Alfred’s Emporium – Episode 49

“This has been the best day I can ever remember.”

“You’ve waited a long time to drive Lissip, haven’t you, Tom?” Mariah had been waiting at the shop for Tom to return. “And now you’ve proved you can handle her, Mr Alfred may want you to take over all the deliveries.”

Tom jumped down from the cart, polishing a smear of dust from the side with his shirt sleeve.

“I hope so, Mrs Hapstall. I’ll always take the greatest care. I know what pride Mr Alfred has in Lissip and the cart. He says it reflects the business when people see it being driven about.”

“I know you will, Tom. But look who’s coming.”

Tom turned to see another vehicle rattling down the cobbles towards them.

“Oh, it’s Mr Biggins from Cross Roads House, looking more miserable than usual,” Mariah muttered under her breath. “Who’s the girl with him?”

The cart had barely stopped when Molly jumped down.

“Good morning, ma’am,” she said, steadying herself. “I’m looking for Mr Alfred Hapstall.”

“He isn’t here at present,” Mariah answered. “I’m Mrs Hapstall, Alfred’s mother. Can I help you?”

“I’m a friend of Rose and I have a letter I must give to Mr Hapstall or it will be too late, and Rose will be gone.”

“Wait,” Mariah said. “Tell us slowly.”

“I have to find Mr Hapstall,” Molly insisted. “So that he can stop Rose from leaving.”

“Leaving? Do you mean Rose Bryson is going to leave Cross Roads House?”

“Worse than that, ma’am. She’s leaving Datcherford. The coach leaves at one o’clock”

“And you said you have a letter?”

“Yes. Here it is.”

Molly pulled the creased envelope from her pocket and handed it to Mariah.

“Rose wrote to say goodbye to Mr Hapstall, but I know she didn’t really want to go. She thought he was going to marry Miss Bassett, but he isn’t, and if Rose knew that I’m sure she would change her mind. I think Mr Hapstall won’t want Rose to leave, either.”

“I know he doesn’t want her to go,” Mariah said, gripping the letter and trying to think what to do.

“Tom, you know where Mr Darrowby lives, don’t you? Go there now and tell Alfred he must come home at once. Hurry.”

Tom was aboard the cart and away in seconds. He’d turned the corner before Mariah remembered she still had the letter.

“There isn’t much time,” Molly replied fretfully as the church clock began to strike midday.

“We have to go.”

Everyone had forgotten Biggins.

“We has to go now,” he insisted, adding sullenly, “I must make another call.”

With a darkening face, he took up the reins.

“I must get on, or he’ll surely leave me here,” Molly whispered urgently. “But you will find Mr Hapstall and tell him, won’t you, ma’am?”

“Don’t worry,” Mariah assured her. “I know Alfred will want to ask Rose to stay. They’ll both be very grateful for what you’ve done, as am I. Thank you.”

With a blush and a nod, Molly jumped aboard the already moving cart and was away.

“I hope Tom finds Alfred quickly,” Mariah said to herself. “The post house is half an hour’s drive away.”

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.