After Lady’s death Walter became withdrawn, spending a great deal of time visiting college friends and so little time with his daughters that they all kind of blended together. Never one to shirk responsibility, Granny Russell made sure her grandchildren were given the best upbringing she could manage. Working her magic from a cottage on the estate, the Elliot girls shot into their teenage years with as much grace and poise as their mother.
When Elizabeth turned 10, Kellynch Hills passed to Walter. His father had died when he was in college, and his mother felt it was time for her to move on with her life and move in with her favorite cousins in Florida. Early retirement suited her, and she made sure to fly her grand babies in to see her every summer.
One would hope that Walter, having taken some time to grieve for his wife, and having had a lifetime to prepare for taking ownership of the family business, would step in to his new role with ease. Many were unsurprised to see that Walter took his role less seriously than was hoped. He toiled away in the study, making sure to take ample tastes of the vineyards best bottles, to ensure quality, of course. His reign as the head of the company didn’t much change from that day forward.
Almost every second of the girls’ childhood was etched into the environs of the estate. Swings and ladders tucked away in every corner of the sprawling fields. Initials carved onto various surfaces, some poorly covered up after a sweet summer romance turned sour. The vineyard had made equally permanent scars on the girls, all of whom had scrapes earned after awful tumbles into fences and vines.
It was these vines and the picture book hills that now stood to be lost. Walter’s lack of enthusiasm over the care for grape quality and his utter uselessness at accounting had led the lawyers to suggest, for many years now, greater economy in spending, lest the property be run into ruin. Walter waited until his daughters were done with school before even entertaining the idea of putting it on the market.
Slowly, he began to listen to better businessmen and the estate stopped its downward spiral. The bottling sheds were rented out to other vineyards, a partnership was struck which produced a few cheaper blends that could be sold at major grocery stores. Good moves were made, but nothing really helped move the estate into better finances.
Finally, at the heavy-handed suggestions from the lawyers and his mother, and with some urging from Elizabeth, he agreed it was time to sell Kellynch Hills.