Well, well, the old Trewethett place was up for sale. Vincent had heard stories - anyone familiar with larger country piles would have heard of the place, and of the wizard that used to live there. So when the initial notice of interest was published, he was - of course - interested.
Partially because a trip down to Cornwall would do him some good, take in some of the local air, some of the sights, that sea view was some of the finer coastline of the land. But partially because if it was everything he'd heard, he wanted in. A nice little estate in the south west would suit him nicely, especially if it were suitable for conversion, say, such that half the place was for him to stay in as he pleased, and the other half suitable for some kind of rental agreement. Perhaps if it was as big as he'd heard, it could be turned into a hotel of sorts. A small one, but enough to be profitable, and another legitimate business to launder other monies through was never a bad thing, especially as the southwest was a tourist magnet.
It was rather a shame that the sellers of the place were the muggle brats who wanted no part of the heritage, but that might simply work in his favour. Since it wasn't a wizarding owner these days, selling it through a muggle estate agent, they might not be aware of the value of the property.
A more practical problem, though, was that he'd have to show up to the place like a muggle. No apparation. So, a trip in a car - not the worst thing. Vincent supposed the choice of cars was relevant. He didn't want to show off and flaunt his situation - the estate agent might try to pull something if he appeared too rich. Vincent knew that the initial offer price was well below what the place was really worth, he knew there would be some fierce competition - while it was going for a song, there would be others interested in the place, whether because of the legacy of the place or because of the place itself.
Looking over his garage didn't quite settle him. The Rolls-Royce was perhaps a little too ostentious. The Triumph TR6, was a sporty little number but didn't seem quite the type. The Morris MGA? The Austen Healey Sprite? He had any number of vehicles that would be appropriate but none that felt right.
His gaze came to the end of the line. Of course! The Jag. The E-Type was a classic, sporty but sophisticated without being flamboyant, and naturally in British racing green.
Just the thing for a drive down to the coast. To be truthful, the idea had some appeal - Vincent didn't often get to drive anywhere, especially not for something of a social jaunt. It wasn't glamorous but it was a bit of a jolly - even if it didn't work out, he still would get to see the old place, something he'd wanted for a while but old man Trewethett didn't take kindly to visitors. And a trip to the coast, sure to be a pleasant couple of days. He'd even booked a B&B nearby, make a couple of days of it.
The roads were about as awful as he'd expected - definitely the E-Type was the right choice, the Roller and the MGA wouldn't have appreciated the road conditions, but the E-Type tooks the bends with its charismatic flair. Good solid British workmanship right there.
He arrived at the place shortly before the appointment time - thought it was important to get the lay of the land a little. Maybe see who else was coming for this. There were a few ideas who might show up for something like this. Bennett, if he could stomach the price tag - it was good but it wasn't that good - might show his face, and little would be more pleasing than taking it off him, unlike the last property they'd both gone for. Though of course, his lawyers had 'found something' on the property in their searches, making sure Bennett had to pay through the nose for it in the end.
But the estate agent had made some commotion about someone in Ireland coming - that was why it had been a goodly while since the original statement had circulated. Vincent didn't know many from Ireland, least not that could afford something like this. But if someone was coming, that would at least make it interesting.
There was of course the question of whether old Albron would show his face. Reasonably astute businessman that one, though it seemed unlikely he'd have the wherewithall to finance something like this. But he'd been sniffing around some of the smaller properties that Vincent had been looking at, so ruling him out wasn't really an option.
He wasn't surprised to note the estate agent himself was here. The good ones were always prompt, especially for a big viewing like this. Ralston, Royston, whatever his name, had on the blower seemed a bit of a bumpkin to be quite honest, but had to hand it to the man for knowing a little more about the local area. But he was surprised to note a couple of attendees already present.
The woman wobbling about in high heels, in this neck of the woods? She introduced herself as one of the Le Tissiers, and Vincent had to hide a reaction; he had, for the merest of moments, been taken in by the act of vapidity on her part. The sort of person Carmen might have round for a dinner party and drink fancy cocktails with. Limited style, little substance, but if she was here, her old man was probably interested, which made sense. The Trewethett place was up for grabs and by all accounts, worth it. The question was how far she was willing to go to negotiate a deal... he didn't imagine she dealt with muggles all that often.
Then there was this other chap. Wearing a suit that looked like something Vincent's grandfather might have worn for stately occasions but coupled with the wrong sort of hat on much too long hair. Clearly, also a wizard unused to dealing with muggles. Vincent, old boy, your luck's in here. They won't know how to behave.
That left him time to consider Ralston or Royston, the agent. He'd been off giving some rambling incoherence about Victorian Gothic; it wasn't the style or the fashion and the place was clearly much older than that. The Trewethetts had lived here for at least three hundred years that he knew of and possibly more - it had the style of something older than even Blandings, though he wasn't sure that was period accurate.
"Good morning!" Vincent beamed, "I'm Spaulding, the 17th Earl of Ensworth, but please, do call me Vincent. Titles can be so formal. And you're right there, Mr O'Dwyer, this place is most certainly a sight to be seen." He'd caught the name from his introduction, and it wasn't familiar but this must be the mystery Irishman he'd heard about.
The Le Tissier woman made some comment about the Victorian architecture, clearly she had had the same idea about its age, but unlike her, Vincent could date it considerably more precisely than 'older than the Victorian era'.
"I must say, it looks like it has seen a few more years than I'd have imagined for Victorian Gothic, positively more Jacobean if you don't mind my saying so. Yes, more Jacobean... with just a hint of the Baroque side, wouldn't you say?"
Of course, that was also nonsense. Wizarding properties didn't tend to follow the fashions of the era in quite the same way, not that the property was any more Jacobean than it was Victorian. If one had to truly date it, Vincent might have suggested wizarding construction of the middle Tudor era - somewhere in the latter part of the 1500s perhaps. Wizarding style was curiously anachronistic, both before and after the fashion of the era. It had vibes of Hampton Court about it. But it was also a useful barometer to see what the others knew about the place.