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Illingworth House: 6 – A Dashing Man

...He was tall and well built with a fine pair of shoulders, blue eyes and a winning smile. He clearly spent much time outdoors for he was bronzed and his blond hair was almost flaxen with the sun. His hands were gentle but strong as he helped her to the seat...

Having landed a job at Illingworths, Helen bumps into the boss’s son.

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

For the first time, Mary Calow shed her air of authority for an instant. Again she regarded Helen closely and gave her a fleeting smile - but it was warm. There was no mistaking that, and Helen felt strangely moved by it. She smiled shyly back as the other rang a bell on her desk.

The spotty office boy returned and stood to attention as he opened the door, half an eye on Miss Calow, who told him to take Helen to Brooksbank, the cashier. The lad's whole demeanour changed as he returned to the main office and led her to a cubby hole in the far corner. There Brooksbank had his desk and files.

"So yer've landed the job, miss?" the lad asked.

Helen almost smirked. "Yes," she replied tersely and gave him a freezing look. By that time they were at the cashier's desk and Helen said she'd got the job and showed him her bus ticket from Keighworth.

As Brooksbank reimbursed her fare, he took off his pince nez and examined her more closely. Not like a younger man - not like the other clerks in the office who eyed her unashamedly - but curiously. He was in his late forties but grey and looking much older. Later Helen discovered he'd been badly wounded in the war.

"Congratulations," he said quietly. "I hope you'll soon settle." Then he looked up quickly and the other clerks in the room immediately stopped eyeing Helen and got on with their work. "Doubtless you've already made
up your mind about Miss Calow?" he continued, satisfied he'd asserted his authority.

"I got on well with her," said Helen.

The other raised his eyebrows in surprise and replaced his pince nez. "That's more than some. She must have taken a fancy to you, lass. But I'm not surprised." And that's as near as the cashier ever got to complimenting Helen all the time she was there. He wished her good day and told her the way out.

Helen felt as if she was treading on air, and her mind was still in a whirl as she left the entrance hall for the main doors. She was in such a rush to get out and home, and someone coming the other way was in such a rush to get in, that they collided and she fell down.

She was winded for a moment, and all she heard was the other apologising as he lifted her to her feet. He sat her down on a bench just inside the door. He was tall and well built with a fine pair of shoulders, blue eyes and a winning smile. He clearly spent much time outdoors for he was bronzed and his blond hair was almost flaxen with the sun. His hands were gentle but strong as he helped her to the seat.

His eyes never left her face as he spoke. "I'm terribly sorry," he kept on saying. "It was all my fault - dashing in like that. I could have hurt you. Are you all right?"

She said she was OK and got to her feet, straightening her dress. She pushed a stray lock of hair from her eyes and smiled at him shyly. He asked if she were visiting, could he get her a drink of water, but she declined. She wanted to get home as quickly as possible. But she did tell him she was starting work there the following week.

His whole face lit up. And she guessed by the way he spoke, by his bespoke suit, by the way he saw her down the steps, that he was someone special. You didn't run into his sort every day, not even in Bradford.

She was right. It was the boss's son, John Illingworth.

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