Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Nice to Aunt Ada

This is an extract from the beginning of a very rare original short story by Campbell Nairne published in John O'London's Weekly in 1939.

"And now don't forget," Jenny's mother said as they stood on the doorstep together, waiting for the glass-panelled door to open, "don't forget that you've got to be nice to Aunt Ada."
The little girl nodded. There had been no need to remind her. For as long as she could remember it had been dinned into her ears that she must be Nice to Aunt Ada. It was something that she had to do, like cleaning her teeth twice a day and swallowing cod-liver oil. She did it dutifully, not without wishing sometimes that Aunt Ada would be nice to her. But then Aunt Ada was nice to nobody; she was a bad old woman. Jenny had heard even her mother say that, and as for her father - well, he made rustling noises with his paper whenever her name was mentioned. "I'll never darken that woman's door," he had said, and nothing would persuade him to come with them when they went to call on her. That was very wrong of him (inconsiderate, her mother called it), for Aunt Ada was rich, and as her godchild you were probably going to inherit nearly all her money when she died. But only if you kept on being nice to her.....
The jangling of the bell died away, and they saw a movement in the shadowy recess between the door and the outline of the stairs. An aproned figure loomed up, stained amber by the coloured panels. It remained there for some time, motionless, like a fish seen through the wall of an aquarium. Finally it came forward. The door was drawn back, though not to its fullest extent, and a .......