Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 20

Rose decided to sacrifice breakfast and go to her room. Molly was waiting there with a breakfast tray, her eyes wet with crying.

“I thought you should have something to eat before you go.” She sniffed.

“I’m not going anywhere, Molly,” Rose replied, touched by the kindness.

“Aren’t you? Oh, I’m so glad, miss!”

Molly thrust the tray into Rose’s hands and scuttled down the stairs to spread the news.

Rose took the tray into her room. The conversation with Mrs Jameson had left her perplexed.

Could it be, she thought, that Alfred and Delia were attached to each other? Was Delia’s call to the dressmaker’s a ruse to meet Alfred?

If that were the case, it was now clear to Rose why Delia had been cross with her for interrupting the assignation.

It seemed there was good reason for the secrecy. Mrs Jameson’s reaction indicated there would be disapproval from Delia’s family.

One thing still puzzled Rose. Even after so short an acquaintance, she would never have imagined Delia would be Alfred’s choice.

*  *  *  *

Mariah Hapstall put down her duster and stared at her son.

“Alfred, you haven’t heard a word I said.”

“I’m sorry, Mother. What was it?”

“I asked what is wrong. You’ve been in a dream all morning.”

Alfred left the bottles he’d been idly stacking and pulled on his outdoor coat.

It would do no good to ponder over yesterday, he thought. He had to find out for himself.

“I have something on my mind, Mother,” he replied. “I need to go out. I won’t be more than two hours or so. I’m going to Cross Roads House.”

“So soon? I didn’t know Mrs Jameson had sent another order.”

“She hasn’t,” he replied.

“Cross Roads House!” Mariah repeated. “You intend to drive all that way without a delivery?”

“I think there’s been a misunderstanding, Mother,” Alfred explained. “I might be able to set things right.”

“Well,” she muttered. “If Mrs Jameson withdraws her custom, I’ll not miss her, nor her imperious ways.”

Alfred hurried to the shed at the rear of his shop and put the cart to. Lissip, the old but spirited mare, twitched her ears.

“Come on, girl,” he said, climbing aboard.

He couldn’t explain to his mother why he felt so responsible for Rose. He didn’t know himself.

They’d only just met, but Alfred sensed there was a vulnerability about her.

He’d been so pleased to see her yesterday, but he couldn’t forget the fearful expression on her face as she’d been driven away. If it were possible, he was going to help her.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.