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Carola Dunn

Heirs of the Body

Carola Dunn Heirs Of The Body A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery
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Series:

Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries

Biographical note:

CAROLA DUNN is the author of many previous mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple, including Sheer Folly, Gone West and Heirs to the Body, as well as numerous historical novels. Born and raised in England, she lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Biographical note:

CAROLA DUNN is the author of many previous mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple, including Sheer Folly, Gone West and Heirs to the Body, as well as numerous historical novels. Born and raised in England, she lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Excerpt from book:

ONE
 
 
“Darling, what on earth are ‘heirs of the body’?” Daisy enquired, frowning at the wad of blue Basildon Bond writing paper in her hand. She had been busy all day and was only now, after dinner, opening the afternoon post.
“Postmortem effluvia?”
“H-e-i-r.”
“Coroners?” Without looking up from the Evening Standard, Alec reached for his whisky, an indulgence usually reserved for celebrating the end of a big investigation. “Undertakers? Worms?”
“Ugh, Daddy, that’s disgusting!” Belinda’s Easter holidays had started just a couple of days earlier, and her father was apt to forget to mind his tongue in her presence.
“What, worms? Just think, if they didn’t do their work we’d be up to our necks in bodies.”
“Alec, really! In any case, ‘heirs’ is the important word here. Cousin Edgar’s coming up to his fiftieth birthday and apparently it dawned on him a few months ago that he hasn’t the faintest idea who is heir to the title and Fairacres.”
“Your letter’s from Lord Dalrymple?”
“No, Cousin Geraldine. She’s frightfully scathing about ‘heirs of the body,’ but I can’t make out why.”
“It’d be because she and Lord Dalrymple have no children. It’s just a legal term for legitimate offspring, and their legitimate offspring, ad infinitum.”
Daisy cast an anxious glance at her stepdaughter.
“It’s all right, Mummy,” Bel said indulgently. “I know what legitimate means, and illegitimate. It’s whether the mother and father are married or not.”
How did children find out such things? Daisy wondered. She was sure she hadn’t been aware at the age of thirteen that procreation without matrimony was even possible. Times had changed between 1911 and 1927!
“I read it in a book.” Bel answered her unvoiced question. “And looked it up in the dictionary.”
“Well, darling, I’m glad you’re using your dictionary. But I was rather hoping you didn’t know what it means.”
“Oh, Mummy, how positively Victorian!”
Since Daisy frequently decried the persistent influence of Victorian attitudes in older generations, she was left speechless.
Alec had set aside his paper to fill his pipe. Now, between the vigorous puffs required to get it burning, he said, “I’m not really up in all that stuff, but the ‘body’ bit must mean that step- or adopted children don’t count. And the original entail, or patent, or will, or whatever must have specified heirs male of the body. Otherwise, your brother having died, love, I think your sister’s eldest son would have inherited the estate and title from your father. Or perhaps Violet first, and then Derek. But don’t quote me on that.”
“Derek?” said Bel. “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun if he was Lord Dalrymple!”
“A new law was passed just last year, though, and I’m not sure what effect it has in a situation like th Entertaining… Fans of Downton Abbey will be delighted.


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