate is not settled yet and will not be until that provision is taken care of,” his father said.

Spencer looked up questioningly at his father, “What kind of provision?”

“Alistair will tell you about it. He has all the details. All I know is everything is held up until your return.”

“Then I suppose we have to deal with it as soon as possible,” Spencer said matter-of-factly.

“I told Alistair you are coming in today. I invited him to come to dinner tonight so that he can see you tonight.”

“I guess the sooner, the better. I don’t have anything planned to do today except maybe go riding around the estate sometime this afternoon. Which horse can I take?” Spencer asked his father.

“I’ll tell Yates to ask Robert, our new groom to saddle one for you. Sultan might be good for you. He is a bay stallion which we got only a year ago,” his father said.

“Is he temperamental?

“Nothing you can’t handle. Sultan is a great horse. You’ll love him.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“What time do you want to go riding?”

“Right after Mother shows me the garden. Say three o’clock.” Spencer glanced at his mother, who nodded in agreement.

“That would be fine. Consider it done.”

They finished dessert, rose from their seats, and walked toward the door to the terrace. As they walked down the stairs to the garden, the footmen busied themselves clearing up the dining table and getting the dining room ready for dinner later with the Prescotts.

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at or Barnes & Noble.

The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 3

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

As the RMS Olympic continued toward the New York Harbor, Spencer Wentworth crossed the huge hall with luxurious carpeting and splendidly decorated for the first-class passenger. He aimed toward the door leading to the outside deck, where he would join some first-class passengers enjoying the last few nautical miles of the voyage. As the ship entered the New York harbor, the fog was low but not as thick as the fog that enveloped London when he left his London home to come back to New York. Spencer could barely see the outline of the Statue of Liberty. He still could not hear the pulse of this great city from across the water.

Half an hour before sunrise, New York, the most garish of the Atlantic ports, was beautiful as seen in the distance from the waters of the harbor with the fine mist softening the outlines of the new modern tall buildings. No city port in the world could compare to New York Harbor against the magnificent backdrop of the new towering superstructures that dominated the landscape. It was an impressive sight to behold as you enter the harbor.

The foghorn whistled, and he knew they finally arrived. He would be in Meadow Brook soon.

Meadow Brook! Yes, Meadow Brook and Wentworth Hall, his childhood home.

Spencer sighed with relief that they made it to New York unscathed despite the one-night storm across the sea. He was glad to be returning home to Wentworth Hall, the 40-room mansion on more than 500-acre estate built by his grandfather. He could not wait to know what was so urgent that their family’s lawyer, Alistair Prescott, summoned him to come home.

Alistair Prescott, their family’s attorney, began his career at a small law firm but rose to prominence when he opened his law firm. During the Gilded Age, he became counsel to famous business magnates living on huge estates on Long Island North Shore. These businessmen owned palatial residences propelled by the tremendous fortunes earned in railroads, shipping, steel, oil, and coal. Alistair Prescott also represented some of the old money, names who occupied pages of the Social Register like the Wentworths. Alistair Prescott lived nearby in a 20-room brick house on a 100-acre spread in Cove Meadow named “The Lilac Walk,” appropriately named for all the lilacs grown along the driveway.

The New York harbor was busy more than ever with the bustling sound and activities as when Spencer left home three years ago. New York was still beastly loud and fast. New York, the least smoky of big cities, was beginning to stir up, suddenly awake. The water was opalescent under a gray sky, cool and dim, slightly ruffled by the wind that followed the ships from the sea. A few streamers of smoke flew above the city. The body of water was large, so the rising skyline did not appear to be towering above one as when they looked up close by from the street. The impression was of long buildings stretching down to the water’s edge 0n every side and countless low black wharves and piers. But as you get closer, they grew and grew until they seemed to soar up into heaven. Tugs, steamers, ferry boats, and sailing boats scattered near the harbor as the RMS Olympic entered the harbor with the brilliant maneuver of a skilled captain of an ocean liner. A New York Port Authority tugboat came out to join them and guided the RMS Olympic safely to its berth. Amidst the beauty of the majestic building and the silver expanse of the water, the city seemed like a fairyland until you looked down at the water closely, and instantly you knew that New York was real and dirty with all kinds of debris floating by.

New York was noisy and frantic like all big cities. The noise, bustle, and frantic pace of everything made Spencer realize that New York was quite different than the other cities he had visited in Europe. This frenetic activity made New York vibrant and appealing to the best and brightest of the world and contributed to it being the financial and intellectual capital of the United States. From the rich diversity of its inhabitants and the new immigrants coming from Europe contributing to its vitality, New York would set the pace for American and global change. In New York, everything seemed possible through modern thinking emancipated from Victorian restrictions by the “war to end all wars.” The population changed with new immigrants coming in, and of vast importance, the economic boom. Along with these catalysts was the arrival of modern technology that brought about the bicycle, Model T, radio, electricity, electric appliances, motion pictures, and towering skyscrapers.

Spencer took the Grand Staircase to the lower deck, where several passengers were streaming to get off the ship to be reunited with welcoming friends and relatives. He went down the gangway alongside those passengers on the first class. Once they stepped onto the dockside, they headed towards Immigration, where Spencer joined a long line of passengers. As he came out of Immigration with so many passengers milling around, he wound his way toward the crowd looking for Paul Conley, his family chauffeur. With a multitude of people around, it took him a while to find Paul, who had been waiting for him outside the custom section of the terminal.

Paul Conley was dressed in his chauffeur’s uniform of khaki with black trim and his chauffeur’s hat complete with white gloves. He had a few wrinkle lines on his forehead, but his facial expression was the same. Paul looked almost the same as Spencer remembered him. He was still the most cheerful man he knew.

“Hello, Mr. Spencer.” Paul saw him and greeted him, always with his first name. When he was a young lad, Paul used to address him Master Spencer.

Paul Conley was an older man, now in his fifties, and had been in service with the family as far as Spencer could remember. He was of Irish descent and spoke with his Irish brogue, which was endearing. He and his wife were the oldest members of his family’s downstairs staff. His wife was the cook, and they lived in the chauffeur’s cottage on the Wentworth estate in Meadow Brook.

“Hello, Paul,” Spencer greeted the chauffeur, and they shook hands. “How are you? How’s everything at home?”

“I’m fine, Mr. Spencer. How are you? Everything is fine at home. The cook can’t wait to serve you your favorite dessert.”

“The chocolate soufflé! Mrs. Conley made it so perfectly. I can almost smell and taste it now. I’m glad to be back.”

“She knows you like it so much, so she made it today for your homecoming. We missed you, Mr. Spencer. You’re away too long.”

“I know. It seems ages, and I was ready to come home anyway when I got the telegram from Mr. Prescott.”

