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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 26 - Be Nice To Me

..."Let's do something big and nice together, eh?" She sprawled invitingly on the sofa and pulled her skirt over her knees to reveal just enough thigh to make Harry feel nicer...

Harry Clemence is not the man to miss out on a golden opporutnity when it presents itself.

John Waddington-Feather continues his engrossing novel concerning the fortunes and misfortunes of a Yorkshire mill-owning dynasty.

You couldn't miss Ashworth House. It dominated the village. Like Illingworth House, it was huge, designed to impress. It was built in the Italian style of the mid-nineteenth century, when the Grand Tour was the order of the day.

It was more ostentatious than Illingworth House for old Isaac Braithwaite, like Clemence, lacked taste and education. He had come up from "nowt" but made "summat", a great deal of "summat". The whole place was over ornamented to the point of vulgarity, like his wife and womenfolk. Its grounds were full of kitschy fairy grottoes, a Victorian Disney world. Miles and miles of them lit by fairy lights at night when they had guests.

On the south side, was a huge cast-iron orangery and a winter garden covering half an acre. Had Isaac Braithwaite lived long enough, he would have smothered the place with plastic gnomes and windmills; instead, it was filled with concrete nymphs and satyrs, over-clothed, with none of the classical nudity the statuary had at Illingworth House. And why? Adjoining his mansion, was the Primitive Methodist Chapel, which he'd paid for; lording over it as he lorded over his mills and holding to its puritanical values.

By the 1930s one wing of the house had become derelict and was demolished. The winter garden too, had gone after a fire. The Victorian flush was over and money was tight. It grew tighter still under the management of Major Kingham-Jones. He and Victoria still spent much of the year socialising in London and abroad and there was little left to maintain the old house.

But it was still impressive. Age had mellowed its vulgarity and a century on, it had acquired an aura of decadent gentility. It was the gentility which made Harry Clemence uneasy and he was over-faced by it. The leap from a Bradford back-street was too great and he fell short all his life in the presence of gentility.

Even the butler who met him at the door unnerved him. He felt he was being patronised by the old man. The way the butler spoke and acted, threw into relief Harry Clemence's speech and awkward manner. He sensed, by the butler's condescending attitude, that he knew his background, which he did his best to hide, but the old man had a very subtle way of letting him know that he knew what Clemence's upbringing was. It made him uncomfortable. Once he had seen Rosemary out of the car, he followed her in, so that she met the butler first and he could creep in in her wake.

The butler bowed to her as she glided in asking if anyone had called. He said not, then straightened up as Clemence entered, smiling slightly and wishing him good-day. Clemence mumbled a reply then hurried in after Rosie, who told the butler she didn't want disturbing and led Harry into the lounge. The butler withdrew discreetly after giving Harry his soft, knowing smile again.

Once in, Rosie kicked off her shoes and poured herself a stiff gin, telling Clemence to help himself. He poured himself a beer and stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, while Rosie lounged on the sofa.

"Y'know, Rosie, I can't get over how big this place is. It's nice," he began, jangling the loose change in his pocket and staring round.

"You always say that, Harry," she replied, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but she smiled sweetly up at him. "Let's do something big and nice together, eh?" She sprawled invitingly on the sofa and pulled her skirt over her knees to reveal just enough thigh to make Harry feel nicer. He let his eyes take that in then raised them to her breasts as she inched a shoulder from her blouse. She patted the sofa. "Come here, Harry, and be nice to me," she ordered. "I want someone to be nice to me - desperately, and you know how."

Her bedroom was at the end of the corridor, but he could smell her perfume long before they reached it. "Enter my little love-nest," she said, as they passed through hand in hand.

Harry went in and looked round. "It's nice," he said. "Very cosy."

"Rosie cosy," she giggled and left him staring as she sat on her bed to undress. Her bedroom was rich in art decor. The furnishing was lavish in pink and yellow. The draped curtains were a delicate pink, as was the counterpane on her bed. A female nude by her bedside displayed a glass fan behind which was a flambeau light-bulb. The same fan design was worked into the bed-head and furniture. There was a Monet nude on the wall.

Clemence had never seen such luxury. He wandered round the room, halting a moment at the expensive jewellery which poured from an open box on her dressing table, strings of pearls, rings and clasps. Beside it, was Rosemary's silver-backed hair set with her initials worked into the handles. "They must be worth a bomb," he thought.
Then his eyes latched onto the wall mirror and he saw Rosemary stretched naked in the middle of her bed, a pink oyster in a pink shell ready for the picking. He caught his breath and felt the blood surge through him.

"You'd better hurry, Harry, or my mother will be back," she purred. He didn't need telling twice.


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