Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 29

Dried leaves swirled around Alfred’s feet as he slumped on the bench in Datcherford’s little park.

The excitement that had swept him along since yesterday had vanished.

His hopes and his plan were still at the forefront of his mind, but how was he to proceed if the bank wouldn’t grant him a loan?

He knew his idea must sound preposterous. Even his mother was dubious, although she would have supported him. The only person who took him at his word was Rose.

When he had told her of his plans it was as if they came to life; everything was so clear in his head. She’d listened and there was such encouragement in her face.

It was after seeing Rose that he’d realised buying the assembly building was the way forward.

“I’m so sorry, Alfred,” a voice behind him said, and Alfred turned to see Richard. “Father told me about your plan. It sounds ambitious. I only wish he’d been able to help you, but I’m afraid I don’t have much influence with him.”

“It is ambitious, Richard. I don’t blame your father for refusing me. He has a responsibility to the bank.”

“You won’t give up, will you?” Richard urged. “This town needs men like you who are ready to take a risk. I rather envy you.

“I always knew my future lay at the bank, and it never occurred to me to do anything else. But you have another choice.”

“Only if I find someone prepared to lend me a great deal of money,” Alfred said ruefully. “I had the figures in my head. The cost of the building, fittings and so forth.”

Richard was nodding thoughtfully.

“Perhaps you could begin in a smaller way,” he said. “After all, to go from one small shop to a place the size of the assembly building is quite a leap.”

“I know that now. I need to think it all through from the beginning.”

“I wish I could stay,” Richard said. “I wanted to make sure you weren’t too despondent. I know that somehow you’ll achieve what you set out to do, and if I can help, call on me.”

They shook hands. Richard hurried away and Alfred began a slow walk home, thinking over his friend’s words.

He reached the main street, stopping to look at the assembly building.

It was a vast place, he admitted. Perhaps he was being rash. But he couldn’t stop now – he had to see that sign above the door, announcing Hapstall’s . . .

An idea began to form.

What was it Richard had said about beginning in a smaller way? Must he have the whole of the building at once? Could he persuade Mr Bassett to sell him the ground floor to start with?

Then, as his business increased, he could buy more of the building.

I’ll do it, he determined. If the bank won’t help me, I’ll go to Mr Bassett and put my proposal to him.

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.