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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 27 - No Longer Inferior

...Clemence had never seen the major so drunk before. He was legless and his wife was mortally embarrassed, but Clemence's expressionless face and trite small-talk somehow calmed her down. The boot was on the other foot now and he had Kingham-Jones at his mercy...

But Harry Clemence is not the man to forget something that he can later turn to his advantage.

John Waddington-Feather continues his story concerning the fortunes and misfortunes of a Yorkshire mill-owning family. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

Major Kingham-Jones poured himself out of the car when it drew up outside Ashworth House. By then, he was well and truly plastered and would have gone headlong, had not the chauffeur caught him as he fell out. The butler, Perkins, appeared and between them, he and the chauffeur got him inside. It was routine. Victoria ordered them to take him to bed but he turned awkward and insisted on being dumped in the lounge. They deposited him on the sofa then tactfully left.

Victoria asked after her daughter. She'd noticed Clemence's car in the drive and guessed he'd brought her home. She was relieved that Harry Clemence had brought her back, as driving home with the drunken major might have proved embarrassing. Perkins, as discreet as ever, thought they might be walking in the gardens. He had heard some sort of noise coming from the bedroom when Victoria and the major had drawn up, and the kafuffle there had been getting Kingham-Jones out of the car and into the house couldn't have gone unnoticed by them. If they had any sense, they would have got themselves decent by now.

He was right. Harry and Rosemary had heard her step-father's car draw up and had got themselves dressed double quick. They entered the lounge a few moments later looking shamefaced and flushed, but Victoria was too pre-occupied with her husband to notice it. Perkins did, though.

Clemence had never seen the major so drunk before. He was legless and his wife was mortally embarrassed, but Clemence's expressionless face and trite small-talk somehow calmed her down. The boot was on the other foot now and he had Kingham-Jones at his mercy.

The longer he stayed, the more his confidence grew, and by the time he left, he felt like the master of the house. He handled the major better when he was drunk and helpless than when he was sober and jibing at him. He said little and let Rosemary and her mother do all the talking, acting the strong, silent man.

Of course, the major should have gone straight to bed, but he didn't. He lay prone on the sofa dishevelled and dribbling from his mouth, and within minutes, he was snoring his head off. He'd been sick and smelled revolting. Vomit added to the cocktail of trifle, whisky and cigarette ash spilled down his front.

Harry Clemence chalked up another plus that day, by getting Kingham-Jones out of the way. The major woke up just long enough to object when they manhandled him to his feet, but Clemence would have none of it. He told Perkins to help him carry Kingham-Jones upstairs, then deposited him unceremoniously on the bed, leaving the butler to undress him. Then, he returned downstairs to a grateful Rosie and her mother, who chattered non-stop about the afternoon and who said she would have been home sooner but for having to make the peace between her brother and his son.

"Abe was dreadfully upset," she said. "He specially wanted John to meet the Rimington girl but he turned up with some little chit from the office. You would have thought he would have learned from the last time, but no. There she was as large as life and he besotted by her. He couldn't take his eyes from her all the time she was there."

Rosemary was torn. Her jealousy flared up but she wanted to know more about Helen Greenwood. Clemence obliged. He said she came from Garlic Lane and added a few colourful details about her background. He couldn't understand what John saw in her, for she wasn't from his class at all. Rosemary saw at once why her cousin had fallen, and she was glad she'd been bedded by Harry that afternoon. He'd drawn the sting from her rage and she was somehow getting back at John Illingworth. She wanted more of Harry's company - alone. She said her mother looked tired and suggested she rested in the lounge. She and Harry would go for a walk in the gardens before he drove home.

As soon as they were clear of the house, Clemence asked, "D'you think your mother suspected anything? I mean will Perkins say owt?"

"It's more than his job's worth if he opens his mouth. Perkins knows the ropes. He's worked here long enough to see and hear only what he's told to." She laughed lightly. It pleased her that her mother had no idea of what was going on. She never had had. "She's never worried herself about what I've been up to. Why should she start now?" she said. Then more seriously, "She's never considered anyone but herself, ever. I learned that a long time ago. And now I please myself what I do."

Clemence nodded and took it all in, but he said nothing. She was very self-assured and her self-assurance had always impressed him. He could see now why she had grown so self-reliant. His folks were Baptists and he had been brought up a puritan. Rosemary's cavalier style that day, soon saw off what bit of Puritanism he still had left.

As they sauntered into the garden, he felt on cloud nine. The evening was warm and the garden heavy with scent. He thought Rosemary wanted just one more snog before he left, but she still had the heats and dragged him into the summer house, laying on the wicker bed there and inviting him to come on. His mind was in a whirl, but the rest of him still functioned well and he mounted her lustily. The cards had fallen right for him that day and he still couldn't believe his luck. He had a great deal to thank Helen Greenwood for. She changed his life as much as she changed John Illingworth's.

As he rolled off Rosie, well and truly exhausted this time, and began buttoning up his flies, she smiled half-asleep, flushed and satisfied, her eyes closed and enjoying her love-making to the full. Harry looked on bemused, wondering where she got all her energy from. He was worried she might want more and he hadn't it in him. Twice in one day was his limit.

As soon as she opened her eyes, he said he was going. He kissed her gently on the cheek and she sighed, sitting up and making herself decent to see him back to his car.

From then on, he no longer felt inferior when he visited Ashworth House (and he visited more and more often). He felt he'd become one of the family.

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