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Published on July 23rd, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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Ann’s Story: Chapter Ten ‘Good Fortune’

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Yellow Magpie’s Saturday Serial continues with Chapter Ten. You can read chapter one,  two and three here.

As Ann was cleaning the house she began work on clearing out an old sideboard. She hated this dated piece of furniture which was too heavy and old fashioned for her liking.

It had belonged to her mother and was quite ornate with carvings on the cabinet doors and ornamented brass drawer handles.

She had a feeling it was an antique and might be worth money but she didn’t have a clue how much. She began looking at it with fresh eyes, taking in all the details of the patterned leaves and decorations. The more she examined the sideboard the more she was convinced it was worth something.

When she had finished tidying up she took a photograph of the sideboard and made up her mind to bring the picture  to the local antique shop to see if she could find out how much it was worth.

She then began thinking of how she would like to decorate her house making it bright and modern. It had been years since it was painted and wallpapered and it looked more than a little tired and run down.

As she looked around she realized it would cost thousands of euro to get it into shape, there was just so much to do. But she was determined to at least get it painted.

The next day at work she knew the time had come to tackle Mr Johnson about her redundancy package, she reckoned that under statuary redundancy she would be entitled to around fifteen thousand euro. She was hoping for more.

So with a deep breath she knocked on the heavy familiar mahogany doors which she had done so often in the past and entered the office.

William Johnson looked over his glasses as Ann said, ‘Could I have a word with you, Mr Johnson.’

‘Yes Ann of course, sit down.’

Well I was wondering about my redundancy, as you can imagine I need to know where I will stand in the immediate future and how much I will have to live on while I am looking for another job.’

Mr Johnson cleared his throat and rubbed his glasses with a white hankie which he pulled out of his breast pocket.

‘Well yes of course you are entitled to redundancy, but I haven’t thought much about it as yet.‘ he said.

Ann felt crestfallen, she couldn’t believe he hadn’t even given her a thought.

‘Well to be honest Mr Johnson, I am very disappointed, surely you don’t expect me to leave without paying my redundancy after 15 years service.’

‘Oh no, no of course not. I’ll tell you what, I will see what I can do, and why don’t you come and talk to me, say in a couple of days time.’

Ann felt she was being brushed aside and she could feel her temper beginning to flair and summoning up all her courage she heard herself speak in a strong, yet respectful manner.

‘Well you know under law I am entitled to two weeks pay for every year I worked here. By my calculations that would be fifteen thousand euro. But I was expecting more, given all my years of service over the years.’

She could see he was taken aback and his face flushed. But she didn’t care, she was furious. When she thought of the big fees he charged  his clients and how much money he must have been making all these years.

‘He really couldn’t give a dam about me, oh why didn’t I leave years ago and make a life for myself.’ she thought.

‘Well as I say Ann, I am quite busy now so if you don’t mind we will talk about it the day after tomorrow.’ He said curtly.

‘Well okay, but I would appreciate it if you could tell me on Thursday then,’ Ann said just as short back to him, her heart was pounding with the adrenalin of the moment and with pure anger.

He looked at her in surprise, in all her years Ann had never spoken to him like this.
‘Very well, now, if you don’t mind I have things to do he said,’ dismissing her.

Ann got up and walked briskly out of the office, she was determined to get what she was entitled to, years of keeping her feelings in check were boiling up inside of her.

Once outside Mr Johnson’s door she took her coat and put it on, ‘I’ll be back in a half hour’ she said over to Julie and Alice, and she was gone before they had time to ask where she was going.

She needed fresh air to cool down, once she got outside she didn’t know where to go and it was raining. So she went to the nearest restaurant and ordered a coffee and scone.
She sat back in the warmth and once again her life up to now began to pass through her head, but she quickly put it out of her mind.

‘Enough of looking at the past I need to think about the future’, she told herself . As she opened her purse to pay for her food she remembered the picture she had taken of the sideboard. She left to go to a nearby antique shop.

She knew she probably should go back to work but she didn’t care whether Mr Johnson was vexed or pleased. All she felt was anger at his selfishness and arrogance.

Ann had never been in an antique shop before as she didn’t have a great love of vintage things. They always brought to mind dusty woodworm infested timber and everything covered in cobwebs. She was quite surprised when she went into the shop to see the beautiful paintings and cute little knick-knacks.

Having stood in the shop for what seemed an age, a woman in her 60’s came out from behind a painted screen. She was petite with silvery white hair to her shoulders. She wore a bright red velvet full length coat which had a massive diamante brooch pinned to the lapel. Her nails were coloured bright red to match the coat and she had full make up on including false eyelashes. Ann thought she looked like a glamorous Hollywood star from the 1950’s.

‘Hello’, she said to Ann in a very cultured voice, smiling to reveal a beautiful set of even white teeth.

‘Oh hello’ said Ann.

‘How can I help you?’ the woman asked.

‘Well I have this sideboard at home which I think might be an antique but I am not sure, so I took a photograph of it and I was hoping maybe you could help me.’

Ann fished the photograph out of her bag and showed it to the woman who went behind her desk to fetch a pair of glasses. Propping the glasses on her nose, she took the photograph from Ann and examined it for a long time.

Ann’s began to feel embarrassed ‘maybe it is a load of rubbish’ she thought to her self.

After what seemed like an eternity she said. ‘It looks like a William the IV Mahogany Sideboard, but I am not one hundred per cent sure from the photograph.’

Ann was impressed and delighted that she might have such a historic piece in her home. ‘How much would something like that be worth?’  Ann asked, realizing that to this woman’s ears she must have sounded like a Philistine, but she was gone past caring and she needed money.

‘Well again if  it is what I think, then it could fetch between six and ten thousand euro.’

‘Really?’ Ann gasped delighted.

The woman began to laugh, ‘yes really.’ she repeated.

‘Well thank you so much that is such a pleasant surprise to get. What is the fee for your services?’

‘Oh don’t worry about that, just be careful not to undersell, if  that is what you are planning to do. My advice would be to put it up for auction. There is an auction in Kilmare every month. Maybe you should just go along and have a look and sit in on one of the auctions, it would give you a feel for how it all works.’ she said with a glint in her eye.

‘Thank you so much, you have been very helpful and I don’t even know your name,’ said Ann.

It’s Stella Robinson, everyone just calls me Stell, and it was a pleasure to meet you and good luck with whatever you decide to do with your sideboard.’

Ann felt elated as she made her way back to work. She realized she had been gone for over an hour but she wasn’t worried. She had some long overdue good news and she had a feeling that her fortune could be about to change for the better. At least she hoped so.

You can read chapter one,  two and three here.


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