A happening documented upon the eleventh day of August in the year 1883, at the Shoppe of Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle, involving the unexpectedly unoccupied Mr. Alexander Endicott and the extremely practical Mrs. Rebecca Tuttle.
Alex appreciated the option for diversion even more then he had expected he might. Just the small bit of mystery to the outcome of the evening was something to relish just a little. As was the opportunity to put on an old patched up work shirt (which was, in fact, an intentional risk. The idea of being a sailor ashore next to a well dressed Jessamyn was amusing in and of itself). He wondered idly, as he approached the shop, if the neighbor shouted at all the shops customers as if they were her cat during the course of a day. This time, at least, the neighboring house was silent, as the bell jingled on the shop door and Alex paused in the entryway, to take in the room.
Rebecca looked up from where she was straightening the clothing on the racks and smiled at the gentleman who entered the store. "Welcome! Please look around, let me know if you need anything." There was a vague resemblance to Jessamyn in her look, although her hair was liberally streaked with gray rather than the blond, and her eyes were darker.
Alex returned her smile, and took her at her word, "I've an appointment, to call upon Miss Jessamyn, actually." Though, the store was rather fantastic, in the sheer quantity and variety of odds and ends it stocked.
"Jessie?" Rebecca's brows drew in slightly. "Are you Mr. Alex then?" With her question she turned her attention to the young man calling on her neice, seeking to get a sense of him.
"Just Alex," He moved to take the few steps closer necessary to offer her his hand.
She took it, still looking him over (though politely). "Just Alex then. I'm Rebecca Tuttle, Jessie's aunt. I'm afraid she's not here though."
"A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Tuttle," Manners before requests apparently, and he took the news that Jessamyn wasn't present in good stride, "I don't suppose she left a message for me then?"
Rebecca smiled at him, "You are quite right. She did, let me go fetch it." Rebecca moved from the racks to the door in the back and returned a moment later with a folded paper with "Alex" scrawled across it. "She left this for you with her apologies for her departure."
He accepted the note, grinning possibly at the lack of feminine penmanship in the name scrawled on it, "This is what comes of not offering a method of contact. Do you mind awfully if I read it now?"
"Not at all." Rebecca smiled her permission. "I'll just go back to straightening while you read then."
Alex offered her another smile, and moved to open the letter. It wasn't a particularly long missive, but the excitement expressed in the closing lines cause him to smile absently as he read them. He should, he considered, probably find some way to leave a response.
Rebecca moved back towards the gentleman after having given him time to read. "She didn't have much warning before she had to leave." She informed him, as though to explain the note and her niece's absence.
"Apparently not," He agreed, apparently unconcerned. Not that he wasn't disappointed, really, but it was hardly the kind of thing that might spoil his entire day. "Would I be able to leave a reply with you, Ms. Tuttle? I don't wish to impose," He grinned, "but I suspect it might be singularly more annoying were I to simply wander back in evening after evening until I could deliver it myself."
"She didn't indicate when she was coming back? She didn't figure she'd be gone above a fortnight..." Rebecca figured in her head. "But of course you can leave a message... Let me get you some paper and a pen." Again she disappeared to the back office, returning with the items - the pen a mechanical self-inking contraption that looked like it might leak.
"She indicated she was unsure of the precise day she might arrive home." Alex explained, accepting the pen and paper with thanks. "I should like to let her know where she might leave a message for me, to avoid further complication." He eyed the pen dubiously before setting it to paper to jot a quick note.
"She considered leaving the message with your bartender, but wasn't sure you'd go there before you were due to call on her." Rebecca admitted.
"I would not have," He admitted, "Although, I admit I'm suggesting she leave a message with him now - as I can check if I am aware there might be one waiting." He folded the paper and wrote "Miss Jessamyn" on the outside, in neat practiced script. "He'd be taken aback I expect, to be called 'my' bartender."
"I didn't mean to say he was indentured to you." Of course the man before her looked like a sailor, not a man who could afford to have sponsored a tradesman's resettlement.
