Coming of Age the Fast Way

Coming of Age the Fast Way

By:  Clive La Pensée  Completed
Language: English
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When 19-year-old waitress Millie takes a summer job as companion to wealthy Lady Vera Ashington at her Suffolk stately home, she has no idea that a mystery will unfold which puts her own life and her family's business at risk. Unexplained deaths will test her morality. Can the end justify the means? Lady Ashington (Vera) fears a breakdown due to personal regrets. She has one last go at seeking long-term happiness. Having taken Millie as a companion, the two women become friends and enjoy arguing about Vera's wealth and her inability to use it wisely. ‘ Too much cake', is the problem. Millie empowers Vera. She keeps a first person diary, and includes Vera's viewpoint. This diary is the novel. It tells how the talents of two very different women, when harnessed, move mountains. But, Vera's local influence means every good deed, leaves a loser. Millie had not appreciated this and conflicts mount. Things reach a head when a couple in the village, are murdered . The evidence isn't clear. Who would profit from their deaths? Is Vera implicated? Must Millie fear for her life?

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51 Chapters
Day 1. Monday.   ‘Millicent! I need to talk to you.’ I wouldn’t have noticed Vera as she sat down, because of my terrible eyesight. The name was mine. It had to be me she was calling. But from where? I searched the café. This meant peering across the space between, through powerful lenses. Vera wasn’t a regular visitor, even though it was her café. Most café owners would breakfast in their restaurant every morning, but not Vera and I certainly don’t eat here. It isn’t my café. I’m just a worker from the village, who tries to earn a few quid as a waitress, so when I finally spotted her over by the long trestles, used by coach parties, she was waving me over. My heart skipped a beat as I imagined the conversation to come. ‘Millicent, we have too many staff on and being casual, I’m afraid I’ll have to let you go. I’ll have your last wages ready at midday.’ This wasn’t panic. She was on the other side of
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 Day 2. Tuesday     It was a beautiful July morning. I took my normal route to the café, alongside a stream full of watercress and tall grasses and late-spring scents. It followed the route of an avenue of fine old sycamores and chestnuts, went past the visitor car park and then through an entrance arch. The café was a glass and wood structure, leaning against the wall to the left of
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The Rules
Day 2 cont. I became worried. Had I overstepped the mark? She had insisted on honesty and humiliated me. She had to be told. That was to be the deal or so I thought, but my dad had warned me that this job would come to no good. ‘They are all a cup short of a tea-set, when it comes to snobbish protocol,’ he had informed me over supper last night. I dried my eyes on my blouse sleeve, and managed a conciliatory tone, mainly because she was white as a sheet and I feared a coronary was on its way.   'What is it?' I asked. 'Are you ill?'
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Reprieve over Tea
Day 2. conclusion We took the long route to the tea-room. Nerves were still frayed and once we had arrived, tea took a long time to reach the table. Sid dithered, quite deliberately, to point out that they were very busy and short-handed, because a key member of the team was licking the arse or less metaphorically, lapping up the crumbs from the master’s table. I ignored Sid and added rules 3 and 4 to the list. Once done, Vera used the time to get me acquainted with some of her plans, which, I suspect, were only just beginning to crystallise in her mind.  'Millicent, I want you to keep a diary of our talks and give it all to me at
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The House
Day 3. Wednesday   Sometime in the night, a cold, intense drizzle began to blow across the fens. My bedroom window is covered in a fine mist. Where did that change in the weather come from? Yesterday was glorious. That meant that few visitors would turn out, so they wouldn’t want me in the café – no big deal if Vera paid me – but Sid would be in desperate straits if they sent her home without working a shift. She was, as far as I knew, the only earner in the family. Now was the time to regret my outburst yesterday, when I more or less told Vera she should stuff the rotten Land Rover where the sun don’t shine. As my Granddad would tell me, should I bump into him, a second-class ride is better than a first class walk, especially in such weather. I found my screwed-up rain gear in the bottom of the wardrobe, under my muddy boots, so I was guaranteed to look a sight. I could only hope it would rain hard enough to wash the mud
