In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.
A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.
Knight after Knight. Chapter sixteen, part one.
KOP’s first job was an extended familiarisation exercise. Backed by the rest of the Board, David had insisted that, as we had both been away from the inner circle of Knight Global Trading for a few years, our first task should be to update ourselves on the state of the business. This was achieved by means of what I thought of as a super-induction, wherein each director gave us a couple of days during which they took us in detail through their department’s current and planned activities. This was followed by visits to Amsterdam, Dar-es-Salaam, Canberra, Singapore, Kochi, Baltimore, Honolulu and Brazilia to make sure we were as current on the regions as we had become on Head Office departments.
Because we weren’t working full-time, we restricted ourselves to one department or visit per week. As a result, the induction process took more than three months. However, by the time we’d been around five central departments and eight regional and subsidiary offices, we probably knew the business better than either of us had when we were fully active.
During the course of our visits, both Ray Ang, who was now running the Singapore office, and KK Chandrasekharan in Kochi, had expressed concerns over the management of the new north India office. We had talked through the issues in detail in both locations, but the two men felt that the situation could only be resolved by a visit in person to the New Delhi office. I set up a video conference call with Ray and Chandran.
“What developments since we last talked?” I asked.
“It seems,” Chandran replied, “that Delhi is proposing contracts with some questionable characters within the ruling party.”
“Government people?” Henk asked.
“Yes, Mr Henk. Government people by name, but they are working only in their own interests as far as we can see.”
“Can you be more specific?” I asked, “Are you worried about the products, the contract terms or the financial side?”
“Mostly the financial side. We haven’t actually seen any of the documents, but the way their people are talking, it looks to me as if what they are doing in money-laundering, pure and simple.”
“Hmm. I don’t like the sound of that one bit. Thanks, Chandran,” I said, then “Ray, do you have any more?”
“No, I don’t. I’ve asked them, through Chandran, to supply me with a full set of accounts, but all I’ve had so far is the summary stuff they put in for their declaration to the Finance Ministry.”
“What about your accountants, Chandran,” Henk said, “can’t you have them visit New Delhi and look into it?”
“I’d love them to and I have asked, but the Delhi people say they won’t accept the authority of south Indians. They said it’s a cultural thing. I think they’re just fishing around for excuses.”
“Your people, Ray?” I asked.
“I don’t have anyone qualified, Boss. Otherwise, I’d love to. I’d quite like to go up myself, and maybe do a tour of the Golden Triangle, but I’d be no use on the actual job.”
I looked at Henk and raised my eyebrows. He picked up a pen and wrote the word forensic on the notepad and looked back at me. I nodded.
“Okay, Ray, Chandran,” I said, “we’ll get back to you when we’re ready to set something up. Okay?”
“Don’t leave it too long, Boss,” Ray said, “If it is what we think it is, the longer it goes on the harder it will be to unravel.”
“Point taken. We’ll be back as soon as we can.” I closed the call.
“What are you thinking?” I asked Henk.
“It confirms what you said to David,” he replied, “that these jobs often call for a forensic accountant. This certainly seems to. How are we with the secondments?”
“Agreed in principle, but nothing firmed up yet. I know David is unavailable today, but I’ll talk to him this evening; over dinner if need be.”
I raised the issue with David and Jess over dinner. David suggested that we take Susie Weston with us. Susie is a recent graduate from the latest forensic accountancy programme run under the umbrella of the Institute. She passed with a high mark, the top in her group, but she was light on experience. When pressed, David admitted that she hadn’t actually used her training in earnest since completing it. Jess said that the reports she had seen, both from the programme leaders and from her managers, suggested strongly that she’d be able to make a good job of it. I agreed to take Susie, subject to no objection from Henk.
A little voice came from the other end of the table. “Dad,” Hannah said, using the tone that young girls do to their fathers; the one that’s guaranteed to have the poor fellow wrapped tightly around their pinkie finger. “Daddy, you know you love me?”
“Yeees,” David drawled hesitantly.
“And you know you said that Grandpa could help me with my business studies?”
