Betrayal., a short story by tctcp. Date added: 2012-07-08. Times viewed: 274.
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Edwina derived great pleasure from driving her husband to the railway station. This wasn’t a pleasure brought forth by his imminent departure, it was more from the warm feeling she had when she felt she was being helpful to George.
After having learnt to drive during the war, Edwina had begun to feel that it was a skill going to waste. After all, living a busy life inLondonin the mid 1920’s she had no real need to drive. And when George needed to be driven, he’d hire a car and driver or catch a taxi.
And then two years ago George had inherited the family estate in Hertfordshire and he decided it was time for them to leave their elegantLondonhome. Edwina had objected at first but had then realised the move could well be to her advantage.
“But George, how will you get to the office?”
“I will commute my dear, as other people do.”
Edwina considered this for a moment. “George, you do realise Limneys is at least two miles from the nearest railway station.”
“Ah yes, but I thought I may buy a motor car and maybe employ a chauffer.”
Edwina spotted her opportunity and realised that she had to capitalise on it quickly.
“George darling, have you forgotten? I can drive and I could take you to the station in the morning and then collect you at night.”
“Splendid. I do declare I had quite forgotten about your special talent. Yes, that’s what we shall do. A truly capital idea.”
Edwina thereby achieved her dream. She drove the Armstrong Siddley Cotswold Tourer with verve. Never mind the heavy steering and clunky gearbox, this was a beautifully built motor car and she relished being out in it. The morning trip to catch the 08:30 train was a joy. The empty roads and lanes allowed her to unleash the power from the 14hp engine and she found it a wonderfully exhilarating way to start her day.
George meanwhile was quite content to sit in the back of the motor car, relaxing on the red leather upholstery and enjoying the ride. He’d really wanted a chauffer, but driving gave Edwina such pleasure that he was more than happy to let her get on with it.
George and Edwina had been married for eight years now and the usual stresses and strains of marriage were beginning to magnify. They had endured more than their usual spate of domestic tiffs. And with an ever increasing frequency, George took to staying overnight at hisLondonclub.
They didn’t have any children and the lack of them didn’t appear to affect either George or Edwina. George had his work and Edwina had her social commitments. Although financially George didn’t need to work, he found a certain stimulation and satisfaction in his job at the Foreign Office. The estate ran smoothly, albeit with a lot of help from his very efficient Estate Manager. So apart from a weekly meeting; George let him run things his way and didn’t impede unless he thought it really necessary.
During the time that they’d lived at Limneys, Edwina had established a firm circle of friends. Rarely a day passed when she wasn’t to be found visiting someone, or meeting friends for afternoon tea in Welwyn or Hertford. And she had become active in the Votes for Women movement. A subject that didn’t sit comfortably with George, as he felt it may backfire on them and even impede his career.
But Edwina was a strong willed woman and she was determined to live up to her own ideals.
Just over two hundred miles away from Limneys in the market town ofDorchester in Dorset, a delightful late Victorian property had just been sold. Frome View was set in an idyllic position about a mile from the railway station and with beautiful sweeping vistas over theFromeValley. The proud new owner was a Mr. Samuel Green, a retired businessman fromLondon.
For the estate that sold the property, Samuel Green was the ideal buyer. He paid in cash and agreed to keep the housekeeper/cook and also her handyman/ driver husband. And they could continue to live in the rooms above the spacious stables, which had recently been converted to a double garage.
Mr and Mrs Green, for Samuel had recently married, moved in within a month of the purchase.
George was now spending more and more time inLondon, rather than commuting home to Edwina. One weekend during their third year at Limneys, he announced over dinner that he had taken rooms inLondon.
“My dear, I have made a decision. I will from now on, be living in member rooms at my club and will only be returning home on an ad hoc basis. I think this arrangement may well suit us both.”
Edwina, far from being distraught, accepted this as a dutiful wife should and then made plans to expand her own interests.
Samuel and Eliza Green settled into Frome View and, after a proper period of time, held a small soiree for selected members of theDorchestercommunity. They immediately became a popular and well respected couple and when Eliza became pregnant with their first child, it was discussed with joy by one and all after Morning Worship at their local church.
Samuel had let it be known that he had a small private income, so had no need to work, but occasionally he would have to go away to London for a weekend to attend to family business, Eliza would not accompany him, as he felt it unseemly for wives to be involved in business matters.
