February 6, 2006 at 8:19 am #1631CatherineParticipant
(Thanks and XP to Egeria Fellows!)
The lacquered shingle of ~Madame Renault’s Dress Making and Alertation Shoppe~ caught the steady wind easily, which tossed it to and fro mercilessly. Tucked safely inside, and atop the sill, was an even thinner plaque leaned against the glass to show that the shoppe was open for business and accepting customers who came to call. The shoppe was empty, which found the widow herself even more frantic and fussy than she was when it was full of customers, making Egeria wish that she was deaf instead of blind.
Octavius strolled along the block of the lower middle class district, until he caught sight of the sign for the shoppe. He stopped before it, looking idly into the window, and then down to the card, held in a gloved hand, that the blind seamstress had given to him. Yes, it looked like it must be the right place. He might have been a bit surprised to find that she wasn’t working in some slum, but, well, that was witchcraft for you. He pocketed the card once more, and entered the shoppe, looking around with a slight curiosity.
Immediately he was greeted, guerilla fashion, by the Madame herself. She was as old, slight, and waifish as the shingle hung out front, but came complete with a cheery disposition that could have been accused as being equally as wooden and two sided. She would kiss his hand, and with the same delicate consideration, led him to the sitting room, the downstairs of her flat before setting off to fix him a cup of tea. Egeria was there, seated to a far corner of the room for the good lord knew that she would not be out sightseeing on this day, or any other. A wedding gown was being tended to, embellishing it with pearls to form flowers, leaves, and sprigs while her head was lifted and staring off into the cracked open window.
He watched her work in silence, growing more convinced by the moment that occult forces were at work here. Yes, he could feel them, deep in his bones. This devil-woman was remarkable, though, he had to admit to himself; she possessed a certain grace lacking in many seamstresses and, indeed, women on the whole, who still maintained the use of their eyes. A pity she was so obviously in league with the forces of hell, having given up her immortal soul for the abilities presented to her. After a short time watching her, he spoke. “Good day, Miss Fellows. If you don’t mind me saying, watching you at work is even more remarkable than merely seeing the finished product.”
“Oh…Bishop. Good evensong,” her head would turn towards the voice, either she was lost in something, work aside, or she truly did not take notice of his arrival within the room. The dress hung down from her lap as she smoothed one of the panels she worked on over one knee, leaving hands free for just a moment. The needle was lifted and pinched between her lip and teeth while the other hand stretched to a scented tallow candle burning on the sill. Either safe from the draft where it was placed, or by other means, the flame did not flicker. It remained still until the pinch of her fingers stuffed it out from the wick so that she would not burn her hair when she turned to speak. “Have you tears in your garments?”
The manner in which the candle didn’t flicker merely lent more credence to his belief that she was a practitioner of the forbidden arts. Had this been someone else, he would have been more inclined to be of the belief that the candle had merely been sheltered from the air, but given all the other peculiarities about this one, such a notion was dismissed outright. “No, I haven’t. That being said, however, I find that wear and tears do occur from time to time, particularly amongst some of the younger members of the clergy. I thought perhaps I would take you up on the offer to stop by the shop and see for myself the marvelous work you do. Perchance some sort of contract may be arranged.”
It was timely for the widow to have steeped his tea, and set the pot to it’s tray by the time he said the only ‘c’ word the only lady would not be offended by. “Of course your excellency. I shall fetch the ledger books right at this moment, Egeria, come pour while I do.” The clack of gawdy pin-heels ascended the stairs, all three sets of them, and the widow was gone. Egeria’s dead eyes followed the sound, took pause, then slid her pale attentions back to the Bishop, “and the deal is done,” she said with a slow let of air from her lungs. The dress was taken up carefully, and pinned to the dum-woman, leaving hands free to stretch lightly from her sides as she found her seat across from him. Without pause she set about fixing his tea.
He watched her move across the room, noting the way she pretended to rely upon outstretched hands to find her way about. There was no doubt that she was blind; that much was certainly truth. However, whatever spirits or conjurations gave her power would obviously guide the movements of her feet as well as those of her hands. “Thank you,” he said when the tea was fixed, lifting cup and saucer into his hands. “However, I hardly think it appropriate to consider the deal closed as of yet. I’ve yet to hear Madame Renault’s terms, after all. If I may ask, Miss Fellows, do you take the full brunt of the work load, or does Madame Renault, or others, assist you?”
“Whatever the widow sets her mind to, she achieves.” It was the only matter to chuckle about, though Egeria found herself a victim of the widow’s will in her own right. Delicate hands twined to fold, resting to the end of her lap. “The Madame and I work the shoppe.”
He smiled mildly, a gesture made useless by the woman’s lack of sight. He took a slow sip of tea, then rested the cup upon the saucer once again. “Should an arrangement be finalized, then, I shall seek to make it known to the others that we are not to overburden you, and that care must truly be taken with their garments.”
“Care good sir?” Egeria tipped her chin well over her shoulder, towards the stairs, before leaning to hush her words, “if it were not for our care, and the lack thereof of our patrons. Then I’d imagine all seamstresses would be beggars or worse.” Lifting herself to the clack of heels descending the stairs, her smile would pause till the woman found herself to the stairs end – without ending herself. “Forgive me, I speak out of line. I am passionate about my work, and I am thankful for the carelessness of others, as I am certain you could understand.”
