Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 33

What, she wondered, could Mr Fell have sent to her, besides another unwanted advance?

She opened it with a trembling hand.

Inside was a letter and a second, smaller envelope. Rose unfolded the letter.

Madam, it began. A most unexpected development has obliged me to break my word and write to you again.

Two days ago I was contacted by Mrs Ellington, a resident of this district and a lady of considerable means. She has been abroad for some time and only on her return learned of the passing of your father. Mrs Ellington had commissioned your father to paint some aspects of her estate during her absence. The paintings were left with the housekeeper, awaiting Mrs Ellington’s return.

As a woman of high principles, Mrs Ellington was anxious to pay for the work, now due to you as your father’s only heir. Her search led to me as his former landlord and I undertook to forward the banker’s draft to you.

In enclosing the draft I have now fulfilled this duty.

With my respects, G. Fell.

She opened the other envelope and gasped as she read the banker’s draft.

“As much as that!” she exclaimed aloud as the full significance of this news sank in.

All of her father’s remaining debts could be paid at once, she realised in wonder, and there would be some money to spare.

She could escape Cross Roads House! She would be free to choose where she went and how she earned her living. It was wonderful news!

She went over to the window and stared for some minutes over to the woods and into the far distance where the little town stood.

“Yet, if things were different,” she said to herself, “I might choose not to go away from Datcherford at all.”

*  *  *  *

Delia Bassett opened her eyes as the carriage turned on to the Datcherford road.

What a relief it is to be coming home, she thought with a smile.

She was quite fond of her aunt, but there was only so much one could take of improving books and bracing walks. She couldn’t have tolerated another day of it, much less a whole month, with nothing to do but sit and contemplate.

Yet she now knew how valuable thinking could be. It was quite remarkable how, once you start to think, all sorts of ideas present themselves. Now at last she knew what was in her mind and what would make her happy.

Mama will be surprised to see me back so soon, she thought. She’d have to be careful in what she said to 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.