Life With Mabel: Part Twenty

This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 780 words.

Doing her best to get on with life, Mabel tried to throw herself into her work. That was easier said than done in a provincial branch of Woolworth’s that was only really busy late in the week. Reg was riding high in his job. They sent him on training courses around the country, and he even got to go back to London for a week. The company put him up in a hotel, but he took the opportunity to visit his parents, and Mabel’s mum and dad too.

That week he was away, Mabel received an official-looking letter. She almost never got letters, so sat looking at it for some time before she opened it. It was from a solicitor’s office in the town, Harrison and Colyer. Albert Colyer asked her to make an appointment to come and see him about ‘something to your advantage’. She read those four words over and over, wondering what they could mean. The next day at work, she used the manager’s office phone to ring him, but had to make the appointment with his secretary for after work the next day.

Mabel had never been inside such an office. It was like something from Victorian days; all dark wood, lots of books on shelves, and leather-covered chairs. Albert Colyer was smoking a pipe, and he was very welcoming. She declined his offer of tea, and sat quietly in the proffered chair as he skimmed over some papers on his desk. He seemed quite old, by her estimate. At least sixty-five.

“Well then, Mrs Price, I have some good news, news that you might not be expecting. I am handling the affairs of Nurse Finch, who was sadly killed in a traffic accident. It seems she had no remaining family, at least none that we can trace. So I am pleased to be able to inform you that she left everything to you”. He paused, consulting the paperwork. “Just to you, you alone, and not to include your husband Reginald. Is that a surprise to you?”

With her eyebrows almost touching her hairline, Mabel replied in a shaky voice.

“Really? Yes, that is a surprise. She was our next door neighbour, and my very good friend. She was very nice to me and my husband when we moved here from London. But she never spoke about leaving me stuff in her will”. Colyer smiled, and banged out his pipe in the large ashtray in front of him.

“Oh, it is much more than stuff, I assure you. Not only does it include the house, and all of its contents including a television and a new refrigerator, there is the handsome sum of almost two thousand pounds”. Mabel had to compose herself. “I might take that tea after all, Mister Colyer. With sugar if you have enough”. As she sipped her tea, Mabel tried to take it all in. They had paid less than four hundred for their house, and now they could pay off the mortgage. Then there was the value of Winnie’s house, if they decided to sell it. On top of that, the two thousand pounds was an absolute fortune, and would change their lives completely. But she already knew she would have to be firm with Reg, or he would try to spend it all.

There were some papers to sign, and Winnie knew she would have to open a bank account in her name to cash the cheque that was handed over. The solicitor could see that she was overwhelmed. “Take your time, there’s no rush. I recommend the Midland Bank. The manager is very reliable, knows his stuff”. After shaking his hand, Mabel left the office holding Winnie’s keys to her house, and the cheque for one thousand, nine hundred and seventy pounds. She had agreed to leave the deeds in safe keeping with Mr Colyer for now.

Before Reg got home at the end of the week, she sat as if in a dream. Winnie had secured her future, a sign of the true love they shared. The tears flowed, and she knew she could never have thanked her enough. Then she put her coat on and walked down to get fish and chips for dinner. When Reg arrived, she told him what had happened. He dropped a chip out of his mouth with the shock. Then Mabel brought him back to reality. “She left it all to me, Reg. Just me. She was very specific that none of it was for you”. He took that without complaint, but sat thinking for a moment.

“I can go and get her television though, can’t I? Nothing to stop us having that”.

38 thoughts on “Life With Mabel: Part Twenty

  1. I finally had the delightful experience of reading the whole series up to now. Once again you have created believable characters in Reg, Mabel and Winnie. As I have said before, characterization is one of you strengths and no two characters ever seem like duplicates of previous ones. Great series about ordinary life. I did hope that Reg found a man. Probably will stick to fishing though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading it all up to now. I am pleased you enjoy the characters. They are based on a mixture of people I knew in the early 1960s. Life was very different then of course. As for Reg, it seems he is destined for better things in his job.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.


  2. (1) Printed on the back of Albert’s business card: “You may call yerself a client of Mr. Colyer.”
    (2) I picture Albert Colyer as an older Henry Higgins. I wonder if Reg calls Mabel “my fair lady”? (If not, Mabel should train him to do so.)
    (3) Bad citation: “With her eyebrows almost touching her hairline, Mabel replied in a shaky voice, ‘If it weren’t for my receding hairline, my eyebrows would be lost in my bouffant, like shrubs in a forest!'”
    (4) Winnie the Pooh was a stuffed bear. After he died, he left all of his “stuff” to Christopher Robin, who was not related to Winifred Finch, though both were odd birds.
    (5) £1970 is handsome sum. £2023 would be even handsomer. (And, yes, “handsomer” is a dated form of the word now.)
    (6) Reginald was hoping to get Winnie’s house and some of that money so that he could build miniature train sets that would rival the ones at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona.
    (7) As Mabel ate her fish and ships, she dreamed of sailing around the world in her own sailing ship. (Reg loved to fish, so he could provide the “catch of the day” for dinner.)
    (8) Did you hear about the cigar store Indian that dropped a chip out of his mouth?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well that will be Reg stuck in front of the telly every evening, except of course when he’s away with his dynamic career! You can look up old copies of the Radio times and see exactly what was on TV then… though I guess for Mabel, Emergency Ward Ten would bring back sad memories of Winnie…

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yes. When my parents divorced in 1976, my dad, was considered to be in charge of all the money from the house sale and joint savings. Mum had to rely on him to divide it fairly to salve his conscience. In the 1950s, the man was ‘King’. That’s why Winnie left everything only to Mabel.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. My mum did not have a separate account at the time, and with her name not on the deeds, she was vulnerable to my dad’s whims. We will see how Mabel manages to avoid that trap.


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