Only Beauty is Free

Only Beauty is Free

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Summary

A man in a safe government job has three beautiful daughters and goes to visit his country cousin. But what will he be like when they meet him? Really, they don't know. They're not even sure what he looks like for when they get to the airport at the other end. Still, in this lovely well-crafted story, they fall softly it seems. This is because of the girls' beauty. It seems that at the airport the driver of a car mistakes them for somebody else's relatives. He invites them to a country mansion that might just be a bit bigger than his cousin's farmhouse and cider making business. Will they meet their cousin in the end and explain the mistake to him and others? This is a good read about a genuinely imaginative situation not often seen in fiction. Except that is, there are many beautiful heroines in novels. But does beauty have its flaws? This is a story about beauty, money and ugliness.

Summary

A man in a safe government job has three beautiful daughters and goes to visit his country cousin. But what will he be like when they meet him? Really, they don't know. They're not even sure what he looks like for when they get to the airport at the other end. Still, in this lovely well-crafted story, they fall softly it seems. This is because of the girls' beauty. It seems that at the airport the driver of a car mistakes them for somebody else's relatives. He invites them to a country mansion that might just be a bit bigger than his cousin's farmhouse and cider making business. Will they meet their cousin in the end and explain the mistake to him and others? This is a good read about a genuinely imaginative situation not often seen in fiction. Except that is, there are many beautiful heroines in novels. But does beauty have its flaws? This is a story about beauty, money and ugliness.

Content

Submitted: April 20, 2017

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Content

Submitted: April 20, 2017

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"So we're flying to see our cousin on a couple of hour's flight who has something important that he wants to tell us, is that it?"

"Yes, that's it! I'll always remember my great aunt that you perhaps didn't see that often who said that they always had great hospitality up there. She also said there were lots to do around there and that's why we're going now. This is even when you are all my three grown up daughters; fair of face and long of limb with ease of mind and..."

"Oh, why don't you just shut up about things like that? It really is a bit pathetic. And you sound so old and out of date."

The father laughed. The man and his three grown-up daughters were in a taxi going to the Airport. In their taxi, they maneuvered along narrow streets. The father was as well wearing a really quite smart suit for a Sunday flight. But he had a type of sports jacket and patterned shirt on without a tie so that it did not, in fact, look like work clothes. The girls were in dresses that also really looked quite snazzy but of the feminine variety. And indeed, as well, they were fair and long of limb just as their father had said.

It however caused embarrassment to them when their father said this. And this was despite their father as well also being quite tall and long limbed. He was also thin but his daughters were quite rounded and voluptuous. When they were very young, their parents had joked that their real father was an artist and their real mother an artist's model. But they had stopped doing that in their late teens. But really now, this last statement annoyed them because it seemed to imply that they were adopted again. And this was when the matter had supposedly been closed as teenagers. Yet their father was still mentioning it for no good reason. He was saying that they were perhaps just a bit fairer than he was or he had a thing about fair hair or particularly long limbs. So it might show that he could not have known their mother. And this was even when their own mother that they had known their whole lives until she had recently left them and gone off on her own wanting to travel had in fact been quite fair and long limbed.

Perhaps, she would never have wanted to conceive from him if he was going to talk about her like that. But she had put up with taking his money. This was even when he did not have much having only some kind of pathetic government job. Still, it had paid the household expenses for so many years. Oh, how they hated him when he told them things like this. It was as if he was lazy or something. Possibly, their real father had none of his annoying faults. And, he was something like a businessman. Businessmen did things and deserved their pay.

They stayed in silence for the rest of the taxi journey to the Airport. This was except with the father chortling to himself as if making light of the situation despite his having caused it so many times before. Then, the taxi swung into a wide road outside the Airport, they got out and took their suitcases on to a trolley and they went inside the terminal. Their father tipped the taxi driver £5.00 and then put his wallet away.

Once in the terminal, they boringly waited in part and in part were fascinated by being in an Airport they made efforts to disguise. This was as it was only common people who did such things. Common people did things like look around them animatedly as if unaware other people couldn't see them. And they did this for example when they were somewhere new, plush and modern or there was some other type of excitement or any other frisson to do with it.

