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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 12 Welcoming His Chance

Harray Clemence and his flash Aston Martin car impress Rosemary Braithwaite.

John Waddington-Feather continues his story concerning the family members of a Yorkshire mill-owning dynasty. To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

They swept into Grasby in style and pulled into the pub forecourt with a squeal of brakes. Because it was so warm, many of the customers were drinking outside. They turned to stare at the car as it pulled in, then at its passenger who got out, long luscious legs first followed by the body beautiful. Rosemary lapped it up and posed tantalisingly by the two-seater till Harry returned with their drinks.

A little man, fast cars made him feel big; having Rosemary at his side made him feel even bigger. "Like the way she moves then?" he asked as he gave her her drink. He knew she was impressed but wanted to hear her say so.

"I adore it!" she replied, then added with a dazzling smile,

"You're quite something behind a wheel, Harry."

"Practice makes perfect," he said. He spoke in cliches. There was little original about Harry Clemence. He turned expansively to the locals still staring and eyeing Rosemary over their pints of beer. "Seems like this lot like her, as well. Come on, Rosie, let's sit in the shade."

He took her to an empty table in an alcove where they had more privacy. She'd said she'd something on her mind while they'd been driving up, something she wanted to discuss in private, for Harry had that effect on people. He seemed a good solid chap who could keep confidences and give good advice when asked. He made a great deal of mileage that night with Rosemary. He let her do all the talking and listened intently, saying nothing till she'd done.

She started hesitantly, but the moment she mentioned her stepfather he knew what was coming. Her mother had remarried some years before, after Rosemary's father had been killed in the war. She'd picked up with a dashing major in London on one of her merry-widow-go-rounds, who had never got beyond Aldershot during the war, staying at regimental H.Q. as officer-in-charge of basic training drilling and all that. After the war, he'd drifted penniless into London to trawl for a rich wife. Victoria, Rosemary's mother, obliged him.

They had a whirlwind romance and honeymoon before she went north again. She knew her brother, Sir Abe, wouldn't approve and he didn't, but she up-staged him by turning up already married.

Sir Abe wasn't impressed and detested Major Kingham-Jones from the start. He called him a bloody parasite for he lived off Victoria's capital. Marrying didn't stop his womanising either and he had several clandestine affairs. Then Rosemary grew up and he began pestering her. She mentioned it to her mother, but Victoria said she was imagining things. Percy was just flirting. That was his way.

That night she mentioned it to Harry Clemence, who suggested she move out and find her own flat. Clemence had a pal in estate agency who could fix her up with a smart flat in Ilkesworth. She would be all right there. Rosemary cheered up and said he was a dear. He felt protective and she needed protecting.

She'd hoped her cousin could have helped, but she'd never got near enough to ask him, and Clemence seemed so concerned and earnest. He understood exactly how she felt and she cuddled closer to him. Clemence smiled. His cards were dropping at the right time.

The hot summer had given him a healthy tan. During the winter months he looked pale and podgy, but regular games of tennis and golf had slimmed him down and he looked in good shape, attractive. When he smiled, his whole face lit up and he smiled often. She thought how genuine, how honest he looked, schoolboyish, which attracted her more.

His self-reliance had grown with his bank-balance, and those who were somebody in Keighworth had begun to say he would go far. So did her uncle, which impressed Rosemary greatly. If she couldn't make any impression on her cousin, there was always Harry Clemence, who was rising rapidly in the world.

And Clemence had personal reasons for siding against Percy Kingham-Jones. To begin with, the major was a southerner who tried to lord it in the north with his fancy London ways and Oxford drawl. That didn't go
down well at all, especially in Keighworth. And every time they met, he tried to put Harry down. Harry played along with him, grinning and acting dumb but he hated him, only waiting for the chance to hit back. His chance had come now.

They finished their drinks and walked back to the car hand in hand. It was the first time they'd done that, and as he drove her back, Harry caught her glancing at him several times. She smiled often and he smiled back. He also smiled quietly to himself, drumming his fingers in a little roll of victory on the steering wheel as she snuggled into him.

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