“Well, well, well, the prodigal niece.” A sneering voice spoke. ‘Edith’ slowly opened still watery eyes to her ‘cousin’ Julia. Julia was older, and only spoke to their great-aunt Muriel when she needed something, usually money. The imposter felt her eyes prickle again. Not in front of Julia! She chided herself, attempting to school her features.
“Julia,” The imposter was ashamed to hear her voice crack. “Here for one last handout?” Julia’s face twisted, then it reset itself in a nasty grin.
“No, I’m here for a bit of a show.” She inclined her head. “The handsome gentlemen will be dragging you away.” The woman looked across the room of relatives in far less mourning than she was to see two police officers step into the room. She suppressed her gasp, returning her gaze to Julia, who was grinning triumphantly. “Did you think I couldn’t tell that you weren’t Edith? I haven’t seen her since we were children but I know that brat wouldn’t have moved in with Muriel because she was ‘lonely’.” The false Edith felt a surge of anger as Julia’s voice went up in a mocking falsetto, an inaccurate mimic of the kind Muriel. She glared at the smug woman.
“It would have been harder for me to get in her good graces if you- people would have just spent some time with her.” She spat, turning her gaze at the photo of the sweet old woman. “She deserved better.”
Julia scoffed. “Says the con artist.” They had drawn the attention of the other relatives who had taken a keen interest in the fact that the favored niece wasn’t a niece at all. They could see their portions of the Chesterfield inheritance growing before their eyes. It made the imposter sick. “It just about broke her heart when she found out that Edith died on some silly excursion on Everest and the girl she’s been living with for the past two years was only after her money.” The false niece tore her swollen eyes from the photograph.
“You told her?” She gaped in horror. Her stomach twisted painfully.
Julia laughed. “Why do you think she changed her will again?” The smirk was firm on Julia’s face. Not-Edith had thought it was to decrease Julia’s portion. She looked back at the photograph. If only she’d had a chance to explain.
“If the police would mind waiting,” The lawyer’s voice cut sharply through the tension. “The will does stipulate that the individual known as ‘Edith Chesterfield’ be present during the reading.”
Julia stepped back, her still triumphant grin stretched from ear to ear. “Alright with me, it will be amusing to see her face.”
So this was it. Police officers waiting to cart her away, while grubby relatives waited to tear apart a sweet old woman’s fortune. The imposter’s lips tightened. She didn’t want to cry. She just wanted Muriel alive.
She could almost smell the Earl Grey tea the old woman drank. No, she could smell it. She became aware of something at her elbow. She looked to her right to find the butler extending a cup towards her. Earl Grey… Why was he giving her that? Surely he had heard Julia’s declaration. She took the teacup and he gave her a comforting smile; reminding her why Muriel was so fond of the man.
The lawyer cleared his throat. The room fell silent. He took a sip from his teacup (he was the only other person in the room to receive tea) and began to read. “I, Muriel Chesterfield, being of sound mind and body, do hereby leave the bulk of my estate, with the exception of the sums and items set aside for the staff… and family, to,” He paused for affect. “Nora Miles.” The imposter, Nora, dropped her teacup. Julia froze and confusion broke out around the room. “As I clearly know who she is,” The lawyer continued reading. “She is not guilty of fraud.” Nora’s trembling hands lifted to her mouth. “Nora, dear,” The lawyer swallowed. “I love you.” Nora began to cry again.
I loved you too…
I just couldn't get the idea of a wealthy spinster leaving all her money to a con artist masquerading as family out of my head. And I had to wonder, how would she have ensured that the will wasn't thrown out or keep the con artist from being arrested? By leaving it to her true identity.
If you're interested, while Nora was crying the butler was holding Julia back and calling the police officers over to help him keep her away from Nora. Then Nora ordered all of the family members out of her house, unless they were specifically mentioned in the will, and they were left some things, but Muriel's staff was left significantly more.
Both the butler and the lawyer really cared about Muriel and were aware that Edith was a fake. They also knew that Muriel was leaving everything to Nora (Muriel only found out Nora's name because of Julia, ironically enough).