After that, they boarded their flights in the same manner and they sat down in their seats as well in the same manner before reading the in-flight guide. After a minute or two like this, humanity reasserted itself and they behaved completely normally. This was with it apparently having been forgotten what they had just messed around doing. So, for the rest of the flight they looked out the window and were like any other passengers on the plane. This was when they were all crammed together. Also, even if they could not see them all, they could feel the presence of so many people. And they feeling a sense of community didn't behave so badly.

Still, though their father had some kind of government job where he actually talked for most of the day about things like this, nobody else in their family ever said such a crass statement aloud to any of the others. This was if they didn't want to be beaten back down again, sent to Coventry or have to go out and clean the stables.

Arriving at the Airport the other end, they looked around the arrivals lounge for their cousin.

"What does our cousin actually look like?"

The girls asked this of their father.

"I don't know," said the father shiftily now. "There should be some family resemblance and he should see us."

When nobody came and other passengers from their flight had begun to dwindle away, they kind of walked out over the concourse and found themselves outside by the taxi rank. There they waited embarrassed and worried for several minutes. The girls looked at their father. And their father tried to play it as if he had not just made some terrible mistake that might see them sleeping on the tiles that night. This was with them fending off stray dogs, hearing tales from other homeless people and drunkards making them offers of drink and tobacco.

Just then, somebody drove past and did look up and pay attention to them. This was as if to see if he recognized any of them or their father. Their father jumped at the opportunity to pretend there was some hope. By pretending there was some hope or somebody had vaguely recognized them, he maybe was suggesting that he had not made such a terrible mistake. This was in not knowing what his cousin looked like and not making the proper arrangements anyone would normally make.

The man who had a fake tan and slicked back black hair of about 40 or 50 years old in a white painted limo told his driver to stop and beckoned them over.

The father arrived first with the girls hot on his heels. Really, the man looked pleasantly surprised at such eager company and such fresh young women as well that were doing it.

"Have you come for the party?"

"Yes," said the father rather desperately.

Possibly, thinking their father was so pathetic that they could not argue with him or at the same time thinking that he was the old responsible dad that they had always been told he was and so he knew what he was talking about, the father and the girls piled into the back of the limo.

And in the back of the limo, at least one of the youngest girls really got on with the man who had greeted them a bit like the proverbial house on fire. Perhaps, this was with her believing that he was really their cousin although to the others it was a quick escape from embarrassment. Quite what their plan was when they were uncovered was a mystery. But the family never thought of things like that or even that it was a complete stranger whose vehicle they had gotten into. He might ask for an explanation or even possibly just dump them by the side of the road.

After a short drive out of the town, the limo had arrived at a big country mansion. The man as if apparently tired by the young lady keen to talk to him and the other young ladies brushing against him in the back of his limo told them to go in and they would be served some canapes. It seemed he had to go upstairs and lie down as he really was a bit old and a bit more rackety then he looked.

No matter, the girls and their father went into the entrance hall and took some snacks offered to them by a waitress that was standing by the door. She was in a maid's uniform and offered the snacks from a silver tray. The father had two or three of the snacks. But the girls had none of them. This was when they apparently had to watch their figures and still not put on any more excess fat. As well, this was even if quite voluptuous already they apparently had to watch their weight and keep in their tums a bit.

At the party that was in a large hall guests dressed in suits if men and wearing chiffon or other light material dresses if women mingled casually. There were only a dozen or so people at the party so far. The atmosphere was relaxed but expectant. Quite a few of the women were talking to other women, admiring each other's dresses and then turning their attention to some of the men there and talking about them as well. The father of the three girls just arrived, James, came in and looked around.

Only a few minutes after he had looked around at the decor and the human decor as well did he realize that some people didn't really like him looking at them like this. These young women really wanted to be talked to by young men. This was although they had in mind talking to older men as well who had something to say that would interest them. James suddenly felt embarrassed at his poor social skills when so much of his conversation centered on his desk at work and the chat he had across it. This chat he repeated at home and elsewhere. He could remember now quite clearly what his desk at work so many miles away looked like, felt like to write on, use a computer on, appeared to the touch and even the smell of the wood it was made from. These rich people with their thin gym bodies everyone, polite conversation to make about all kinds of things and things going on for them other than his clients from poor areas put him to shame.

