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Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 5

...Across one wall hung the propeller of a Heinkel with the tally of kills John Illingworth had made painted in little swastikas. Over the door hung coats-of-arms of the squadrons he'd served in; and his medals, a Distinguished Service Cross and bar among them, stood in a glass-topped box on the dressing-table...

Young John Illingtworth inherits his father's room at Illingworth House.

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

John Illingworth's room was on the second floor overlooking the lawn at the front of the house. The first thing young John did when Johnson opened the door to show him the room was to race to the window and look out. There was a superb view right across the valley and up to the moors. The sky was cloudless and the horizon was razored against the sky, snagged by rugged boulders on the ridges towering above Keighworth. Behind them stretched the moors to Ilkesworth.

Legend had it that a Norse god had strewed the moors with huge rocks in a rage, and when thunderstorms raged up there and rolled round and round the valley, it was easy to imagine he was still at it. There was little that was gentle in the landscape round Keighworth - or its folk.

John Illingworth's room was just had he'd left it the last time he'd been home on leave. The war was almost over, but in there it never really ceased. Though Sir Abe gave the room to his grandson, he never let him take down the photos or mementos John Illingworth had collected. For the old man that room was a shrine to his son's memory till the day he died, and his grandson became the icon.

On the walls were photos of air-crews John Illingworth had fought with and commanded; most, like himself, killed in action, standing jauntily in front of their Spitfires and Hurricanes sporting sweaters and open necked shirts with cravats. Some looked straight out of school, while others nonchalantly smoked pipes. One carried a terrier dog. They were a different race of warriors from the starchy regimental photos Joe Gibson had on his parlour wall as a young Coldstreamer in the First War.

Across one wall hung the propeller of a Heinkel with the tally of kills John Illingworth had made painted in little swastikas. Over the door hung coats-of-arms of the squadrons he'd served in; and his medals, a Distinguished Service Cross and bar among them, stood in a glass-topped box on the dressing-table.

"Well, Master John, how do you like it?" asked Johnson.

The boy was overwhelmed and could only manage, "It's nice." He went to a cupboard and the dressing-table to pull out a drawer. They were all empty. Everything had been cleared from them. John Illingworth's clothes and clutter from his school years. They'd all gone. Only what was on the walls remained of him. Otherwise, the room was waiting for John Greenwood to take over so that his grandfather could flesh out a ghost.

"Well, if you like it we'll go and tell Sir Abe," said Johnson beaming broadly. "He'll be as pleased as punch, for to tell the truth he was a bit worried you wouldn't come." Then he spoke more intimately to the boy. "Y'know, Master John, you've put new life into your grandfather. I do believe he'd have thrown in the towel if you hadn't come." The boy didn't fully understand what he said then, but he did later. "You won't go back on your word and leave him, will you?" asked the butler pausing at the door before they went down to re-join the old man.

"I said I'd come, didn't I?" John replied warmly. "And I've kept my word."

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