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Illingworth House: 48 From Strength To Strength

Simon Grimstone knows all the Illingworths' darkest secrets - and he is only to eager to use the knowledge to his own benefit.

John Waddington-Feather continues his tale of a Yorkshire mill-owning dynasty.

By the time he was thirty Simon Grimstone was a man of substance. His parents had sold their pawnshop and branched into antiques in the upper-crustian spas of Ilkesworth and Harrogate. They did well, and in time opened more shops in Bradford and Leeds.

Grimstone still did property deals but always under an assumed name. Since that fiasco in Leeds, Grimstone kept a low profile in the city for some time. But he helped conveyance the shops his parents bought, and the older they became the more he took over the family businesses.

He befriended a jerry-builder who was a director of the rugby club, and on the quiet funded some of his spec building. On the quiet he also laid his wife, but Sam Metcalfe never found out about that. And when Sadie Metcalfe found younger, more virile admirers at the club, Grimstone backed out altogether.

She cuckolded her husband for years till he came home unexpectedly one night and found her in bed with the Keighworth captain. Sam Metcalfe hounded them both stark naked up Garlic Lane with a shotgun, firing over their heads till they reached the town centre. Then the police took over. It was the talk of the town for weeks, and Sam turned to Grimstone for a shoulder to cry on. So did his wife. As go-between Grimstone managed to reconcile them and continued making a packet out of his deals with Sam.

Grimstone had a way of wheedling himself into folks' confidence, and more and more Sir Abe turned to him for advice. In the end he trusted Grimstone completely - to his cost. But he did help Sir Abe greatly in two lawsuits that might have proved very expensive.

The first was when Sir Abe shot his half-brother dead. At the inquest Grimstone had him cleared of manslaughter and the verdict was justifiable homicide. He also stopped a payment Sir Luke was going to make to the family who'd looked after the halfwit all those years. They'd threatened to sue the old man for loss of earnings, but Grimstone persuaded them to drop the case. He said they'd neglected their duty by allowing their charge to escape. He was a threat to the public and would have killed Sir Abe had he not shot him. If they proceeded with their claim, he said he'd counter-claim for neglect. They dropped their case at once.

Then there was the whole business of Major Kingham-Jones, who was spending Victoria's inheritance like water and playing around with one of the maids. He lavished expensive presents on her, till Abe Illingworth got wind of it via Rosemary and got rid of her. It gave him much personal satisfaction for he detested the major. He tried to warn Victoria about her husband, but she would have none of it. For no matter what her brother said, Victoria remained infatuated. Kingham-Jones had her in the palm of his hand.

He was a compulsive gambler and tippler and spent thousands from the fortune her husband left. He was on holiday with her playing the casinos in the south of France when they found out just how much he'd spent. Before they left, Victoria had put some valuable property on the market to raise more cash and pay the major's heavy debts, but Sir Abe ordered it to be withdrawn.

There was all hell to pay when the major returned and discovered what had happened, but Sir Abe remained firm and froze his sister's assets on Grimstone's advice. Where the major got his money from to clear those debts, they didn't know till much later.

Rosemary Braithwaite blossomed into a beauty, much sought after by lads from miles around, but she remained caught up in her obsessive love for her cousin John. Grimstone played on this and gradually wheedled himself into her confidence. They moved in the same set in Keighworth and he became like an elder brother, especially when her stepfather came to live at Ashworth house. She needed his help badly then.

All in all, as he approached middle age, Simon Grimstone was well in with the Illingworths and made a pile for himself after the Leach brothers retired from the practice. He was in sole control then of the office above and the dark secrets below in the firms cellars. From then on he went from strength to strength.

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