CopyrightÂ© April 2009 Texrep
Coming back to the office on a Friday, when her plan had been not to return until Monday, was not too unusual. When things broke it was understood that it didn't matter where you were or what you were doing, you got yourself into the office, it was why the job was so well paid, and the bonuses were so good. Andy her deputy was right, this was a big one. A holding that she had bought some time ago, a position she had to defend on a number of occasions was starting to boil; already the Bank had trebled its original stake.
"If I hadn't heard from you I was going to sell," Andy had informed her. Abby's gut feeling was to hold on for another twenty-four hours.
"Even if they drop a point or two, we are still way ahead, but I reckon that they will go a little bit higher." She was right, the following day the quoted price showed a further increase. "O.K. sell," she made the decision. The holdings were snapped up in next to no time, she had just made Eighty million pounds for her Bank; the bonuses on this deal were going to be very good.
As she expected, within a few days she was asked to drop in to the Directors office. Steve was all smiles.
"Great coup, always knew you were going to pull it off. There's going to be a very nice share out of the profits, and I'll make sure the board know who masterminded the whole operation." Abby smiled cynically, Steve had been the one who had put her under pressure to pull out of the position. Now of course he would tell the board that the whole thing was done under his direction. This was typical of Steve, smiling Steve, smooth Steve, permatanned Steve, Teflon coated Steve; who viewed all women in the office as tethered game for his hunt; who had seduced Abby with ease, she falling for his promises, and naively believing his glib words; that is until she found out that his marriage was not on the point of collapse, and that Steve only perceived their relationship as an excitement, an interlude between the periods of hustle and chaotic office atmosphere.
He went on. "The reason I have asked you in, is to chat about Andy. He's done a good job with you, but I feel he needs some experience elsewhere, so I would like to put him in Futures for a while, possibly send him to New York, get the feel of the place. What do you think?" Abby made the right noises; she knew the decision was already made. Within a year or so Andy would return, but this time as her boss. The Glass Ceiling had finally arrived, it had always been out there somewhere, but she had never hit it before. Now here it was, her face pressed up to it, looking at the power and prestige the other side, but never to be able to join that party. Skirts and the City didn't mix. When she left Steve's office, the feelings that Combe Lyney had engendered returned. Only a few months ago she would have fought tooth and nail to defend her position; but now other considerations had entered the equation. Yes, she did have to consider her future. Her job here was probably safe for another year or two, maybe three or four, but she had to acknowledge that one day she would be burnt out, the pressures and stress getting to her so that she would miss things, and mess up on deals. Then the call to the Directors office; and it would probably be Andy then; would be for reasons of her resigning.
That night back at her flat in Knightsbridge, Abby sat and gave the question her undivided attention. Financially she was secure, the profit sharing scheme the bank operated had given her a very nice nest egg, all invested wisely, if safely. She could spread her portfolio a little wider to take in some of the more volatile investments, which with careful management would mean an income at least the equal of her present salary. Her flat, which had taken a huge chunk of capital to buy, would now fetch at least three quarters of a million. She didn't need to work any longer, she worked because it was a challenge, gave her a buzz. What could she do though, if she moved down to Combe Lyney, she couldn't see herself milking Cows?
Since she had been home she had not had the time to look through her grandfather's papers. Deciding that the questions she was asking herself did not, at this moment, have an answer; she turned her mind to her inheritance. The Will was a fairly standard document; it assumed that her mother would be still alive, although the phrase, which Mr. Brooks had inserted "present whereabouts unknown", indicated his anticipation of the actuality. There was also the usual clause regarding the possible demise of the beneficiary, with the estate coming to her issue. Was that a hint that her Grandfather may have been aware of such a situation occurring? No, it was a pretty standard clause, inserted into most Wills. Abby turned to the other papers in the file. The first that she picked up was on old, cheap, paper yellowing and musty. The heading was simply GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY, nothing ornate, no coats of arms, dated 13th. November 1938. The letter appointed Thomas Tregonney as Stationmaster at Combe Lyney. The letter went on to require him to take up his new post by the 1st. December. Having heard from Sam how important this job was to Grandfather; she was not surprised that he had kept this letter. A pocket-sized card came next, an identification card issued by the railway, the neat, Art Deco style, GWR logo in a circle on the top left corner. The card authorised the holder to be on the lines and premises of the Great Western Railway Company in the execution of his duty. The name Thomas Tregonney was written in Copperplate, with his grade Stationmaster, underneath. It was signed, carefully, the signature fully legible, by her Grandfather. The card seemed to have no reason, but Abby caught a clue from the printing at the bottom of the page, which required the card to be produced at any time by request, and also that a signature may be required as proof of identity. Perhaps this had something to do with the War?
There were other letters, one dated March 1966, from British Railways, Western Region, addressed "Dear Tregonney," concerning his impending retirement from the Commission's service, and advising him that he would need to quit the station house within seven days of his retirement. The other was a printed card, acknowledging his retirement on the 30th April 1966, and thanking him for his fifty-one years of service. The card was pre-printed with just the date and length of service to be filled in by the typist. At least, thought Abby, they addressed him as Mr. Tregonney this time.