Chapter 27: A Small Reprieve
By Whitney Emeigh
Light had begun to line the edges of the thick rain clouds. Adette watched the world grow brigther from beneath the safety of her umbrella. She smiled and patted the cloth covering the little glass canister. Absently, she kicked the toe of her boot through one of the many tiny puddles. The walk back was wet, but now that she didn’t have anything pressing, it was almost pleasant.
Back in the middle of Swynton, people were just as scarce as when Adette had walked through the first time. No one bothered her as she made her way back to the small general store. The bell tinkled against the heavy door as she pushed it open. The umbrella closed in a shower of tiny water droplets. Adette tried her best to keep the extra water consigned to the doorway. Outside, the first rays of daylight were penetrating the thick cloud cover. Absently, Adette wondered if the rain had been natural or some creation of Tarn’s.
Adette shook her head and stepped up to the counter. Again, the space behind it was deserted. No one seemed to have been into the shop since she’d left it earlier. Adette checked the pouch at her side again. The last thing she wanted was a repeat of what had happened before.
“Hello?” The sound of Adette’s voice echoed up to the high ceiling. At the back, she heard the tell-tale sound of feet scrabbling and a chair being dragged backward over the flooring. Footsteps thumped down the inner hallway. When the same gruff face from before peeked around the corner, Adette greeted it with a smile.
“Didn’t expect you back.” The older man’s bushy gray caterpillar eyebrows crawled upwards slowly, doing a better job of showing his surprise than his words could.
“I said I’d be back to pay, so here I am.” Adette set her purse onto the counter top. “How much do I owe you for the umbrella and dog food?” The man stomped over to the register, eyeing Adette the whole way. His thick fingers pushed several keys before the entire sale was rung up.
“10 silvers.” His cloudy brown eyes narrowed. It was a test. Adette knew the price was highway robbery. Should she argue or let the old man think he’d won? With a sigh, Adette squared her shoulders and made no move to open her purse.
“10 silvers? Surely you must be mad.” Air escaped the old man’s throat in a quick chuckling cough.
“10 silvers is what I said. It’s the price I intend to be paid.”
“I think we can agree on a better price than that. How about 5 silvers?” Just as Adette had been expecting, the old man reeled backwards, looking as if she’d actually physically struck him. He clutched his chest.
“Mercy, that’s no deal at all. No, not at all. I might as well give it away at that price. No I’ll settle at 9 silvers and no less.”
“Surely if you can come down to 9, it wouldn’t be such a stretch to come as far as seven?” A smile slowly crept across Adette’s face. Air puffed through the old man’s lips. He threw his hands into the air.
“Why would a sweet girl like you wake up and decide to rob an old man? Eight and that’s my final offer.” It was then that Adette reached into her basket and pulled the glass canister free. She set it onto the counter top with a clunk.
“Seven and I’ll throw in some homemade tea.” Her hands dropped away from the canister and found a place to rest within the folds of her skirt. Adette said nothing for a few moments while the old shop keeper thought it over.
“Tea? What kind of tea is worth an extra silver off?” The smile on Adette’s face grew wider.
“Tell you what. I’ll pay eight now, and if you think that tea is worth it in a week, you can give me the extra silver back then.”
“What’s your name girl?”
“Adette Price, sir, nice to meet you. What may I call you?” Adette extended her hand across the open space above the counter. The shop keeper eyed it for a moment before taking it. His hands were warm, dry and clearly paining the shopkeeper very much.
“You may call me Mr. Zinner, Miss Adette.”
“Just Adette Mr. Zinner.” Adette said with a chuckle.
“Alright, eight it is. We’ll see about that last silver at the end of the week.”
“Sounds like a bargain to me,” Adette said with a nod. She released Mr. Zinner’s hand. From inside her purse, she produced the eight silvers they’d agreed on. She set them on top of the container and slid it across the counter. The old register’s drawer clanged open. Once the money had been deposited in the drawer, it was slammed shut. Mr. Zinner made his way around the counter with the bag and set it against the counter beside Adette.
“Nice doing business with you.”
“And with you Mr. Zinner.”