Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 36

“Who was that, Alfred?”

Mariah had appeared at the top of the stairs.

“It was Miss Bassett, Mother,” he replied.

“She brought a list from her mother, I suppose?”

“Do you know, she’s just made me a very kind offer of help.”

“Really? How?” Mariah asked, quite intrigued.

“She’s invited me to Datcherford Manor to meet her father and Mrs Bassett. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”

“But why would she do that, Alfred?”

“I’m not sure, but if William Bassett is as difficult as you say, I’d be a fool to turn down the offer. If you and Tom will mind the shop, I’ll go up and look over the plans.”

“I still don’t understand why Miss Bassett should take such an interest,” Mariah said, confused.

But Alfred was already on his way up the stairs.

It was only later that evening that he wondered, fleetingly, why Miss Bassett had called into the shop, and by then he was too preoccupied to dwell on it.

*  *  *  *

“Leaving?” Mrs Jameson snapped. “To go where?”

Rose met her employer’s angry expression with calm. After many sleepless hours, and by keeping Alfred Hapstall firmly out of her thoughts, she’d concluded there was no reason for her to stay in Datcherford.

Before she could change her mind, she’d gone to give notice.

“I have unfinished business to attend to, ma’am,” she replied, “and then . . .”

Rose stopped, realising that, once her father’s debts had been paid, she had no idea where she would go. No person nor place held her now. She would be free. It was all she had yearned for – once.

But Mrs Jameson was not satisfied.

“Unfinished business!

You are quite the flibbertigibbet, Bryson. You’ve hardly settled into the post and now that I have worn myself out training you to be useful, you are going away.”

“I regret causing you inconvenience, ma’am,” Rose answered. “I will work a month’s notice so that you may find a replacement.”

Immediately Rose knew she’d been presumptuous. Mrs Jameson had always to be in control.

“I may not wish for such an arrangement,” Mrs Jameson declared. “In fact, you can leave as soon as possible. I hope you are not expecting a character reference.”

With the small inheritance from her father, Rose had little to fear now.

“No, thank you, ma’am,” she replied softly. “I did not expect it and I do not require it. I will leave as soon as I can arrange transport. I trust that will be satisfactory.”

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.