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Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 6

...Having lit up she eyed him up and down again superciliously through a cloud of tobacco smoke. Then suddenly her expression changed, as if something had clicked, as if she'd recognised something in him, for she turned to her uncle and demanded an explanation. Sir Abe smiled again and chuckled. "I said you were in for a surprise, Rosie. This is John Greenwood, our John's lad."...

Rosie Clemence has a shock when she calls in to see her Uncle Abe.

John Waddington-Feather continues his epic story concerning the fortunes and misfortunes of a Yorkshire mill-owning family.

To read earlier episodes please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/illingworth_house/

The butler never mentioned it again and they went downstairs together chatting about the room they'd just left and the photos on the walls.

By the time they got to the lounge, Sir Abe's colour had returned and he was his old self. He asked his grandson what he thought about his room and they chatted for some time, getting on famously by the minute till the sound of a car squealing to halt outside interrupted them. They heard a woman's voice as she got out of a car, slamming the door and arguing with someone. More voices were heard, those of children, squabbling as they approached the house.

Sir Abe's face clouded and he muttered to himself, "What the hell does she want coming here now? She always manages to put in an appearance when she's not wanted. Try and get rid of her, Henry, " he said to the butler who'd been hovering around. "Tell her I'm not well."

Johnson left to answer the door, but the woman had already let herself in and they heard him remonstrating politely with her as she stalked towards the lounge with her family in tow. She ignored Johnson and walked in unannounced leaving Johnson looking helpless. It was Rosemary Clemence and her two kids.

She drew up short when she saw John Greenwood and stared at him curiously. Sir Abe had calmed as suddenly as he'd flared up; indeed, he seemed to be relishing her arrival now and said sweetly, "Well, well, well, fancy you dropping in now, Rosie. You've come at the right time. I've got a surprise for you." He paused to let her stare her fill of his grandson watching her intently and smiling softly to himself.

Meanwhile, John Greenwood, angry at her condescending stare, stared back. She was tall and fashionably dressed, an upper-crustian. She was also very beautiful and would have been even more beautiful had she not worn such heavy make-up. She'd plucked her eyebrows and pencilled in two black arches and her cheeks were heavily rouged. Her eyebrows had shot up in two neat bows when she'd set eyes on John, but gradually they dipped into a frown as she examined him closer. The boy was working-class and rough. Her uncle was probably going to employ him, she thought.

"Oh, I didn't know you had a visitor, Uncle Abe," she said, opening a gold cigarette case, which she shut with a tight click before tapping her cigarette on it. Then she lit up from a lighter on the table. Clearly she was used to making herself at home, thought John Greenwood.

Having lit up she eyed him up and down again superciliously through a cloud of tobacco smoke. Then suddenly her expression changed, as if something had clicked, as if she'd recognised something in him, for she turned to her uncle and demanded an explanation. Sir Abe smiled again and chuckled. "I said you were in for a surprise, Rosie. This is John Greenwood, our John's lad."

Her eyes widened and she caught her breath. Then she drew heavily on her cigarette before giving John another long hard look. Her mouth
quivered and she fought for composure, saying nothing only staring hard.

"This is my niece, Mrs Clemence, John," Sir Abe said lightly, enjoying himself more and more. "And these," he said, pointing to her kids, who by now had gone quiet and like their mother were staring hard at John Greenwood, "these.. .let me see.. .these will be your half-cousins, Rodney and Ann."

He made the children shake hands in a self-conscious fashion, Rodney looking sulky, but the girl smiling and sizing John up. He was at the age when he was still awkward with girls and blushed violently as he shook her hand. Their mother looked on helpless, then turned and hissed, "Is this some kind of joke, Uncle Abe? If it is, it's in pretty bad taste!"

Her uncle ignored her and turned to Johnson. "Henry, will you take the youngsters to the kitchen and fix them something. A lemonade and some biscuits perhaps. I know they're always hungry and I'm sure our John will want a bite. He's walked a long way to see me. D'you like chocolate biscuits, John? Your dad did."

The 'our John' and reference his father seemed to upset Mrs Clemence, for she burst out, "I didn't for one moment think you were serious when you said you were going to bring the boy here, Uncle Abe. I still can't believe it. I mean, what's the point? He isn't one of us. He simply doesn't fit." Her words went deep with Sir Abe. He'd said exactly the same thing about Helen Greenwood when his son had begun courting her.

He coloured and interrupted her with, "Shut up! I don't give a damn what you or anyone else thinks. He's all I've got now of John. You can please yourself what you think, Rosie, but I'll not have the boy slagged off here. Understand?"

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