Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 27

Alfred left the office of Mr Lampton, the town clerk, in a state of high excitement.

It was all before him now; he knew the layout of the assembly building and the owner’s name. But his next step was crucial: how to buy the assembly building.

It’s an old, neglected structure no-one else wants, he pondered as he walked away. Surely Mr Bassett could not object if he offered a reasonable sum.

But Mr Bassett was the wealthiest man in Datcherford, and he had made his fortune from modest beginnings.

If he were to make an impression, he must be clear about his prospects and his first task was to secure the funds.

Alfred had savings, but nothing sufficient to buy the building, whatever its current state. Nevertheless, he could see a way forward.

His next call was to the banker, Mr Graine – a man not known for his generous nature.

With some trepidation Alfred walked into Datcherford’s only bank.

“Good morning, Alfred,” a friendly voice said, and a young man stepped out from behind his desk to greet him.

“Richard!” Alfred said with a smile. “Is it possible to speak to Mr Graine? I have a business proposal.”

“Good for you,” Richard Graine replied. “I’m sure Father will see you. How is your mother?”

Not for the first time, Alfred marvelled at the way Richard Graine had adapted to life as a banker.

At school Richard had been in constant trouble for his lack of attention and other tomfoolery. But here he was, following his father’s profession, just as Alfred had followed his own father into shopkeeping.

“Mother is very well, thank you,” Alfred replied.

“And business is good? My sisters tell me they bought silk stockings at your shop. What a change! Are you hoping to expand, Alfred?”

Before Alfred could reply, he was interrupted by the opening of an inner door, and another man, older and taller, peered through at them.

“I heard laughter,” Mr Graine said solemnly.

“It was me, Father,” Richard returned. “I’m sorry if you were disturbed. You remember Alfred Hapstall, don’t you? We were at school together.”

“Indeed,” Mr Graine droned. “I hope you are well, Mr Hapstall, and that your mother is likewise?”

“We are both in good health, sir,” Alfred replied.

“Alfred is here on a matter of business,” Richard explained. “Could you see him now, sir?”

Mr Graine peered over the top of his spectacles at Alfred then consulted his pocket watch.

“It is unusual for me to see anyone without an appointment, but I have a quarter-hour before my next engagement. Please enter my office, Mr Hapstall.”

Buoyed up by an encouraging glance from Richard, Alfred followed Mr Graine into his office.

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.