Over 150 years ago, in fact in 1862, Mary Elizabeth Braddon published a book called Lady Audley’s Secret which went on the become a best seller at that time, and over the years the book has been serialized and films have been made based on this book. The literary fashion in those days was accidental bigamy, and in the book the heroine deserts her child, pushes husband number one down a well, thinks about poisoning husband number two, and then sets fire to a hotel in which all her male acquaintances are residing.
In Adam’s novella a man whose middle name is by coincidence Audley is happily married with three daughters, and in his work as a travelling salesman he stays in various small guest houses. Over several years he is “seduced” by daughters in each house, and when each becomes pregnant he “marries” each of them. The “scandal” does not become public until he loses his job, sues for unfair dismissal, and after being awarded substantial damages receives huge media publicity.
These Guest Houses never served dinner, so he walked along the road to a pub which served meals, and found Alicia’s other guests already there. They asked Roger to join them, and they all laughed and chatted together.
“Alicia was kind in giving us her room,” said one, “so it just worked out.”
“She told us that she’s going to stay with a friend tonight,” said another, “but will be back for our breakfast in the morning,”
Roger was not really listening to this but he remembered later.
He walked back the house he was staying in, and opened the door. Alicia was in the kitchen and offered to make him a cup of tea.
Roger sat down to enjoy the tea before going to his room.
“Good night,” he said as he stood and climbed the stairs to his room.
He dressed in his pyjamas, switched off the light and got into bed. It was soft and warm and cozy, and for some reason smelled of Alicia.
About one hour later Alicia opened the door to his room and crept in to his bed. She climbed in next to the sleeping Roger. She wasn’t wearing too much, just a very short diaphanous nightie, and nothing else.
In his sleep Roger sensed her presence and he moved to put his arm around her, so she wriggled her body under him.
He woke up suddenly.
“Alicia!” he was startled.
“Hold me tight, I’m cold,” she complained quietly.