Chapter 25: Just When you Think it’s Over…
Written by Whitney Emeigh
Dripping wet and miserable, Adette made her way back through town. The broken umbrella drooped in her hand. Karl had gone back to the cottage to wait on the porch, leaving her the task of fetching his dog food. Adette was less than happy. She stalked across the swamped square. The occasional person crossing the square shot her a confused look before hurrying away.
In the relentless drizzle, she tried to decipher which shop was the general goods store. Since her choices were limited, she darted into the most likely looking shop. Above her head, the shop bell tinkled merrily. It was much too cheerful for the weather. At least it was dry inside.
Adette dripped in front of the door for a few moments before stepping into the middle of the store.
“Hello?” she asked the silent room. The sound bounced off of the high shelves full of goods. When the echo died, it was replaced by her own awkward silence.
“Hello,” she called again with a bit more force. Somewhere at the back of the store several things were dropped. Hurried steps scuffed the worn floor. When the older man came through the door, he was huffing and puffing. His grey mop of hair had flown in every possible direction. Adette wanted to laugh, but was afraid that she’d offend the poor old man. He stopped dead when he got sight of her.
“Well, don’t you look like you’ve been through it. Girls like you ought to have more care for themselves.” He clicked his tongue and shook his head. The keys jingling in his hand landed with a crash on the glass counter top. Adette opened her mouth to reply, but couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Well, what do you need? I don’t take kindly to those who only come here to gawk.”
“My umbrella broke,” Adette offered in a pathetic attempt at a reply. The man’s face stayed as stern as ever, but his eyes seemed to soften ever so slightly.
“Well I hope you don’t expect me to have any of those fancy fashionable parasol things all you ladies keep raging on about. All I’ve got are good sturdy black umbrellas fit for anybody.” The store keeper hobbled around the counter to where the few ghastly looking umbrellas had been collected in a tall umbrella stand. Adette made a show of opening and closing all three of the sturdy umbrellas before choosing one that she felt was the best. When she turned around, the man at the end of the counter was eyeing her curiously.
“I’ll take this one and a bag of dog food please.” Adette settled the long black beast onto the counter so the bill could be settled. With an annoyed huff, the shop keeper turned to the tall wall ladder and began sliding it down toward the left side of the shop. When he stopped, he shot her another withering glance before climbing up the wooden ladder. Adette had never before felt so guilty about offering her money to a store before. When he reached the floor again with a large bag of dog food perched precariously on his shoulder, he all but threw it at the counter top. Thick, swollen fingers stabbed the keys on the register as he punched in the sale price.
“I don’t suppose you’ve managed to remember your money?” he inquired. Adette opened her mouth indignantly, but nothing came out. She hadn’t remembered her money purse. It was sitting dry as a bone beside her bed. A very unladylike curse nearly escaped her. The answer was now plain on her face.
“I don’t suppose you’d extend me credit until tomorrow or let me open an account?”
“Fah!” the man spat. “I don’t know you from the king himself and you want credit? Come back tomorrow for your things, if you actually have the money, that is.” Adette deflated. Outside the rain was coming down harder than ever.
“Not even on the umbrella?” Adette’s eyes pleaded. thought of trudging the whole way home in the rain made her want to sit right down on the man’s floor and cry. He heaved a mighty sigh and shot her a nasty look, but he didn’t say no.