Short Story: “Secrets of a Shopkeeper’s Daughter”
Story written Dec. 23, 2014
Daily writing prompt by Writers Write photo.
“The stocky two-time widower lowered an armful of cut timber in a neat pile near the wood-burning stove. The flame, he noticed with weary eyes, was nary extinguished. His nostrils flared at the ineptness of his foolish sons. How oft of the tongue would he beseech them to keep a warm shop for the kingdom’s villagers? He angrily flicked snowflakes from his coat when, behold, he saw the package. His eyes, suddenly alert, darted nervously around the well-stocked store to ensure he was alone. It wasn’t illegal, but it was still frowned upon. Inside the package were books. Four books to be exact, if the order was fulfilled as requested, fresh from the printing press in the neighboring village betwixt the mountain and the sea. Although he was a fortunate shopkeeper and very good with numbers, the youngest of his eight living children – and his only daughter at that – inherited a love of books from whom he did not know. Not from him, and certainly not the girl’s mother, his third wife. While the regimented woman kept a good home and firmly delegated chores to his many sons, she opposed time wasters such as reading. She also jealously opposed any attention or gifts he might lavished on their young daughter. With a burdened sigh, he lifted the modestly-wrapped package. The smell of new parchment and ink, along with the weight and shape of the bundle, confirmed all four books hither. The wordsmith assured him the books were appropriate for innocent eyes of the weaker sex, but alas, he hoped this would be his final order. It was rumored that Her Majesty had recently walked the Castle grounds with a book in hand, but women were naught to be interested in reading, or learning, or having an opinion. He selfishly prayed that his daughter’s infatuation with books would wane before such time to consider an appropriate suitor for marriage, for he had high hopes that his daughter could attract a man of wealth, good name, and perhaps even a title. Anon, but for today, he’d hide the package in his mare’s saddle bag. He’d smartly wait until after his sons (those fools!) departed the shop for home. If his wife ever discovered the gift, he’d feel the devil’s wrath; yet for his beloved daughter and her happiness, he would pay any price – whether it be his gold, his dignity or his soul.” (c) Amy Oakley, 1027 Productions
Your feedback about this story is greatly appreciated. Thank you.