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Illingworth House: 3 - John Illingworth

...Sir Luke grunted and gave the fire a final poke. He was well pleased with the night's outcome. Illingworths Mills had an heir at long last. He yawned and pulled out at his gold pocket watch, which straddled across his waistcoat on a solid gold chain. "Time I turned in," he said. "Work as usual tomorrow, m'boy." Then almost as an afterthought, he asked, "What are you going to call the lad?...

An Illingworth heir has been born, and the patriarch of the family is well-pleased.

John Waddington-Feather continues his story of a Yorkshire mill-owning dynasty.

To purchase John's book please visit
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_b/202-5400595-9895847?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=john+waddington-feather

Disciplined from an early age by his father, he toed his father's line first at home then at work, and he'd dutifully married the wife his father had picked him. Like all else, it brought more prestige, more wealth, kept the family firm on a sound footing. But outside the firm and outside his marriage, Abe continued drinking at his club, had wild nights at his army mess parties and had taken to himself a mistress.

Unlike his father and grandfather, Abe had been sent away to school. He'd mixed there with blue-blooded upper-crustians and was at ease with them, one of a caste that took drink and women in their stride - and arranged marriages.

He looked with genuine pity on his wife, sorry for what she'd gone through, but there was no love. "Thank you. Well done, Rachel," he said again simply. She didn't reply. She closed her eyes and slept.

He went to re-join his father, who awoke when Abe came in and announced they had an heir.

The old man beamed and poked the fire. The light from it lit up his rugged face. His prayer had been answered. "That's good news, m'boy. Very good news indeed for all of us," he declared, poking the fire more vigorously than ever. Then he asked after Rachel.

"Exhausted," his son replied. "It's taken it out of her, but Cowie says she'll recover. I've left the night nurse with her and I'll be in my bedroom next door if there's any need."

Sir Luke grunted and gave the fire a final poke. He was well pleased with the night's outcome. Illingworths Mills had an heir at long last. He yawned and pulled out at his gold pocket watch, which straddled across his waistcoat on a solid gold chain. "Time I turned in," he said. "Work as usual tomorrow, m'boy." Then almost as an afterthought, he asked, "What are you going to call the lad?"

"John," Abe replied at once. "After our John."

The father looked surprised a moment, then pursed his lips. "You might have chosen another name but you two were always close," he muttered.
Then the old grimness reasserted itself and he moved to the door. His youngest son was dead and he'd have none of the old memories coming back now. He had the heir he wanted and that was sufficient. As it turned out, when the baby was baptised Abe compromised and called his son John Luke and that placated the old man.

Sir Luke gave a huge yawn again and said he was turning in. He'd an early start that morning as he'd work to catch up.

"You're not going in early, Dad, surely!" Abe exclaimed. "Not after tonight."

"I'll have Denton fussing over me all day if I don't catch up," he replied, and began to leave but paused at the door. "Oh, and I shall expect you there at the usual time as well. Goodnight, m'boy." Then he made his way up the huge staircase to his bedroom, glancing as was his custom at the family portraits hung all the way up.

The Illingworths were a hard-faced lot. Their features moulded generation after generation by the grind of trade. There were four generations there, watching his every step up the staircase.

He didn't know why, but memories of John Illingworth floated back,
the wilful son who'd always gone his own way and finished up dead in Africa.

The papers had made out he was a hero, but that didn't rub off on his father. His death had left him with only one son capable of running the firm when he'd gone, and on Abe alone the dynasty and family business hung. Sir Luke had another son by his previous marriage, Timothy, but never mentioned him. He was insane and had been locked away for years,but Abe had at last produced a son and that was good, very good.

John might have produced one, too, had he stayed at home and got himself married. But he hadn't. As hot-headed as ever, he'd enlisted in the Yeomanry and that had infuriated his father. His death a few months later finished off his mother and left his father permanently embittered.

Sir Luke reached his room just as the butler was leaving. He'd put the warmer in the bed and laid out the old man's clothes for the next day. He was proving to be a good butler like his father. He was efficient and loyal and that's how Sir Luke liked all his employees.

"Your room is ready, sir," said Johnson, bowing as the old man passed by. "Will that be all, sir?"

"Thank you, Johnson," Sir Luke replied. Then over his shoulder. "Make sure I get my usual call. I don't want to be late."

The butler said he wouldn't forget and wished the old man goodnight. The bedroom was just as the butler had said, warm and cosy, even to the aired nightshirt. Sir Luke undressed slowly, smiling still at the thought of an heir. He put on his nightshirt and moved the hot water bottle down the bed to his feet. Within minutes he was fast asleep.

Meanwhile, Johnson disappeared quickly into the kitchen where he knew he'd find Abe. He was already well down the bottle he'd opened for the doctor. "Pour yourself a glass, Johnson," said Abe. "I hate drinking alone."
Johnson smiled and bowed slightly, then poured himself a healthy tot.
"Dad safely tucked up?" Abe asked.

Johnson smiled again and nodded. "Here's to the new bairn," said Abe raising his glass.

"To your son," said the butler, raising his. "And congratulations, sir. I trust Mrs Illingworth is well?"

"A little weak, but she'll be better by morning. She's as strong as an ox," said Abe, pouring another drink.

They saw off the rest of the bottle, then Abe made his way to bed. He paused at the kitchen door, however, and said casually, "Oh, Johnson. There hasn't by chance been anything from Miss Calow, has there?"

Johnson looked abashed and pulled a heavily scented pink envelope from his pocket. "As a matter of fact there has, sir. I beg your pardon, but it's been so hectic today with the baby on its way and everything, I couldn't find the right time to give it to you, you understand."

"Thank you, Johnson. I understand. You're discretion itself," said Abe.

Johnson smiled again - a very knowing smile - and wished his master goodnight as he disappeared through the door. Once outside, Abe tore open the letter. It said simply, "My dearest Abe, I'm missing you terribly. I must see you soon. I ache for you. All my love, Mary." He smiled, read it again, put it to his lips, then retired to bed.

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