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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 47 - An Engagement Is Announced

Abe Illingworth is horrified when his son John announces his engagement to Helen.

To read earlier chapters of John Waddington-Feather's gripping story of the intrigues within a Yorkshire mill-owning family please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

Sydney Goldstein's sisters had been to the same finishing school as Rosemary Clemence, but there was no love lost between them for she didn't like Jews. The one thing she and her former stepfather had in common was their anti-Semitism. Like the major and many others of her class at the time, she was a great admirer of the new Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler and the fascist leader in Britain, Oswald Mosley: the leaders of a new order that was to change the world, she thought. Those born to lead would lead. Those born to serve would serve under them. But that was all to change when war broke out a few years later.

Her dislike for Helen Greenwood as one born to serve, was quite contrary to the warmth Sydney Goldstein's sisters showed, when John introduced her as his fiancee. It was to them that he turned at Sydney's wedding, when his own family spurned Helen. Neither was married, and if the truth were known, they had both had a soft spot for John Illingworth since girlhood, when their brother had first brought him home. So they were delighted to meet his bride-to-be and took to her at once.

They were like guardian angels to Helen, for she knew no one at the wedding, except the Illingworth clan, and knowing them was worse than not knowing anybody. Most of all, she dreaded Abe Illingworth's reaction when he found out that she was engaged to John, who had decided to break the news to his father then, knowing full well he couldn't say much.

There was a huge collection of guests from far and near, most of whom were Jewish, but Isaac Goldstein had also invited the county set, including Abe Illingworth and his family. Mary Calow was with them and that reassured Helen, for she had grown closer to Mary Calow over the months she had been working with her. But Sir Abe had distanced himself and was clearly not expecting to see her at the wedding. When he did, he was patently irritated. He nodded curtly, then turned his back on Helen to speak with other guests. Mary Calow smiled, but was surprised when John brought Helen over to break the news of his engagement.

Sir Abe's cold response had not gone unnoticed by John, who took Helen's
hand and almost dragged her across to his father to make him greet her civilly. As they crossed the room, John told her he was going to tell his father they were engaged and Helen panicked.

"What shall I say? What must I do?" she whispered, her heart racing. "Nothing, darling," he replied tight-lipped. "I'll do all the talking."

Sir Abe turned as they joined his group. He had been laughing at some remark made by another guest, but when he saw his son and Helen walking towards him hand in hand, his face fell. He stiffened and glared at them. Helen greeting him with a nervous smile but he ignored her and turned to John, drawing him to one side.

"What the devil have you brought that girl here for, John? She'll show us all up!" he hissed.

"Helen's here because she's been invited and I'd be grateful if you'd bloody well treat her more civilly!" snarled John. Then he went back to the group and in front of his father said calmly, "Helen and I have become engaged, so you'll all be attending another wedding before long." He kissed Helen and held up her hand to show them the ring. The Goldstein sisters went to Helen and hugged her warmly, congratulating her and admiring her ring, but Sir Abe's face fell. He looked sick.

Mary Calow looked surprised a moment then also added her congratulations. Though John and Helen stayed with the group for some time Abe Illingworth stood aloof, looking more and more drawn. He fiddled nervously with the fob on his watch-chain. When John brought Helen over he avoided her eye and mumbled something inaudible, but Mary Calow embraced her warmly, and from that time on, she watched over her like a mother.

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