“What a pity,” Percy Thwaite-Rumbleton remarked to me recently, “that you were not blessed with a son to help you run your business and ultimately inherit it. A man of your advancing years should be able to retire to his workshop and concentrate on tinkering away at clockwork, without having the tiresome business of selling to contend with.”
It set me thinking, I can tell you, although not along the lines Percy intended. Certainly I have often yearned to be freed from the chore of shopkeeping and I feel increasingly drawn towards inventing ever more complex and exciting timepieces. The lack of a son, however, had not affected me in the least. Thwaite-Rumbleton is not well acquainted with my wonderful and resourceful daughter. Who needs a son, with such an excellent young person to provide assistance?
Obviously, I had to ask Scarlett if she wished to become involved in the family business. I would never wish the dear girl to feel duty bound to work with me if her fancy took her elsewhere. Fortunately, she was positively exuberant when I suggested it.
“You mean I should run the emporium, Papa?” she squealed. “I should be responsible for showing your creations to discerning customers? I should take out trays of pocket watches and assist gentlemen to choose from them?”
“Is that something you would enjoy, my dear?” I asked.
“It would be wonderful!” she exclaimed. “I can’t imagine any occupation I would prefer. Naturally I would need to be neatly attired, so as to show our establishment to be of the highest quality. I think I would have to purchase several new gowns, in the latest style. It would never do for our patrons to see me as a child. I am, after all, thirteen years old now, and very nearly a woman.”
After several rather costly excursions to the costumier and one to the hairdresser, Scarlett declared herself suitably coiffed and attired for managing our modest clockmaker’s shop in High Holborn. It was quite a shock to me to see her so adorned, when scarcely a month ago she still wore her (formerly) blonde hair in ringlets and dressed in pastel-coloured children’s frocks.
I wrote a new sign: E. Crackington & Daughter, Clockmakers and framed it to hang on the wall. Next, I had to build a low shop counter, since the existing one was rather too high for her to stand behind and still be visible to customers. She is quite small for her age.
Now at last I am freed from the drudgery of serving customers and waiting around in the shop, while my enterprising child is thoroughly enjoying her new career and proving to be most efficient and popular with our clients.