Thanks for the reviews, they mean a lot Depending on how fast I write, part 3 may be posted tonight or tomorrow night. Something I just realised- Julia Sawalha is left handed, this makes me happy :D
Pearl Pratt liked sitting by the window. She could sit for hours, if it was not for her busy schedule, and just watch people go about their business. She would of course never admit it, but she found dabbling in other people's lives much easier than facing the truth of her own- she was lonely. Over the last few days, this fact was becoming more apparent to her. She always found comfort in her sister but still couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. She watched as Minnie bounded happily across the street, only just avoiding a collision with a milk cart, into the arms of a waiting Alf. Laura and Daniel walked arm in arm into the post office, a look on utter contentment on their faces. She'd never had that.
She found her thoughts straying strangely to Mr. Cochrane. It wasn't that she found him particularly attractive, why she had hardly ever spoken to the man. She supposed that he was handsome, when she thought about it and he had an air of mystery about him. Yes, this was definitely one to mull over...
Dorcas was feeling harassed this morning. The news that Margaret Brown was with child had come not with Thomas but with Ruby Pratt, who burst into the post office before Dorcas could open the door properly. She was of course thrilled for them and planned to visit the Browns as soon as she had a free moment but this also meant that she was under staffed. She considered sending Minnie out with the morning's postal round but hastily changed her mind when Minnie managed to scatter a large pile of letters that Dorcas had spent at least fifteen minutes sorting out. She decided that she'd have to complete the round herself this afternoon. None of the letters were urgent so why not tie in the round with her meeting with Gabriel.
The tinkling of the bell above the door brought Dorcas to look up from the now re-ordered pile of letters.
"Good morning Pearl," she smiled approaching the counter "What will it be today?"
"Good morning Miss Lane...I was rather hoping to speak with Mr. Cochrane, is he about?" Pearl said distractedly, peering over Dorcas' shoulder to the kitchen beyond.
"I'm afraid, Miss Pearl, that he has gone over to Lark rise to discuss business with farmer Morris and shall not be returning for some time. May I ask why you wish to speak with him? Perhaps I can be of some assistance?"
Pearl finally snapped her head round to look at Dorcas "Hm? Oh no, Dorcas. I wished to speak with him about a private matter, thank you." Without another word, she swept from the post office. The smirk upon her features did not sit well with Dorcas.
It was five past two before Dorcas finally left the post office in Laura's hands. It was the first time she had left the post office with Laura, Thomas had always been around when Dorcas needed to pop out but she believed it was about time she trusted Laura with more responsibility. In any case, Mr. Parish was there should she need any assistance.
She was surprised to find that when she looked up from the ground the familiar cottages of the hamlet stood before her. Having been so absorbed in her own thoughts she had hardly noticed where she had been walking.
The hamlet was surprisingly empty, though she supposed that all the children were still at school, and she walked the length of the hamlet undisturbed to the end house. She felt a pang of guilt as she walked past Emma's door and continued along the fence, eventually spotting Farmer Morris and Gabriel in deep discussion in the middle of the field.
Dorcas stood and watched, not wanting to disturb, until the two men shook hands firmly and headed back towards the gate. Gabriel looked up as they neared the edge of the field and gave her a heart warming smile, causing her stomach to do a number of back flips.
Farmer Morris shook Gabriel's hands again before nodding politely at Dorcas and heading down the path towards his farm house. Waiting until the farmer was out of view and swiftly checking over Dorcas' shoulder to check they were alone, Gabriel ducked down as kissed her gently on the lips.