“An honest living is a noble pursuit, Miss Fellows. I didn’t mean to imply we would stop the amount of business sent your way, only that we would try to keep the flow manageable. After all, it would be dreadful to see your fine work suffering, and to deprive either us or your other customers a timely turn around in the mending of their garments.” Another sip of tea, and he again watched her move, again noting what an oddity she was, this heretic.
It was a wonder that Egeria was not mistaken for the many throw pillows that adorned the two couches for the manner in which the widow flopped down upon them, nearly atop the blind woman. Her ledger book spread across her lap, a grand thing in and of itself that spoke of the shoppes many successful years. “What arrangements can we make your Holiness?” The woman waited, panting from her rush, and eager with her pen. Egeria however remained as still and fixated as the nearby lamp or sewing table.
The mild smile returned over the rim of his teacup, as he regarded the elder woman. “I would like to consider having this shoppe handle repairs to any garments belonging to the clergy in my diocese, assuming, of course, that a suitable arrangement can be agreed upon.”
“Name your terms. I’d not have the clergy’s garments tended to by any other shoppe but this one.” Even if she suffered cost at her own expense, the prestige that followed such business was worth the weight of both pearly gates. She smiled, while Egeria stared, off and away in her quiet.
His smile grew slightly, and took a tint of something else along with it. “I am pleased to hear it, Madame Renault. You must understand that we of the cloth haven’t much in the way of coin to spare, as so much of what we receive must go to aiding others in reaching the Lord. However, I am certain that the members of our flock would be more than pleased to hear of the grand work done in your shoppe. If this much, at least, is acceptable, I have but one more small request. Little more than a trifle, really.” Another sip of tea as he watched both of the women to see their reactions thus far.
The woman’s eyes widened. She remembered instantly the story of a fish monger saving the smallest mackerel of his catch for his family, only to find that when he sliced it open at the dinner table there was a gold ring inside of it. The woman’s widened eyes soon smiled along with her lips as she cooed sweetly to the Bishop, “Most certainly. Please, speak on.” Egeria however, cared little for money or the lack there of as her wages would not change while the Madame continued in her penchant for survival.
“It would, of course, be unseemly for the clergy to partake of the services of any but good Christians, and so I must request that as part of the arrangement both you, Madame Renault, and your employee, Miss Fellows, attend services at our Church weekly, and allow for us to take your confession, as well.”
Before her hand could be raised in a quiet beg of pardons, the Madame had taken his own to press a kiss to one of his rings. Had she sight to make use of her eyes with, she would have bore daggers into his skull as her hand was swatted away. Egeria grit her teeth beneath the calm of pressed lips and stoic features. “Certainly, your Holiness. We have been, every week but those in which you have come to call to your new flock. This season has kept us both at odd hours but you will be certain to see us through the weeklies.” It was a hard and bitter pill but Egeria did swallow it and moved to stand from the couch before the widow pried her back down by the waist of her coat. “If I could only be excused, I’ve orders to tend to.” A flutter of laughter left the woman’s lips as she patted her young charges wrist, “Now, now Egeria, we’ve time enough for the Lord, you know that!”
There was a slight note of triumph in his eyes and on his lips, though it flashed for but a moment. “I will look forward to seeing you both in the House of the Lord, then, my good Madame Renault. Please, if Miss Fellows has duties needing tending to, by all means let her go. I don’t wish to disrupt your normal flow of business, after all. I trust, then, that these arrangements are fully acceptable to you, Madame Renault?”
“We are but lambs to your flock!” The ledger book was slammed shut, so that a third and final kiss could be pressed onto his ring. The clacking of heels ascending the stairs was even more incessant and cloying on the nerves than a woman’s cane. When left to their own company, pale eyes narrowed sharp upon him. “Have you so few customers of your own?”
“There’s always room for more in the House of the Lord, Miss Fellows. Do you despise Him so that the thought of entering His home upsets you so?” His words and expression were calm as he looked at her.
Egeria said nothing. She saved her silence for fanciful things instead, such as: if only the stairs were a little steeper and if only the tea were poisoned. Tea, she poured him another cup. Not because she wanted him to stay but because the widow would expect him accommodated.
When the tea was fixed to his liking, he thanked her for it, and sipped at it in silence. When he’d finished it, he stood. “My thanks to you and Madame Renault for your hospitality. Please give her my regards and thanks. May the Lord’s blessing be upon you both.” He signed a blessing, and then smiled mildly again.
“Indeed, as it has so many times before. Please, allow me to see you out.” Pushed up and out from her chair, Egeria moved back to the sewing table to take hold of the cane she rested there. “Come then, I will see that you find your way.”
“Thank you, Miss Fellows.” He once more had occasion to bear witness to the evidence of her witchcraft, shaking his head slightly to himself as he followed her to the doorway. Good day to you, Miss Fellows. I’m sure I’ll see you soon.”
Her cane found a divot within the floorboards in which to wedge itself, anchoring her stance by side of the door so that she may stretch an arm towards the streets.February 6, 2006 at 8:03 pm #2213ArianrhodParticipant
AWESOME scene you two! Love to see an RP scene woven so skillfully into a post…can’t wait to see more….and to be included in a scene maybe /shiftylookFebruary 7, 2006 at 1:14 am #2214ArrolinParticipant
Wonderful scene you guys. Look forward to seeing more!February 10, 2006 at 4:46 pm #2215Holdyn WolfParticipant
Excellent work, that was well done!
Duchess of Somerset
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