Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 45

“Careful. We mustn’t wake her,” Rose whispered as she, Molly and Miss Baines manhandled Rose’s trunk down the stair.

It was shortly before the servant’s breakfast time on Saturday morning and Rose knew that it would be futile to ask help of Biggins.

After much pushing and straining, the heavy trunk was brought down to the hall and they were dragging it towards the kitchen when a bell sounded.

“That’s Mrs Jameson,” Miss Baines said, red-faced with exertion. “She must have heard us.

“I’ll have to go,” she added. “I wish you well, Miss Bryson.”

“Thank you.” Rose smiled.

Miss Baines’s attitude had changed since she’d been obliged to take Rose’s place as companion to Mrs Jameson. She’d discovered the post was not, after all, the great privilege she’d imagined it to be.

The bell rang again and Miss Baines scurried up the stairs.

Rose and Molly hauled the trunk along the hall, reaching the kitchen just as Biggins arrived. He strode in by the garden door, wearing his mud-caked boots, and sat down.

“You’re ready to go, then,” Mrs Dee said as she piled food on to Biggins’s plate.

“Yes,” Rose replied. “Mr Sturgess will collect me at ten.”

After the silent meal, Rose helped Molly to clear away. Biggins reluctantly got up and left for his morning duties, and Mrs Dee carried her tea to her own sitting-room.

“Rose, did you finish it?” Molly asked.

“You mean the letter? Yes, I have it here.”

She handed the envelope to Molly.

“I’ll see that it goes in the post,” Molly promised. “But I still think it’s a shame you won’t see him again.”

Rose smiled wanly.

“Molly, I know you have some romantic notion about Mr Hapstall and me, but Alfred Hapstall is in love with another lady.”

Molly’s eyes widened.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“That doesn’t matter, but it means we could never be more than friends.”

“But you’d like to be, wouldn’t you, Rose?”

Rose smiled. Molly’s honest but blunt ways had caught her unawares before, and besides, it could well have been true.

At that moment there were voices in the hall and the sound of hurrying feet. Mrs Dee came bustling back into the kitchen.

“Look sharp, girl,” she snapped at Molly. “Mrs Bassett is just arriving and the mistress will be calling for tea to be served.”

Miss Baines came hurrying in.

“I know what you’re going to say,” Mrs Dee forestalled her. “The mistress will be sending for tea. As if I’m not rushed off my feet already.”

“That’s not all,” Miss Baines said. “Mr Sturgess is here to collect Rose.”

Rose sprang from her chair and began to gather her belongings.

“He’s so early,” she said, and almost immediately Mr Sturgess appeared at the kitchen door.

“Ready, miss?” he asked.

In the fluster of activity that followed, Rose made certain to say a proper goodbye to Molly.

She kissed her cheek, promising to write, then hurried after Mr Sturgess as he carried her trunk and stowed it safely on his cart.

Despite the urgency, they could not leave immediately as a carriage was taking up the centre of the driveway. Mrs Bassett was emerging, smiling and waving gaily to Mrs Jameson who’d come out to greet her.

They have not noticed my leaving, Rose thought. Soon no-one else will remember I was ever in Datcherford.


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.