Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s (Part 02)
It was on a rainy Friday afternoon in May when, Harry Edwards, a rather tall gaunt looking middle-aged man in an ill-fitting rain coat entered Paige Turners and stood dripping on the doormat.
The raincoat was ill fitting because he had to borrow it from a colleague when he realized it was raining so hard.
He stood on the mat for about a minute with the rain dripping off him before venturing further.
He was immediately struck by the fact that, although it was 2003 the overall ambiance of the place felt much, much older.
When he moved he took no more than three steps and then stopped again as he looked around at the rows of shelves full of old musty old tomes and sighed with resignation at the enormity of the task ahead of him.
“Oh hell” he muttered
“Can I help?” Paige said flatly accompanied by a weak smile
“I do hope so” Harry replied brightly
“I’m looking for a leather bound copy of “The Coral Island” by R M. Ballantyne”
“We have several copies of that” She said “Did you have any particular date of publication in mind?”
“Anything from the 19th century” He replied
“I have a nice clean late Victorian copy that might suit” Paige said and went off to retrieve it.
“Here we are 1890, red leather binding, very good condition”
“Excellent” he said handling the book “How much?”
“£150” She said without emotion.
He thought she was probably overcharging him but he didn’t care, it was exactly what he was looking for and it was well within his means.
And it was his Uncle’s birthday the very next day and given the inclement weather he didn’t really fancy going in search of another bookshop.
Also there was something about her that he liked behind the mannish spectacles and frumpy tweeds, he wasn’t sure what it was but he thought there was more to her than the dust jacket suggested.
“Great I’ll take it” he said
Harry Edwards had lived and worked in Finchbottom all of his life and after getting his Law degree he started working at his Uncle Henrys firm of solicitors, where he was now a partner.
It was fairly unexciting work, involving quite a lot of conveyancing, wills and minor boundary disputes but he liked it well enough.
Incidentally Barrowman, Clarke, Braithwaite and Edwards were the executors of Maureen O’Brien’s will and although that has no relevance to the story it does add a certain symmetry to it.
Harry was forty five years old and had himself suffered tragedy in his life, his father died suddenly when he was at University, his mother was struck with early onset Alzheimer’s and was now in a care home and the previous year he had lost his wife Celia to breast cancer, but unlike Paige he didn’t lock himself away from the world, but then he did have a network of family and friends to draw comfort from.
On the Monday morning after a big family weekend to celebrate Uncle Henrys seventieth birthday Harry was feeling a little jaded and in truth was almost relieved to get back to work for a rest.
By lunchtime however he was feeling a little more human so as it was a bright warm spring day and as his office was only a ten minute walk from Paige Turner’s, the notion popped into his head to call in and tell the proprietor how delighted his uncle had been with his gift.
He wasn’t quite sure why the notion entered his head nor where it came from but he still thought it a good idea.