A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Very unsettling, but Simeon's ugly motives are coming to the surface.


I just cannot believe it,” hissed Ophelia, putting huge emphasis on the bisyllabic cannot.

But it’s true,” smirked the Reverend Simeon Crow as he adjusted his gleaming white collar against an incongruously green shirt. “It is allowed of course, Ophelia. Clergymen can get married, you know. We’re not celibate.”

But to my mother!” almost wept the young woman.

We are of a similar age,” he told told the distraught daughter, “and we have similar beliefs. And amongst those beliefs is the simple ideal that certain, er, physical activities between men and women should be restricted to those who are lawfully wed and never outside that wonderful state.”

It’s a pity you didn’t remember that when you were paying attention to some of the waifs and strays you offered a roof to over the years, thought Josiah, who was contemplating the unravelling drama with a feeling of serious amusement.

My mother would never do any such thing!” exploded Ophelia. “She’s always insisted on purity! She even went mad at me when I wore a bikini at the beauty pageant, for goodness’ sake, and wearing a bikini is nowhere near as serious as doing what you’re talking about, be it in public or in private!”

My faith has guided me to dear Mavis,” sighed Simeon. “It is my belief that God has arranged it for me to dwell with the dear lady for the remainder of my days, and I would remind you, Ophelia, that as your step-father you will have to pay at least some attention to any advice I might offer as I guide you into your more adult years. For instance, the manner of your dress...”

What’s wrong with what I wear?” demanded Ophelia.

It is oftentimes said in courts of law that young men accused of, er, sexual savagery, have been aroused by the sight of too much female flesh, and I must admit that on the occasion I have noticed our curate observing you with eyes that might seem to be too big for his face...”

Josiah was at a loss to know what he meant by that reference to his eyes. He knew he found Ophelia attractive, what man wouldn’t he reasoned, but to suggest that he ogled her was truly offensive.

That’s not fair, sir,” he interjected. “If you find the girl’s mother desirable that’s got nothing to do with me at all, marry who you like, it’s your concern, yours and Mrs Jones’s, but to seek to find justification because I enjoy the company of her daughter is wrong of you, and unworthy.”

Ah, so you admit it!” spat Simeon, suddenly and outrageously demonstrating a hitherto unsuspected facet of his character. “You, Josiah, and don’t forget that your own father and his obsessions, is an acquaintance of mine, you have unnatural thoughts when it comes to young Ophelia here, and are using those obscene considerations as an obstacle to my own heart-felt affection for Mavis Jones!”

I offer no obstacles: do as you please, sir, but don’t use the fact that I actually have a rather despicable father as a false argument in a debate that I don’t understand!”

I do,” wept Ophelia, “I understand it only too well. I have wondered why you pay so much attention to my mother who is universally disliked throughout Goosebury and I think I see why. I will leave this house today, vicarage or no vicarage, and I will sleep under hedgerows and in ditches if need be, but I will not be the sweet fruit that lies in the centre of your bitter dreams, Reverend!”

Josiah was at an even deeper loss after she had said that, and the silence that followed from both Simeon and himself underlined that there just might be worlds of human behaviour that lay beyond his grasp of creation.

What do you mean?” he asked the girl when the silence threatened to engulf the entire universe.

I mean that this Reverend has eyes for the older woman in order to ensure proximity to the younger, and I am that younger, Josiah. He hasn’t so much as propositioned me since I moved in here, but I suspect that I know why, because he’s had his way with enough other young women over the years. And don’t deny it, Simeon: they’ve told me and even suggested that an hour in bed with you was reasonable payment for a week’s free bed and breakfast even if you weren’t all that good!”

It was Simeon’s turn to look confused, but his own confusion had more to do with a wrongly held conviction that his past pleasures were totally secret rather than having been the subject of debate about what he thought of as clandestine.

I helped them!” he blurted out, “without me they would have been lost. Without me they would have descended into the human world of drugs and debauchery and prostitution. I was a counsellor, a social adviser...”

And so you taught them that profit could be made from their bodies?” asked Josiah, horrified. “You taught them that prostitution is wrong whilst prostituting them? And you a man of the cloth? You a servant of our Lord? You a follower in the footsteps of his son…?”

I was no worse than you, ogling that tart!” raged Simeon, pointing at Ophelia. “And you raise irrelevancies because I am to wed a noble Christian woman? And to think that I was to ask you, Josiah, whom I thought I could trust, to conduct the service!”

Stop it!” begged Ophelia, “you’re wrong! She believes like a Victorian maiden in some things, particularly in not making a shop-window of your body, but she doesn’t believe in any god, any deity, anything other than her own blasted ego! And she certainly doesn’t have any respect for family values, because she chucked me out of my home, not caring what happened to me.”

She’s a good Christian woman...” began Simeon, and then he shook his head. “Maybe you’re right,” he said, “maybe she isn’t a Christian woman, but she’s good, and I’m going to marry her, and then there will be the three of us, you, your mother and me, and nobody else spoiling the harmony of our lives...”

Until she finds why you really married her,” whispered Ophelia, “until it crosses her mind that being wed to her will give you unbridled access to her daughter! To me!”

If I wanted that then I’ve already got it because you live here, under my roof!” scoffed Simeon, more certain of his ground.

But you know I have friends and colleagues who deal with dirty little men like you every day,” spat Ophelia. “And it wasn’t an act of charity that prompted you to offer me a roof over my head, was it? Right, you might have been careful so far, but under my mother’s roof how much closer would I be to you? What’s the plan eating away in your tiny little mind? Get me to give up my work, offer me something boring, maybe, in the church, no pay but that wouldn’t matter, would it? And you’d have a younger woman to take advantage of, a younger woman to have an on-gong affair with in the dingy part of your obsessed mind, a younger woman you could mould to your own desires, which is all you really want. And all you will want: especially when you discover that one thing my mother doesn’t like at all is sex!”

Careful, darling,” murmured Josiah.

She spun to him. “Darling?” she asked, “you called me darling? Now, when I’ve spent months trying to get you to look at me?”

Josiah blushed.

You can’t have him!” snapped Simeon, “he’s a goody-goody boy from a rotten family with an obsessed father who would beat you if the mood took him, a vile brute in a collar, and no good to man nor beast.”

But I will have him,” breathed Ophelia, “sooner or later, but I prefer sooner… yes, I will have him.”

© Peter Rogerson 26/03/18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on March 26, 2018
Last Updated on March 26, 2018
Tags: marriage, wedding, Josiah Pyke, beautiful daughter, mother



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 78 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..