The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 76… Rebecca’s Help… (Part One)

‘Well, thanks Charlie, for labelling me as a blooming nutcase.’ The three sat within the confines of the most respected and formatively noted Kings Head on the Moscow road within Charles beloved Bayswater. They looked upon with envy the wonderful food now placed before them on three over filled plates happily brought to their table by the welcoming arms of the landlady of this very cherished establishment.

‘It was the only way ‘Herby’ and it got you out of a hole, did it not?’

Herbert laughed, ‘It sure did. I knew you would come through Charlie, I knew I could rely on you. You’re a diamond Charlie, and that’s for sure!’

‘Herby, my very dear friend, that’s very human of you. But tell me, how did you meet such a formidable lady?’

‘I was weak Charlie, very weak. It was one night at “The Palace” she got talking to me and took me into her confidence. Said she had been very lonely since her husband had succumbed to a terrible chest condition. Well, you know Charlie, I’d had more than me fair share that night and felt sorry for the dear. She made arrangements for me ta see E’r agin that I forgot about, next minute she’s on me doorstep saying I had agreed to a settlement on a binding and she wus gonna see the Vicar and git me and E’r announced.’ Poor Herby paused for a moment and took a long thoughtful look at the dark brown frothy Beer now having been placed in front of him.

They ate heartily, the roast beef on old England, washed down with several glasses of The Kings Head’s finest French wines and some excellent single malts, by midnight they were all quite happy and ready for sleep. Charles insisted that ‘Herby’ should rest his weary ‘soul’ on the ‘put you up’ in the small  studio, a choice that was met with some gratitude.

Sleep prevailed into the late hours of a sunny 11.30 day, but it was the enticing smell of fried bacon and eggs that brought them all to their daily senses.

The “Brothers” had produced a sumptuous breakfast come dinner by the time everyone had emerged from their sleep, plates that displayed an array of interesting items procured from Charles newly acquired ice refrigerator.

Some days later Herbert did receive a writ from a certain dubious solicitor claiming that Mrs.Plum had been the victim of a arrangement that was breach of promise.

Charles advised Herbert to ignore this, feeling the woman had been hurt enough, and to pursue this would be more hurtful to her.

“I will talk to her, she is clearly very lonely. stated Charles, ‘She wants something out of life that she does not have.’ Esme and myself will go and see her. Perhaps some spiritual guidance will be help.’

The days began to pass and Charles gave much thought to this new role he had elected to take. Much crossed his mind over this time, until finally he knew where his stance would lay. In the days to come, he would once again, request Rebecca’s help, from that time in his past.

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Author’s Note…

I guess I just wanted to feature this lovely watercolour study by my dear friend Loraine Northwood, who has subsequently turned this into a rather beautiful greetings card… Well done Loraine!

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 75… The Return of Herbert Marks… (Part Three)

It was somehow in that moment of time that Charles could see the side of Esme that only her mother could have provided for her from childbirth. In that instance, he felt he was listening to Constance and in a way it warmed the cockles of his heart, just as a dram of whisky would have taken on the same effect.

Mrs Plum seemed to retreat a little at this relaxation in this revelation, seemingly, this had not been part of the singular mental state of her mind just now.

‘I have known Herbert for many years.’ said Charles. ‘He is a very dear and loving person. But he would not make a good husband for he has some terrible afflictions of the mind that trouble him from time to time. Do you know that just a few years back he was sectioned at Rampton for almost strangling his former wife to death!’

‘You mean to say that he has been married before.’ Mrs Vera Plum looked even redder face than before. ‘ My Herbert has been married before!’

‘Twice!’ retorted Charles. He knew he was not telling the truth, but this was the only way to rid this opportunist woman of her hold on dear ‘Herby’.

‘His first wife divorced him on the grounds of mental cruelty.’ he added for good measure.

‘Mental cruelty! exclaimed the now surprised woman. ‘Mr Charles, it would seem I’ve been very wrong in my affections for Herbert, I’ve been a foolish woman.’ Tears suddenly began to well in the eyes of Vera Plum. Charles too, then felt he had been a little cruel and yet, reassured himself that he was being loyal to his very dear friend.

