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Illingworth House: 36 - Getting Rid Of The Family Parasite

Slimy solicitor Simon Grimstone helps to oust drunken, lecherous Major Kingham-Jones from the Illingworth family.

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

Grimstone returned to Keighworth and licked his wounds. He kept a low profile for some time till the scandal had died down, but as it had all happened in Leeds, it didn't impact on Keighworth . The world beyond the borough boundaries might not have existed for many Keighworthians, and in some quarters Grimstone's prestige actually went up for out-smarting folk in Leeds. Moreover, he had many in town who owed him a favour. As their family lawyer, he had got them out of some tight spots in problems of a domestic nature, where servant lasses found themselves in the family way and had to be paid off. They lined up weekly at his office for years to be paid their hush money and paternity allowances. There were also mill owners whose workers were injured through breach of safety regulations and Sir Abe owed him much on this score.

There had been a terrible accident at one of his mills some years before because safety had been ignored. Had the matter gone to court, Illingworths would have had egg all over their faces and heavy compensation to pay. Bad news indeed for Sir Abe, him being a magistrate and all but Grimstone had got him off the hook by paying out the operatives before it got anywhere near litigation. He had also aided Sir Abe over the matter of that girl John had taken up with at the office and helped Mary Calow to get rid of her. The old man trusted him to the end and helped Grimstone in his hour of need. Abe Illingworth had some strange loyalties.

Before she married Clemence, Rosemary Braithwaite turned to Grimstone to help her when her step-father began seriously hassling her. Instead of giving the woman-fond major a good hiding (and Clemence wasn't one for thumping folk who might thump him back) Harry Clemence decided to ask Grimstone's advice and left the matter in his hands.

Grimstone relished nailing the lecherous southerner. It had to be done delicately, which was another reason Clemence handed over to Grimstone. The major was cunning and had persuaded Victoria that her daughter's accusations came from an over-wrought imagination, that they were girlish fantasies - and she believed him for some time.

He continued pestering Rosemary, but the whole business came to a head one night, not long before Rosemary married Clemence. He had been courting her at Ashworth House and shortly after he left, Major Kingham-Jones came in late. By this time, Victoria was sound asleep in bed, but Rosemary had only just prepared for bed and came down to the kitchen, clad only in her nightdress, for a hot drink.

The major had called in at his club on the way home from a bridge party and got himself nicely tanked up. He arrived home and went in the back way through the kitchen, going in quietly to avoid disturbing his wife. He saw Rosemary through the kitchen window but she didn't see him, and he stood watching her for some time. As he entered, she turned and clutched her nightie closer, trying to hurry past him wishing him goodnight. But he blocked her way.

"Aren't you going to give me a goodnight kiss, m'dear?" he slurred, leering over her.

He reeked of drink and was unsteady on his feet, but as she reached up to give him a peck on the cheek and get away, he grabbed her and held her tight, pressing his mouth hard against hers and feeling her breasts. Somehow, she struggled free and slapped his face before fleeing upstairs and locking herself in her room. He lurched after her, trying the bedroom handle and asking to be let in. Then he made feeble excuses and said it was only a bit of fun.

She cowered the other side of the door, terrified, weeping and telling him to go away. Only when she threatened to scream and rouse the servants and her mother, did he back off.

It brought everything to a head. Grimstone had logged all the other incidents and when he presented them to Victoria, she decided he ought to go. She, too, had had enough of him for he had cost her a pretty penny. She had also got wind that he had a tally woman in Harrogate whom he was seeing regularly and when Victoria threw him out, he went to live with her and continued living it up. Of course, the money ran out and he began pestering his wife, demanding more cash.

That was the trump card Grimstone played. He had a court order put on him, preventing him from seeing his wife or communicating with her till the divorce came through. That, he handled with great aplomb - and profit. He also rose highly in all the Illingworths' esteem, especially Sir Abe's, who had had more than a bellyful of his brother-in-law. Grimstone had rid the family of its parasite and he became almost family himself. His esteem went up in Keighworth as well.

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