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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 50 - Another Woman

Simon Grimstone offers comfort to Rosemary, who has heard that her husband Harry is having an affair.

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

When he left Illingworth House, he drove straight to Ruddledene to see Rosemary. It was getting on, but she insisted he went. She had phoned him at his office before he left for Sir Abe's and sounded very upset. She wouldn't discuss what was upsetting her over the phone and had rung off in a flood of tears. Grimstone knew she'd been drinking and he knew why.

Harry was out when he arrived and she answered the door in her dressing gown holding a gin and tonic. She'd been drinking for some time and was drunk.

"Thank God you've come, Simon," she exclaimed. "I'm at my wit's end!" She staggered into the house and alarmed Grimstone, for she looked ghastly and had been in bed with 'flu the week before.

"Steady, Rosie," he said, taking her arm. "You shouldn't be up, and you certainly shouldn't be swigging the gin so much in your condition."

"Sod my condition!" she cried and began to weep.

"Now then, Rosie. Steady on, lass," he said soothingly, putting his arm around her and leading her to the sofa. "Calm yourself and tell me what's up. I know summat's up, else you wouldn't be carrying on like this. Is it Harry?"

He knew damned well it was Harry, for there wasn't much he didn't know about Harry. They'd worked hand in glove for years. Hanging on to him, Rosie burst out crying afresh.

"Now come on, Rosie, it can't be that bad," he said patting her shoulder. "Have you had a row?"

"No. It might have been better if we had," she said, wiping her face with the back of her hand. Grimstone pulled out his pocket-handkerchief and she snivelled into it. "He'd have had to come out into the open then, instead of all this underhand business."

"Underhand business?" said Grimstone, putting on a look of surprise.

"He's got another woman!" she blurted out, and the floodgates opened again.

Grimstone waited until she had calmed down a bit, patting her like a child, then he asked, "Where have you heard all this? I can't believe it. It's not like Harry at all. Somebody's been telling tales out of school, Rosie. You don't want to believe all you hear."

"It's true," she insisted. "A friend of mine saw them together in Blackpool, where he says he's been doing business. He was seen all over this woman in the hotel bar, then walking her along the sea-front. When my friend enquired who she was, she was told the woman regularly spends the night in Harry's bedroom when he's over there!"

She burst out in another flood of tears and Grimstone consoled her, glancing over her shoulder at the mirror on the wall opposite and sleeking back his hair, which Rosemary had put out of place. When she drew off, he straightened his tie.
He tried to reassure her that it wasn't as she imagined. Malicious talk for the most part, and whoever had seen Harry had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Harry just wasn't that sort, not now he was happily married with a home and family. His voice had a hypnotic effect and she believed him.

"Look at the number of times I've armed you down the street, Rosie, and all those times we've had coffee together in your mother's cafe. What could folk have made of that if they'd wanted? Have you spoken to Harry about it?"

"Yes," she replied. "He admitted he'd seen a woman. She was an old friend and he'd known her as a boy. They'd gone to the same school together before her folks moved to Blackpool."

"Well there you have it, Rosie. Like I said, somebody has it in for you and Harry. Think no more about it," said Grimstone and when she asked if he was sure, he said, "'Course I'm sure. I've known Harry long enough to know he's not like that. He wouldn't mess you about. If he did, he'd have me to contend with - and your uncle!"

She smiled and said he was a pet then poured herself another drink. She offered him one, but Grimstone said it was time he was off. He had to make an early start the next day and was meeting Harry to finalise things for the Australian visit. He said he'd tell him off for upsetting her. Then he kissed her goodnight and left, leaving her to her gin bottle.

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