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Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 49

..."You're old enough to make up your own mind, I know, but you do have us to consider after all we've done for you. I've never interfered when you've brought other boy-friends here. They've always been of our faith. But this one's different. You've been brought up in your parents' faith, the only faith for you as far as we're concerned, and they'd have wanted you to marry into that faith, I'm sure."...

Miriam faces opposition to her love for John Illingworth.

John Waddington-Feather continues his gripping story of the lives of a Yorkshire mill-owning dynasty.

A cold reception awaited Miriam when she arrived home. She was about to race to her bedroom when her mother appeared in the hallway and said she and her husband would like to speak with her in the lounge. She took a deep breath and walked in.

Sir Samuel did most of the talking. Her mother sat by his side silent, glancing occasionally from him to their daughter as he spoke. "You know what I feel, Miriam," he began quietly enough, but his face was set and he glared at her angrily. For the first time in her life she felt bitter towards him. Her whole being rebelled against him and his domineering.

"I can guess," she said, holding his eye. She was seething. Their throwing John out of the house had brought her to breaking point, but she'd decided on the way back from Mareton she'd say nothing and let her father do all the talking first. She'd have her say when he'd done.

"Miriam, we may be old-fashioned, but it wasn't very pleasant for your mother to walk into your study and catch you and... and that young man behaving so shamelessly. You hardly know each other and yet the first time he comes here he starts that sort of monkey business. Not what I'd expect from anyone who's my guest. That was bad enough but what was worse is he's not of the faith. I hope this infatuation is only a passing fancy, Miriam."

He paused waiting for an answer, but she said nothing and looked blankly at the carpet.

"If I'd have known things had gone this far, I wouldn't have let you bring him here; nor would I have let you go with Rebecca and the Goldstein boy last year. And by the way, what's become of this young man's girl-friend who went with you?"

"They've broken up," said Miriam.

"And he's taken up with you, is that it? So soon?"

She didn't answer.

"You're old enough to make up your own mind, I know, but you do have us to consider after all we've done for you. I've never interfered when you've brought other boy-friends here. They've always been of our faith. But this one's different. You've been brought up in your parents' faith, the only faith for you as far as we're concerned, and they'd have wanted you to marry into that faith, I'm sure."

Miriam coloured and burst out, "But I wouldn't have been here but for a goi. And does it matter so much John is a Gentile? We have the same God..."

"We do not!" said her father emphatically.

Miriam but her lip. It was no use arguing. Her father would never change, so she let him rant on. He ended by pleading with her to break off with John and choose someone from her own faith. She'd be so much happier. She'd make them so much happier.

"I'll be the judge of that, daddy, when the time comes," she replied warmly. "Now, if you please, I'm very tired. I won't ask him here again."

"We'd rather you stopped seeing him altogether," said her mother, speaking for the first time. "I'd rather you listened to your father and do as he says. There are many good Jewish boys who admire you. Surely there's one you could begin to love? What about Geoffrey? You were so friendly with him at one time."

She shot a look of scorn at her mother and seemed about to say something, but thought better of it. "I shan't ask John here again," she repeated quietly. "But I shall go on seeing him." Then she stalked out to her bedroom. On her way there she visited her study and removed the photograph of John Illingworth. From that time on she kept it in her London flat along with the snaps she had of John.

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