Albert Cunningham was sitting in his shop behind the counter reading the newspaper. The dog was snoring quietly near to his feet. The quiet sounds of customers not buying anything filled the shop. Suddenly the tinkle of the bell announced arrivals and Albert looked up. The gentleman, wasn’t he a knight, and the French lady from the other day were coming in along with a younger lady that seemed somehow familiar. The knight was looking rather the worse for wear and the young lady looked rather stern. Albert remembered where he’d sent the knight at that point.

open-1“Oh Bugger!”

“Hello, Albert,” said the young lady. “I don’t suppose you remember me. It’s been a few years.”

“There’s a vague familiarity,” he said. “Was I overly familiar with your mother a few decades ago?”

“No,” said the lady, “I’m Felicity Henderson.”

“Old man Henderson’s daughter?” said Albert.

“Exactly!” said Miss Henderson.

“Oh, Bugger,” said Albert, and Miss Henderson grabbed him by the collar and dragged him over the counter. The dog jumped up to look at the events, and Marie looked askance at the dog.

“Do give him my best regards,” said Albert in a gargled voice, “and let him know I shall return the money presently.”

“I ain’t here for him,” she said. “I’m here for them.”

She pulled Albert’s head toward the older couple to illustrate.

“Good day to you both,” said Albert.

“You sent poor Sir Jennings here on a right wild goose chase to that den of thieves in New Malden. Worse, he was practically force fed alcohol and swindled out of a not inconsiderable sum of money by the very gent you sent him to. He handed over a large slice of cash for a collection of beer bottles.”

Miss Henderson held up a bag which made a loud clinking sound. Sir John winced slightly.

“Well, he won’t be the first gent who handed over a large sum of money for beer bottles,” said Albert, “even if they are usually full.”

Miss Henderson pushed Albert’s head down onto the counter with a small thump.

“Albert, you may as well tell them, especially now,” said the dog. “I don’t think these are criminal masterminds.”

“You ain’t met her old man,” said Albert to the dog.

“Excuse me,” said Sir John, “is this hangover getting worse or did the dog speak?”

They all looked at the dog.

“Are you sure about this,” said Albert.

“They trusted you,” said the dog to Albert, “or at least the witch did. And now that … well, maybe they can help.”

“Very well. Gentlefolk, Miss Henderson, let me introduce Morag Mac Dubh,” said Albert. “Morag, you’d better go upstairs and get your father.”

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 8

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