Perhaps if she wanted to be a teacher or a nurse, he could understand her desire to attend college. But architecture? She’d be laughed out of her classes. And even if she managed to graduate, who would hire her?
The lawyer cleared his throat. “Educating women was one of your grandfather’s passions, and something he devoted much time and money toward. He wouldn’t want any less for his granddaughter.”
Educating women. Why wasn’t grade school enough of an education? That was all the education he had, and he managed just fine. In fact, he’d wager Grandpa didn’t have more than a grade school education either, and the man had built a financial empire.
Luke poured what was probably his third cup of coffee and sank down behind the polished mahogany desk, brow furrowed as he stared at the pages of the will.
Why was God doing this to him? He hadn’t asked to inherit this estate. He just wanted to put his family back together and go home where he belonged, but now Grandpa’s will made it possible for Sam to stay with or without his approval. He took a sip of coffee and set the mug on the desk.
You shouldn’t set that on the wood. It could ruin the finish.
He blew out a breath. His sister was right—not that he cottoned to being reminded. Still...he grabbed a page of the will and stuck it under the mug.
His head ached, he was covered in road dust, and his face needed a shave. What he wouldn’t give for a good scrubbing in the stream, but first he needed to talk to Sam again. Or at least try talking to her. Hopefully their next conversation would go a little better than the first two they’d had. “Can we continue this discussion tomorrow? I’ve had about all I can take for tonight.”
The lawyer turned from where he stood shuffling through his own copies of the papers. “We’re about done, as it is. Let’s cover the charities quickly, then you can have the weekend to look over the will. Perhaps you’ll stop by my office in Albany on Monday with any further questions? Or if you wish, I can come here.”
“Albany on Monday’s fine.” He’d walk there barefoot, if doing so would end this fiasco for the night.
“Here’s the list of institutions your grandfather contributed to over the past five years.” Mr. Byron handed him three sheets of paper. As though the twenty-five names on one sheet wouldn’t have supplied his grandfather with enough philanthropic opportunities. “I’d expect the majority of these charities will send representatives to speak with you about donations in your grandfather’s memory.”
He’d figured that much when he’d talked to the headmistress at the academy earlier. He’d probably spend a week doing nothing more than explaining to the representatives that he would be heading West before he decided what to do with the funds.
“This is one you need to be particularly aware of, though.” The lawyer slid yet another piece of paper across the desk. “You may not know it, but your grandfather was the founder of Hayes Academy for Girls and stayed rather involved in that institution. It’s assumed you’ll fill the role he vacated.”
Luke frowned as he glanced at the papers for Hayes Academy—lists of finances and supplies, students and faculty. Easy enough to make sense of and not so very different from the accounts he kept of the ranch. “There’s a projected deficit. Am I in charge of raising money for my sister’s school?”
The lawyer shoved his drooping spectacles onto his nose yet again. Following the pattern, they slid right back down. “Either that or donating it yourself.”
He was never going to get back home. It took every ounce of pride in his body not to bang his head on the desk.
“Hayes Academy for Girls was your grandfather’s crowning social achievement. He remained rather proud of the school and very involved in its running, right up until his heart attack.”
Luke ran his eyes over the lists of expenses on the papers again. Looked like things could be managed a little better, but what was he going to do with the mess? He might be able to tell his lawyer to sell an estate, but he couldn’t exactly tell the lawyer to sell a girls’ school that he didn’t even own, could he? “All I see is projected expenses based on current enrollment. There’s no ledger?”
“The manager of the accounting office in Albany has the official ledgers, but the mathematics teacher, a Miss Elizabeth Wells, keeps her own ledgers and reports to the accountant. You might check with her about the school’s current financial state, particularly in regard to the day-to-day details. She stays more informed about such things than the accountant or the school board.”