Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 39

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

If they failed to sell it as a set, Miriam could always make over the girls’ dresses to display on their own. 

“Shall I light the lamps?” Becky asked. 

“I’d rather we didn’t yet. We need to save the gas and candles. Will you be OK for a bit, Miriam?” 

“I think so. Might be tricky when I start hemming the frills on that pinafore.” 

“Let me know when it gets difficult. It looks like we’ll be working well into the night if we’re going to open at half past nine.”  

Working all night, more likely, she thought, looking round the room. It was strewn with partially finished garments, bits of trim and pieces of fabric. 

“Let’s see.”  

She popped the small-brimmed hat on the mannequin’s head, and stepped back to check the angle.  

“What do you think, ladies? Is Mrs Tom Cobley looking suitably dressed for our grand opening?” 

“She looks divine!” Miriam called out in delight. “I love the feathers – they really set it off.” 

“We’re lucky to have found a milliner who’s content to be paid to make the basic hat, and let us have the fun!” 

“Emily, may I go up and check that Gran is all right?” 

“Of course, Becky.” 

The downtown premises that James had found had not only been a dream come true for Emily, but also a saviour for Miriam, Becky and her grandmother.  

They had all moved out of the tent camp and each taken one of the upstairs rooms, and plans for the shop had begun instantly.  

They made a perfect team, with Emily at the helm, and there had been only one thing that had caused any disagreement. 

“We need to give the shop a name,” Emily announced early on. “Any ideas? I can’t think of one.” 

Becky’s eyes lit up.  

“The San Francisco Booteek,” she said carefully. “I learned that word from a magazine. It’s what they call them in France!” 

Miriam wasn’t sure.  

“Will people know how to pronounce it? It’s hard to remember something if you don’t know how to say it.” 

“What about something with colour in it?” Emily suggested. “A name that will conjure up beautiful images.” 

“The Rainbow Shop!” Becky piped up. 

“Reminds me of rainy days.” Miriam groaned. “How about something to do with flowers?” 

“Rosebud Ladies and Children’s Wear?” Emily suggested. 

“Too long.” Becky frowned. “And it sounds like all the clothes are covered in rosebuds.” 

James, who had stopped by to see how the ladies were getting on, solved it instantly, to everyone’s satisfaction. 

“You’ve all been thinking too hard.”  

He lifted his hand, painting the outline of a sign in the air and writing on to it with his finger as he spoke.  


They’d been given just a few weeks to prove themselves to the brothers who ran a barbershop and pharmacy next door, and were in charge of the rental.  

The ladies had been working at fever pitch, but no matter how beautiful the garments were, or how enticing the window displays might be when unveiled, Emily, Miriam and Becky knew that unless they had customers – and plenty of them – their dreams, and the roof over their heads, would be snatched away.  

Ever conscious of the money that James had lent her, Emily knew that somehow she must find a way to pay back every penny, no matter what he said. 

Becky stood up, stretching as she made her way across the room. But as she reached the door, there was a knock, and Becky opened it to see her grandmother standing there, a tray of sandwiches, cakes and tea balanced in her frail hands. 

“Gran, thank you!” 

“You can’t work without some fuel,” she said. 

“Thank you, Mrs Williams!” Miriam and Emily echoed. 

“You must call me Mabel,” she said. “My, this is going to be grand. But it looks like you need some extra help.” 

Becky bit her lip, worrying about her grandmother, who hadn’t been at all well. 

“We’re fine, Gran, really.” 

“Let me just sit down. I don’t know the first thing about those confounded machines, but I dare say I’ve sewn on a button or two in my day.  

“Why don’t you let me do that, and leave you to the fancy work?” she asked Miriam. 

“Are you sure?” Miriam asked, handing her the knickerbockers. 

“Goodness, that food looks beautiful.” 

“I’m glad. But if you don’t mind my saying, ladies, the same can’t be said for you! Make sure you tidy yourselves up before this grand opening!” 

To be continued…

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