« My Summer Mistress | Main | Qualifications »

Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 22

...Ann had arranged to meet the others in Leeds at the station, but she panicked when Rosemary said casually, "Oh, by the way, daddy's going to run you into Leeds. He's taking Rodney back off leave. You may be on the same train to London. Ask him which he's catching."

Ann's heart sank. She tried to hide her panic for John had arranged to meet her in Leeds...

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

Ann was thrilled at the prospect of going away with John. They'd be away from her parents and his folk, away from Keighworth and all its tittle-tattle. John had asked her to marry him and she'd agreed, but they decided to wait before they told Joe and Mary and her parents. After their holiday together would be the right time.

They knew all hell would be let loose when they broke the news. She was only nineteen and he barely twenty one. Telling her mother and father would be bad enough, but telling Joe and Mary would floor them. Joe still hated the Illingworths.

The day before they left for France, when Ann was packing, her mother caught her looking at John's photograph. She tried to slip the photo in a drawer but her mother saw it and said angrily, "I thought I told you to get rid of that and the letters he's sent you." Rosemary was tight-lipped. Anything related to John Greenwood triggered her off. "It's time you got him out of your hair completely, Ann, once and for all. He's just not right for you."

Ann remained silent. She'd had her fill of rows with her mother over John and had never fathomed why she was so opposed to him. Especially when she caught her mother looking dewy-eyed at John Illingworth's photograph in the lounge. John Greenwood was almost his double.

She went on packing in silence and Rosemary dropped the subject. She was hoping the month abroad would sort Ann out; hoping against hope she'd meet a nice boy. She still clung to the hope Ann would pick up with Robin Clough who came to the house when Rodney was on leave. She had no idea Ann was going to France with John.

Ann had arranged to meet the others in Leeds at the station, but she panicked when Rosemary said casually, "Oh, by the way, daddy's going to run you into Leeds. He's taking Rodney back off leave. You may be on the same train to London. Ask him which he's catching."

Ann's heart sank. She tried to hide her panic for John had arranged to meet her in Leeds, travelling down earlier to avoid being seen with Ann on the train from Keighworth. If Rodney was on the same train to London and saw them together, the cat would be out of the bag.

There was no escape and she spent a miserable hour packing her bags, hoping against hope John would see them before her father and brother saw him. If he guessed for one moment John Greenwood was in the group she was going with, Harry Clemence would scotch the whole trip and take her back home.

Having arrived early John waited for the rest of the group in a dismal waiting-room. The 1950s were still in the throes of post-war austerity and railway stations had had nothing done to them for years. It was purgatory travelling and Leeds City Station at night was the pits: cold, badly lit and bleak, a dismal stop on the way to worse things up-country. He sat in a waiting-room which still had its black-out in place from the war. Two low voltage lamps swung fly-pocked from a peeling ceiling. They allowed only a trickle of light into the room. Reading was out of the question, so he settled down in a corner ankle deep in chip paper and fag ends, huddling his rucksack to keep warm.

When Ann didn't get off the Keighworth train he started worrying, wondering if Grimstone had said anything to her parents. Then David, Rebecca and Miriam their friend arrived, surprised like John to find Ann not there. David suggested they went outside and had a coffee. A solitary vendor had his trolley close to the entrance and all was explained moments later when the Clemences arrived with Ann and caught them on the hop. Rodney was the first to see John and pointed him out to his father. "Pretend you're with me," said Miriam, quickly grabbing John's hand and walking him towards the exit.

They had to pass the Clemences who were unloading Rodney's luggage. They stared in surprise at them as they walked by and Ann looked gob-smacked. Her father and brother turned away stony-faced as if they hadn't seen him and went on unloading, but it eased Rosemary's mind considerably when Harry told her later that night he'd seen the Greenwood boy hand in hand with a girl in Leeds.

When Miriam and John had gone, Ann told her father he needn't wait and joined the other two. After the fracas at the dance, Rodney avoided David like the plague and took himself off double-quick to catch his train. As soon as the coast was clear John and Miriam came back and they burst out laughing now that Rodney and his father were out of the way, congratulating Miriam for her quick thinking.

Categories

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