His daughters no matter seemed to ignore his embarrassment or didn't notice it. And they went around the room politely talking a bit amongst themselves. After a minute or two, people came up to talk to them. The father thinking that perhaps his daughters were in good hands with his relatives and their close friends let them go free. Possibly, they would see their younger feminine beauty and take them for who they were themselves as individuals that he might have had some hand in bringing up and this was even if he felt temporarily ugly himself. Or it was if they saw he was and thought that themselves.

In another smaller hall, there was a large mobile. This was quite central and more towards another wall and French doors were some painted people in suits on a plinth standing very still. They did an action pose although dressed as working people.

About an hour or so later, the father saw his daughters again standing together in a threesome. They were talking between themselves.

The father went up to his daughters and said, "Really, what are you three talking about?"

"We met the most wonderful man who was showing us around the house. He showed us the house and gardens, the other reception rooms, the bedrooms and he showed us a collection of art in a private gallery."

"Really," said his father again. "Where is he? I would like to meet him."

"He's around somewhere. But I don't know where he would be exactly."

They decided to leave and now one of the other guests assisted them in finding a hotel. It was something they gratefully accepted. As they were going to get the taxi, the father began talking in an anodyne manner about his worries.

"I don't know. Perhaps I'm just an old fool and too long for this world. And I have done a job for all these years that has paid for us all. As well, it has paid for you to be kept in dresses, coats and hats. So just be grateful!"

"What's brought all this on? You're not going to die just yet. Really, you're so stupid and idiotic. I don't like it!"

"Sorry, but I'm not sorry. That's how it is!"

"We're going to pretend to forget that you ever said this. And when we get back to the hotel, you can just stay in your own room if you're going to talk such morose thoughts."

They got into the taxi in silence to go to the hotel. And, at the other end, they got out in silence as well. Their father went to his room, closed the hotel room door and then looked back through it distressed and with a tear in his eye. His daughters nodded to him and then went to their own hotel rooms now looking forward to meeting more people. He would just have to do whatever he did in his own hotel room and do whatever he wanted to do there. Perhaps, he might read a book. That was at least something he could do that might do him some good. Meanwhile, the daughters had some young men's phone numbers to call and so something of their own to do as well.

The next day, they got a call from the owner of the house at which they had been to the party. It was a Monday and he wanted them to visit him in his office. So they got in a cab and went to see him.

His office was in the central business district and almost as well right in the center of it. Really, his office block was the most modern striking building of those you could see around. He invited them in as they walked past rows of young attractive mainly female office workers into his own office. His own office almost took up half the floor. In his office they were now in, he poured them a glass of wine from a bottle on a small tray that was on a sideboard in his office. As he was doing this, he made a joke that it wasn't the most expensive wine. It wasn't as it stopped the cleaners from drinking it. The father accepted it gratefully. Still, the daughters seemed to have become teetotal. Or perhaps, they were still nursing hangovers.

"So what are you doing here?"

He said this generally to them but the father was pleased to answer.

"We got your message in our hotel and we came by cab to see you."

"Oh, I see. But what are you doing here and not just your daughters?"

"I wanted to come and see you as well," said his father. "You said that you would tell us about your business, didn't you? I would like to know as well. Just because I'm not a young person anymore, it doesn't mean I don't want to know about interesting things, see new things and have new experiences. Don't be silly now!"

The father said this looking out of his office at all the young people who worked there. Then he told his cousin that he had not seen so many reasonably attractive people all doing office work in his life, working at their desks and using computers.

"Nobody looks like that in my office. But then, we have to employ older people just out of charity."

His father said this nudging him. And the man now laughed aloud. Then the two of them had a quiet few minutes' discussion that the daughters couldn't hear upon which there was a knock on the door. Now, the father looked apprehensively at the door with the most awful expression on his face. There was a businessman standing there. He wore a clean often-washed suit and he as well didn't have the expensive aftershave and slicked back hair of whom they'd seen previously. Also, he bore an obvious family resemblance to the father, James, and his daughters.

When the man saw the father looking through the glass of the door, a flash of recognition came to his face. And he knocked gingerly and came in.

