Getting a Bargain

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Jack sipped a lemon and ginger tea, liberally laced with honey. “So what made you start the shop?”

Kadogan perched on the edge of a table in the back room. “Fiona saved my life. Her heart’s desire was to own a shop. So I opened a shop.” He shrugged. “It was that simple.” He frowned. “But a shop is not simple. For example, the candles are very complicated. I am always checking how many there are and how many there should be and when the deliveries are due. I have spent many hours counting candles.”

“And those who work here are also complicated.” Jack leaned forward to peer through the doorway into the shop. Mrs Tuesday was quietly terrorising a young goblin who had left a mess. “They must take some organising.”

“Fiona deals with the people.” Kadogan followed his gaze. “Though half of those working here seem to have somehow happened by accident. Lady Freydis hired herself. I had no idea that the Tarot reader would be a paladin. I took Ian in as a favour to Lord Spike in Huddersfield, which led to the employment of Callum and Jasmine – both wonderful servants of the shop.” He looked down at his hands. “I invited Mrs Tuesday here to help with the relationship between Steve Adderson and Fiona. It may have not been a good thing to interfere in their relationship, but Mrs Tuesday has been a valuable asset.”

“I can tell.” Jack said. He looked around the well organised back room, with the meeting tables and stock cupboards, the scrubbed steps leading down to the warehouse and the slant in the ceiling that showed the stairs that went from behind the tills up to the Tarot reading room and the lodgers’ quarters. “It’s very well set up. Do you ever regret it?”

Kadogan glanced at the goblin, hunched at the counter and nearly in tears. “It has been most entertaining.” He smiled malevolently at some of the memories. The smile softened. “And there is a wonderful comradeship.”

“But there is the issue of the marriage between Fiona and Steve Adderson.” Jack said. “She saved you and she saved me, and she is unhappy in love. We need to encourage this Steve Adderson. Who is he, anyway, to upset our beloved Fiona?”

“He is the son of Lord Marius and an extremely powerful sorcerer.” Kadogan said. “I don’t think I know any elfen that could stand against him.”

“That complicates matters.” Jack said. “But we still need to take him in hand.”

“What if we get it wrong?” Kadogan said. “Perhaps a beating would be inadequate.”

“I would feel better after watching Fiona sobbing.” Jack said, “But it may upset Fiona, and could perhaps just make extra work for her with nursing and such.”

“Steve is in love with Fiona. It beats through him like a pulse. I wish that he could show this to Fiona.” Kadogan said.

Jack frowned as a ginger tom cat strolled across the floor with a limp rat in his jaws. “The padre promised to help mend Steve and Fiona’s marriage once the issue with the hands had been sorted out. I think we can consider the matter of the hands sorted.” He grinned. “I think we can leave this to the Reverend Darren King. Shall we go and break the good news?”

“One moment.” Kadogan was listening. “I believe that this is the Lady Freydis arriving in her van. It could be entertaining, and then we can inform Reverend King of his duties.”

Dave lay back in bed and listened to the afternoon rain patter against the window. Elaine cuddled up to him and he stroked her hair. “We are going to have to get our days off together more often.”

“Absolutely.” Elaine stretched next to him and then propped herself up on her elbow next to him. “And what are we going to do for lunch? We could grab a sandwich and get back to bed.”

Dave sighed happily. “That sounds like a great idea.” He reached up and kissed her. “I’m starving.” His phone rang and he swore.

Elaine fell back onto the pillows and stared at the ceiling as she listened to Dave’s side of the conversation. “You’re on call?” She watched with appreciation as Dave rolled out of bed and started dragging his clothes on.

“I’m always on call. And Luke is busy with that business just outside Kirkham Abbey with the barghest. They want me to get down to the White Hart as soon as possible, though I’m sure it could wait.”

“What’s it about?” Elaine smiled as Dave paused, t-shirt in hand, his hair rumpled and his jeans still unbuttoned.

“Apparently Lady Freydis brought in some stuff to sell.” Dave said. “And nobody’s quite sure how she got it.”

Darren got to the White Hart around the same time as Dave. “What’s going on?”

Dave looked at Lady Freydis’ van, backed up to the doors and blocking half the entrance. “I’m not sure.”

Fiona met them when they came in, wiping their wet feet. “It’s all Jack’s fault.” She glared at Jack who was grinning as he lounged against the counter. “Though I don’t think it was deliberate – this time!”

Jack shrugged with supreme lack of concern. “My sweetest Fiona, you underestimate me.”

