ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE by Adam Yamey is available at:
Jakob walked towards the shop, fretting about the lack of space in his home, and also worrying about his income. This had been reduced severely as a result of the deal that he had made with Reitlinger when he had borrowed the money to pay for Hendrina’s jewellery. He was so deeply absorbed in thought about these matters that he hardly noticed the bright start to what promised to be a beautiful day.
As he neared the shop he heard hammering. He looked upwards, and saw Amohelang and Matsimela, another native assistant who worked at the store, perched high above the ground on ladders resting against the verandah that shaded the lengthy stoep on which a variety of household and agricultural wares were displayed.
“What the…,” Jakob exclaimed, noticing on the new sign that they were attaching above the shop’s entrance.
In place of the old board, which read “Klein & Reitlinger Ltd., Traders”, they were attaching a freshly painted one that displayed the wording: “L. Reitlinger & partner Ltd., General Dealer”.
Barely acknowledging the two natives’ friendly greetings, Jakob rushed across the stoep, through the shop, and paused with his hand on the handle of the door that led into the office. After taking several deep breaths to calm down, he turned the knob, and entered the office.
“Good morning,” said Leopold Reitlinger, without looking up from the papers that he was studying at his desk.
Noticing that the hammering had ceased, Jakob returned to the door leading into the shop, opened it, and then shouted to Matsimela:
“Now that you’ve finished making that racket, bring me a coffee, please.”
And, then turning to his partner Leopold Reitlinger, he said:
“How about you?”
“I come here to work. This is not a café, you know.”
“The new sign makes that abundantly clear.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Reitlinger asked, looking up from his desk.
“That’s what I should be asking you,” Jakob said, tapping the bowl of his pipe on the edge of his desk. “When exactly did we decide to drop my name, from the name of our business?”
“I’ve got work to do,” Reitlinger said, rustling the papers on his desk. “We can chatter later.”
“Thanks,” Jakob said to Matsimela, who had just entered the room carrying a cup of coffee.
As soon as the native left the room, and before Jakob had had a chance to begin berating Reitlinger, a bell tinkled, heralding the arrival of a customer.
“Deal with that, Jakob,” Reitlinger said, apparently engrossed in his paperwork.
“As bleddy usual,” Jakob muttered beneath his breath, upset about the new sign as well as Reitlinger’s increasing tendency to treat him as an employee rather than as a fellow director, which indeed he was.
“Don’t just sit there. We don’t want to keep a customer waiting unnecessarily, do we?”
“I didn’t quite catch that,” Reitlinger said as Jakob noisily closed the door leading into the shop.