"I've some business to do here," he said. "This is with Mr... He is the person that you see here." Then turning to the businessman whose office it was, the most recent visitor said, "I'm sorry that I didn't come a few days ago. But I was looking for a relative of mine that had not arrived at the Airport. Or it was just that he disappeared after he got here. So I've been doing that for a few days. But it appears now that you have found him for me!"

"Yes," said the man said slicking back his greased hair. "It appears he gate crashed one of my parties with his three daughters. But can you do your business with me now? This is when I am a very busy man."

"I know that I owe you money but I have been trying to work out how I can improve my business that will mean I can pay you back. Recently, I went to the bank with what I thought was a sure fire moneymaking scheme. I wanted to widen the road to my cider warehouse, so then I will be able to get bigger trucks in. This will be more economic. But even though I offered to pay 20 per cent interest, the bank still turned down the loan."

"Let's see," said the man.

Gently, he took the folder that their real cousin had brought with him and looked at the figures. After a few minutes looking at the folder when he now he appeared to be an experienced older businessman with knowledge for figures and not any kind of a wasted older man or a letch that they must have mistakenly thought about him beforehand, he closed the file again gently and gave it back to their cousin. And then the man who had been looking at the file whose office it was spoke.

"I'll give you the loan for 20%," he said.

Their real cousin was about to say that he was truly grateful when the man turned away from him and then shouted 'next'  loudly as if to the room.

At that, they all left and went to the cousin's car that was parked a few streets away, they got in and they were on their way to his farm and his cider press.

It was coming to evening. And their cousin said that they would have to wait until daylight until he could show them round his farm or they could see the cider press. In the meantime, they could join him in the farmhouse. He had some paperwork to do that evening but he could give them half an hour in his living room to talk to them. Still, they would have to wait as well to try his cider. But he could offer them a glass of wine instead.

They sat chatting for half an hour until he said that he had to go now. And he suggested they go up to bed and not stay up. This was because there'd have to get up early tomorrow and their city lifestyles might mean they needed extra sleep. So they should make the most of having an early night tonight. And he would see them again tomorrow and show them around.

In the morning, there was no sign of the cousin. The housekeeper made them breakfast and explained that he was very busy. Really, the breakfast was quite plain. And although they had meat, they could see the packet and it seemed to have come from the supermarket. But the housekeeper explained that they were on a budget and that it was cheaper this way. As well, they did not slaughter their own animals anyway. The girls were a bit disappointed. And the father, if he felt a bit choked about it, tried not to show it.

They were keen to see their cousin again after only a short chat the night before. But it was not until midmorning that they did see him. When eventually he came in, he was wearing work clothes and had obviously been sweating from physical labor. Their cousin now said that he had been up since 6 AM working. This was whilst they had still been snoozing soundly asleep in their beds. The father and the girls were now wondering how hospitable it really was. And the girls had to avoid looking at him for any answers that he might not have. This was when appeared to be getting more and more upset no matter how much he tried to hide it.

The cousin explained that they were in the countryside and that people had to get up early and do physical work. As well, the animals needed looking after and their welfare was paramount even before people. Also, the cider press was often hard physical work only and that was how they made their money. And they needed the money to live and to pay for all the farm laborers and cider press workers as well as themselves. It was not an option to be unemployed on an allowance or to get some easy job in an office from what they knew where they were in the countryside. And the cousin as well said that he genuinely didn't have time to come and sit down and chat with them right now but he might have time this afternoon. Yet, despite him telling them this, they seemed a bit suspicious and paranoid and they did not really believe him. Possibly, this was just from so much city living, pollution, late nights in trendy bars talking to men with thinner arms than many women had in the countryside, heavy meals containing chemicals and additives and, as well, all manner of snacks and treats every day of the week. Eventually, about 2 or 3 PM, their cousin came in again to the dining room where they had been playing cards on the table, took off his heavy jacket with a light touch, sat down a bit heavily as well and friendly like, gave them a grin and began talking openly and reasonably to them.

After a few seconds of not getting much out of them, he said, "I'll tell you about some of the problems that I have on the farm.... This morning, to talk about the cider press and what you heard me say in the office, I received a very disturbing phone call from the council. It seems that in order to have a wider road on my premises, I will need to widen my entrance to the normal road outside used by the public. And I have to have permission to do this that they might not grant me. At least, it is going to take some time for me to get this permission. And during this time, the cider press business might go bust. And if that goes bust and I owe money still, then I might have to put the farmhouse up for sale. So you can imagine I've been frantically making a few phone calls."