A boat steward in his white uniform was coming in their direction with a couple of Louis Vuitton trunks with SAW initials on them. Paul saw him pushing a trolley with a couple of trunks. Pointing to the boat steward coming their way, Paul asked, “Mr. Spencer, are those your trunks?”

Spencer turned around and saw the boat steward with a couple of trunks. He looked at the trunks and saw his initials on them. SAW for Spencer Ashforth Wentworth. “A” stands for Ashforth, his mother’s maiden name, and his middle name. He wanted to make sure they were his. With so many Louis Vuitton trunks on board the ship, you never knew which one was yours.

He nodded. “Yes, they are mine,” he said to Paul.

Spencer motioned to the boat steward.

“You may leave them here,” Spencer said.

The steward was about to place the trunks next to Spencer. He looked at Paul and said, “I can take them to your car, sir, if you want. Where are you parked?”

“Over there.” Paul pointed to a parked Green Model “A” Town Car. They all walked together to the waiting car. Paul and the boat steward put the Louis Vuitton trunks on the rear of the car.

Spencer took some money from his pocket and gave the boat steward a tip.

“Thank you, sir,” the boat steward said.

“You’re welcome.”

“Good day, sir.”

“Good day, and thank you.”

Spencer hopped on the passenger seat in the back of the car, and Paul took his driver’s seat. Spencer could smell the newness of the car.

“How long have you driven this car?” he asked Paul.

“Just a month, Mr. Spencer. It just came out of the factory. Your father was one of the few lucky ones to purchase it. Ford just introduced it in February.”

“Great looking car.”

“It is, and it drives beautifully.”

They drove through New York City. They had only gone few blocks from the terminal, and already the city was teeming with activity. All around them, people moved fast and heedless of the traffic. Men darted in and out hurriedly across intersections, dodging oncoming cars and carriages. A man entered a coffee house with a newspaper tucked under his arm, and they could smell coffee roasting and biscuits baking from the street. Another man came out of the coffee house eating his sandwich as he walked briskly toward his destination. A woman wearing a fancy hat and carrying a shopping bag came out of a store and walked fast. Spencer kept reminding himself that this was New York, his hometown where everyone was in a hurry.

As they drove their way up Tenth Avenue, they saw vast freight yards and factories that lined the street and the frenzied activities around them. Teams of horses drew huge rolls of paper to printers’ shops or bales of cotton and wool to textile mills. They passed slaughterhouses with their malodorous smell as well as soap factories with their dizzying fragrance. Delivery men were loading their wagon with newly made home furnishings. They heard the men shouting orders to one another in various accents like a bubbling Babylonian in the Bible. Despite their bustling activities, New York was nothing like London. It was still young, a new city where every street and building spoke of speed and modern ways. It was the city of the future and a city of commerce. The new buildings, with their soaring architecture, bespoke of progress and ambitious goals.

Ahead of them, a wagon laden with building materials moved so slowly, heading for uptown where most construction was going on. They heard more cursing and yelling from drivers as they fought their way through Eight Avenue into midtown. Slowly, the factories had now given way to neat, well-kept shops and huge houses. New mansions were sprouting everywhere. Spencer’s family owned one of these big mansions on Fifth Avenue. The house stood back from the avenue and was approached by wide steps leading to an iron-grilled entrance. Spencer was not going to his home in the city but going straight to Meadow Brook. His family wanted him home at Wentworth Hall in Meadow Brook.

They drove to the Queensborough Bridge, which was built just over ten years ago, into Long Island under a light shower. Spencer caught a glimpse of the Steinway Piano Factory sign. They passed wagons carrying newly minted pianos from Steinway Piano Factory for delivery to Long Island customers with newfound money. Paul slowed down and then picked up speed when they reached Frederick Floyd Parkway, the road leading to Long Island.

As the green Model “A” Town Car roared up the Frederick Floyd Parkway, the rain had stopped, and the sun began to filter through the gray clouds. Paul, the Wentworth chauffeur for some twenty-plus years, knew the road like the palm of his hand, anticipating the bumps and twists, slowing when necessary and picking up speed when there was a clear stretch of road before them. Spencer gazed dully at the surrounding landscape. His mind turned to the telegram he received from his family’s attorney. Why did the attorney want him home? What was so pressing that he had to come home immediately? The answer, he would soon find out. Alistair Prescott did not explain. Spencer was intrigued, and the timing was right. He was getting tired of London and was wanting to go home anyway.

Paul drove quickly along the parkway, and after an hour, they were already well beyond Mineola and headed toward Westbury and making good time. The traffic now was relatively light. Spencer settled back in his seat and closed his eyes. In an hour, he would be home in Meadow Brook. They passed Westbury into Jericho, past the Meadow Brook Country Club, where his parents and other family members went fox hunting or enjoyed watching the polo matches.

Meadow Brook was a wealthy village in the town of Oyster Bay. It was located between Jericho to the south and Oyster Bay to the north. In the last century, Meadow Brook was a farm and woodland backwater. Still, it changed drastically as wealthy millionaires built immense estates in and around Meadow Brook with sweeping vistas and a whole cadre of servants to maintain the high standard of living. By the mid-1920s, there were so many huge estates in Meadow Brook, a part of what would become the North Shore Gold Coast. The North Shore is the area along Long Island’s northern coast, bordering Long Island Sound, where the terrain is hilly and the beaches more rocky than the flat land and sandy beaches of the South Shore. The South Shore is the area along Long Island’s Atlantic Ocean shoreline.

A couple of miles further north, they entered an imposing gate, one of the largest set of eighteenth-century iron gates in Long Island. This one-of-a-kind gate was imported from England when the senior George Wentworth, Spencer’s grandfather, built his house here surrounded by over 500 acres of a rolling landscape. Since England encountered hard times after World War I, some of these national treasures of England found their way onto American soil into the hands of wealthy Americans amidst some protests from the British. Skilled artisans superbly crafted the intricate design of the magnificent gate. There was no mistake about it. The gate had a big “W” on top, with the beginning and end of the letter turning in a curlicue like the swirling curve of an unfurling fern frond.

They entered the gatehouse, a brick building with an arch opening in the center acting as porte cochere. There were four mullioned windows on either side of the arch. The arch had a keystone at the center on top, which gave it an elegant look. On the roof in the center of the building were a cupola and a widow’s walk with a railing around it. There were two chimneypieces on both ends of the roof. A trio of dormer windows with the eaves looking like eyebrows stared at you as you arrived. A molding of egg and dart design graced the eaves. There were some plantings of shrubs and trees on both sides of the driveway leading to the gatehouse.

