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Illingworth House: 8 - Trouble At Illingworth House

War with Germany is imminent, and Abe Illingworth, heir to a thriving Yorkshire textile business, is on stand-by to be called up.

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

Though Mary Calow remained a staunch supporter of the Keighworth team, Abe Illingworth never went to see them play again. He even told Mary he didn't like her watching rugby league, that it wasn't quite the done thing for a young woman of her standing to be seen there, but she stood her ground.

His snobbery irritated her and she always spoke of Joe Gibson when she'd been to watch him play, knowing it would rankle Abe. He became increasingly angered by Joe Gibson, especially when he showed the unions had muscle, and the Illingworths feared lest it spread to their own mills. But it didn't. There was never any trouble there. Old Sir Luke saw to that.

But there was trouble at Illingworth House. His father took it badly when it became clear the country was going to war with Germany and Abe announced he was on stand-by if the war broke out. He'd be first to go in the new Territorial Army and Sir Luke didn't like that at all. He'd never got on with military types. He wasn't of their caste at all.

Most of those baronets who'd inherited their titles had served in the forces. They looked down on time-servers like Sir Luke, who'd bought their titles through trade, and kept him in his place.

Abe, who'd had a public school education, slipped easily into the their caste with none of his father's hang-ups. Most of all, he valued the army because it got him away from his wife and father. The atmosphere at home was unbearable at times with a neurotic wife and an overbearing, puritanical father.

At the drill-hall he was clear of them. He could drink freely - and did. It also gave him more chance to see Mary Calow on the sly.

When his father and wife thought he was away for the weekend with his unit, he was having it off with Mary Calow at their hideaway up the Dales. But there was one period in 1912 when she disappeared from work for some weeks, and it was rumoured in the office that she was having a baby. She certainly put on weight just before she left and looked drawn for some time after she returned.

Rumours flew thick and fast, but she clearly had no baby in tow when she went back to work and because she was so aloof and private, there was nothing forthcoming and her absence was soon forgotten. Abe said she'd been away with bronchitis, which had turned to pneumonia, so she'd been sent away to recover.

By the time war was declared, he was spending more time with the army than at work, and his duties as magistrate twice a week also kept him away. His father nagged him constantly, but there was little he could do. The Illingworth dynasty now rested on Abe and his new son, who was growing apace and would one day inherit the family wealth and business.

All Sir Luke's dreams and hopes hung on Abel and his son.

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