Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 30

By the time Alfred arrived at his shop, so many figures and ideas were running through his head that he scarcely noticed a cart and horse tethered outside.

A man was struggling through the door, his face obscured by the boxes he was carrying.

“It’s not my job to fetch and carry,” the man was muttering.

As he dumped the boxes on to the cart there was a sound of glass breaking.

“It’s Mr Biggins, isn’t it?” Alfred said, recognising the man. “How unusual to see you here.”

“It’s not right,” Biggins growled, pleased at having someone to address his complaint. “Mrs Jameson has gone too far; I’ll not put up with it. Where is that young woman? It’s time we were leaving.”

He climbed aboard the cart and sat down, his arms folded and his eyes fixed on the door of Hapstall’s shop.

Puzzled, Alfred went inside. Mariah and a lady customer were carefully checking a list.

“Rose?” Alfred said, recognising her. “What a surprise to see you here.”

“Hello, Alfred,” she replied, her face alight with pleasure. “Mr Biggins has driven me here to buy supplies.”

“Why didn’t Mrs Jameson have me deliver them?”

“She did not tell me,” was all Rose could say, though she knew the reason.

Mrs Jameson refused to have Alfred come to her house in protest at his attachment to Miss Bassett.

It was all the more foolish because his was the only shop in the district, thus Rose and Biggins had been despatched to fetch the provisions.

“I’m pleased to see you anyway,” Alfred told her. “Do you have everything?”

“Yes.” Rose nodded. “I must leave. The cart is so unstable and Mr Biggins in such a temper that I’m afraid we’ll arrive back with the jars upset and not an egg intact. We have a call to make to the Bassett residence.”

“Really? I was thinking about going to see Mr Bassett myself. I have something important to ask him.”

Rose seemed distracted for a moment, then managed a brief smile. She thanked Mariah and walked with Alfred out of the shop.

“Whatever it is you’re hoping for, Alfred,” she called, “I wish you success and happiness.”

“She is a pleasant young lady,” Mariah said, peering over Alfred’s shoulder.

He was watching the cart carrying Rose and Mr Biggins as it bounced along the cobbles.

“Yes, Mother. Rose Bryson is a good person.”

“How do you know her?”

“We met at Cross Roads House. She’s companion to Mrs Jameson.”

“I don’t envy her that.”

“She has no choice.” Alfred turned away as the cart disappeared from view.

“Well?” Mariah prompted. “What happened?”

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.