by Kathy Sharp
a hot toddy
Septimus Flange was a gentleman with a most singular means of locomotion. He did not so much walk as flow along the grimier side of the street. Moreover, young Mr Flange exhibited an equally singular expression of concentrated purpose on his pinched and narrow countenance.
Something had set him thinking of the late Mrs Flange. An unhappy woman, indeed, as Septimus had remarked to the rector at her funeral, who would have been a great deal more unhappy had she known the fate that awaited her beneath the wheels of a runaway cart. The pair had been thus parted after only half a year of marriage.
There were already several ladies fancying themselves suitable for the part of the second Mrs Flange. Not that Septimus matched any ideal of masculine beauty, but he did have the air of a man with prospects. For all that, he was in no hurry at all to remarry. The querulous demands of his wife, while she lived, had come as some surprise to him. There was no denying, he thought, that women changed their tune mightily after the wedding, and he would take a great deal more care in any second choice.
‘Mr Flange, sir. Oh, Mr Flange!’
Septimus’ thoughts were interrupted by a young person hurtling across the street towards him. He sidestepped smoothly and flowed on, a little faster, fearing the outburst to be a distraction and that he was about to fall prey to a footpad.
But the young person persisted. ‘Mr Flange, sir, do you not remember me? At Spriggot’s?’
Septimus turned, and cast a steely and cautious eye on his pursuer. He had, in fact, had dealings with Spriggot’s Emporium, and, on reflection, he recognised the young man as one of Mr Spriggot’s assistants. Or one of Mr Spriggot’s former assistants. Spriggot and his Emporium were now conspicuous by their absence from the mercantile scene. There had been that most unfortunate business with the Customs men, all still sub judice. So this young fellow was likely to be in search of a position. He was undoubtedly a low person, and rapidly falling lower, to judge by his shabby and down-at-heel appearance.
Nonetheless, Septimus eyed him keenly. A young fellow fallen on hard times and desperate for employment could be very useful. Very useful indeed.
And besides, it was Christmas, and the gift of employment to this young man, even with ulterior motives, would certainly count as Mr Flange’s contribution to Good Will to All Men. Or at least to this one.
‘I may have some work for you,’ said Septimus, loftily, ‘Do you have a name?’
‘Oh, yes, sir, God bless you, sir! My name is Dickens, Charlie Dickens.’
About the author
Whales and Strange Stars. Lovely historical novel set in the marshlands of 18th century Kent.
‘The sense of place is perfectly captured, and the writing just dances off the page. Highly recommended.’ myBook.to/WhalesAndStrangeStars
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