There was the tiniest tap on my workshop door.
“Hello Molly. Come on in. Everything OK?”
Molly blushed and did that little bob curtsey thing she does. “I’m so sorry to bother you, Mrs Steampunkle, ma’am. I wouldn’t normally. It’s just that this is something rather important ma’am.”
“Molly you’re welcome anytime. So what is this important thing?”
She rummaged in her pocket and brought out a rather crumpled envelope. To my surprise, her eyes filled with tears.
“Ma’am, you’ve been so good and kind to me,” she blurted out. “You gave me my first job, and it’s such a good job, too – reading books in the Literary Emporium you built especially for me, and showing the customers how lovely all the books are… And they are lovely too. I really, truly mean that. I just don’t know how to tell you this…”
The poor child began to sob in earnest.
“You want to move on,” I smiled. “Is that it?”
She gasped. “OH! How did you know? I’m so sorry but yes, ma’am. I do. You see I’ve had this letter from her ladyship – Lady Josephine, ma’am, the Lord High Admiral’s wife. Imagine her writing a real letter to me! She tells me that she has met Mr Ashley Miller, the famous author of that wonderful book about Brasston and that he is going to accompany them on their visit to that great city, in the dirigible. But, oh! Here is the amazing part, ma’am – she says that as it was me, or is it I? As I was the person who first discovered and showed her the book, they’d like me to go with them on the journey. I’m just so happy and proud, ma’am, I could burst. Imagine an ordinary little girl like me taking a ride in the Lord High Admiral’s craft! And I’ll get to see Lady Josephine again – she was always so kind to me, ma’am. AND I’ll get to meet Mr Ashley Miller in person! Oh and I’ll get to visit the amazing, cosmopolitan city of Brasston!
“But that means, ma’am, that I’ll have to leave you and the Emporium, and whatever will you do, ma’am, to get the visitors to come and read the books if I’m not there to encourage them?”
It would have been quite wrong to laugh, despite the comical appearance of this agitated child – lauging one minute and weeping the next. I did my best to mop up her tears and assured her that she must of course go on the journey to visit Lady Josephine and accompany her on the expedition to Brasston.
“We could ask young Alice to take over your job in the bookshop,” I suggested. “She is a very keen reader.”
Molly clapped her hands in delight and agreed that this was a splendid idea. I then told her I’d found her ladyship’s partly written journal in a dusty corner of Steampunk-Shrunk Towers and asked Molly if she would kindly take it with her, so that Josephine could continue to keep a record of her adventures.
“Oh yes, ma’am, of course I will. She will be so pleased to have it back. And if you would be so kind, might I also take one of our blank notebook and pencil sets for Mr Ashley Miller, ma’am? Being a famous author, I’m sure he would want to keep a record of the journey for himself.”
“Molly, that is an excellent idea. Pop down to the Emporium and choose one for him, then we must help you to pack.”
There followed many tearful ‘thank yous’, interspersed with at least a dozen more ‘ma’ams’. I am happy to say, though, that Molly set off on her long journey North this morning and will soon be reunited with the Admiral and his lovely wife, and all of us here wish them a most splendid adventure together.
More information on Ashley Miller’s Lego-Steampunk fusion book Brasston can be found at this link.
Molly’s Literary Emporium will continue to sell books, both at Steampunk-Shrunk stalls and in our Etsy shop at this link.