« Antonio Vivaldi | Main | School »

Illingworth House: 14 - The Landlord

...Perhaps it was his air and easy smile that endeared him to some folks. Certainly he could turn on the charm when needed - especially with women. He was nothing to look at, sallow and gaunt with oily black hair plastered well down. He had horsey teeth, which flashed suddenly when he smiled, breaking his face in two.

Like many family lawyers Simon Grimstone came to have some sort of hold over the Illingworths as he grew older. It was said he'd picked up some dark secret from the past...

John Waddington-Feather introduces a sinister solicitor into his expansive story concerning a Yorkshire mill-owning family.

Joe and Mary settled happily in their new house in Prospect Street, that is till the war got into its stride. They paid their rent each week to old Grimstone when he trailed round the area rent-collecting.

He was a tight-fisted landlord and had to be pestered to get any repairs done. His pawnshop had flourished during the strike, flourished more as the war went on. He never dared to evict any tenants during the war, for they were earning good wages. But he sailed near the wind trading in black market food and clothing. He and his family lacked for nothing and lived like kings.

Originally he'd been a tailor in Leeds and his wife a kitchen maid in some big house there. When they married he moved to Keighworth and opened a pawnshop. Then he began speculating in cheap houses and went from strength to strength.

He moved house from Garlic Lane to the middle-crustian part of town, Fieldhouses, snapping up a run-down Victorian house which he did up. It was a solid three-storeyed building, well set with a servants' attic and a large wine cellar. Grimstone kept neither servants nor wine, but he did well in Keighworth when he moved to Fieldhouses.

When food rationing came in, food and other scarcities could always be had from Jabez Grimstone. He did a flourishing trade with the local butchers and bakers, and became the middleman to the upper-crustians through his masonic lodge.

Not long after the Grimstones arrived in Keighworth, their son, their only child, was born and grew up down Garlic Lane in the grimy streets around their pawnshop. He was never allowed to play with the street children down there. Oh, no! Their Simon was too good for that, and when they moved to Fieldhouses they sent him to a tiny prep school nearby.

From there they paid for him to go to the local grammar school, where he did well. He was no good at sports. His parents said he had a heart murmur, and so he was excused PE and games. He ran a flourishing trade, though, at school selling comics and second hand boys' annuals at knockdown prices from his dad's shop. But he had no friends. He asked no one home nor was he ever invited out.

After the war, when Simon left school, he was articled to a law-firm. He joined his father's lodge and in no time at all was well in with the upper-crustian set in Keighworth and beyond.

Perhaps it was his air and easy smile that endeared him to some folks. Certainly he could turn on the charm when needed - especially with women. He was nothing to look at, sallow and gaunt with oily black hair plastered well down. He had horsey teeth, which flashed suddenly when he smiled, breaking his face in two.

Like many family lawyers Simon Grimstone came to have some sort of hold over the Illingworths as he grew older. It was said he'd picked up some dark secret from the past and from the word go Grimstone was a great one for ferreting out family secrets, rummaging through the firm's archives in the cellars for any pickings he could find. He unearthed several skeletons down there, which he rattled over the years to his own advantage and to the cost of his clients.

But when he watched Abe Illingworth march down the main street with his company to entrain at Keighworth Station, he was still at school. He cheered like the rest of them, cheered, it seemed, with the whole town.

Mary Calow was there, too, with Sir Luke to see Abe off and it was some time before they saw him again. But many of those who marched away with him so proudly that day were never seen again in Keighworth.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.