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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 51 - Mrs Simpson Promises Help

Helen's landlady promises to intercept any mail sent from Australia by John Illingworth.

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

Grimstone had one more important visit to make before he set sail for Australia. He called on Mrs Simpson, Helen's landlady. The moment he introduced himself as Sir Abe's lawyer, she was all over him. He was ushered into the parlour and the best tea-service was laid out for him. They talked about this and that, about her daughter and how privileged she was to be working at Illingworths, about her friendship with Helen Greenwood, and she dropped names like leaves in autumn.

The lawyer let her prattle on, nodding and smiling, agreeing and encouraging. When she had dried up, he said, "It's really about Miss Greenwood I've come," and his tone of voice suggested that something was wrong.

The tea cup Mrs Simpson was holding clattered in its saucer. "Oh?" she said, her face registering alarm. "I hope she's not in any kind of trouble. This is a very respectable household and I wouldn't want to have anyone staying here who was in trouble."

"She's not exactly in trouble, Mrs Simpson, but she's become.. .how shall I phrase it...an embarrassment." Mrs Simpson's eyebrows shot up and she was all ears. She leaned forward slightly and Grimstone edged closer. "You see it's like this, Mrs Simpson...and what I'm about to say is very confidential, you understand?" She nodded. Her eyes, like her ears open wide. "You'll have heard she's become engaged to Sir Abe Illingworth's son." Mrs Simpson shook her curls again. "Sir Abe is not entirely pleased about it. In fact, he's very upset and has tried hard to persuade his son to break it off, but to no avail."

Mrs Simpson just had to speak. "I said so from the start. I said to my Dorothy that it was a mismatch and that she wasn't in his class at all. We were both stunned by the news. She's a sly little thing is Miss Greenwood under that show of innocence. I've always said that. Her sister coming here opened my eyes to what she really is, I can tell you. She works in a mill, a weaver, did you know that?"

Grimstone nodded. "And that's exactly why Sir Abe is very embarrassed by the whole affair and wishes it to end. You can help him, you know," he concluded and looked hard at her.

"I'll be only too pleased to do anything to help," she gushed, "if only for my Dorothy's sake. She was hoping to be appointed to the post that Miss Greenwood got, but she didn't. She was very hurt by her being appointed over her."

Grimstone nodded again and smiled sympathetically. "If you do as I say, I'll guarantee your daughter will be promoted," he said," and you will be suitably remunerated."

Mrs Simpson's eyes lit up. "What do you want me to do?"

Grimstone gave a lawyer's cough behind his hand. " As head of the house, I assume you collect the mail when it comes?" She said yes. "Then I'd be grateful if you intercepted any mail coming from Australia for Miss Greenwood and hold it till I return. You understand?"

"Perfectly," said the other with a grim smile.

"Miss Greenwood must have no contact with Mr Illingworth while he's away and by the time he returns, perhaps both of them will have seen the folly of what they've done. As you say, it's a dire mismatch on both sides. You'll be doing her and Sir Abe a service if the engagement is broken. Your own daughter, too, when Miss Greenwood leaves for I can't see her staying on at Illingworths once the engagement is off."

Mrs Simpson almost clapped her hands, but managed to look suitably serious. She smiled as Grimstone got up to go. He smiled, too. His job was done and he had her in his pocket.

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