“You just take credit for mayhem whenever you see it, whether you caused it or not.” Fiona said. She looked at Dave. “Lady Freydis is getting into a state.”

Jack strolled over to Fiona, swept a bow before her and kissed her hand. “You have such a clear view of me, your insight is penetrating.” Behind him, Kadogan gave him a suspicious look.

“I swear, it was a surprise!” Lady Freydis said, rushing out of the back room. “I had no thought of goods. And of course he adored me.”

“What?” Dave asked.

“Mr Albert.” Lady Freydis said, waving her hand. “I have the papers here.” She shoved a large, disintegrating envelope into Dave’s hands.

“But you said he had no family.” Fiona said. “So it’s not like anyone has lost anything.”

“My reputation is dear to me.” Lady Freydis said, glaring at Jack. “I do not defraud someone by accident.”

“Indeed, my prince, you only defraud with malice aforethought,” Jack said.

“Exactly.” Lady Freydis said. “And here is Brand.”

Dave ran a weary hand over his hair and tried again. “What?”

“We’re going to have to get that van moved as there’s a coach party due soon.” Mrs Tuesday said, smiling at Brand.

“I could lift it out of the way, no problem.” Brand said.

“Don’t do that!” Dave said hurriedly. “Besides, Lady Freydis has a lot of skill driving a van and I am sure she can park it with precision in the back yard while I look at these papers.”

“He could lift the van, you know.” Mrs Tuesday tried not to laugh.

“Perhaps he can demonstrate it on a van that isn’t in front of hundreds of tourists and doesn’t belong to Lady Freydis. I have no idea what she could do to the van, but I heard all about the time it got stuck in a tree.”

“I shall move the van, with skill.” Lady Freydis said. Jack watched with interest as Lady Freydis climbed into the van, twirling her keys, and then lurched backwards with a grinding of gears.

“I don’t know if that is skilful.” He said.

Lady Freydis stuck her head out of the window. “Jack!”

He laughed, waved a casual hand and Lady Freydis reversed smoothly at high speed and then shot around to the back of the White Hart. “What is life without a little danger.”

Brand winced. “She is not to be trifled with.”

“Perhaps not too often.” Jack said. He glanced again at Fiona. “After all, what is life without a little danger and excitement.”

“A pleasant change.” Mrs Tuesday said, putting out the tea cups.

Dave started working through the papers. It seemed straightforward enough. Mr Albert Kellet had lived for 102 years, had no surviving family and died, leaving everything he owned to Freydis Green, also known as Lady Freydis, Prince of York and could she get his flat cleared by next Wednesday. “It seems straightforward. What’s the problem?”

“I did not influence him to leave me everything.” Lady Freydis stamped back in. “I wish to declare before a Paladin that this was honest gain.”

“And nothing at all like that business with the Cliffords.” Jack said, lounging against the till next to Fiona.

“What business with the Cliffords – and who were the Cliffords?” Dave said, looking up from a list.

“That was before your time.” Lady Freydis waved a hand while looking smug. “I believe that the last of the family died out several years ago.”

“How many years ago?” Dave asked.

Lady Freydis and Jack exchanged glances. “It was several.” Lady Freydis said. “But it was before the railway came.”

“It was before Queen Anne died.” Jack added. “That parson was far too easily bought.”

“I didn’t pay a penny,” Lady Freydis said with a feline smile. “He had other weaknesses.”

“But it was the new faith,” Jack said. “Was it before or after the Siege of York?”

“I get it. It was centuries ago.” Dave went back to the papers. “There isn’t a lot of money, but there’s four storage units.”

“He liked collecting things.” Lady Freydis said. “He looked for the strange and the unusual, and sometimes he bought things because they were inexpensive. Sometimes he just bought to make contact with a person.” She sat down at one of the tables. “He had been to many lands, and fought in wars. He used his computer and would play me strange songs from far countries and tell me tales.” She smiled sadly. “I could listen to him for hours. And I would tell him stories of the Legions and the Picts and the Vikings and he would listen and marvel. I shall miss him a great deal.” She brightened. “But perhaps I can sell his collections from the White Hart and pay for masses for him.”

There was a brief pause while Jack and Kadogan had a murmured conversation in the background. Darren broke the silence.

“I can include him in prayers, if you like.” He said. “He sounds like a character. Do you know what wars he fought in? I can perhaps find out about his regiment and comrades for you.”

“That would be a kindness.” Lady Freydis said. She jumped to her feet. “The coach party will be here in seventeen minutes. We must stir ourselves.”

There was a slam as Callum came storming out of the back room. “Who the hell left those boxes of junk in my warehouse?”

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