Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 26

“I am distraught,” she confided to Mrs Jameson. “Delia has written to me from her aunt’s house. She wants to come home immediately. She insists she is bored, but I fear it’s to be with this young man she has taken up with.”

Rose left the room to fetch tea, but Mrs Dee was approaching, bearing a tray.

“I thought she’d send for this,” Mrs Dee hissed, her face full of eager curiosity. “What’s to do? Something’s happened, hasn’t it?”

“I couldn’t say, Mrs Dee,” Rose answered, taking the tray. “I am not in Mrs Jameson’s confidence.”

She knocked on the morning room door and went back inside. The two ladies were in close conference and neither glanced at Rose.

“I hoped she would stay with her aunt until the Paris visit could be arranged,” Mrs Bassett was saying as Rose proceeded to serve tea. “I have tried to persuade her to do so. But how can I put an end to this liaison if she comes home?”

“Do you think his attachment can be true?” Mrs Jameson asked. “Isn’t it more likely Hapstall is a fortune hunter?”

“We do not know him, of course,” Mrs Bassett continued. “Though I use his shop, as does everyone.”

“There is no other choice in Datcherford,” Mrs Jameson said with a sigh. “That will be all, Bryson.”

Rose was glad to escape. She hurried to her room to be alone.

So it’s true, she thought. Alfred Hapstall is courting Miss Bassett.

Rose could not deny the disappointment she felt.

It’s unreasonable, she chided herself. I’ve no cause to be sad if Alfred has found happiness with Miss Bassett, though I can’t say I applaud his choice.

After a while, she went to lay out Mrs Jameson’s clothes for the afternoon and heard voices below.

Mrs Jameson and her visitor were coming out of the morning room.

“Take a firm line, that is my recommendation,” Rose heard Mrs Jameson say.

“I cannot lock her away,” Mrs Bassett replied. “She is a headstrong girl. I do not know what her father will say; I have not told him.”

“Then you must do so,” Mrs Jameson advised. “She is young, and the young are easily beguiled. Mr Bassett will point out the evils of such a match. Under his guidance, she is bound to see sense.”

A few minutes later the sound of hooves and wheels on gravel could be heard, and the front door was firmly closed once more.

“Bryson!” Mrs Jameson called in her shrill voice. “Where is my book?”

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.