They continued the two-mile drive, with the road twisting and turning like an enchanted ribbon as they went along. They passed long meadows with grass swaying in the wind. Some trees, oak, maples, hemlock, elm, and pine trees, were scattered about in the distance. They passed a colonnade of trees whose branches nodded and intertwined with one another and formed a canopy and darkened the drive. Then the drive opened up to a clearing. They drove through rows of pleached hornbeam trees shorn to perfection as they neared the house leading to the cobbled courtyard of Wentworth Hall.

“Mr. Spencer?” Paul slowed the car and glanced at the mirror.

“Yes, Paul. What is it?”

“I just realized you hadn’t seen the house with the new extension. The house that you knew had tripled in size.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“You’ll love it. Your grandfather extended the house right after you left for England. He had in mind a large and impressive estate just like those you see in England. Since the house sits on the highest elevation on the estate, it looks magnificent. The architect made it look like it had been there all the time. I mean, the addition blends in beautifully with the original house. You’d think it was always there. He added indoor tennis & swimming pavilion, several holes of golf on the property, a U-shaped carriage house for his five Rolls Royces, and enlarged the gardens.”

“Really? Leave it to Grandfather.”

“He hired Delano & Aldrich, the New York architects, to do the extensive renovation and extension to the original house. They did a wonderful job.”

“What happened with Warren & Wetmore, who built the house in 1904?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Spencer. But Delano & Aldrich are designing plenty of houses around the area, and I guess your grandfather liked him. I heard Delano and Aldrich was also commissioned by Mr. Egerton Winthrop Jr. down the road to building a house modeled after Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.”

“Well, I guess that says something,” Spencer said.

“There has been so much construction lately. All the new millionaires are moving in and building huge houses. Further down the road, there is a French Normandy-style home built for Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Moore just after you left. I understand this one has a moat around the mansion.”

“A moat? What for? Did they think the Vikings will invade them?” Spencer said with a smile on his face. Paul was amused.

Spencer thought for a moment about this new information from Paul. His grandfather wanted to keep up with the Joneses, although he didn’t have to. His family had been here before all of them. After all, his grandfather was a member of the Sons of the Revolution. Not many people could say that. Maybe he liked Delano & Aldrich better than Warren & Wetmore with that grandiose design of which they were well known. That includes the chapel at Greenwood Cemetery, where most of the notables, including his deceased ancestors, were buried, which reminded them that his architectural-designed structure would be the last thing they would be in before they went to their grave. Warren & Wetmore’s designs were too ornate, and Delano & Aldrich’s designs were something new, and blending the two designs was quite refreshing.

Paul started saying, “You know, your grandfather always thought of you. He always talked about you when I drove him to the city. He thought you’d love the house since you love England very much. He even hired the best landscape architect, Umberto Innocenti, to design the ground to complement the house. Trees, hedges, and ponds were arranged to develop walking paths. Various gardens were installed and planted with blooming flowers and shrubs to provide color at all seasons. The result is fabulous. Since the house is so far from the main entrance and sits on top of a hill surrounded by a vast tract of rolling land, it looks magnificent.”

“I can’t wait to get to see it.”

“We’re just a few hundred yards away.”

Spencer looked out at the surrounding vista and felt a pang of anguish as he thought of his grandfather. He was sad that he missed his funeral. How he wished he was home during his dying days. He wondered what he thought when he added the extension. The old house was grand enough as it was. Why add more to it? Paul just mentioned his grandfather said he would like the new home. What does that mean? He didn’t see any reason why not.

There were many regions where there were a lot of great estates. Many significant cities had great estates like Philadelphia’s Main Line, Pittsburgh’s North Side, Boston’s own North Shore, New York’s Westchester County, and the Hudson Valley, Fairfield County in Connecticut, Chicago’s North Shore, and the list goes on. But Long Island was definitely where the concentration of them was, especially on the North Shore. East End resort areas and part of the South Shore in Long Island also boasted some magnificent estates. Long Island’s natural beauty, its pristine shoreline and ocean beaches, proximity and easy access to New York City, and its suitability for yachting and other recreational pursuits made it the perfect place for the leisure class. These areas were the pinnacle of grandeur in all styles of architecture and the surrounding acreage with its beautiful gardens that only money could buy.

One only had to look in the Social Register and be amazed at how many of them owned magnificent homes on Long Island and another home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. They owned large estates on Long Island, which they called places. Some had palaces in Newport called cottages, duplexes on Fifth Avenue, which they simply called houses. They also lived on the better streets of America’s larger cities and the more affluent of these cities’ suburbs. The Astors, the Hearsts, the Morgans, the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, and many others, had built palatial homes on Long Island. Though Newport was probably the most famous gathering place of the American rich, Long Island possessed the greatest and most exciting assortment of houses designed for the rich and the super-rich. Here was the playground for the very rich where they indulged in fox hunting and polo games at the Meadow Brook Country Club, yachting, fishing, aviation, golf, tennis, and duck shooting.

As they rounded the bend, Spencer saw the outline of the house perched on top of a hill. They were almost near the house. As they approached, he saw the magnificent brick structure, a lovely Georgian-style mansion peeking from another wrought iron gate flanked on both sides with a brick pillar topped by a round ball and high yew hedges flanking the gate. He could see the brick façade with its fluid lines and classical pr oportions that gave it such perfect balance. Two pairs of magnificent reeded columns of the Corinthian order capitals flanked an archway of the handsome portico with wide marble front steps. Several chimneypieces were protruding from the rooftop of the central building and many more from the adjacent wings. The house, with its symmetrical design, had an identical wing on both sides. Few steps to the portico lead to the central entrance hall. There were numerous tall shining windows, looking out onto fine green lawns and gardens.

They reached the cobbled courtyard of Wentworth Hall. The car drew to a halt in front of the steps leading up to the massive front doors. Spencer looked up at the three-story center block of the house flanked by two large wings. The whole house was rendered in brick and roofed with slate. He peeked through the car window and spoke to Paul.

“Good Lord, I know what you mean. I feel like I haven’t left England.” He laughed.

“That’s it, sir. The inside is as grand as the outside. Your grandfather said it’s like an English country estate.”

“Well, it sure looks like one.”

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at or Barnes & Noble.

The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 2

The Wentworth Legacy

 A Long Island Novel

To read Chapter 1, click here.

Kirkus Review:

Morgan (The Iron Butterfly, 2015, etc.) offers a historical novel about a wealthy young man struggling to choose between marrying the woman he loves and maintaining his family’s legacy.

