Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It begins in Tanzania as I remember it from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter twelve, scene one: Back to London.
When we arrived back in Knight Towers, at around nine in the evening, the first thing I noticed was a large crate in the middle of the conservatory. This must have been the thing that Sophie had bought, and I assumed Mrs Cooper had given the delivery person access to the conservatory, as it was properly locked and alarmed on our arrival.
“Can I see what it is now, Sophie, or do I have to wait until after breakfast tomorrow, like Mama and Papa made me wait for my Christmas presents when I was a child?” I asked.
“Your choice, Hannice. I’m going in to freshen up.”
The crate was too high for me to reach to take the top off, so I would have to wait for Sophie to come back. Drat these legs!
When she came back out, I handed Sophie the crowbar that I kept in the conservatory (I knew I’d find a use for it one day), and she lifted the top of the crate. She then removed the side closest to me and pulled out all the packing material, revealing the contents, an ebony bench-cum-sofa, ornately carved in the Bantu style and sumptuously upholstered in a deep red leather that wouldn’t look out of place in the chamber of the House of Lords.
“Sophie, that’s terrific,” I enthused.
“I thought it would go well in the lounge,” she suggested.
“I’ll say. I’ll have the gardener take it through in the morning.”
“I’m sure we can manage it between us,” she said, “it’s a straight run through. If you can take the weight of one end, I’ll lift the other end and push you slowly backwards.”
“If I can take the weight on my legs, I’ll be able to steer, too.”
That’s what we did, and it took pride of place in what, as a child, I always called the posh corner of the lounge. There was enough room beside it for me to park my wheelchair and haul myself into it.
The next morning, I went into the offices of the firm’s solicitors, Green, Green and Smithson, and saw Mr Joe Green, who was the administrator of Papa’s will.
“What’s this about me having a half-brother?” I asked.
“So the gentleman claims, Mr Knight, so he claims,” he said.
“Did Papa ever say anything about a bastard son?” I asked.
“No, Sir,” he replied, “but you, of all people, know how closely Mr Maurice guarded his personal life. His history is, speaking poetically, a mystery. To me, at least.”
“Two questions, Mr Green. One: is this true? And two: what happens if it is?”
“The veracity or otherwise of the claims of this Mr Parker can be established to a fair degree of certainty by means of a simple DNA test, Sir. We would need to extract a sample of the gentleman’s DNA and a sample of yours. The two will then be compared and the likelihood of a filial relationship determined. I have already looked into your second question and am seeking advice from a family law specialist. My immediate reaction is that as your father left a very clear statement of his wishes in his will, and that will has been properly executed, the matter should drop there. However, I would recommend waiting until I receive the opinion I have sought.”
“Very well, Mr Green, I’ll go along with your counsel. How do we go about having the DNA test done?”
“Here’s the address of the lab I’d like to use,” he said, stretching across his desk and handing me an envelope addressed to a medical laboratory in the City. “Take this note to them; they are expecting you, and they will take a cheek swab. Meanwhile, I have asked Mr Parker to provide, within fifteen days, a verified DNA sample for comparison. I’ll be in touch again once the tests have been completed.”
The lab was expecting me. The receptionist called a white-coated operative, who came out, took a sample by swabbing the inside of my cheek, said thank-you and went off again. Very efficient; took seconds.