‘You have been very honest with me, Mr Charles’, she added at last, ‘and very truthful, I know you do this out of friendship for Herbert and not wishing to hurt my feelings, I’m sure.’

‘A foolish woman thought Charles. No! that’s not it. To hide her vanity more like, then we all need a certain discretion in our lives.

The veritable Mrs Vera Plum had been shown a different path, very much to Herbert’s rejoiced state of mind, Charles suggested a slap up dinner of sliced roast meats and  potatoes for all at Kings Head public house in Bayswater’s Moscow road.

It’s on me,’ he declared, ‘So pick your tipple folks’

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Author’s Note…

Back to Back catch-up episodes of ‘The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp’ are available @ patrick-callaghan.blogspot.co.uk

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 74… The Return of Herbert Marks… (Part Two)

The sign above the door simply read Herbert Marks Theatrical Agency 3rd floor. Herbert’s long association with The People’s Palace as a placement agent was well known to Charles. That was an establishment of quite reputable entertainment on The Mile End Road serving up nightly its form of working men’s enjoyment. Now, here in Brick Lane, that venue seemed just a distant memory. Pushing the door inwards he and Esme took to the well worn and rickety stairs carefully counting each step in front of them.

‘I’ve been here before’ said Esme quietly. ‘More than once, and when I was looking for you again.’

‘I know sweetheart, I know, and I’m so thankful you did. The horror of Hinckley Common and that dreadful relative you had in France is all too vivid in my memory.’

They stove their thoughts, wishing Herbert could afford something a little less tiring on their limbs.

‘He needs looking after Mr Charles and that’s a fact. He’s in no fit state to see to himself.’ A rather rounded plumpish woman with a bright red face and a large black hat, sat squarely beside a forlorn looking Herbert and facing the visitors from the opposite side of Herbert’s unkempt cluttered desk.

‘You’re welcome to sit down, but that’s the extent of my hospitality’. She beckoned to the two chairs facing her. ‘I don’t know why he wants you here and there’s no need for it. He is in my charge now… For his own good!’ Her thrustful words silenced the two guests and for a moment they said nothing. Finally Charles ventured: ‘So you want to be married I understand?’

‘It’s for the best and he has agreed to the arrangement.’

‘Have you agreed.’ asked Charles, looking at Herbert.

‘Of course he has,’ was a sharp reply. ‘He has brave prospects and I have the ways to see that he gets them. He could be a master, a rich man and I’ll see to it that he becomes that!’ The determination in the woman’s voice was obvious to the three sat in homage, in the dingy little upstairs workplace, that Herbert called his home.

The woman was predomintant and clearly had set her mind on this rather shabby and yet, likable friend of Charles.

Charles could see diplomacy was called for and posed the simple question: ‘Is Herbert happy with those thoughts.’

Still Herbert had said nothing, his head bowed, looking down at his desk.

‘Herbert! retorted the woman. ‘Is quite sure! Aren’t  you Herbert?’

Herbert remained silent and sat quietly, declining to comment, perhaps wishing he might put his head in his hands.

At last, Charles forwarded politely, ‘May I ask your name madam?’

‘I am Mrs Vera Plum!’ was the curt reply.

A slight smiled creased across Charles mind. Somehow it reminded him of the game of “Happy Families” He said nothing.

‘Mrs Plum’ ventured Esme. ‘Are you divorced, is your husband still alive. These are considerations, you must admit?’

‘My dear Henry is no longer with us. A loving and devoted husband, if ever there was.’ A tear rose in one eye and she patted it gently from a crumpled handkerchief.

‘You say he was a loving and devoted husband, of which we have no doubt. But do you honestly think Herbert can ever replace him in your eyes.’ Esme looked thoughtfully at the soulful expression on the woman’s face. ‘Do you really think you would be truly happy with dear Herbert. Herby’ is at heart, a singular being, of singular habits, yes of kind habits to others, and in order to be that way, he has to be singular unto himself, and to be truthful to his beliefs. A simple belief in himself and what he is doing for others.’