In 1927, 25-year-old Spencer Wentworth receives a telegram calling him home to New York City from his travels in London. When he returns to his family’s estate on the North Shore of Long Island, known as the “Gold Coast,” he’s devastated to learn that his grandfather has died. Worse, the old man has bequeathed all his personal holdings to Spencer. Daunted by his new obligations regarding the family banking business and the Wentworth Hall estate, he decides to work as a teller in order to learn his business from the ground up. Meanwhile, he grows emotionally attached to his sister’s friend, Lorna Beckett, a middle-class girl of striking beauty. At the bank, Spencer learns quickly, but his success is eclipsed by the impending economic depression; he worries that his growing debts will result in the loss of the family’s business and home. As a last-ditch effort to salvage the family portfolio, he forsakes Lorna and attaches himself to Sally Sinclair, an affluent longtime acquaintance, as he’s convinced that marrying her is the responsible choice. But will he amend his path to contentment before it’s too late? This plot-driven, emotionally complex tale effectively details Spencer’s determination to sacrifice his own happiness in favor of his family’s success. In accessible prose, the novel provides numerous historical tidbits about Long Island and Manhattan in the age that immediately preceded the Great Depression (“the arrival of modern technology…brought about the bicycle, Model T, radio, electricity, electric appliances, motion pictures and towering skyscrapers”). With harrowing intensity, Morgan also illustrates the pervasive anxiety just before a disastrous era hit. Overall, she delivers an engrossing love story while also depicting surprising burdens borne by New York’s wealthiest families during the late 1920s.

An engaging tale of a young man’s coming-of-age that will appeal to fans of complicated family sagas.

Chapter 2

Leaden gray clouds hovered across the sky. The wind was still howling, but the heavy rain that had fallen hard in the morning had slowed down to a drizzle. Spencer Wentworth had left his London home in Knightsbridge in heavy rain to go to Southampton to board his ship, which would take him back to the United States. The morning was cold and damp, and he could feel the chill dampness even underneath his heavy wool coat, but it did not dampen his spirit as he looked forward to coming home after three years abroad.

At the pier, passengers started arriving with their vast amount of luggage and trunks. Louis Vuitton luggage and trunks with the LV pattern and some with the checkerboard pattern with a wood brace were prominent among the wealthy passengers. Others brought large suitcases for gowns, tuxedos, dresses, and business suits. There were special boxes for footwear also. There was smaller luggage for whatever they needed while on board. The big ones were held on the ship’s baggage hold. Some passengers checked their luggage straight to the ship from their home location, confident that they would be on their ship when they boarded the ship.

Passengers would dress up to board a ship, even those on the third class, mostly in black or gray with few exceptions. The younger passengers opted for a brighter color. They brought books, magazines to read,  and diaries to write down their thought and experience. They carried cash, and some had a letter of introduction. The rich had their jewelry and other valuables stored at the purser’s vault for safekeeping. Everyone seemed to have a gold watch, with some men had a pocket watch.

Spencer found his way amidst the huge crowd at the pier, where men in topcoats, fedoras, and caps and women with large hats mounded with sewn-on flowers carried their umbrellas, bags, and other belongings outside the terminal. Toddlers and young children all bundled up in heavy coats held on tight to their mothers or nannies. At the far side of the building, the RMS Olympic’s hull loomed above the harbor in a black wall of steel with the funnels spewing braids of gray smoke into the mist above, getting ready to depart as thousands of well-wishers gathered along the pier.

There were three different classes of passenger cabins at RMS Olympic based on wealth and social class. The wealthiest passengers traveled in first class. They were mostly members of the upper class, wealthy businessmen, politicians, socialites, professional athletes, and others who could afford the first-class ticket.

Spencer was traveling alone in first-class. Some in first-class traveled with their staff – maids, nurses, governesses for their kids, valets, cooks, and chauffeurs. They were given the list of first-class passengers, a “who’s who” of the rich and famous. Mothers made sure their daughters meet rich bachelors while on board. Spencer was a target of some mothers for their daughters.

The first-class passengers had the most luxurious accommodations, some with a private promenade deck. They enjoyed several amenities, including large dining rooms, a lavish Grand Staircase, a smoking room for men, a Veranda Cafe decorated with palm trees, and several other places for meals and entertainment, a saltwater swimming pool, electric and Turkish bath, gymnasium, a squash court, and a barbershop.

The middle-class travelers, which included middle-class English and American families, clergy, authors, professors, some tourists, and the ship’s musicians, were the second-class passengers. The musicians were not considered members of the crew but worked with an agency under contract to White Star Line. Second-class passengers ate at the dining room for the second-lass passengers. They had their library, and the children could read children’s books at their own library and played shuffleboard at the second-class promenade.

Some traveled alone or in small family groups. Several groups of mothers were traveling alone with their young children. They would be joining their husband, who had left for America before them, to find jobs in the new country and saved for their families’ passage to America.

The third-class, or steerage passengers were mostly immigrants moving to the United States for a better life. Compared to other ships, they had reasonable accommodation. They had their dining room with chairs, not benches as in other ocean liners, and the third-class kitchen staff prepared their meals.

Although single men and women in third-class were separated, they have their own cabins; women in the stern and men in the bow section of the ship. There were two public bathtubs, one for men and the other for women. They could play cards or chess in the third-class common room. The third class even had their own smoking room, and children played in the common area.

The White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class ocean liners was RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic, and HMHS Britannic. The RMS Olympic was the lead ship and the largest transatlantic ocean liner in the world for two periods during 1911-1913, interrupted only by slightly larger RMS Titanic. The White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class ocean liners’ name ends with ‘ic’, paralleling Cunard line ending with ‘ia’. All of them had nine decks, of which seven were for passenger use. They also have four funnels, but one was a dummy funnel used as a huge ventilation shaft.

Two did not have long service lives and were lost early in their careers. RMS Titanic sank on the night of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, claiming more than fifteen hundred lives. HMHS Britannic sank on November 21, 1916, after hitting a mine laid by the German minelayer submarine U79 in a barrier off Kea Channel in the Mediterranean during World War I killing thirty people. Unlike her younger sister ships, the RMS Olympic, the lead vessel, enjoyed a long and illustrious career and had a career spanning twenty-four years. During World War I, RMS Olympic was used as a troopship earning her the nickname “Old Reliable”, and her captain was knighted in 1919 for valuable services in connection with the transport of troops.

Spencer boarded the RMS Olympic to take him home to New York. Once aboard the ship, Spencer was led by a steward through one of the three elevators behind the lavish Grand Staircase onto his luxurious cabin, a stateroom equipped with a private bathroom on B Deck starboard side. The steward told him he could have his meals in the ship’s large and luxurious dining room, in the more intimate A La Carte Restaurant, or at the Café Parisian, giving the first-class passengers more options for their dining pleasure. Spencer deposited his small suitcases and made sure his trunks and shoe case had arrived. He thanked the steward, gave him a tip before he left. He tested the locks on his suitcases and trunks and then went back out to join the crowd on the A deck promenade, which was wide open along the ship’s whole length.

