The Cart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story about a Victorian shop assistant


Late on the evening of the 21st December 1889, Elizabeth Day sat reading by the light of a single candle. She was tired but unable to sleep. Her day had been troublesome. It had started when she had been tasked with carrying four baskets of goods from her father’s grocer’s shop to the station for old Mrs Ladbury. 
‘How can a nine-year-old carry all of that?’ Lizzie’s mother had bellowed, annoyed that her Christmas cake decorating assistant would be taken away. Unfortunately, Lizzie had no choice as her father refused to let anyone down. Mrs. Ladbury, the retired postmistress, was notorious in their town for her fastidious demands. One did not say ‘no’ to Mrs. Ladbury. Like Lizzie, all of the town’s children were quite terrified of the fearsome old lady and her hawk-eyed glare. As such, Lizzie found herself gingerly balancing baskets of fresh vegetables, loaves of bread, a plum pudding and even a bowl of eggs in a one-wheeled cart down the steep cobbled lane to the railway station where Lizzie presumed Mrs. Ladbury would be intending to have a feast on the train. 
The winter rain had turned to sleet and Lizzie’s boots slipped and skidded on the worn cobbles. She could feel her grip on the heavy wooden grocer’s cart begin to slip. Using all of her strength to keep it upright she finally made it to the arched bridge which crossed the railway line to the platform on the other side. She could see Mrs. Ladbury waiting down on the platform; her large feather-plumed hat standing out even from this distance. All Lizzie had to do was push the cart over the bridge and lower it down the short flight of steps at the other side. But Lizzie’s hands had begun to go numb. Crossing the arch of the bridge, the cart began to pull away from her. Her vision obscured by the driving wind and sleet, she desperately tried to cling on.  Picking up speed, the cart slipped out from Lizzie’s grasp, rattled down the ramp, and hit the edge of the bridge with a deafening crack. Lizzie watched as it fell on its side, the contents of the baskets spilling in a culinary cascade down the stone steps towards the platform. Lizzie stood in horror as apples rolled off in all directions, one of them coming to an abrupt stop at the feet of a furious Mrs. Ladbury.

 


Submitted: June 01, 2021

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Short Story / Children Stories

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