City Of Discoveries — Episode 49

Before long, William came in off his shift at Keiller’s.

Jennet was still undecided about how to deal with the letter of introduction.

She had tucked it into her work-bag, behind the knitting. The work-bag was secreted in her hope chest.

She looked up at her handsome man.

“Heavy work the day,” he said as he stretched.

He tossed his satchel on to the table and shrugged out of his jacket.

Jennet saw how stained with sweat his scarf was and made her decision.

William wasn’t afraid of heavy work, but he was a skilled weaver.

It was hard to watch him struggle with the slog of loading and unloading on a daily basis.

“I had a visit from Miss Wilson,” she said.

“Aye? I thought she said her goodbyes yesterday?”

“She brought me something, a leaving present. It affects you, William,” she said with as much confidence as she could muster.

William had sloshed some water into the basin and was washing the day’s dirt off his skin.

She stood up and opened the chest. She couldn’t immediately see the work-bag, which had slipped down the side of the chest.

She had to stretch into it to reach the bag.

As she returned to the table and pulled the letter out, the door of their home crashed open against the wall.

The noise made Jennet drop both bag and the letter.

“Cosy wee sight, is it not?” Even before she saw the intruder, the smell of his tobacco and the distinctive accent alerted her.

“The stuck-up quine and her kettle-biler man.”

Drew Fleming stood in the doorway, gripping Miss Wilson tight by her wrist.

Her face was reddening down one side as though someone had slapped her, and her hat was dangling over one shoulder.

“Whit are ye aboot, man?” William barked. “Assaulting wimmin and breaking into folks’ hames?”

He stepped in front of Jennet, who eased herself back towards the box bed.

She couldn’t see the envelope, addressed to Souter and with the letter to him in it, but she knew it was lying on the table.

“Whit maks ye think I assaulted the quine? She walked into the corner of the door, stupid auld bitch.” He yanked hard on Miss Wilson’s captured wrist and threw her on to the floor.

Jennet moved forward, but William held out his arm, trapping her between him and the bed.

“So, Mistress High and Michty Marshall thinks tae better hersel’ by weasling her way into favour through that tutor loon, Lochead.

“Mair fool her – and you. Call yersel a man when yer wifie is up to all sorts behind yer back?”

Jennet saw the muscles bunch all the way down William’s back and his fists curl.

For once, she wished he would punch Fleming hard and shut him up.

But William did not move and Jennet knew why. Fleming, drunk and caught up in his own story-telling, didn’t register the cold air that was swirling into the room from the landing.

Jennet knew William could see behind Fleming to whatever was happening on the landing.

“Nothing to say, Marshall? That quine o’ yours has cost me ma job, and ma wife and bairns their hame.

“I’ve left them, the nicht, in a tinkers’ encampment.” Fleming spat into the fire, which sizzled briefly. “Do you hear me?”

Alan Spink

I am a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. I enjoy working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, I also write fiction and enjoy watching football and movies in my spare time. My one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.