Behind the Grand Staircase were three elevators that went up to A deck and down to E deck. Since he was only going one flight, he opted to use the Grand Staircase with two rows of stairs bisected by a middle railing. At the foot of the Grand Staircase stood a putti statue on a plinth holding a torch lamp. Above a fancy grillwork starting from the newel of carved acanthus leaves, there was a set of sweeping railings. An elaborate niche for a wall clock stood prominently below the domed ceiling at the center of the top landing, surrounded by paneled walls.

He saw family and friends of passengers were allowed easy access to come aboard without question to see passengers off. He looked out to sea, and it was rough and metal gray. He wished it was better weather to cross the Atlantic, but it couldn’t be helped. Weather was always unpredictable, and so was life. You could not know what would happen next. It happened to him just as suddenly as the weather changed. He had not envisaged coming back to New York this year, although he missed home once in a while and wanted to go back. He still could not believe that within a matter of days, he would be in New York.

As the whistle blew and the stewards ordered the visitors to disembark, Spencer began to relax, knowing he would be home in six days. He was drained, mentally and physically. The last few days were hectic trying to get everything in order before his unexpected departure. The break-off of his lease to his home at Knightsbridge was left to the care of his London solicitor. Regarding the shipment of his belongings to New York, he gave instructions to Mr. Granger on what to ship and the rest to be given away. His bank account had to be closed. All of these things had to be taken care of. He sought the help of some trusted friends to help him out with the details of his leave-taking. He found a job for Mr. Granger and his wife and gave them a hefty bonus for which they were grateful, and they wished him good luck and safe crossing.

Leaving England was a hard thing for him to do. He was getting used to a life of leisure. He loved the English countryside, and he was fascinated with the English ladies of the aristocracy. With his impressive credentials, a man with deep pockets, and good looks, he was constantly invited to parties. Mothers of the young English ladies vied for his attention to get him to their parties and be introduced to their daughters. As his association with the British high society broadened, he found English women were more reserved than their American counterparts, but no one seemed to capture his heart. He did not think he had found the right woman to share his life with. He was having such a grand time and did not want to be tied down with anyone. Still, the invitations kept on coming. At the start of the London Season, he was invited incessantly to fancy balls.

Spencer was glad to be able to book a passage to New York on the RMS Olympic. So, in a cloudy spring afternoon in early April 1927, Spencer stood with his face toward the wind, gripping the RMS Olympic railas it set sail from the White Star piers of Southampton. With the wind blowing vigorously, he looked sad and nostalgic about leaving. He realized it would be a while before he would set foot on English soil again, if ever.

As the RMS Olympic left port, life at sea began to set in, and passengers had to adapt themselves to the assigned tablemates or dined alone. Like Spencer, unaccompanied travelers faced the prospect of being seated with someone he had nothing in common. If he was lucky, he could meet a pleasant fellow or a beautiful maiden, and romance got kindled, or he could get dumped. If he was unlucky, he could be seated with a boor and be miserable the entire voyage. But the food was always excellent and plentiful, even in third-class. In first-class where Spencer was, it was lavish. They had soups, hors d’oeuvres, and delicious entrees and desserts at all meals. There was plenty of liquor – several cases of Canadian Club Whiskey, Black and White Whiskey, Plymouth Gin, French red wine, Chablis, and barrels of stout and ale. Passengers drank and smoked a lot which was a significant source of profit for the White Star Line. There were thousands of cigarettes and cigars from Havana, Manila, and the United States. For those passengers who brought pipes, there were several hundred pounds of loose tobacco in 4-ounce tins. Some passengers also got their own. During the voyage, the scent of combusted tobacco was ever-present, especially after dinner.

Spencer did not mind sitting with strangers at his assigned table. He saw it as a way of meeting new friends. It was on his second night at sea when he was having dinner with a new group of passengers when all of a sudden, someone said, ‘Either I am getting a little drunk, or it is getting rough.’ They found themselves swaying and leaning sideways in their chairs. They heard a crash and the sound of falling cutlery. At their table, the wine glass toppled and rolled over as they steadied their plate and forks. They looked at each other with expressions of profound horror.

Silence followed the crash, then a high, nervous babble of laughter. Stewards laid napkins on the pools of spilled wine. They tried to resume the conversation, but all were waiting as the next significant blow, and it came heavier than the last. The ship rocked from side to side. Some women at their table started rising and saying good-night. The dining room was emptying fast.

Then, there was another climb, then another drop. The stewards were at work straightening things up, shutting things down, and putting away insecure items. Spencer left with two couples and aimed for the lounge. On their way to the lounge, they had to cling to a pillar. It was almost deserted when they got there. The band played but no one danced. A few passengers read books, a few playing bridge, some men drinking brandy and smoking cigars, but most of the guests had disappeared to their cabin. Then the two couples decided it was time to call it a day, and Spencer was left alone. He decided to walk around the ship on one of the covered decks where the wind howled, and the spray leaped up from the darkness and smashed white and brown liquid against the glass screen. He then decided it was time to go to his stateroom and go to bed.

He went to his stateroom with the ship swaying back and forth. She was rolling now as well as pitching, and his head rang with every creak and thud. All he could think of was the RMS Titanic, and he hoped and prayed to make it to New York. He did not get much sleep that night.

The next day, the wind had dropped a little, but it was still blowing hard, and there was a very heavy swell. Spencer decided to go to breakfast. He went around the promenade, but it was hard going. When the ship rolled heavily, he held on to the rail. He could see the grey sky and the black water outside. The howl of the wind was now subdued. There were few people about that day. Only the brave souls were about, but they did nothing except sit rather glumly in their armchairs, drank occasionally, and exchanged congratulations on not being seasick. A web of lifelines stretched across the lounge, and they seemed like boxers, roped into the ring.

The wind stopped howling, and the sun was up on the fourth day. Passengers started coming out on the deck and began socializing again. Spencer wanted to be alone for most of the day till dinnertime.

He would sit on the deck with a steamer rug over his shoulders, reading or just staring at the sea and wondering what lay ahead in his future. He would give some extra cash to the steward to obtain him a good seat. The quality of mid-ocean wind and sun was curiously invigorating. Sometimes, he would take a break from reading and enjoyed watching some of the games played on deck during the daytime. He found it quite entertaining and relieved some of the boredom he found unbearable.

In the evening, there were concerts and talent shows in the first-class lounge. The room was large and warm and carpeted in maroon and beige with two grey marble fireplaces with serpentine mantelpiece in the front and rear walls and a curb of a pierced scroll-and-shell pattern. The lounge was the finest room built in a ship and as opulent as a stateroom in a palace. The room was decorated in the Louis XV style based on interiors at the Palace of Versailles. The walls were paneled with finest English oak carved with delicate boiserie decorated with scrolled floral-and-shell ornamentation. At the entrance to the First-Class restaurant, there was a revolving door, a feature that only appeared on RMS Olympic, which needed a way of keeping sea breezes out of the room.