Esme sat back in her chair. She looked seriously at the woman, and added, ‘I have a man like that. A man that has his own driving determination and I love him for that. Can you really cage Herbert like a bird, simply there to accept your will and determination and in turn to live out your fantasy life for you! Can you? You are wrong Mrs Plum, very, very wrong.’

 

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Author’s Note…

Some of you have asked where the lovely daffs beside a river (in the header) were photographed, well, I snapped this almost ‘Host’ on a visit to Barton Le Clay in Bedfordshire within the grounds of The Olde Watermill Garden Centre and Dickensian experience. I guess, the guys there just keep an eye on everything that grows…

http://www.oldewatermill.co.uk

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Granddaughter Shana Callaghan…

I guess, with Shana, it takes just a simple thought, to reach a beautiful conclusion……

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Snap Around…

“Well, how did we ever fit into one of those?”

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 73… The Return of Herbert Marks… (Part One)

It was late that following morning when Charles awoke, he glanced wearily at the unwound clock, its alarm had retreated some hours earlier. Esme lay gently sleeping beside him, it seemed little had disturbed her through the night. Downstairs he could hear the faint sounds of Toby or Barney moving around, perhaps even dealing with a client. He smiled to himself, perhaps they were tiding up for once. Lunch saw them all in the Parlour and enjoying a chicken casserole with some fresh crusty bread, all procured, cooked and provided by the brothers.

‘We thought, after your traumatic and welcoming night. You might both like a square and fulfilling meal.’ Toby looked at the others around the table and Barney nodded agreement.

‘But, how did you know?’ inquired Charles.

‘My dear friend’ replied Toby. ‘I have an insight into these things, or perhaps you are not so quiet as you think you are, when you move around at night.’ he winked and then smiled. ‘Please enjoy the chicken and vegetables.’

There were a few customers to the shop that day, they occupied Toby with studio portrait bookings and an occasional wedding appointment. It was around 4 o’clock when Barney took a telephone call from a man who gave his name as ‘Er’bert Marks and insisted on speaking to “Charlie or H’esme”

Charles had forbade disturbance that afternoon, had closed the door to the small middle floor studio and sunk his mind into doing the monthly accounts for the business, therefore when Barney tapped gently on the door and announced that an “Er’bert Marks” was on the phone it came as a sheer release for him. He almost tumbled down the stairs to the shop with anticipation, this was a man who in the past had offered him the most fascinating of picture endeavours.

‘Herby’ he claimed with enthusiasm, almost dropping the receiver. ‘How are you, it’s been a while.’

‘Charlie my boy it’s you.’ The fractured voice of Herbert Marks was unmistakable. ‘O’ws that lovely Es’me of yourn. It’s good to talk to yer. Here listen, I’s want you to do something for me Charlie, just for you O’l mate, do yer understand, for ol times sake.’

‘Esme is fine Herby, just fine, of course I will help you. What is it I can do for you?’

‘Well, Charlie, I got me self in a bit of a pickle, you might say, and I need your ‘elp. I knows you’ll understand. You got a really kind nature.’

‘Herby! What is it. Spit it out?’

Well, if I ain’t gone and got me self in a bit o’ bother, Charlie me boy.’ Herbert’s voice paused for a moment as if unsure what to say next. ‘ Its a woman yer see. A blooming woman Charlie! You’ll have to come and sort it out for me. She’s gone and talked me into a binding, would yer believe. A blooming binding Charlie.’

Charles could tell he was clearly upset and asked gently. ‘Do you mean Marriage?

‘Yea, yea… Marriage! You gotta sort this out Charlie. You gotta sort this out for me. I can’t be tethered to no woman.’

‘Ok, you can tell me all about when I get there and don’t worry Herby, it’s probably just some misunderstanding.’ Charles looked at his watch, he could be there in fifteen minutes. He would ask Esme to accompany him. She would have a woman’s perspective on dear Herb’s predicament.

Intrigued thoughts now crowded Charles mind “What on earth had Herbert got himself into this time?”

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In The Deep Mid Winter…

Ok, the fun continues, here’s another shot. Those guy’s on the Chiltern Hills really knocking themselves out!…

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