Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 22

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

But suddenly, there he was, standing in front of her, the bright sunshine glinting off the tinges of grey that had appeared in his dark hair. 


He was still thin from the illness, a little haggard, but his eyes were as bright as ever. He reached for her hand, and as he drew it gently to his lips she felt tears prick the back of her eyes.  

He’d seen into her feelings in the uncanny way he had from the first time they’d met, the day he’d come to attend to Florence’s influenza not long after the family had arrived in San Francisco. 

“We have a lot to catch up on.”  

He took her arm and led her down the street and through a doorway. 

Dottore Campbell! And Signorina.” The swarthy proprietor bowed his head with great ceremony and Emily found herself smiling in spite of her turmoil. 

“Signor Bertolli,” James said, “I don’t believe Miss Callow has ever had Italian coffee.” 

“Ah! Leave this with me, Dottore,” he said, showing them to a table, “I will prepare my caffe speciale! And we are amici for long time, no? Call me Luciano.” 

Emily smiled. James was well-liked and respected amongst everyone, from the destitute Chinese to the aristocracy who had danced at the Palace Hotel the night before the earthquake.  

She found her voice at last.  

“It’s wonderful to see you looking so well, James. But I . . .” She looked into his eyes and felt her throat catch once more. 

“Why do you apologise?” he asked gently. “I’m delighted you agreed to come after all this time. Seeing you is wonderful.  

“You look tired, though. You’ve been working much harder than you’ve implied.” 

Emily found herself pouring out her problems at the sewing centre, while sipping the delicious coffee with its cloud of cream. 

“You’re doing a remarkable thing, Emily, and you should feel proud of yourself. Don’t waste your energy over those women who seem to be against you. Keep your eye on your ultimate goal.” 

“Perhaps that’s the problem. I’m not sure what will happen with the centre. Soon we’ll be forced to leave the camp, and I guess we’ll go our separate ways.” 

“Is that what you’d like to happen?” 

She bit her lip, unsure. 

“You’re kind to talk about this with me, James.” 

“Kindness has nothing to do with it, as you know.” 

Conscience pricked again, but he stopped her. 

“The first thing is practicality. You need somewhere to live, and so does your friend Becky. And you need a place to pursue your sewing and designing, if that’s still your dream.” 

Emily smiled.  

“You’re the only person who knows about that dream, James. I’ve been afraid to tell anyone else – even Sarah and Jenny. I’d forgotten about it recently – I’ve just been trying to keep going.” 

“Never settle for less than your dreams, Emily. It’s time for you to look ahead, to your future and all it can be.” 

The fondness she’d always felt for him washed over her. There were so many tugs at her heart – from home, from Will and from her own determination to succeed. Could she do that completely on her own?  

At the same time, could she accept help from this wonderful man, knowing that he loved her? 

“It makes sense to think big in terms of premises,” he went on. “You’ll need space for the women to join you, should you want to continue the sewing centre.  

“Or, if you decide to go into business for yourself, you’ll need to employ help. Because you will be very successful.” 

“James, it sounds like a miracle, but I cannot possibly . . .” 

He held up his hand. 

“I never want to hear ‘cannot’ again.”  

Something seemed to be released inside her. Would it be so wrong to let this man lift some of the weight of worry and responsibility from her shoulders? Or would it be taking advantage of his feelings for her?   

Did she love him, or was she swept away by the exciting future he painted for her? 

James laid a dollar bill on the table, then ushered her out on to the sunlit street. 

“I have something to show you.”  

She felt the strength of his hand on her waist as he helped her on to a streetcar. 

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.