As the days passed, he began to enjoy his voyage more and more and made new friends, such as one does on an ocean crossing. Unhappily, the voyage was nearing its end. Before the crossing was over, Spencer Wentworth, like most young people in the first-class, discovered that the third-class lounge was far livelier than their public rooms’ stuffy uprightness. All the most attractive girls on the ship seemed to be in third-class, and they were having more fun at their party. However, just as the young men in the first-class were trying to go to the third-class, some bold young passengers from the third-class were trying to sneak into the first-class. All they needed was a dinner jacket and the audacity to break the barrier.

How ironic could that be? Spencer began to see the difference between the social strata of society. He was never exposed to this situation before. The things that he took for granted, he found out was very important to some young people. He also discovered that the less privileged class had more fun in life than the upper class.

Spencer found some young men of his age from the third-class to trade places, so they sneaked into the third-class. It was awkward at first, but as the music got louder and livelier, they forgot their inhibition and joined in the fun. The dance got wilder as the evening progressed. By the time they left the third-class and met their counterparts to retrieve their jackets, Spencer could not care less if he got his jacket back. He had the most wonderful time of his life, which he would never forget.

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at or Barnes & Noble.

The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 1

Kirkus Review:

Morgan (The Iron Butterfly, 2015, etc.) offers a historical novel about a wealthy young man struggling to choose between marrying the woman he loves and maintaining his family’s legacy.

In 1927, 25-year-old Spencer Wentworth receives a telegram calling him home to New York City from his travels in London. When he returns to his family’s estate on the North Shore of Long Island, known as the “Gold Coast,” he’s devastated to learn that his grandfather has died. Worse, the old man has bequeathed all his personal holdings to Spencer. Daunted by his new obligations regarding the family banking business and the Wentworth Hall estate, he decides to work as a teller in order to learn his business from the ground up. Meanwhile, he grows emotionally attached to his sister’s friend, Lorna Beckett, a middle-class girl of striking beauty. At the bank, Spencer learns quickly, but his success is eclipsed by the impending economic depression; he worries that his growing debts will result in the loss of the family’s business and home. As a last-ditch effort to salvage the family portfolio, he forsakes Lorna and attaches himself to Sally Sinclair, an affluent longtime acquaintance, as he’s convinced that marrying her is the responsible choice. But will he amend his path to contentment before it’s too late? This plot-driven, emotionally complex tale effectively details Spencer’s determination to sacrifice his own happiness in favor of his family’s success. In accessible prose, the novel provides numerous historical tidbits about Long Island and Manhattan in the age that immediately preceded the Great Depression (“the arrival of modern technology…brought about the bicycle, Model T, radio, electricity, electric appliances, motion pictures and towering skyscrapers”). With harrowing intensity, Morgan also illustrates the pervasive anxiety just before a disastrous era hit. Overall, she delivers an engrossing love story while also depicting surprising burdens borne by New York’s wealthiest families during the late 1920s.

An engaging tale of a young man’s coming-of-age that will appeal to fans of complicated family sagas.

Chapter 1

He walked quietly into the entrance hall, where only one light was turned on. The whole house was dark except for the table lamp, dimly lit, casting a shadow across the hallway. As he walked in, a light yellow piece of paper caught his attention right away. It was staring him right in the face as he opened the door. It was placed neatly on the silver tray on the entrance hall table in his home in Knightsbridge, an exclusive residential and retail district in Central London within walking distance from Hyde Park and Harrods. It was odd that there was something on the silver tray.

Mr. Granger, his butler, a man of medium height about 5’10” with a round face and bespectacled and an air of authority, delivered his mail to him on the silver tray when they came in the day but usually nothing at night. He remembered telling Mr. Granger not to wait for him when he left his house earlier that evening to go to the 1927 Spring Ball at Grosvenor Square. He knew he would be very late. It was now almost two o’clock in the morning. Mr. Granger must have left the yellow piece of paper on the silver tray, knowing he could not miss it when he came home.

Spencer Wentworth had too much to drink at the party and was too intoxicated to comprehend what he saw. He picked up the yellow piece of paper gingerly, opened it, and tried to focus his eye with difficulty. It was a telegram. He started to read.

The telegram said, “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP.” Just five words, so powerful in their brevity. He stared at them and frowned, his mind slowly absorbing what he read. It was not what he expected to see coming home late at night. He read it one more time. “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP,” it said. There was no explanation and no denying it was urgent. It said so. He looked at the signature. He thought it might be from home, from his father, George Wentworth Jr., but it was not. Their family lawyer, Alistair Prescott, signed the telegram. “Why would Prescott send me a telegram? What could be so urgent?” He wondered what it all meant.

He put the telegram in his pocket and turned on the sconce light on the stairway. Then he switched off the table lamp light and went straight upstairs to his bedroom. He could not do much tonight and decided to deal with the telegram in the morning when he would be sober.

Upon entering his bedroom, he took off his clothes and draped them on a chair by his secretary desk. He took off his cufflinks and his pocket watch and placed them on his bureau. He sat by the edge of his bed, took off his shoes, and donned his pajamas, which Mr. Granger had laid on his bed earlier and got ready for bed. He felt tired and exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep.

He turned off all the lights and slipped under the bed covers. As soon as he hit the pillow, he forgot about the telegram and went right to sleep.

A few hours later, he woke up with a start and rubbed his eyes. It was still dark. He wondered what time it was. He closed his eyes again but could not go back to sleep. He opened his eyes, and he stared at the ceiling. He suddenly remembered the telegram.

He got up, turned on the light on his night table, and walked to the chair where his clothes were. He remembered he put the telegram in his pocket but could not remember what was in the telegram. He turned on the light on his desk, retrieved the telegram from his pocket, and read it. “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP,” it said. He placed the telegram on his desk.

He walked toward the window and opened it. The night air was cool, and he could feel the breeze on his face. The crescent moon was casting a shadow on the landscape. He stared at the pattern of the opposite rooftops and walls of the nearby buildings, barely able to recognize their familiar outlines. Aside from a couple of night stragglers on the street walking by, the street was quiet and empty.

He thought of home, but unpleasant thoughts came circling in his mind. He thought of reasons why the family lawyer wanted him home. He wondered if it had anything to do with his grandfather’s death, George Wentworth Sr. It had to be. He was sorry he missed the funeral. That was the last time when he received another telegram, a few months ago. It was from his father informing him of his grandfather’s death. His father said there was no need for him to come home, so he stayed in London. Now the lawyer wanted him home, and it was urgent. “Why?” he wondered.

