City Of Discoveries — Episode 19

Jennet didn’t know if she had the strength left to help him, but she knew she wanted to stay at home and to be away from Drew Fleming and his loud-mouthed lasses.

Had the time come for her to be a bit selfish and to say what she wanted for a change?

“When you’re working at Keiller’s you’ll get a chance to show them what a guid worker you are.

“You’ll no’ be turning up drunk on Monday morning, will you?”

She found the argument from the depths of her tired brain and saw William waver.

“Wha’s behind this? I think that woman, Miss Smith, has done this. Why is she interfering in our lives?” He thrust his chin out.

“I don’t know if Miss Smith has done this. She might have, because they all know each other, these families, don’t they?

“She works really hard, too, trying to make sure the women and the children are looked after.”

“We don’t need looking after,” William protested. “We are adult people.”

“Yes, we are, but William, loads and loads of jobs are got this way.”

“What way? I thought you didn’t know why Cruikshanks had sent for me again!” he accused.

Jennet hardly recognised her thoughtful, caring husband in this monster of anger and shouting.

“Aye, you tell her, son!” a voice shouted in from the landing, and Jennet realised she hadn’t shut the door properly.

“These women think ’cause they are earning the money, they can rule the roost!”

William slammed the door shut. His shoulders were heaving and she was alarmed by the rasping sound of his breath.

Maybe they didn’t need to have him take the job, she thought.

Maybe there would be a job he found for himself. Anything would be better than this.

“That fool’s in the right of it. You keep a roof over our heads,” William said.

As if that realisation was too much for him to cope with, he pushed past Jennet, on to the landing and down the stairs.

Jennet picked up her skirts and raced after her man. In this mood, he might very well go in front of a cart without thinking.

She had just reached the mouth of their close when she saw William ahead of her in the wee market.

Ahead of him, a couple of lasses were jostling about, and then they knocked into an old lady and snatched her purse.

William sprang forward and swiped one of the lasses across the face so she dropped the purse. The two ran off into the press of folk.

It all happened in a flash and Jennet was hardly able to understand what she’d seen at first.

The two girls reappeared round the edge of the square and Jennet saw a big man with side-whiskers wave them towards a gap in a fence. They were swallowed by the night.

As Jennet moved forward to help William lift the old wife, a constable came blundering up, blowing on his whistle.

Before Jennet’s horrified eyes, he grabbed William and held him tight. The old wifie’s purse was grasped in William’s hand.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.