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Illingworth House: Chance Child - Part One: 59 Chance Child - Part One- Mary Calow To The Rescue

...Following hard on the heels of the telegram came a longer telegraphed letter. Mary Calow told him that Helen was pregnant and dangerously ill with T.B. The letter also told him exactly what she thought of him and demanded to know why he had abandoned his fiancee...

At last John Illingworth, who has spent a year in Australia, hears of the desperate plight of his beloved Helan.

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

Following hard on the heels of the telegram came a longer telegraphed letter. Mary Calow told him that Helen was pregnant and dangerously ill with T.B. The letter also told him exactly what she thought of him and demanded to know why he had abandoned his fiancee.

He was mortified and could scarcely take in what she had said. Something had gone drastically wrong with his mail and being cooped up with Grimstone didn't help. He had a glib excuse for everything, but John was convinced he was somehow responsible for the missing mail. He couldn't prove anything, of course, and Grimstone was upset at the very suggestion when he confronted him. And so it was that the rest of the journey passed with the barest politeness.

Events gathered pace after Sir Abe had so brutally rejected Helen. She wrote to Mary Calow telling her how ill she was and how she'd been treated by the Illingworths. Sir Abe had scorned her and John hadn't written. But she was more ill than she realised and when Mary Calow turned up unexpectedly at her digs after receiving her letter, she appalled to see how poorly Helen was.

The hatred she felt for Sir Abe, she now felt for his son. Mary was happily married and bitterly regretted the years she had wasted on Sir Abe. The love she had held for him had turned to gall and when Helen's letter arrived, she feared the treatment she had received could all happen again with Helen, worse now Helen was pregnant.

Her shock when she saw Helen, turned to anger when she found out how despicably the Simpsons had treated her. Badly cooked skimpy meals had been left on the table for her to eat alone. Her room was already let and Mrs Simpson couldn't get rid of her fast enough. However, when Mary Calow turned up on her doorstep, Mrs Simpson was all charm.

She had met Mary Calow in the past when she had gone to see about her daughter's situation at work, ingratiating herself, but asking why her Dorothy hadn't had the promotion she'd expected. Mary Calow minced no words telling her why, politely but firmly and she had left knowing exactly where she stood.

Now that Mary Calow had married a rich London financier made a big impression on Mrs Simpson, who was taken aback by her arrival and ushered her into the lounge while she went for Helen.

The landlady was also surprised by the change in Mary. Gone was the strait-laced unsmiling supervisor she had last seen, and in her place was a younger-looking woman who radiated happiness. But Mrs Simpson's surprise seeing Mary Calow so rejuvenated was matched by Mary Calow's shock at seeing Helen so ill. When she heard the hacking cough and saw the tell-tale flush on Helen's pale face, her heart fell. She recognised the symptoms at once and was adamant Helen left the place there and then and went to Deneley, where her sister now kept house.

Mrs Simpson had retired to the kitchen to listen in, but Mary Calow went upstairs to talk with Helen and help her carry her case down. As they returned, the landlady could contain her curiosity no longer. Her daughter Dorothy joined her and fawned over her old supervisor. "This is a surprise, Miss Calow. I suppose you've heard about my promotion at work..." she began extending her hand.

"I'm Mrs Courtenay now, if you please," said Mary stiffly, ignoring the hand held out.

"Of course. Mrs Courtenay. I beg your pardon," she replied, quite thrown. At that point, her mother brushed her aside.

"You live in London now, I gather, Mrs Courtenay," she said as one familiar to another. "We were discussing you the other day, weren't we, Dorothy? I hope your ears weren't burning." She gave a light laugh then went on, "I lived in London before I was married, in Chelsea. I met my hubby there when he'd just started in the bank." She might have added that she was a shop assistant then, but she had long drawn the blinds down on that period of her life.

Mary Calow said nothing. As they burbled on, her face became grimmer and she stalked to the door without so much as a glance at either mother or daughter. She got as far as the porch where she turned abruptly. "I'm taking Miss Greenwood home with me," she said tersely. "It's quite clear she's ill and needs urgent treatment. I would have thought you would have recognised that, too, Mrs Simpson, but it appears you couldn't have cared less. I'll be sending someone to collect the rest of her things tomorrow. Be so good as to have them ready. There isn't much." And arming Helen down the steps she swept past the landlady before Mrs Simpson could get in another word.

They left her on the doorstep with her daughter, nursing her injured pride, glaring at them all the way to the waiting taxi. Neither Helen nor Mary Calow saw either of them again.

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