Spencer Wentworth, a tall, lean, and handsome young man, in his mid-twenties with blond hair and deep blue eyes and a penchant for expensive clothes, was a scion of one of the fabulously wealthy families in New York. He loved to party and had never done any work in his entire life. He grew up in a privileged environment with all that money could buy. His father, George Wentworth Jr., was the only child of George Wentworth Sr., the founder of Wentworth Bank. His mother, Margaret Ashforth Wentworth, a beautiful debutante from Tuxedo Park when George Wentworth Jr. met her at her Debutante Ball and married her within the year of their acquaintance, also came from a prominent old money family in New York.

Spencer and his family lived in Meadow Brook on the North Shore of Long Island in a huge estate called Wentworth Hall. It was on a high elevation surrounded by over 500 acres of land where one could even see the Atlantic Ocean on the south shore on a clear day. Spencer’s grandfather, George Wentworth Sr., built the Wentworth Hall. They also had another large house in New York City on Fifth Avenue near Central Park and a winter residence in Palm Beach, Florida. The Wentworth family belonged to several private clubs, most notably the Piping Rock Club, the Meadow Brook Country Club, Knickerbocker Club, and Colony Club.

Spencer Wentworth, aged twenty-five, and his sister Emma, four years younger than he, always lived in luxury. They grew up with a nanny, a tutor, and a governess always watching their every move. A butler managed the house, assisted by a housekeeper and a cook. Under their management, there was a large staff of servants in all their homes: footmen to help the butler, upstairs and downstairs maids who took care of the maintenance of the house, stable men to take care of the horses and the stable, gardeners to take care of the grounds and chauffeurs to manage the garage and the dozen cars that replaced the horse-drawn carriages and have them ready at will for the family. Work at the house started in the morning’s early hours before the family members left their beds. In the hierarchy of a large household, the scullery maids, parlor maids, and chambermaids scuttled about, removing the remains of the previous day’s fires in all the grates, polishing, dusting, so that when the family arose, everything was ready for them and the work continued till the family retired to bed.

Spencer and his sister, Emma, were tutored at home before he went to boarding school at aged eight, and Emma went to Miss Potters School for the Girls. From boarding school, Spencer went on to prep school in New Hampshire and on to an Ivy League school like all men of his social standing would do. Spencer went to Harvard as expected of him, a Wentworth, like all men in his family, did.

Before the 1920s, few people other than the wealthy children attended college and were almost universally men. In the 1920s, effectively freed from tradition by World War I, young people began swarming colleges – to learn, but also, for the first time for many, simply to have fun. By the end of the decade, 20 percent of American college-age youth were on campuses. Few women did. Emma went to Vassar College later on. A famous limerick of the time went: She doesn’t drink. She doesn’t pet. She hasn’t been to college yet.

Three years ago, after his college graduation from Harvard, Spencer left the United States and sailed for Europe on a grand tour in June 1924. Although he went away to boarding school since he was eight years old, his sojourn abroad was the longest he had been away from home. At boarding school, he could always go home on holidays. Going away to Europe was another matter. It was too long to make the crossing, and so he stayed in Europe. He spent his days enjoying the life of a bachelor with plenty of money to pay for whatever his heart desired. With his good looks and a never-ending supply of money in his bank account, he was able to mingle easily with the moneyed class and the aristocracy.

Spencer wished he was home when his grandfather died. He was very close to his grandfather, who was instrumental in why he was in Europe enjoying the good life. It was his grandfather who insisted he take the grand tour of Europe after his college graduation. He believed that a young man of his stature should and was expected of him. It would be an excellent education for him to see the world. Harvard education was not enough, according to his grandfather. His grandfather told his parents that he would finance his sojourn in Europe and money would be deposited in his bank account every first of the month, and so he sailed for England on the RMS Olympic, the largest ship in the world at that time.

Being the most luxurious transatlantic ship and the first in a new class of superliners at that time, RMS Olympic made her maiden voyage on June 14, 1911, and arrived in New York seven days later, on June 21, 1911. The press gave her extensive coverage, and she attracted much attention from the public. After she arrived in New York, RMS Olympic was opened up to the public and received thousands of visitors, and more spectators came to watch her depart from the New York harbor for her first return trip.

RMS Olympic attracted the rich and famous of the day during its run, including Charlie Chaplin and Prince Edward, then Prince of Wales among the celebrities that she carried. One of the RMS Olympic’s attractions was that she was nearly identical to the RMS Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage. Many passengers wanted to experience the voyage of the ill-fated sister ship of RMS Olympic. Spencer was one of them and enjoyed his voyage to England three years ago.

For his first year abroad, he visited most countries in Europe except Germany. He went to England, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria, enjoying various cities along the Mediterranean coast, hopping from club to club, going to art museums, attending concerts and operas, and having a great time. He played the field, and women flocked to him like bees to honey where ever he went, but he refused to get hooked with somebody for too long. He met plenty of expatriates from the States doing mostly the same thing as he did. He enjoyed the nightlife in Paris and Monaco tremendously. He found life at the Riviera to his liking with the more intellectual attractions a city had to offer.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Riviera was visited frequently by writers and artists, including Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso. While Europe was still recovering from WWI and the American dollar was strong, wealthy Americans started arriving. Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence at a villa near Hyeres, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the first woman to do so. F. Scott Fitzgerald first visited with his wife, Zelda, in 1924 and eventually stayed at Saint-Raphael, where he wrote much of The Great Gatsby and began writing Tender is the Night.

Spencer loved Italy with all the arts, the museums, and the opera, which he enjoyed tremendously. He went beyond Europe to Istanbul. He enjoyed and admired the exotic atmosphere of the place. He spent a couple of weeks in India and visited the Taj Mahal. After his trip to India, he went back to Europe and stayed a month in the south of France, then on to England again, where he wandered in the countryside and fell in love with it.

While touring the Continent for a year, he discovered he liked England the best. The English countryside reminded him of home with its sloping vistas and grand houses with fabulous gardens. The City of London was a vibrant place, and he enjoyed the social scene there and loved hobnobbing with the elites of London society. He was in a constant whirlwind of social events, which made him stay. He decided to settle in England and rented a house in London where the social scene was more to his taste and within a driving distance to the countryside where he was welcome as a house guest in some of England’s great houses.