"I think he might be more worried you'd be implying I owned his bar." Alex chuckled, "Although if it were you saying so, Ms. Tuttle, it would still be me he hit for it, a true gentleman, is Harry." He held out the reply letter to Rebecca, who he would continue to call Ms Tuttle until she suggested otherwise. "Its very gracious of you to do me the favor of delivering both message and reply."
"I suspect Jessie would've made a fuss if I didn't. She gave both me and her uncle explicit instructions about it."
Alex lifted an eyebrow, grinning slightly, "Oh my, did she? I hope I haven't caused you any inconvenience."
"To give you a letter when you showed up? No, sir. It would take more than that." Rebecca laughed. "I might not be Jessamyn, but I can deliver a message when its recipient comes to my husband's shoppe."
"Still, I should have arranged for some manner of message exchange." He moved to stow Jessamyn's letter in a pocket. "I expect its rather a long chance, but I don't suppose you're shop has any papers for rolling cigarettes? Its something they've started in the Spanish colonies."
Rebecca looked vaguely puzzled for a moment. "Cigarettes? We have some cigar cases, pipes - all of them cleaned of course... A selection of ashing trays." Rebecca bustled over to a display case as she listed the items.
Alex chuckled, "They've not caught on up here. As I said, a long chance." Although he followed her to the display case regardless, "Rolling tobacco in paper, rather like a very small cigar."
"Paper rather than leaves?" She considered, "I'll have to get Jessie to ask the sailor's about them..." If it was happening in the Spanish colonies, then the sailors would know - and if they did might have a taste for them, a reason to find a source. "We only have the one spittoon right now, but several nice snuff cases."
"I admit, cigarettes are the only tobacco I've ever had a taste for." He smiled, "Thanks for trying though, no one has them here. Never occurred to me they'd be so hard to find."
"Well if you like them, then other sailors probably do too... So it might be worth finding." Rebecca pointed out - ever the practical woman.
"Excellent point," He grinned the slightly crooked grin again, "Anyone who's shipped around the Cape or out of ports on the far coast will know what they are."
"Or see if any of the sailors in port will trade them... If John or I find some should we have Jessie contact you?"
His expression suggested the idea had not occurred to him, "Well, I mean...yes if you would." He glanced down at the case, amused at himself, "It hadn't occurred to me to trouble anyone quite so much about it."
"I didn't say we'd succeed." Rebecca smiled at him. "But we can put it onto our list of things we're looking for... Hopefully Jessie will bring back a couple others when she comes back from her trip."
"Do you often look for specific things or people?"
"John and I don't really - we take whatever people come in looking to sell or trade, but Jessie will. I'm surprised she didn't tell you that."
"She was being a bit obtuse regarding her profession." He shrugged, as if to suggest he simply accepted that, "We met rather by accident. And now that I think of it, did not even exchange surnames, so its not particularly surprising."
"Oh? That seems silly since she invited you here. Her profession is as a clerk here, but she sometimes helps people find things. Although I suppose that doesn't tell you here surname since she's just our neice, she isn't a Tuttle."
"And since mine's not Alex, I suppose we're even." He laughed, "I did gather that she was a clerk here, of course. Beyond that, its a matter of guessing. And I admit to enjoying the small mystery."
"Well then I won't spoil it by telling you her surname." Rebecca smiled, amused at the games of youth.
"I appreciate it. Sometimes its the small things that brighten a persons day. I enjoy having something to wonder about."
"Small things can be the best parts of a day." She agreed. "I'll let you wonder too then where she went. And when she'll contact you when she gets back."
"I appreciate the consideration." He smiled, "Although her note said she was in Portland, so the enigma is already half solved."
"Well that should prove I didn't read it then." Rebecca laughed, as though she wasn't serious with her suggestion she might've.
Alex grinned in return, "I'm greatly reassured. And now I expect I've taken up to much of your evening already, and had best allow you to actually run your shop."
"Well you certainly haven't kept me from any other customers... But I should finish straightening. I look forward to meeting you again, Alex."
"The pleasure will be mine, Ms. Tuttle." He offered his hand again, in parting.
She took it and then returned to her straightening.