One of the girls asked in a quiet voice who he had been phoning.

At this, he looked up as if in disbelief. This was when he apparently thought that everybody knew things like this and he had never heard of anyone not knowing.

Then he spoke again, saying, "There is my accountant I've been calling, the work bureau and a lawyer is going to come here today to the farmhouse to see me."

"Did you say that a lawyer is coming here to the farmhouse?"

"Yes," said the cousin evenly with a laugh, "That is what lawyers are for and this is where they come to do business."

"So are you going to be all right?"

One of the girls said this looking up at him hopefully and even a bit tearfully.

The cousin spoke and said, "I really don't know. The problem is I can't afford to pay the wages of my workers at the rate I pay them for all of the time that I can't get the large trucks in. And that is a problem and that will be at the root of any solution as well."

By the way, he added, "Have you been listening to the news?"

They said they hadn't and then without another word, he put on the radio that was on the sideboard and walked out.

On the news, it said there had been a natural disaster that had affected the town they came from. Sinkholes had appeared in many places and an emergency had been declared. It seemed that water extraction for the needs of an increasingly large town population had gone too far. This was from the wells underneath the town. And there was even talk of the whole town slipping into one big sinkhole.

The housekeeper came in and served them tea and homemade fruitcake. Also, she told them that they should go and lie down for an afternoon nap. This was normal she said in the countryside. You could take an afternoon nap if you were in the farmhouse and not working the fields or the cider press or warehouse.

They recovered and came down for their evening meal that they were now going to have together just by themselves the four of them. This was when it had been decided that they should not meet other people coming in and out of the farmhouse.

As they were finishing off their meal and the housekeeper had come to sit down with them telling them to eat slowly some nuts and raisins she put out, their cousin came and sat down as well.

Really, they felt quite relaxed but then the conversation may not have been like that as well. Still, they said what they wanted to say and for which there was no mistake about it.

One of the sisters began to speak as if for the others although she had not really been asked to speak for them.

"We could work temporarily for lower wages if you can afford later to make it up to us and pay the money back. Also, if you give us free board and lodging, then that is a saving on an expense we can't normally afford ourselves. And you seem to have such hospitable board and lodging here anyway."

The cousin's said warily, "I don't know that I can really ever afford to make up the money to you. But I suppose I could think about it. I'm not promising anything though. As well, we might not actually make more money. This is even if we could get bigger trucks in. There is no guarantee of making money in business. I will still need to pay off the loan for it and the rest of the farm might not be doing that well either. But you're right! Once we get the cider press going again we might be able to make some more money."

"All right then," said the daughter with a bright glint in her eye. "If you say that you'll try to pay us back the money you owe us in wages, then we'll work for almost nothing until you can get these roads built."

"All right, then that's a deal. It is of all we've said."

The five of them and a cider house worker went to look at the cider press. The father was still wearing his good suit and the daughters still had their dresses on. They went in the cider house and stopped in front of the cider press.

"All right then," said their cousin. "The cider press needs emptying. It has some rind in it that can only be removed by hand. You remove it and put it into the plastic sacks you see here. So without any further instructions, try to see if you can do it."

The father with but the smallest of hesitation rolled up his sleeves, got on his knees and cupping his hands began moving some of the rind into the plastic sacks. Then, with just a bit more hesitation than their father, first one daughter and then the other daughters hitched up her skirts, rolled up their sleeves, got down on their knees and did the same thing.

It was the first real work they had done in a lifetime.

That is if you don't include giving away a few freebies that might also be work of a kind. But that was work that required a good education and years of patient nurturing.

This work required you to get down on your hands and knees, chafing and soaking your hands and knees with rind, water, bare wood and the concrete floor and to lift rough plastic bags.

And you might get a flagon of cider each day as a reward. But then, you'd not get much else. And you'd not for most things get much for it or for your labors.

They gathered more of the rind not looking at each other. And gradually, the sacks were filled. Now, they might look forward to their drink of cider at the time they got it.

The End


© Copyright 2017 ALAN FASHION. All rights reserved.

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