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Illingworth House: Chance Child, Part Two - 61

Miriam informs her parents that she still loves John Greenwood.

John Waddington-Feather's
marvelously readable trilogy concerning the Illingworth family moves towards a conclusion.

After Ann's funeral, John returned south. He left the army and looked for teaching posts while staying with Mary Calow, returning only at intervals to Illingworth House. His visits brought Rosemary great comfort while she fought through the grief of Ann's death. But the place held too many memories for John, chained as it was to the past. Westdene Cottage and the Calow sisters provided him with the new life he needed - for Miriam, too, after the meeting she had with Frank Werfel at her parents' home, where he turned up one day unexpected.

Her mother had phoned her and asked her to come home. She and her husband had something they wanted to discuss with her. They were always doing that and although she found it irritating, for it was generally something of little consequence, Miriam dutifully went. When she arrived she found Frank Werfel there. It came as a shock, for her mother had said nothing about him over the phone.

Despite her letter to him in Israel, Werfel wanted to see her again and played on his good standing with her father to visit her in England. He was still desperately in love with her and had written to Sir Joseph saying that they needed her more than ever at the kibbutz. Her father still hoped she'd marry him. After all, he was a very eligible catch: he was a Jew, his parents were rich, and he'd all the charm and good looks a girl could want.
He was in the lounge drinking with Sir Joseph when she arrived home. His whole face lit up when she entered and he went to embrace her, but she drew back and gave him a cool handshake. It didn't go unnoticed by her father.

"Frank's staying with us a while, my dear," said Sir Joseph. "He's raising funds for new settlements, consolidating the land gained in the war."

"He knows what I think about that," she said icily.

Her father looked hurt. "They need doctors urgently," he said. "I told him you might return, my dear."

"You're greatly missed," added Werfel.

Her parents said they'd let the couple talk things over by themselves and began to leave the room, but Miriam halted them with, "Don't go. I want you to hear what I've got to say once and for all." Her father returned, angry at first that his daughter was ordering him to stay. "I know the real reason you've asked Frank here," she went on. "You want me to marry him. Isn't that so?"

Confronted so bluntly her father was wrong-footed. "Well -er- I was hoping something might come of your working together at the kibbutz..."

"I'm sorry, daddy, but I don't love him. I love another."

"This Greenwood guy?" asked Werfel angrily, stung by her words.

"Yes," Miriam replied tersely. "This Greenwood guy."

There was an awkward silence. Neither her father nor Werfel knew what to say next. So she continued, "Let me be quite clear. I shall never return to Israel. Now if you'll excuse me I must go."

"Just a moment, my dear," said her father gently and asked Werfel to leave them. She was expecting her father to try another tack, to manipulate her. He was good at that and had often done it in the past, but no way was he going to manipulate her now. But when Werfel had left, he surprised her by taking her hand and said quietly, "If you don't love him, my dear, that's that. I care for you too much to push you into a unhappy marriage, Miriam. You mean everything to me and your mother. You are all we have."

It was her turn to be lost for words. She reached up and kissed him.

"Thank you, daddy," she said, clearly moved.

"Do you really love the Greenwood boy?" he went on. She nodded and he patted her hand. "Then you'll marry him whatever I say, and we'll love you just as much. Him, too, perhaps, when we know him better."

She couldn't stay at home while Frank Werfel was there and went back to her flat in Brighton. She never knew what her father said to him, but he never contacted her again and returned to Israel. Later she heard he'd been killed by a terrorist missile attack on the kibbutz.


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