Now that his grandfather was gone, will the money still be deposited in his bank account? He was certain his father would make sure the money would be there. What if he was wrong? What would happen to him abroad? He could not continue his leisure life, hopping from club to club without the money from his grandfather. It was his means to luxurious living. The thought of not having enough money made him so depressed. Maybe that was the reason. Maybe the money would stop. He never thought of that before. He suddenly felt vulnerable and homesick. Maybe it was time for him to go home. He had been away for too long. Three years seemed like a lifetime. He had lived in England for two years of his three-year stay abroad. He contemplated living in England for the rest of his life, but of course, life was unpredictable and constantly changing.

It was unexpected that he was summoned to return home as soon as possible, leaving him no choice. At first, he did not think he wanted to go, but after some thought, he decided it was best to go home and find out what the telegram was all about. He suddenly realized that he was getting old and it was time to settle down. There were more things in life than the pursuit of empty pleasure. He had sown his wild oats. Enough of that already.

Time to get serious. Yes, he wanted to go home more than he realized. Once he made up his mind, he went back to bed and finally fell asleep.

The next morning Spencer woke up with the sun shining brightly. He got up and walked to the window. People were up and about, and he saw some people already strolling towards Hyde Park. He could smell the spring air. Spring blossoms were appearing everywhere.

He turned around and aimed for the bathroom. He saw Mr. Granger had already drawn the water for his bath. He undressed and dropped his nightclothes on the tiled floor. He dipped his toes in the warm water and sank into the tub.

After his bath, he put on his morning clothes, which Mr. Granger had laid out in his dressing room, and then he headed hurriedly downstairs.

“Good morning, Granger,” he greeted his butler, a man in his fifties, always appropriately attired in his butler’s uniform and took pride in his job as Spencer’s butler and valet at the same time. He loved his position, and he was devoted to Spencer, who he found to be a very pleasant employer who treated him very well.

“Good morning, sir. Did you see the telegram I left on the silver tray at the hall last night?” Mr. Granger asked.

“Yes, I did. Thank you,” Spencer said as he walked past Mr. Granger, who held the door to the dining room open.

The dining room was a gracious room painted a very pale yellow and was bright with light coming from the morning sun through the open window facing east. On one wall stood a Georgian sideboard with a pair of silver candelabra on both sides of a porcelain Famille rose punch bowl. Flanking the sideboard was a pair of armchairs in the Jacobean style. At the other end of the dining room was a marble fireplace with a roaring fire giving warmth to the room. Above the Hepplewhite dining table with ten chairs in Queen Ann’s style hung a crystal chandelier with a golden wire chain. A couple of hunting scene pictures graced the wall above the sideboard and the fireplace. The table was set for one person.

Mr. Granger had Spencer’s breakfast of buttered toast, marmalade, eggs, bacon, ham, and kippers ready on the table. Spencer sat on the chair, flipped his napkin, placed it on his lap, and started to eat.

He turned to Mr. Granger and said, “I have to send a telegram today and also see if I can book a passage to New York right away.”

Mr. Granger’s eyebrows shot up. After the initial shock, he asked, “You’re leaving, sir?”

“I’m afraid so. I have to,” Spencer said and continued eating.

“Does it have anything to do with the telegram?” Mr. Granger asked, suspecting it had something to do with it.

“Yes. Our family lawyer wants me home. It says ‘Urgent ’.”

“Urgent? Did it say why?” Mr. Granger was curious to know.

“No. No explanation. Anyway, I have decided it’s time to go back. I hope I can get a passage on the RMS Olympic. I love that ship. It’s the same ship I sailed coming over three years ago.” Spencer picked the last piece of bacon from his plate and chewed it.

“I heard it is like the Titanic,” Mr. Granger said solemnly.

“It is, but better and safer. The company put in so many improvements after the Titanic sank to improve safety. The number of lifeboats was increased from twenty to sixty-four, and extra davits were installed along the boat deck to accommodate them,” Spencer said.

“It’s terrible there were not enough lifeboats on the Titanic.”

Spencer nodded. “I agree. They learned a big lesson from the disaster. An inner watertight skin was also constructed in the boiler and engine rooms to create a double hull. Five of the watertight bulkheads were extended up to B-deck, extending to the entire height of the hull. I understand improvements were also made to the ship’s pumping apparatus.”

“That’s nice to know. It makes one feel at ease and worry free.”

“Exactly. The ship also has plenty of amenities that I enjoyed. The first-class section has a Georgian-style smoking room, a Veranda Café decorated with palm trees, a swimming pool, a Turkish bath, a gymnasium, and several other places for meals and entertainment. It has the most luxurious accommodation among the ocean liners. It’s a home away from home. Maybe even better.”

“That’s wonderful,” Mr. Granger said.

“I understand even the second-class facilities include a smoking room, a library, a spacious dining room, and an elevator. The third-class passengers even have reasonable accommodation compared to other ships. Instead of large dormitories offered by most ships, the third-class passengers of the Olympic travel in cabins containing two to ten bunks. Facilities for the third class also included a smoking room, a common area, and a dining room.”

“That sounds terrific.”

“Yes, it is,” Spencer said as he picked up his cup and drank his coffee.

Seeing Spencer almost finished with his breakfast, Mr. Granger asked hesitantly, “What are you going to do with the house?” He was afraid he would lose his job. He liked his employer, a fine young man, kind and generous.

“I have not made up my mind just yet. I would most likely break off the lease. I don’t know if I am coming back. Not for a long time anyway,” Spencer said and took another sip of his coffee.

Mr. Granger looked down, not knowing what to say. He felt depressed. He knew at this time in his life, it would be difficult for him to find a job, much less a good employer like Spencer Wentworth. It did not escape Spencer’s attention. Spencer realized his butler was worried about losing his job.

Mr. Granger and his wife, the cook, had been in service at his house for two years since he leased his home and were conscientious employees, and Spencer liked them. They were highly recommended by a friend who worked at the U.S. Embassy who knew Spencer’s father back in the States. Mr. Granger and his wife used to work for a young American couple who was recalled back to the States. At their first interview, Spencer took a liking to Mr. Granger, who seemed very pleasant but knew his place in the house hierarchy. Spencer hired him immediately, and the Grangers took good care of him, and he appreciated their loyalty and service.

“Granger, if you are worried about your position, I will try to find you and your wife a job with my circle of friends when I leave for the States. You should not worry about that. I will give you an excellent reference,” Spencer said.

“Thank you, sir. That is very kind of you. I do appreciate it very much.”

“You’re welcome.”

Mr. Granger beamed broadly. He noticed Spencer had finished his breakfast. He came closer to the table, cleared Spencer’s plate, and gave him the morning paper. He stepped back and left the room.

Spencer picked up the morning paper, glanced at the headline, and stood up. He headed to his study and drafted a letter to his solicitor in London, then left it on the silver tray on the hallway for Mr. Granger to have it delivered before he went out to answer Prescott’s telegram and book his passage to New York.

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at or Barnes & Noble.