Chapter Nine

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It took almost an hour and a half to put the shop back to rights and clean up the mess that had been created. A thin layer of dust and ash had settled on the shelves and there were discarded bandages and cloth dotted around the room. Doctor Ealing collected the used cloth and bandages with the intention of burning it since none of it would be of use again. Everything had blood on it, especially the floor.

Doctor Ealing and Robert helped us out when it came to setting the shop back, but Matilda and Mrs Ealing just stood in the doorway refusing to touch anything that might have had blood on it. I wondered what the did when they got a papercut. Although we were no longer involved in helping with the disaster at the match factory, Doctor Ealing was given periodical updates about whether or not they had dug someone else out and if they were dead or not. By the time we were finished, the death toll had risen for seventeen with ten people still unaccounted for.

"Thank you for your help today, it would have been a lot harder had you not stepped in to offer assistance," Doctor Ealing said.

"I'm just glad we could help. It was a terrible thing, but I'd like to think we did some good amongst it all. Besides, we found out that Rosie is excellent in a crisis, though her sewing needs some work," James said, he laughed slightly and placed his arm around my shoulder, pulling me into his chest slightly.

"Allow me to thank you properly. Dinner at our house tomorrow evening, a real thank you for all the help you gave to us today even though you didn't have to."

"Albert, I don't think this is really necessary, do you?" Mrs Ealing said. She stood awkwardly in the corner as though waiting to make a quick exit when the opportunity arose.

"It is necessary. Be at ours for seven tomorrow evening, we can discuss recent events there seeing as we were interrupted today. I'll let Miss Jenkins know you're coming."

I glanced off to the side of the room and watched Mrs Ealing fold her arms over her chest and appear to slump back against the wall of the shop in defeat. I expect she hoped never to have to discuss what had happened the previous day seeing as the explosion had stopped any form of conversation from taking place that day. Doctor Ealing, however, had other ideas. He appeared to want to mend the growing rift between James and his wife, but I didn't think that would be possible.

Mrs Ealing had always been stubborn, from the first day I met her I knew she had a stubborn side. Although Doctor Ealing was supposed to be the man of the house every decision, other than the agreement for me to work for them, had come from her. She had to be in control of every little detail, every little thing even if that included who had been invited to dinner. Her stubbornness had led to a lot of problems for me over the months I worked for them.

We finished up the last of the cleaning just as the sun had started to set it. The temperature had dropped significantly, but there didn't appear to be any sign of snow. Outside, people were still milling about and watching the clean up from the explosion which was ongoing and would most likely be going on long into the next few days. James said that rubble had been blasted far from the factory itself so it would be a long time before the street would be useable and the factory would be out of business for months.

I dumped a pile of torn-up fabric into a bucket beside the wall as the front door to the shop opened and Mr and Mrs Blacklock walked in, accompanied by Maisie. She wore a pale pink dress designed by James and had half of her hair tied back with a pink ribbon to accompany it. From across the room, I could see Robert refusing to look at me, but I was unsure if it had any relation to the conversation we had before or the fact that Maisie and her parents had just entered the shop.

"We wanted to come and see how things were getting on here, but it's chaos out there. I'd be surprised if you got any work down because of the state of it all," Mr Blacklock said.

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