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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 24 - A Family Row

Sir Abe Illingworth and his love-smitten son John have a row about Mary Illingworth.

To read earlier chapters of John Waddington-Feather's engrossing novel charting the lives of a Yorkshire mill-owning family please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

His father pitched into him at once, for he'd been coming to the boil ever since he'd seen his son and Helen wrapped round each other going back to the car. On top of that, Kingham-Jones made a fool of himself with the kitchen maid and Sir Abe had had to apologise to her and tell his sister to take him home immediately.

He was sounding off to Mary Calow when his son entered. "Whatever my sister saw in that little twerp, I'll never know. He's insufferable! She must have been crazy!" then he turned and saw his son.

"Mary, would you see if Johnson needs a hand?" he said. She took the hint and left the room, exchanging glances with John as they passed. She read his face and guessed what had happened when he'd taken Helen home.

As soon as she left his father exploded. He told his son to sit down but remained standing himself, his feet well braced apart. "What the hell d'you think you're playing at bringing that girl here?" he said.

"If it's about not coming to the garden party I can explain," began John, trying to pacify his dad. He didn't feel like explaining anything after what had happened down Prospect Street. He was still in shock and didn't hear half what his father said.

"I don't want to hear any of your damned excuses," shouted Sir Abe. "I've had enough of them! More to the point now is why you brought that chit of a girl from the office here. We had enough daftness last time without having to go through all that again."

That did it. It sparked off John. He'd had enough. He'd tried to reason with Joe Gibson to no avail. He was damned if he was going to be put down by his father. All he'd done was to innocently ask Helen for a ride in his car - and all hell had been let loose! "You'll go through all that and more, dad!" he shouted back. "If I can't bring anyone here I want to, I'll clear out and find somewhere else to live! All I did was invite her back for a quiet drink and talk. Anyone would think we had taken over the house for a rave-up the way you're going on. She wasn't here two minutes."

His father hissed, "Let's get this straight once and for all. I want no one brought here unless I give permission."

John got to his feet shaking. He glared across at his father on the other side of the table. "What's wrong with Helen Greenwood? What have you got against her? She's a decent girl and good company, a darned sight more intelligent than any other girl I've met." He stuck his hands deep in his pockets and waited for his father to answer.

Sir Abe hesitated. He hadn't expected this from his son. He bit his lip and cooled down. "She just isn't your sort," he said lamely; then after a pause, "Good God, Jonty, can't you see that? The Rimington girl is streets above her and is throwing herself at you. She hung on here waiting for you, but you never came. Instead, you roll up with a girl who was completely out of her depth. She'd no idea what to say or how to act. She just didn't fit! That's how it'll be all along if you stick with her."

His father was right, but John wouldn't admit it. He loved her and that was all that mattered. But that wouldn't cut any ice with his father. He knew nothing about love. Not real love. Only about relationships and arrangements with people like the Rimingtons. His own marriage had been a loveless arrangement and John was going to have none of that.

A tense silence dropped between them and Sir Abe poured a drink to steady himself and let what he'd said sink in. He refused to comment further on Helen, except to say his son would give her the wrong idea if he continued seeing her. Then, because any talk of John leaving alarmed him, he added quietly, "There's got to be other things beside a pretty face, Jonty. Family, the right up-bringing, and the right education."

"Family? The right up-bringing?" flung back his son. "I suppose Aunt Victoria had the right up-bringing and her precious major comes from the right family. Is that what you mean?"

His father bridled again and gripped his glass tightly, but before he could say anything John strode from the room slamming the door behind him.

Sir Abe was at a loss. He'd got nowhere and he wasn't used to his son storming out on him. It was the way with the new generation and he'd never have dreamed of answering his father back as John had done. He'd always had to listen and take it, for his dad held the purse-strings and let him know it. It didn't seem to work like that with John . Purse-strings didn't matter to him and what mattered most to Sir Abe was having his son near him. If he lost him he lost everything. That he dreaded most of all.

He took a step to the door to remonstrate, but thought better of it. It would only push him nearer the brink. He would try the other tack, getting rid of Helen Greenwood. Once she was out of the way John would soon cool off. Mary Calow would know how to get rid of her discreetly like the other girl John had had a fling with.

But he was wrong there, too. Mary Calow was as determined to hang on to Helen as he was determined to sack her. She'd developed a motherly interest in the new girl, who worked well and was level-headed. Moreover, the relationship with Sir Abe was wearing thin and she wasn't going to do his dirty work for him again - ever!

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