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Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 16

John is beaten up at a university dance by a rival for the affections of Ann Clemence.

John Waddington-Feather continues his epic tale concerning three generations of a Yorkshire mill-owning family.

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

In the new year they were able to see each other more, when Ann started a course at a Leeds commercial college, groomed by her father to work in the offices of Illingworths Mills; groomed by her mother for marriage to a mill-master's son the other side of Bradford. Rosemary had been angling after him for months. He was called Robin Clough and he it was who Rosemary thought was with Ann the night she blundered into the conservatory.

His folk had a string of mills across the Riding, with offices in Leeds where he was studying textiles at the university. Clough travelled each day into the university like John Greenwood, but where John caught the slow train from Keighworth, Robin Clough drove his snazzy sports car from home, a mansion in the country on the north side of the city.

Clough had set his sights on Ann long before that coming-out party where his nose had been put out by John Greenwood. He was besotted by Ann and he was madly jealous. He was tall and powerfully built; good-looking, too. The sort who could have walked into a weekend glossie modelling menswear. He'd collected county caps for rugby and cricket and he boxed for the university, a hunk of a guy. Rodney Clemence was one of his set and hung on his coat-tails.

Girls fell at his feet - all except Ann who couldn't bear him; but he wasn't the sort who could take a hint, especially as her mother had given him the green light. The more he pushed, the more Ann backed away and the more jealous he grew. He was livid when he discovered she fancied John Greenwood.

Things came to a head one night in the university students' bar, where John was drinking with David Goldstein after a rugby game, waiting for Ann to arrive with her brother. As soon as she arrived she broke away and made a bee-line for John and began dancing with him. The longer they danced, the more crazy Clough became, so that by the end of the night he was jealous as hell - and drunk.

He sent Rodney Clemence across and Rodney was only too pleased to oblige. He sidled up to John and said, "I say, Greenwood, lay off my sister will you? She's someone else's girl, y'know. If you don't back off you're going to land yourself a packet of trouble. Now be a good chap and stay clear, while you're still in one piece."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Clemence," John replied.

"Look, old chap, do I really have to spell it out?" smirked Clemence.

As he looked into Clemence's fat face, the old anger swept through him. Clemence was playing the class card trying to make him look small, and before he could stop himself John grabbed Clemence by his shirt and shoved him up the wall hissing, "Piss off, Clemence! Before I do you a mischief!"

Clemence looked terrified and a girl nearby started to yell. Others turned to see what was happening and John let go, leaving him a dishevelled heap with his shirt hanging out. Clemence pulled himself together and scurried back to his pals the other side of the dance floor, where they'd gathered in a hostile group. By this time John was joined by David, who tried to calm him down. "Come on, John," he said. "Finish your drink and let's go." He handed John his glass as he turned back to the bar still seething. When he'd finished his drink, David suggested they clear off and go home, as John was staying the night at his place.

"I'll have the last dance with Ann, then we'll go," he said grimly. "I'm not going to let that little bastard tell me what to do."

He emptied his glass and strode to Ann who was cornered by Clough trying to make her dance with him. Instead, she rushed to John and they began the last waltz. Watching them and growing more jealous by the minute, Clough waited for them to return at the end of the dance. When they did, Rodney said curtly to his sister, "We're going, Ann. Vicky's got your wrap and she's waiting by the car." and he bundled her away before re-joining Clough.

Helpless, John watched her go then turned to rejoin David, but Clough caught his arm, drawing him to one side as his buddies crowded round.

"Just a minute. I want a word with you," he snarled.

"Ann's brother told you to stay clear. Can't you take a hint, Greenwood?" said Clough, tightening his grip on John's arm. John tried to shake him off but the other pulled him round and kneed him heavily in the groin. John doubled in pain and Clough gave him the old one-two, dropping him like a log. Then, as he lay on the floor groaning in pain, somebody put the boot in and opened a cut over his eye before melting away into the crowd.

John vaguely remembered David coming to his aid before he, too, went down and was given a kicking. The next thing he knew was coming to in the porter's room with two stewards mopping him up. "He's all right," one of them was saying. "No bones broken, but he'll need his eye stitching. Got anyone to take you to the Infirmary, mate, or shall I call an ambulance?" he asked.

David said he'd take him and as they drove down, John asked who'd put the boot in. It was Rodney Clemence.

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