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DIY & disappointing discussions.
Day 4 - Thursday Vera was into her DIY big-time. The rain front from yesterday hadn’t cleared East Anglia. There was no BMW waiting at the end of the garden so I walked to the House in horizontal rain, couldn’t have kept a new umbrella up in the wind, never mind my scarecrow number. I was soaked as I came through the magnificent oak front door, and left a dripping trail past the grizzly bears and across the carpet with the coat of arms every ten inches. I heard someone whistling ‘Walking in the rain.’ Charley was more than amused. ‘Oh, Millie! How the mighty are fallen? All it took was a bit of flat-pack and you are history.’ ‘Piss off, you smart arse. What stopped you picking me up? I assume she has assembled the units and is now wondering what to do next.’ He grinned even wider. ‘You’re to join her upstairs, in the grey room.’ I looked baffled. All our rooms at home look grey. ‘Top of the stairs and
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Talking dirty.
Day 5. Friday. I had never discussed a work contract with Vera. Day one had been a Monday, which hadn’t really been a working day. Tuesday I’d moonlighted in the café so maybe Vera wouldn’t pay me for that either. And I don’t know if I am working weekends or not. She said I would be paid monthly and that would be a nightmare.As I walked up the wide gravel path to the huge oak door, I decided I would have to talk dirty with Vera - at least she would consider talking about money to be talking dirty, but it had to be done. I would have to ask Vera for a sub.I found her in her apartment, with her head in the cupboard under the newly fitted sink. She was whispering something to herself and it ended with a ladylike ‘drat’. Did she only swear to impress me?'Anything the matter, Vera?'She jerked her head upwards and caught it on the sink wi
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New lines are drawn.
Day 6. Saturday. Vera’s unpleasant reaction to Sid wanting to ride left Friday with an incongruous end and made me forget to ask her for a sub. More immediately important - was I was supposed to work Saturdays and Sundays. I had forgotten to clarify that as well. I’m as bad as the rest of the village. Give me a bit of gossip to chew on and I forget the world beyond Lower Butts. We are so parochial!There was no other option, but at 7.43, to drag my lazy butt down the garden path and head for the House. I didn’t get further than the gate, for there was Sid with tears streaming down her face, quivering bottom lip, looking imploringly at me. I took her arm and started walking her towards the church yard. At least that would rule out a lover’s tiff if we were seen arm in arm, for there were sure to be nosey neighbours peering between net curtains. I’d have
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Riding Out
We spent the afternoon sorting out a couple of riding habits. I learnt that what is worn nowadays are called jodhpurs. The boots were awesome and would have made kinky bedroom attire. During the afternoon we had to go to a friend’s house. I was driven by Vera to the next village in her BMW. Vera’s friend had two daughters and hence a collection of ball-gowns. The girls were away at boarding school, so would not be needing gowns.By the time I met Sid for our walk home, I was fully equipped – mentally and physically – for the execution of Vera’s scheme. The physical bit I would like to have saved myself. The bag with riding outfits, including boots, and the two ball-gowns were more than I could carry, so I was pleased to palm the gowns off on Sid.She looked mistrustfully at the packet and then asked, 'What actually is in this bin-liner?''Two ball-gowns. We are going to do it.''We are so not going to go to either the hunt or
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Keeping quiet.
Day 7. Sunday. I’ve got myself in a corner of my own making. Should I go to the House as though nothing had happened? Was I expected there on a Sunday? Should I go to the café? It was another beautiful day. There would be enough work, but maybe Sid and I had burned our bridges there, too. Should I stay in bed and say, ‘Sod the lot of them?’Then I had a genial idea. Go to church!I hadn’t been to church since being chucked out of Brownies for swearing, and when Brown Owl chastised me, I blasphemed, which was obviously much worse than the F-word. I knew enough about Vera’s habits to know she always went to church when she was ‘at home’.I imagined asking Sid.'Is it tactically better to be early or late for church?''You never go to church. What’s got into you? But late is better.''It’s an opportunit
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