Writing

Reading Sundays: A SURPRISING CURE (Part 11) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

“You must be aware of the industrial strife that is now sweeping England.”

“Aye. We know.”

“This is an incitement to violence. Your overly inflated language is going to stir up trouble.”

“Edward,” said Miriam. “Don’t be so prissy. You’ve no idea about the lives of the poor.”

I stared at her in astonishment. Had she forgotten about my own poverty-stricken past? Had my monetary success as a solicitor to Bristol’s wealthy elite erased that fact from her mind?

“You’ve no imagination” remarked Miriam, letting out an exasperated puff of smoke. “You should go and live in the slums of Bristol.”

“Miriam,” I remarked. “I think it is you who do not understand. You have never actually experienced poverty. Your father was always able to provide for you. You do not know what it is like to be hungry.”

“How like you to throw that at me,” she cried.

I held up my hands. “Miriam, let me finish. I think you have forgotten that my family was left destitute when my father died. As a boy, I had to witness the shame of my own mother going to work as a housekeeper.”

She puffed on her cigarette, her eyes hard.

“What I want you to understand, both of you,” I let my gaze sweep over that arrogant youth, “is that I will not countenance this tract. If you persist in your plans to publish it—”

“—you’ll throw us out?” he drawled.

Miriam stopped smoking and glared at me, her features hardening into a kind of bulldog mulishness. “Fine. I don’t care. Come, Robert.” He disappeared with her. [To be continued.]