An excerpt from my NanoWrimo novel November 2008. It’s edit time in May with publication due 1st June.
The Cabinet Makers by Robbe Law
William Ezra Eagles was a frugal man of some 39 years, with a shock of black hair and a fashionably trimmed goatee beard which was now showing touches of grey. He was happily beavering away at his father’s legal offices in the heart of Buckinghamshire and he could scarcely imagine the twists and turns that his life was about to take.
As a solicitor’s managing clerk, at the establishment of Ezra Eagles & Sons, Dunstable Street, Ampthill, Ezra played an important role within the family business. Amongst his duties were Office administrator and accountant, business manager, maintenance of the professional diary, checking court lists for cases, and negotiating fees. All in all it was a very responsible position, despite the fact that his father may have had visions of seeing his youngest son being called to the Bar.
Ezra was a jolly, happy man, without a care in the world, apart that is from the daily niggles which I feel sure affect most legal practices the length and breadth of England. He had recently become wedded to Miss Elizabeth Foster, a spinster of the Parish of Caerleon on 12 October 1854 and this event had lifted Ezra’s spirits even higher, much to his amazement.
They had met during a case that Ezra had undertaken in association with the Cardiff Solicitors, Henry, Crease & Dwithman. Ezra was dealing with a creditor’s petition and he had taken the unusual step of visiting the debtor’s advisers in Cardiff to ascertain if there was any chance of recovering the debt without resorting to a long drawn out affair. Miss Foster, Elizabeth as he came to know her, was the step daughter of Henry Arthur Sproule, the managing clerk for that firm. On his first visit Elizabeth was departing as Ezra sat waiting for his appointment.
His mind travelled back the short time to that first eventful meeting.
As she came out of the office, arm in arm with her step father, Mr Henry Sproule, Ezra was entranced by her beauty and shot to his feet, hat in hand, stumbling forward in an unconscious bid to get closer. She was laughing gaily and smiling warmly at Henry, sharing some private pleasantry as she came face to face with Ezra. The laughter stopped and Henry strode forward, beaming smile and outstretched hands.
“Eagles… Ezra Eagles as I live and breathe. Dashed if you aren’t a chip off the old block! How are you meboy? How is the old block ..what ..? ” A hearty laughter rumbled deep in his ample stomach.
Ezra shook hands warmly and immediately felt wrapped in a closeness which was somehow missing from his life back in Ayslebury. After assuring Mr Sproule of his father’s wellbeing and that his journey had been pleasant and uneventful, he could not help but turn his eyes to the attractive female who was hovering in the background.
“Ah.. do forgive my rudeness meboy. May I introduce Miss Foster, Miss Elizabeth Foster… ”
Ezra felt a blush rise to his cheeks and his heart skipped a beat as Elizabeth proffered her gloved hand and he gently held it, perhaps for a second or two more than required and also a little too longingly.
“Miss Foster is my daughter.. well step daughter don’t you know. But, she is a real treasure to me and Mrs Sproule. As fine a daughter as any man could wish for and that’s as sure as donkeys like strawberries.”
Henry beamed at Elizabeth
“And this, my dear is Mr Ezra Eagles, youngest son of my old friend Mr Ezra Beaufort Eagles. His legal offices are based in Aylesbury. We fought side by side in Afghanistan back in ’39 to ’42. That was a time I can tell you … what… such camaraderie, such loyalty …never forget the times when we stood shoulder to shoulder, facing …”, and so he went on as there and then a desire stronger than any he had ever felt was born in Ezra Eagles mind.
He determined that he would leave no stone unturned, no path un-trodden, to woo this magnificent creature in an effort to make her his wife and partner.Miss Foster broke in on his reverie,
“Delighted to make your acquaintance Mr Eagles. And how is Aylesbury at this time of year? I must admit to some ignorance of the area although just last year I had occasion to sing in the choir at St Mary’s Church upon the occasion of a dear friend’s marriage.”
Ezra’s mind was unsettled for a moment as the thought crossed his mind that he had come so close to such a delightful lady without any knowledge and so recently.
“But Miss Foster that is quite extraordinary. I currently live not 50 yards from the St Mary’s Church and have done for this past 10 years. I quite often have the Reverend Gawthorpe to tea on a Saturday afternoon. My home in Castle Street is very humble but the front parlour overlooks the Churchyard and is so peaceful …..”
Ezra cut himself off quickly as he realised that he sounded as if he was drumming up business not unlike the fairground barkers who frequented his hometown several times a year.
“Well Mr Eagles, I shall make a point of calling on you if ever I am singing in the choir again, if that isn’t being too forward.?”
“I would be honoured Miss Foster. Please do not hesitate to call on me at any time, it would give me the greatest pleasure.”
“Ah …. now then ..what …”, said Mr Sproule in a jovial way.
“Let’s get on with this business meboy. I can see that the Sproule household will have to be making a journey to Aylesbury before long… what …”
With that recognition of a bond being formed Miss Foster took her leave of the two gentlemen with a fond farewell and Mr Sproule showed Ezra into his office. Ezra was floating on air, looking forward to a future visit and he found it a little hard to concentrate on the matters at hand.
“Now then meboy.. let’s get down to business, though I have an inkling that there may be other thoughts on your mind …eh? What…”, Sproule guffawed loudly, as if they had just shared an unusually comic remark between them and Ezra’s reverie came to a swift end.
For the next few hours the men had negotiated hard on a solution for their respective clients and at long last they came to agree a course of action which, they believed, would satisfy both parties. Ezra had taken his leave and made the journey back to Aylesbury with a heart on fire and near to bursting.
It had not been long before the Sproule household actually made their visit to Ayslebury and after just a few months Elizabeth accepted Ezra’s proposal of marriage.
“Oh yes “ thought Ezra “ Life has been extremely kind to me.”
Looking around his office he thought back over his good fortune. His life had always been acceptable; he had nothing to complain about. He had a good position in the family firm, a wide circle of interesting friends and a place to call his own. However since he had met and married Elizabeth his life had taken on new meaning. To say he was happy was really an understatement of the first magnitude.
At that moment the sound of a loud commotion on the stairs burst upon his senses and the door to his office was flung open slamming back against the stopper and revealing a distraught clerk imploring a giant of a man to ,
“Please sir… please sir … Mr Eagles can not be disturbed…I beg of you!”
Ezra’s face took on a frightful look as he backed away from the intruder who stood glowering.
“Ezra Eagles?” he spat out in a voice that resembled a volcano about to erupt, though in regard to erupting volcanoes Ezra had little knowledge.
“Y.. y yes” said Ezra mustering as much confidence as he could.
“I have an urgent message for you …“ boomed the giant. “Mr William Bowden – Marshall wishes to see you……. Now! I am here to take you to The Crown and Sceptre in Ampthill”
This work by Robbe Law is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License