Join date: Jun 14, 2022


On three afternoons and three evenings of each of the next three weeks Rory visited Mr Dryden, to be coached in the matter of accountancy and business management .

Mr Dryden had in his early years been in accountancy, and later had become a solicitors clerk, and the reports he gave to Miss Kean on the progress of his pupil were most encouraging ‘He shows great acumen,’ he told her. ‘I think you have made a wise choice,’ he told her. But he also told his friends with a smirk that old Kean’s daughter had taken on a protege. ‘Ha! Ha! they said. Well, she wasn’t likely to get a husband, so she had to resort to a pastime. Yet, as some of them remarked, she ought to have known her place and picked her pastime from a grade higher than that of rent collectors, and this one by all accounts wasn’t a skin away from a common labouring man. If it wasn’t that the fellow was already married you could put another version to it, for as had already been demonstrated in one or two instances she was a strong-headed young woman who took little heed of people’s opinions. Look what she was like on committees. She had got herself talked about more than once for openly defying the male opinion. Of course, this was due to the type of education she’d been given. She had been sent away, hadn’t she? To the south somewhere, hadn’t she? That was her mother’s doing. So . . . well, what could you expect?

Rory was not unaware of Mr Dryden’s personal opinion of him. He gauged it in the condescending tone the old man used when speaking to him. But what did it matter, he could put up with that.

He was now receiving the handsome sum of twenty-five shillings a week, with the promise of it being raised when he should finally take over his duties. He’d had glimpses into what these would be during the past few days when he had seen the number of properties in Hexham and Gateshead, and the haberdashery and hatters shops that had been left by Grandfather Kean. All this besides the business old Kean himself had had on the side.

He became more and more amazed when he thought of what his late employer must have been worth. Yet never a night had he missed, winter or summer, coming to the office to pick up the takings, except when he was called away to visit his father. He had never, not to his knowledge, taken a holiday all the time he had been there, and yet he was rolling in money.

He wondered what she would be worth altogether. If she ever married, some man would come in for a packet. But apart from her not being the kind to take a man’s fancy he thought she was too independent to think that way. No one, he considered, could be as business-like as her without having the abilities of a man in her make-up . . .

It was Saturday morning and he had brought the takings from his two men—he thought of them as his now. She had allowed him to choose the-second man himself. This fellow was young and hadn’t done any rent collecting before but he had been to school continuously up till he was fourteen, and that was something to start on. Moreover, he was bright and eager and in need of work. He felt he had made a good choice. And he told her so. ‘Patterson’s doing well,’ he said. ‘Gettin’ round quickly. And so far he’s allowed nobody to take advantage of him, you know, soft-soap him.’


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