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Illingworth House: 37 – Encounter With A Mad Man

…He was huge, with a great grizzled head and low brow, from underneath which a pair of wildly insane eyes looked out. As she drew alongside, he had leapt the wall before she could ride off and grabbed her, pulling her from her pony and tearing at her clothes as she screamed for help…

The Illingworths know only too well the dangers of cousin associating with cousin.

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

Helen Greenwood grew up to be a very beautiful young woman. Since Mary Gibson had inherited her father’s savings and house, she and Joe could afford to keep Helen in her prep school. Later they sent her to the grammar school and then to a commercial college to learn typing and secretarial work.

But her education isolated her from the neighbourhood girls who went into the mill as soon they'd finished school at fourteen. As a result she grew up shy and introspective. She had no boyfriends nor, when she grew into her late teens, did she go to the weekly dance in town like the other lasses down Garlic Lane.

She never wore make-up as Joe frowned on it, but she really didn't need it. She had a peach complexion and curly light auburn hair with hints of bronze in it. She was tall and well proportioned with serious grey eyes, very different from the stocky over made-up mill lasses who lived nearby.

They thought her stuck-up but she wasn't, just shy and bookish. They never read books, except for the odd cheap romantic novel, for their interest was in lads and getting wed as quickly as possible.

When she left college, Joe found her a place at Grayson's Garage at the bottom of the lane, a ramshackle place, dirty and stinking of oil and burnt tyres. The office she had to work in was a kennel of a place, a wooden hut tacked on to the main garage and full of greasy letters and invoices. An oil-thumbed calendar hung on the wall alongside some greasy stained memos old Grayson pinned up daily.

She hated the place the moment she set foot in it, and the faded, grey-haired woman she replaced told her just what she was letting
herself in for. She said she would be the works dogsbody and she was right.

Helen had to deal not only with the daily correspondence and phone calls, but also she had to keep the books and accounts up to date. On top of that she was hassled daily by the garage hands, uncouth and uneducated, who were always making fun of her.

The longer she stayed the more she hated the place, and unknown to Joe and Mary she began applying for jobs well away from Keighworth, anywhere to get out of the town. Otherwise she knew she was doomed to stay there all her life.

Rosie Braithwaite and Helen were much of an age but by the time she was eighteen, Rosemary Braithwaite had the world at her feet. She had just left an expensive finishing school abroad and returned home to live with her mother, who had recently married Aubrey Kingham-Jones. He in turn had settled in at Ashworth House to continue sponging his way through life as he had done in London.

Rosemary had never lost the crush she had on her cousin John, whom she had fallen wildly in love with in her teens. She couldn't get back fast enough to Keighworth and joined every club he belonged to in order to be near him.

His father soon saw which way the wind was blowing and warned him off. "Don't get taken up with her, Jonty," he cautioned. "You're too close in blood. Much too close and I've seen what happens when cousins marry." And he told him about the half-brother who'd been locked up all those years and would be finally shot dead on the moors.

Before he died Rosemary herself had also had an encounter with Timothy when out riding on Rivock Edge and told him about it. When out riding she had sometimes seen a huge retarded man lumbering over the moors escorted by a keeper. When he had seen her approaching the keeper had immediately clamped a pair of handcuffs on the half-wit he was exercising and dragged him away gibbering and pointing at Rosemary. She had been shocked when she had seen his face and galloped quickly past. She never knew who he was till much later.

She didn't see him again till weeks later when she was riding by herself. This time he had given his keeper the slip and was standing the other side of the wall watching her draw near. He was huge, with a great grizzled head and low brow, from underneath which a pair of wildly insane eyes looked out. As she drew alongside, he had leapt the wall before she could ride off and grabbed her, pulling her from her pony and tearing at her clothes as she screamed for help.

At that point his keeper arrived and dragged him off, handcuffing him and fastening him in a straitjacket, dragging him away apologising. Rosemary had tidied herself up and ridden off double quick, but she was shocked and never went that way again. But the image of his face remained. Beneath the grotesque mask, he was unmistakeably an Illingworth, a distorted image of her Uncle Abe and cousin John.

The mad man was taken back to a nearby farmhouse, a rambling affair about a hundred yards from the track she rode on. She watched him being dragged along till they entered the farm buildings. Then he appeared at a barred window underneath the gable-end, watching her till she rode out of sight.

She never rode that way again but she told John Illingworth all about it, confirming what his father had already said. The madman was Abe's half-brother, Timothy, the only child of Sir Luke by his first wife. She was his first cousin, just as his father, Amos, had also married a first cousin.

"Now do you understand why I don't want you and Rosemary getting too close?" his father had said. "She's a beautiful girl, I know, and she's making a dead set at you, Jonty. That's clear to anyone, but keep her at arm's length."

John assured his father he had no interest in Rosie that way. As far as he was concerned they were just good friends and always had been from childhood.

But it made no difference to Rosemary. Her love for him grew stronger, and no wonder. He was built like an Adonis. He played rugby and cricket for the county and was a fine tennis player. Recently he had taken up flying and spent much time over at Yeadon Flying Club with his school friend Sydney Goldstein. He was good fun all the time and he flirted with all girls. How could she not fall for him?

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