Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
there are always dissenters, especially silent ones. Adelaide Nightingale Knee blew It was dissenting her heart out. She hurried along prospects main thoroughfare Hope Street on a bitterly cold spring day when no one could have foreseen the outrage that would bring horror and delight to the town in equal measure, her blond head was bent against the wind. Her large grey eyes were watering from cold and despair and, to bright pink patches of remorse, coloured her faintly freckled cheeks. She clutched a thin poplin coat about her toe ward off the weather, but it no longer met across her chest. It failed in every way to ward off anything, least of all the bitter knowledge that while she had been in charge of the shop, Archie Stokes had wormed his way from its perimeter into its precious centre, where he had become so procure of merchandise and sole keeper of the books. He wasn't the last word honesty everyone believed him to be. He was a liar. He was a thief. She knew it. She knew. He knew she knew it. She knew they both knew there wasn't a thing she could do about it. Now, Mrs Nightingale, he'd said just 10 minutes ago, You pay me to do the books, So leave the books to May. He'd smiled and winked at her. They both knew that every night he cooked those books and took from the till. Whatever amount, he guessed wouldn't be challenged by a woman famous for being as silly as a duck. Since she'd had her noisy baby, he was famous for his excellent business brain. He could, within seconds of clapping eyes on a customer, tell you how much they owed and how quickly but politely, he would refuse them further credit. No one doubted him for a minute, except Adelaide, who'd yet again failed to confront him out of cowardice and exhaustion and uncertainty. Adelaide Wars is certain about Archie Stokes is she could be, but she was blessed with the sweetness of nature that suggested second thoughts on everything she thought she was. Sure, but who would believe her? Not her husband, not his mother? No one she could think off, since she had never been sure about anything. The uncertainty raging in her poor, tired brain played on her face for the entire world to see. They were deep blue circles under the grey eyes that were blank from lack of sleep. There was misery about her mouth and something unkempt about her hair, which was a poor show in an eminent businesswoman. Not that anyone considered her to be a businesswoman anymore than they believed her husband to be. All there. She knew what everyone thought. Captain Nightingale had been back for more than a year, but there was still no sign of the bit of his mind he'd left in France. She sometimes wondered if he hadn't mislaid it locally in his youth. But in her eagerness to marry him, she'd failed to notice. In his absence, Archie Stokes had consolidated his position as young Mrs Nightingales trusted right hand man on whom she relied for everything because she was a bit of an idiot. This was how she was seen. Adelaide was sure of it. She looked like a woman who is failing to manage, who would never be able to manage because she had no idea how to run a household, let alone a store famous for the joy abroad. Too harsh, rural wartime living. She looked like a woman with a balling baby. She couldn't come a raging husband she couldn't pacify on a life far more complicated than anything she'd been prepared for. Poor Adelaide walking so fast along Hope Street that she could have been running, stifled a Saab. Did she care that women running in broad daylight look mad, however, saying they think they are, She did not. She was stupid and cowardly and also ugly. So what did it matter? That's how she looked. So that's what she would become. She had gone to the store in her capacity as the owner's wife, and yet, again she had failed to exert herself close to home. Adelaide began to run. It was well after lunch. Milk from the two o'clock feed was drenching her bodice, and she could hear the baby's screaming from the door 200 yards away. She thought she could hear Marcus yelling at the new housekeeper to make that baby go to sleep, and she pictured Pill McLeary, cooing and rocking and clapping and singing and skipping about the room. Banging a pan with a wooden spoon is the child grew ever more frantic. She didn't see Louisa Worthington backing out of her front gate on because she was leaving backwards. Luisa didn't see her. They crashed to the ground, each grabbing the other, although whether to save herself or her neighbour. No one could have told Adelaide. The taller by a good four inches and heavier by several stone fell on top of Luisa, who blinked at her in disbelief. Heavens, Louisa, what were you going there now? Not so gentle, Adelaide snapped. She pushed herself to her feet and yanked it Luisa's arm to help her up, but dropped it when Luisa didn't budge. You're not hurt, are you? Your baby's crying, Luisa said, screaming. She holds herself upright and brushed down her skirt. I'm on my way to the shop. Do you know if my tea has arrived? But Adelaide had already crossed the road, hurried down her path without looking back and close the front door behind her.