“Yes, and I meant that, but—”
“Oh please, Daddy, please, please, please say I can go to India with Grandpa and Uncle Henk. Please. I really, really want to go there, and Grandpa and Uncle Henk will look after me and keep me safe and… I was listening to what you were talking about and I just know I can learn an awful lot from this… and this Susie lady… well, she’s a woman, and she can be like my chaperone and keep an eye on me and everything. Oh please say yes, Daddy. Please; can I?”
“Hannah Knight!” Jess admonished her, “Don’t harass your father like that, and don’t beg, it’s most unbecoming.”
“What do you think, Dad?” David asked me.
“Do you really need to ask me if I’d be happy to have my favourite grandchild with me on this trip?”
“Am I really your favourite, Grandpa?” Hannah asked.
“You’re his only grandchild,” Jess responded.
“I’m fine with it. I’d love to have Hannah with us—”
“Oh, thank you, Grandpa,” Hannah said, rushing around to give me one of her special hugs.
“Not so fast,” I said, “I’m fine with it, but I have to consider whether my partner will be – it’s not just me, it’s Henk, too—”
“Oh, Uncle Henk won’t mind. He’s as much a sweetie as you are,” she said.
“And I have to have the okay from your parents, too. Both of them.”
Hannah stood, her face transforming from joy to pleading. “Daddy?”
“What do you think, Jess?” David asked, “She’ll be with Dad and Henk, and Susie’s a sensible young woman. I think Hannah will be fine, but you need to be happy with it, too. You know I’ll never make a big decision about Hannah alone.”
“I know, David, and neither will I,” Jess replied, “however, with Dad, you and Hannah lined up against me, who am I to refuse?”
“We’re not lined up against you, Jess. We’re just asking for your input.”
“And if I say no, I’ll be the bad guy.”
“No you won’t, Mum,” Hannah said, “If you say no, I’ll just keep badgering you until you cave.”
“That’s what I feared. Okay. If your father’s happy with it, and if Henk is happy with it, we’ll pay for you to go to India with your grandfather.”
“Oh, thank you, Mummy, thank you, Daddy.”
“Now I’d better call Henk to make sure he’s on board, and someone should check with Susie Weston. If she’s being co-opted as a chaperone, she really should be offered the chance to say no.”
I called Henk. Not that I needed to; I knew that he adored Hannah as much as I did. Never having married, he had no grandchildren of his own and, having spent as much time with my family as he had over the years, looked at Hannah almost as if she were his own. But I did ask him, and he jumped at the idea. As I had, he held a slight concern that an attractive young woman travelling with two elderly gentlemen (okay, he said old men, but I wanted to make it sound a bit better) could raise eyebrows. However, when I said we’d have a forensic accountant with us; a woman at that, he was more at ease. Until, that is, I told him who the female accountant was to be.
“So it’s to be two attractive young women travelling with two old men. Is that better?”
“Heaps,” I said.
“Okay, I’m in.”
“Hannice, you know me too well.”
I relayed the conversation to the family, much to their amusement. Interestingly, when Jess spoke with Susie, the response she had was almost the same, except she wondered how two distinguished men of advanced years would keep up with two energetic young women.
“How do you reckon you’ll cope?” Jess asked.
“Oh, I expect we’ll manage somehow,” I said, “although, when the day’s work is done, I think we’re more likely to end up looking around some of the area’s ancient monuments and artefacts than we are to go clubbing.”
“What do you mean, looking at ancient artefacts?” Hannah asked, playfully punching my upper arm, “you and Uncle Henk will be the ancient artefacts!”
“Don’t be so rude to your grandfather,” David said, “apologise, this instant.”
“Sorry, Grandpa,” she said, “you know I was just joking, don’t you?”
“All you have to bear in mind, my love, when you’re picking on older people, is that your turn will come. And, let me assure you, it will come a darned site quicker than you might expect. So what’s the moral?”
“Enjoy being young while you can, and be nice to people who were once young, but aren’t any longer.”
“That daughter of yours has a wise head on her shoulders,” I said.