Pas De Deux
Copyright© 2012 by Texrep
Sir Henry caught me a few days later. "Ah! Simon. I have heard back from Miss Berwick and she has agreed to dance for us. I have invited her here tomorrow afternoon so that she can see what we are trying to do. Would you be available to show her round?"
"Well, yes. But I would have thought that you could do that better than me." He nodded in agreement.
"I just thought that as you and she are old friends it would be less formal. Shelley will be with you, it will help Miss Berwick feel more at ease."
I smiled inwardly. If only he had been party to Antonia's comment at the reception.
I phoned Antonia that evening. "I understand that I shall see you tomorrow afternoon."
"Yes. Sir Henry was most insistent that I should see what you do."
"If you are not performing tomorrow evening, would you like to go out for dinner afterwards?" "That would be great. Will I have time to get back here and change? I would like to look my best for you."
"You always look good to me."
"Si! Thank you. That's just turned my insides to jelly."
I got the call to join Henry in his office a little after three that afternoon. Henry and Shelley were there when I entered. Antonia was sitting in one of the leather armchairs that Henry kept for important visitors. She smiled widely at me.
"Ah! Simon. Would you like some tea before you start?" Shelley smiled at me and Antonia positively beamed. As usual Henry talked about the importance of our work and how it could benefit mankind. That was his forte, that and his ability to ease money out of the pockets of the rich into our coffers. He left at three-thirty citing another appointment, and Shelley, Antonia and I set off for the tour. There was very little to see. The technicians were busy working at jobs that to the uninitiated would appear mundane and repetitive. I tried to explain that introducing an extract of a plant to a cell culture once would not be indicative of its effect. It had to be done many times to rule out contamination. If the reaction was the same then perhaps we had found something. We then had to try and isolate the chemical within the plant extract that was the reagent. Antonia followed the explanation with apparent interest.
"It takes months, even years to get a positive result. Even then you can discover something by accident. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin purely by chance. But when you consider how many lives that has saved it all becomes worthwhile."
Shelley became quieter as we continued the tour, but she seemed to be watching Antonia and me very closely. After Antonia had left Shelley tackled me. "Are you two having an affair?"
"We are seeing each other from time to time, but I wouldn't describe it as an affair."
"If it isn't now, it will be soon."
"How do you come to that conclusion?"
"Simon, the way you look at each other. She's totally in love with you, and if Henry would look at me the way you look at Toni I would be over the moon with happiness." She brushed away a little tear. "She's very lucky. She will have a man who will always love, respect and care for her. If I ever get Henry I will have a superficial philanderer." I knew that Henry was a womaniser. His first divorce after his adultery had cost him over a million pounds. His second for the same reason had hit him for a similar sum.
"So why chase after him?"
"He's very wealthy, Simon. And I want the good life that money brings. Now you can call me a gold-digger if you wish. But if you were brought up in poverty as I was you would probably think as I do. My dad tried hard but money was always tight. Mum became quite inventive in making cheap food look and taste different, and second hand clothes patched and darned lose their appeal after a while. Henry could give me everything I want. All the same I envy you and Antonia."
"You're throwing yourself away, Shelley."
"Possibly, but I will get diamonds as compensation."