Garrison Fields

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Chapter 31 - The name above the door

As was expected, Jane made a resounding success of managing the General. She seemed to have brought new life to it, she performed both Mr and Mrs Dunbar’s jobs with relish and managed the staff with a firm but good-natured resolution. Indeed, many of the men on the way to work on a morning, she had known from childhood and it was her good cheer that now greeted them on a morning. There were of course small problems, some which seemed insurmountable at the time, but no resentment was seen from the other staff, and this can only be attributed to the positive way in which she encouraged all.

On the return of the Dunbar’s from their first excursion, they found all to be in such good order that they declared their absence to be a positive boost for business. Unknown to Jane this was a test and she had passed it with flying colours. Now what was to be done? Jane had thought her excursion into management to be an occasional luxury whereby she would earn a little extra. On the Dunbar’s return, Mrs Dunbar after reviewing the books declared.

‘Well Jane everything is in order, now next week Bob Jenkins from the Royal Oak has to go to the infirmary, he’ll be off for a month. I want you to look after it, so I’ll let him know that you’ll be coming up tomorrow, you’ve been up there at the bottom, time to go in at the top.’

The following day Jane met with Bob, he was over-joyed at the success she had made of the General, and with her quick mind and his need to be packing, they soon had been through the cellar and contents.

He had already prepared a list of the days all key tasks and accounts fell on and stayed that evening to make sure Jane had got her feet under the table. There were a few curious looks, but on the whole her reputation was now preceding her as a fair and honest manager. Her time at the Royal Oak flew by. After the month was up, she returned to the General Wolf at 5a.m., the following morning to resume her tasks as cleaner.

As usual she was punctual and having been given her own key some time ago, a sure sign of trust, she let herself in and began. No sooner had she begun than she heard Mrs Dunbar enter the bar area, she looked up from cleaning out the grate of the fire in the bar.

‘I was hoping to catch you before you started this morning, sit down a minute I have something to ask you.’ They both sat down at one of the tables by the fire.

‘You know I’ve had my eye on you for some time, well both me and Mr Dunbar have come to the conclusion that we want you to stop the cleaning and take on being our relief manager at the other pubs and also to look after the late shift here. It would mean more money and there’s a bed and put-you-up in the attic rooms that you can use for you and Ted. It’s quiet and warm and you can use the kitchen in the pub. Mr Dunbar and I are looking at spending time down south for his health. We could only do it with your help, it would mean your name above the door eventually. What do you say?’

There was no decision to make and within seconds all was agreed. A knock at the front door interrupted the conversation.

‘Oh, that’ll be the Alice, you know she’s been doing the cleaning while you were managing the Royal Oak, well its good news for her as well. I didn’t know what I would say to her if you had said no, she really is a good girl. So that’s all settled, I’ll let her in and tell her the good news. I asked her to come in quarter of an hour late this morning so that I might talk to you. Well, its good news for all this morning. I really am so happy for us all and Mr Dunbar will be pleased everything is settled.’ And with that they all rose, Mrs Dunbar to let in the new cleaner.

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