Lying on her bed, Muriel picked up the copy of Pride and Prejudice finding the book mark where she had left off. She would so like to be like the clever Elizabeth Bennet in the story who attracts the attention of Mr Darcy. She read five chapters before setting the book down undressing and getting into bed. Muriel had to be up early again in the morning for work. It was Saturday and she would finish at twelve and the rest of the day would be hers to do as she wished. She liked to go to the market held in Tynemouth train station’ she picked up most of her books from there for just a penny each. There was an old gentleman who ran the stall who took a shine to her. Mr John Stonehouse was an ex school teacher and had collected many books in his lifetime as an English tutor at Kings College. He had an excellent memory for books and could quote poetry from Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, and Shelley.
Muriel could sit and listen to him all day long. He was such an educated man. Now in his late seventies, Muriel still saw the sparkle in his eyes when he read from memory. His passion for literature was all too evident.
She was looking at a book by George Bernard Shaw when someone passed comment behind her that afternoon.
“Have you read Pygmalion Miss?’
“No she replied looking behind her to see a tall well dressed man with a neatly trimmed moustache.
“Forgive my intrusion but I couldn’t help noticing that you had picked up one of my favourite books. Hello I am Major Edward Forrester.’
“Hello; please to make your acquaintance Mr Forrester my name is Muriel Marshbanks.’
“Are you a writer Miss Marshbanks?’
“No, but I do love to read the classic novels.’
“Well I’m sure that you will enjoy reading this one.’ It tells of how a simple flower girl is turned into a lady by changing her speech and her manners.’
“Really; and what makes you think that I would enjoy reading it. Do you think me just a common girl?’
“No not at all Miss Marshbanks; I did not mean to insult you; I was merely just pointing out the storyline.’ “I am sorry if you feel offended by my comments.’ Can I make it up to you in some way?’ I know a little tea shop around the corner would you care to have tea with me.’
“I don’t know you Mr Forrester; you could be anyone; how would I know.’
“Ask Mr Stonehouse, he was my tutor at Kings.’
“I see, so you are a major in the army I take it.’
“I was yes, I work in a bank now, but people still call me major; it just seemed to stick.’
“So it’s nothing to do with trying to impress the ladies then?’
“Look can we start again I am Edward Forrester a simple bank manager in Newcastle. Would you care to have tea with me?’
“Can I just pay for this book first?’
“Let me get this in way of an apology please.’
Edward took the book to his former tutor and paid him.’
“You are in good hands Miss Marshbanks; Edward was one of my better pupils.’
“He is a gentleman.’
“Thank you, Mr Stonehouse for your vote of confidence.’
Muriel looked at the old man and he winked at her.’