Join date: Jun 15, 2022


But on that day in the inn in Durham, two Shields’ men—gentlemen—had come to their table to speak to Charlotte Kean, and she had introduced him to them. They were a Mr Allington and a Mr Spencer. He knew of both of them. Allington was a solicitor, and Spencer owned a number of small grocery shops. He had started with one about fifteen years ago, and now they had spread into Jarrow and beyond

After the first acknowledgment, they hadn’t addressed him again until they were bidding her good-bye, and then they had merely inclined their heads towards him. Oh, he knew where he stood with the gentlemen of the town. He was an upstart rent man.

Then came the day when Charlotte Kean showed her hand and brought an abrupt end to the game by laying her cards face up on the table.

They had returned from Newcastle where she had been to see, of all things, an iron foundry with a view to taking a part share in it. The journey had been taken against the advice of her solicitor. The Tyneside foundries, he had said, were unable to produce iron as cheaply as they once had done; the railways had killed the iron trade in this part of the country. But she had explained, and to Rory himself, that she could not follow her solicitor’s reasoning, for, as she saw it, people would always want iron stoves, kitchen grates, fenders, and railings of all kinds, from those that enclosed parks to small private gates; and then there were bedsteads and safes and such-like. She went on to say she wasn’t thinking of competing with Palmer’s and making ships but merely of supplying household requisites. What did he think?

He had answered her bluntly, as always, for he had learned that she preferred the truth, at least in most things. ‘I think that I agree with Mr Hardy; he knows what he’s talking about.’

‘And you think I don’t?’

‘Well, I wouldn’t say that you know very much about the iron trade.’

‘You are aware that I read a great deal?’


More actions