Names of the Roses
9 August 2001
George ran down the garden path to greet her cousins as they dismounted from their uncle's car. She showed no sign of caring that her slim boyish legs, encased in her elder brothers khaki shorts, were being scratched by the thorns of the roses that she skedaddled past. She was a young baby dyke, and the pain of the thorns only reminded her of the sharp nails of her lover and school mistress.
Hubert emerged from the Bentley to the sight of his cousin flying down towards him. Hasn't she grown! he pondered whilst running a hand through his blond Brillcreemed(TM) hair. What with her cap of short auburn boyish curls and her smattering of freckles, she certainly made for quite the young modern lesbian. He rummaged in the pockets of his blazer for his pipe, and considered how long it had been since he had been to Devon to visit this part of his family. Three years? Certainly not since he had become Wing-Admiral Commander of his squadron.
Gripping the pipe in his manly teeth he embraced George and kissed her on her cheek. "You're looking jolly fine, old thing" he brayed. "Friend of Sappho you might be, but I know a pretty girl when I see one!" Disentangling herself from her cousin's arms and blushing furiously, George laughed jocularly to try to hide her embarrassment. "Same old Hubert," she remarked, "ever the charmer. Did those lines work on your fiancée, the fragrant Isadora then?"
"Why don't you ask her?" Hubert added as Isadora removed her elegant legs and body from the car. She stood for a moment in the autumn breeze, her platinum hair swinging gently around her porcelain cheekbones. How far away from her father's mansion in leafy Cheltenham this rustic place seemed. And how small! Isadora turned her sapphire eyes up towards the stone cottage and sighed. She doubted that the residence would be spacious enough to provide adequate abode even for her maidservants Joanna and her Katy. "But such thoughts are uncharitable, Izzy" she sternly reminded herself as she moved towards her fiancé. "It was jolly decent of Hubert's family to provide hospitality for you, so be grateful."
Whilst the three of them strode arm in arm up to the cottage, Old Larry followed behind carrying the luggage. He had been in the employment of the family since his teenage years, and in the past decade in particular had enjoyed watching the development of the younger members. Mary, his loving wife of 47 years, had frequently espoused her view that Larry was too soft on them. But given the barren landscape of Mary's womb, George, Hubert and the other youngsters were all the family that Larry would ever have.
After settling into their rooms, the trio went for a brisk walk through the orchard in the back garden. Upon their return they went down to the kitchen where they found George's brother Neville. A spotty youth with greasy black hair, he was sitting at the table with a peevish expression on his weaselly face. "Took your time, didn't you?" he whined. "I wanted to go out rabbiting with Oscar, but you've been gone ages and now he's gone to sleep."
"Oscar's far too old for rabbiting" said George sharply, eyeing the flea-bitten beagle snoring in the corner of the room with distaste. "And I doubt that there are any rabbits left around here anyway - I'm sure that you've scared them off with that dam' blunderbuss of yours."
"That's what you think" muttered Neville sulkily. As he made to leave the kitchen, George noticed an envelope on the mantelpiece over the fire, addressed to her. She recognised the hand of her lover, the fair Patricia, instantly. "What's this?" she called to her brother as he exited.
"What does it look like?" Neville muttered. "She brought it round earlier. And" he added cruelly, seeing the hope light up in George's eyes, "when I asked her if she wanted to give it to you in person she said that she thought it would be better if you just read it yourself."
George tore open the missive and read it rapidly whilst Hubert and Isadora looked on in concern. Hubert in particular was recalling times past when Patricia had behaved less than honourably towards his favourite cousin. Sure enough, his fears were justified when George in one swift movement turned, hurled the letter into the roaring fire and then burst into tears.
"Oh!" she sobbed, as Hubert and Isodora made to comfort her. "The wench! She - she says that she no longer loves me, that she has found true passion in the arms of Queenie, the two-faced heartless...". But the rest of her speech was lost in her tears. As Hubert consoled her he recalled Queenie, a lass who lived locally. With sparkling emerald eyes and a girl-next door smile, it was easy to see how Patricia could have found comfort with her. But to treat dear George so terribly badly - well, it simply wasn't on. Neither the sobbing girl or his beautiful fiancˇe noticed as he clad his waxed jacket, reached for his rifle and quietly left the kitchen.
Stay tuned to find out what will happen in next week's thrilling instalment! Can Xavier and Zachary, the local flamboyant couple be able to help George? Will Isadora's affluent distinguished father Cyril approve of her being in such unusual circumstances? And what is to be made of honest local boy Toby? Read along next week to find out!