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Illingworth House: 39 – At the Stone Circle

…He sighed deeply and stared at the horizon. Sir Luke owned all the land he could see, and over the crest in the valley were his home and mills, which spread into the next county. Yet no money, no power on earth could make his son right. He had spawned a monster more crazy than any of the simpletons among his workers' families…

John Waddington-Feather presents another dramatic and unexpected chapter in the story of the mill-owning Illingworths.

Sir Luke became more and more insistent and said he would cut Abe from the firm if he didn't resign his commission. But he refused. It was the only time he stood up to his father and he soldiered on right through the war.

His mother, who had really never recovered from the loss of John, died just before the Great War broke out. In his mind's eye, Sir Luke saw her and his dead son now as he gazed through the rain-streaked window into the past.

For a long time he had dreaded something like this happening. Timothy had almost killed a man some years before when he had poked fun at him. It took three strong men to overpower him and drag him away. Ever after, if he left his room to go outside, he was handcuffed to a guard who knew how to humour him. He was rarely taken out during the day when there were hikers on the moors. Only at evening when all was quiet.

He responded to birds and animals and would watch the birds in the trees outside his room for hours. If a skylark got up while he was out, he would listen enthralled to its singing, laughing like a child when it plummeted to earth and disappeared. But he growled at any stranger they happened to meet, frightening them to death. And he hungered after women.

Now it had come to this, thought his father. He had broken out and was at loose somewhere on the moors. Pray God they found him before he injured someone...or worse! He couldn't stay at the farm after this. They'd have to get him into an asylum, locked up permanently somewhere in the south far away from Keighworth.

He sighed deeply and stared at the horizon. Sir Luke owned all the land he could see, and over the crest in the valley were his home and mills, which spread into the next county. Yet no money, no power on earth could make his son right. He had spawned a monster more crazy than any of the simpletons among his workers' families. Timothy had hung like a weight round his father's neck right from birth and had almost scuppered the Illingworth empire. Thank God for Abe, he thought, and his grandson John.

The sky turned leaden as he stared out and storm clouds blew up across the moors making them blacker than ever. It began sleeting and he wondered how Timothy was faring, poor lad. He was glad Abe had gone with the men. He had made sure Timothy wasn't manhandled - and he had look after Timothy when he was gone. He had made sure he was cared for.

Sir Luke didn't know that Abe was carrying his old army revolver under his poncho and the grim look on his face showed he would use it if need be. He knew the moors well and was leading the search, drawing the line towards Ilkesworth where he suspected his brother would be hiding, to an old primeval stone circle overlooking the town in the next valley.

Then, as they struggled through the gathering gloom, the storm that had been threatening all day broke with a vengeance. They slogged on and on through the pelting sleet and were just about to call off the search, when one of the men shouted. He had seen Timothy, hiding among the stones.

He was crouching sodden behind the largest one, watching the lightning jump from stone to stone, bewildered and frightened. His hair was matted and as he stared at the light flickering all about him, were it not for his dress, he could easily have been one of the primitives who had erected those stones millennia before.

As Abe entered the ring, he stood upright and glared across at him, brandishing his knife, scowling and growling like a dog. Abe ordered his men to stay back as he approached his half-brother cautiously.

"Timothy," he called gently. "You're going to be all right. We won't harm you. It's me, Abe. Your brother."

But he got no response, only a look of intense hatred.

Then, without warning, Timothy rushed at him, his lips drawn back snarling like a beast, holding his knife high above his head ready to strike. Nothing could have saved Abe had he not been armed, but he threw back his poncho, snatched his revolver from its holster, took aim and fired. His brother stopped dead in his tracks, lurched forward a pace, then fell sprawling wildly in the heather at his feet.

Abe knelt over him and felt his pulse. He could see at once he was done for and ordered four of his men to take the body back to the farm. "Poor fellow," was all he muttered as they lifted him up, carrying him like the carcass of an animal. Then he returned his revolver to its holster, pulled his poncho about him and followed the bearers in silence.

Sir Luke saw them returning and hurried downstairs. He sensed at once his son was dead and when they laid him out on the kitchen table, he gave vent to his grief, crying over and over again, "My poor boy! Oh, Timothy, my poor, poor boy!" while Abe simply looked on stony faced.

When his father had wept his fill, Abe gently lifted him to his feet and led him away. "He's at peace now, Father," he said. "He'll never suffer again. Better this way than locked up forever."

But the old man wouldn't be comforted, and some months later followed his son to the grave.

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