Edwina gradually became more and more involved in the Votes for Women movement and when in 1928 women achieved the right to vote under the same terms as men, Edwina threw a lavish party at Limneys. George was invited but declined to attend.
At the party Edwina was introduced to Arthur Blyth. Arthur was a senior journalist on The Times newspaper, and was currently looking for a small cottage for weekend use. Edwina offered to accompany Arthur, who was recently widowed, and to assist in his hunt for his ideal cottage.
Arthur and Edwina soon became firm friends and they started to spend a considerable amount of time in one another’s company. In fact theirs was a perfect match, as Arthur was just as keen on motoring as Edwina was. He helped to convince Edwina that she should change the ageing Armstrong Sidley and get something more sporty. And so in April 1930, Edwina became the proud owner of a red Riley Sprite with a souped up engine.
Edwina had a natural affinity with fast cars and she drove the Riley with flair and some modest success at the Brooklands circuit and in hillclimbs at Shelsey Walsh and Prescot.
In July 1932 a second daughter was born to Samuel and Eliza Green. The proud parents had their new daughter christened in the local church and, although she was only weeks old, her name joined her three year old sister’s on the enrolment register of a respected local girls school.
Edwina Doring died in a fiery crash at the Brooklands circuit in May 1934, two days before her fortieth birthday. Her Riley Sprite went out of control and left the circuit on the steep banking. The car flew through the air and plunged into the trees, killing Edwina instantly. Arthur had, as always, accompanied Edwina to the race, and he subsequently wrote up the story of her death for The Times.
Samuel Green was just finishing his breakfast when his wife brought the morning newspapers to him.
“I really don’t know what you find to read in these news papers, they all seem to cover the same stories.” Eliza had never been a very proficient reader and preferred to look at something with pictures in it, or to settle down and listen to the wireless.
“The Times is an institution my dear, it is part of the English way of life. With the way that Hitler fellow is playing up inGermany, we need to be kept well informed about what’s going on.” Samuel finished his second cup of tea and turned to the sporting news.
The story of Edwina’s untimely death was sensationally pasted across a whole page. The paper informed its readers that the story had been written by The Times’ own special correspondent who had been present at the event.
Samuel read the story, carefully digesting every gem of information. Then he folded the paper in four, as was his habit, and went for a stroll around the garden.
The following day, clutching his calf hide briefcase, Samuel boarded a train toLondon.
George took up residence again at Limneys three days after Edwina’s death. The house was in disarray and George immediately set about restoring order and began to make arrangements for Edwina’s funeral, which he insisted be held in the estate church.
When Arthur Blyth arrived the following day to pay his respects, George made him aware that he was no longer welcome. In fact, he had him escorted off the property.
The funeral was held with all due ceremony in St. Andrew’s church, and was well attended by Edwina’s friends and associates as well as the Chairman and committee of the Brooklands Motor Club. In fact the only person noticeably absent was Arthur. The Times wanted to send a reporter. George agreed that this was okay but insisted it was not to be Arthur Blyth.
George became a recluse after the funeral, and rarely left the estate. Arthur Blyth lost his cottage in Much Hadam, after the landlord refused to renew his lease. No explanation was given at the time but it later transpired that the lease had been purchased by the Limneys estate.
George died in July 1947 and was buried next to Edwina inSt.Andrew’s churchyard. Very few people attended the service.
Samuel Green never returned to Dorchesterand Eliza was left to fend for herself in bringing up the two girls. She obtained employment in a large department store in Dorchester; rented out Frome View to a local vicar and took up residence in a small, damp and very cramped cottage.
In late 1940 Eliza became an auxiliary nurse at the local hospital and there she met Sam Wood. Sam was recovering from wounds received atDunkirkand the two of them became very close, eventually setting up home together in 1941. Sam was a good man and he loved the girls and they soon started to call him Daddy. They moved to a larger house inDorchesterand although they could never marry, Eliza and Sam spent the rest of their lives living very happily together.
It was only on his death that the truth was finally revealed about George’s double life. His second family inDorsethad never known his true identity and they had no idea of his immense wealth. And despite a long legal wrangle, neither Eliza nor her daughters ever received any money from George’s estate.
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