Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 37

Rose left the room without waiting for a reply. She felt a lightening, a relief from the tension that had gripped her from her first day in this miserable place.

She knew the other servants would learn of her departure soon enough, but there was one person she wanted to tell first.

“Are you busy, Molly?” she asked the little kitchen maid later that afternoon. “Mrs Jameson is taking her afternoon rest and I thought we might snatch a few minutes in the garden.”

Molly opened the kitchen door very slightly. The sound of Mrs Dee snoring echoed down the corridor.

“She’s taking her afternoon rest as well. I reckon I dare be away ten minutes,” she whispered with a grin.

“I have some news,” Rose began as they sat down in the garden. “I’ve given my notice.”

“You’re going?” Molly asked, her eyes welling with tears. “I’ll miss you ever so much.”

“I’ll miss you as well, Molly,” Rose replied, surprised and touched.

“I’ve never had a proper friend before,” Molly went on. “The orphans’ home placed me here and no-one talks to me, except to tell me what to do. Now it’ll be even worse.”

Rose felt a pang of sympathy for Molly.

“What did Mistress say when you gave notice?” Molly asked, drying her eyes.

“She wasn’t pleased,” Rose answered tactfully.

“Where will you go?”

“I’m not sure. I have to go back to where I lived with my father until I’ve settled some affairs. But not to stay.”

“Don’t you have any family, Rose? Nor friends?”

Rose shook her head. “Not a soul in the world,” she admitted.

“You ought to find a nice young man to marry,” Molly declared in her uncomplicated way. “I wonder you haven’t already, being so pretty and with such nice manners.”

“Thank you, but I’m afraid I’ve had other things on my mind these last months. Although there was a gentlemen once.”

“You mean Mr Hapstall?” Molly asked.

“No,” Rose said in surprise. “It was before I came here. His name was Mr Fell. He made me an offer and if I’d accepted him I would have been comfortable all my life.”

“Why didn’t you?” Molly queried.

“Because I didn’t love him. We were barely acquainted, but I knew with certainty that I would never come to love him.”

“Really?” Molly said, a puzzled look about her. “I wonder if it works the other way as well. I mean, can you meet someone and know straight away that you’ll come to love them?”

“I should think it very possible,” Rose answered wistfully. “Molly, what made you think I meant Alfred Hapstall?”

“Oh, don’t mind me, Rose. I always say the first thing that comes into my head.

“I’ve seen you and Alfred Hapstall talking and laughing and you seemed somehow to go together, if you know what I mean.”

“Did we?” Rose whispered, rather affected by Molly’s simple portrayal.

“Yes,” Molly went on. “I thought you liked him, and I could tell he likes you.”

“I think Alfred and I might have been friends,” Rose said carefully, “if I had planned to stay in Datcherford.”

“Will you see him to say goodbye?” Molly asked.

Rose hesitated.

“I don’t think I’ll get a chance to see him,” she began. “I’m leaving very soon.”

“You could write him a letter,” Molly suggested. “I could slip it in the post for you. That way, Mistress and the others won’t know anything about it.”

“Thank you, Molly.” Rose smiled.

It’s the right thing to do, she thought to herself.

Alfred offered her the hand of friendship and out of courtesy she ought not to depart without telling 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.