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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 45 - Rosemary's Jealousy

Rosemary Clemence still hankers after John Illingworth and is greatly pained by his love for Helen.

To read earlier chapters of John Waddington-Feather's novel please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

A rash of fashionable houses were being built at Ruddledene, an up-and-coming suburb of Keighworth, on the hillside opposite Utworth, where the Illingworths lived. The Clemences' new house was built in the cubit style, then all the rage, and stood in three acres of land surrounded by homes which other young upper-crustians were building. They called it "Rosemary Nook".

The architect designed the house like the luxury south-coast bungalows you saw advertised in the glossies. Its flat roof and gaudy colour-washed walls were in stark contrast to the traditional, dour, stone houses of Keighworth, blackened by years of soot and slated to stand the Pennine gales. The poor house never came to terms with Keighworth and its raw weather. Within months, its flat roof was leaking and the wrought-iron balcony on the south side was rusting. It was beyond repair long before Rodney had grown up and was replaced with a concrete wall.

Her new baby and home occupied a great deal of Rosemary's time, but she frequently visited Illingworth House and followed her cousin's love-affair closely. She met Helen fleetingly at her uncle's house, when John took her home; but, of course, Helen never received an invite to "Rosemary Nook". Rosemary was intensely jealous and still hankered after John Illingworth, and whatever love she had for Harry Clemence fast evaporated once the honeymoon was over.

John's love for Helen pained her greatly and she couldn't hide the fact from him. She tried to be flippant about the affair and told him that he would forget all about Helen once he had gone to Australia. Her remark stung him and he rounded on her. "You don't know me, Rosemary, and never did!" he said angrily. "I love Helen deeply."
"Enough to marry her?" Rosemary couldn't help asking.

"Yes," he said firmly, and switched the subject. Somehow, he felt discussing Helen with his cousin was sullying Helen's name and their relationship, for he knew Rosemary spoke from malice. In time, he avoided her altogether and turned down her invitations to "Rosemary Nook". That embittered her more.

He and Helen began stealing away at weekends to get clear. One weekend in December, just prior to Sydney Goldstein's wedding, they stayed at a small hotel on the east coast. It stood on a cliff top looking straight out to sea. Below it sprawled the promenade, lined with similar hotels and at the end of which was a small fishing port.

The holiday season had long finished and the town was dead, drained of its brash summer colours and crowds and already battered by the first of the winter storms. As they drove into the town, the sun was a wan wintry thing, dipping into the cold hills behind them, hanging onto the land with thin fingers of light. Before them, on the horizon, a castle stood squat, already a silhouette, and as they drove slowly down the cliff road, the sun disappeared completely.

The sea was calm for winter had not yet got into its stride. There was no breeze and having checked in, they stretched their legs after the long drive, strolling under the cliffs before dinner. At the end of the path in a shelter where they could be alone, caught up together in the endless stretch of the sea below them and the darkening sky above.

The daylight had almost gone and the lights in the fishing port began to twinkle. They saw the nearby fishermen's cottages light up one by one, glowing warm, as families sat down to the evening meal. Street-lamps strung with fairy lights left over from summer beaded the promenade, and in their turn, neon hotel lights sputtered to life. The front looked more attractive, more homely than in daylight when its brash shop frontages and cheap casinos were exposed to view.

They held each other close in silence as they took in the scene before them. Just off the coast, a lighthouse winked into the night, strewing it beams over the sea, and beyond it, the mast-lights of a fishing smack chugging out to sea for the night's trawl. Further out still, they saw the gaunt silhouette of a passenger ship, returning from the Baltic, steaming slowly south towards Hull.

"You'll be on a ship like that this time next week," said Helen wistfully, watching the liner move down the coast. As it passed by they could see its rows of tiny port-holes quite clearly and heard the dull thud of its engines coming over the waves. He had told her that he was going to Australia and that this would be their last weekend together. She looked so sad that he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her gently. She closed her eyes and drank in his embrace, pressing her lips hard against his and stroking his face, whispering how much she loved him. Then neither spoke for some time, only holding each other close till it was time for them to return to their hotel.

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