« Oh Tell Me | Main | Chinese Jews »

Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 10

Rosemary Clemence ensures that her daughter Ann is never at Illingworth House when young John Illingworth is there - but John and Ann are falling in love and secretly exchange letters.

John Waddington-Feather continues his story set in a Yorkshire mill town.

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

For the next few years young John Greenwood lived in three worlds: the tribal world of Prospect Street, the world of scholarship and school, and the world of Illingworth House, where wealth and self-esteem were the order of the day.

His grandfather tried hard to wean him to his way of thinking, tried at times to dominate him as he'd done his son so that it became a battle of wills; but unlike his father, John Greenwood had his other two worlds to fall back on and he owed nothing to Sir Abe, neither his upbringing nor his name. Sir Abe tried all means to mould him to his ways and to his class, but when he put too much pressure on the boy, he pulled back to Prospect Street and the old man retreated. As once he'd dreaded losing his son, now he dreaded losing his grandson.

But John Greenwood didn't fully belong to Joe and Mary's world either. Indeed, all his life he was rootless. Gradually, his outlook and interests, his very speech changed as he moved up the grammar school; and he gradually grew away from them, just as he never grew close to his grandfather. He was part of a new class.

However, there was one place the two worlds he lived in did meet - on the rugby field. Sir Abe and Joe were the boy's keenest supporters. Joe went to every game his nephew played for his school, much to John Greenwood's embarrassment, for Joe would run up and down the touchline shouting advice and encouragement in broad Yorkshire and to the amusement of the other spectators.

Sir Abe attended those games, too, sitting at a distance in his car, and the following week he'd go over the game in detail, often recalling when he'd watched his own son at school. He took great pride in his grandson's all-round sportsmanship (he was good at cricket and athletics, too) and he rubbed it in at every opportunity with Harry Clemence, whose son was a wimp. Early on, John Greenwood and Rodney Clemence clashed. It was bound to happen, especially when Ann Clemence and John Greenwood surreptitiously began to exchange letters and formed a deep friendship.

She sent them from boarding school to Johnson, who acted as go-between, and John wrote his secretly in his room down Prospect Street.
The crunch came when Joe made John a kite, which he brought to Illingworth House the day the Clemences visited. Rosemary deposited her family there, while she went off to a coffee morning. When she'd gone, Ann and John sneaked out of the house to nearby farmland and had a right old time flying Joe's kite - until Rodney appeared.

His mother had come back early and discovered what had happened. She was livid and lay into Johnson for allowing Ann out of the house with John. Rodney was despatched at once to bring her home. He watched them unseen a while waiting for the kite to come to earth, then he ran out and seized it. John demanded it back, but Rodney refused and, being at the time bigger than John, push him over and peevishly snapped the kite across his knee.

He laughed, then told his sister her mother had said to come home at once. "You're in real trouble," he added, " going out with him!"

He nodded at John who said angrily, "That was my kite. My uncle only made it today. Why did you have to break it?"

Rodney laughed and threw the broken kite over a wall, but the grin left his face when John lashed out and burst his nose. He stood stunned a moment his eyes and nose streaming, then as the blood started dripping onto his shirt, he ran off wailing.

By the time Ann and John arrived back all hell was let loose. Rodney was being sluiced down in the bathroom by the butler and Rosemary and Sir Abe were arguing fiercely who was to blame. When John appeared with the broken kite and Ann confirmed what he said, Rosemary shut up. But she made sure from that time on her children were never at Illingworth House when John Greenwood was there.

But she knew nothing about the secret correspondence between her daughter and John - nor the love which began to blossom as they grew older. That wasn't apparent till Ann Clemence's coming-out party at Illingworth House when she was eighteen, and by then Rosemary could do nothing about it.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.