A happening documented upon the 16th of August in the year 1883, At the Tuttle's Shoppe and Sally's Shoppe in Watertown, involving the loquacious Mr. Alexander Endicott, and the delightful Miss Jessamyn Watts.
Jessamyn had, when she'd gotten back, heard a complete report from her Aunt about the young man who'd come to call on her - with such nice manners for a sailor. And had written her message for Alex (not Mr. Alex her Aunt had pointed out) for Harry to give to him the next time he came by. She'd asked Harry about him, but the bartender had been more amused by the girl and her curiosity about his friend than he was genuinely informative. She'd learned little more than she'd determined herself - that he was a loyal, upstanding sort and that there was a long-lasting relationship between the bartender and the mysterious sailor. And then she'd heard several sailing stories that were the even mixture of fiction and reality that only sailors could create. She couldn't help the flash of nervousness when she left as to when Alex would actually receive the missive and when and how he was going to respond to her announcement that she was back in port and not expecting to leave again any time soon.
It was made slightly worse by the fact that it was some days before Alex actually showed up. He found himself lately drifting to extreme of dress and attitude, so that to go down to the docks even for what amounted to stepping out with a young lady, he wore work clothes - the only clothes he'd had for years, really. Today it was his old blue shirt, patched with bits of fabric from more places then any shirt had a right to be connected with. He had no particular reason to believe Jess would be present at the shop but he might, regardless, ask after the cigarette papers, and he wanted off the hill and out of the house.
Jessamyn was sitting on the floor picking up assorted gears and cogs and springs and the like from the box she'd knocked over just a few minutes ago. The bell over the door indicated someone was here and she took a moment trying to decide whether she oughta scramble to her feet or get the last couple things while she was already on the ground. For the moment getting the spring in front of her won out.
Finding the shop apparently empty, at least after a glance around, Alex occupied himself poking around the place, and nearly tripped over Jessamyn and a box of parts on the floor. He caught himself on a table and managed to avoid both falling over and stepping on her, although privately he was surprised nothing broke during the effort.
"Oh!" Jessamyn cried as Alex nearly fell on top of her and made the moment worse by trying to scramble to her feet and out of the way as he was trying to regain his balance and not step on her. "Sorry."
"Sorry," He said, at roughly the same time, making everything seem just a bit more foolish. "Are you alright?"
Jessamyn nodded. "Yea..." And smiled at him. "Nice to see you again." It was hard not to find the humour in the situation - she'd been curious when he'd call on her again - if he would - and he did when she was sitting on the floor picking up a mess...
He chuckled, "Do you need any help with that?" He indicated the box she'd been filling with scattered bits, which had tipped over as she'd scrambled to her feet.
"Umm... yea, if you wanna." Jessamyn looked at the mess that had once again increased around her. "It seems like I'm havin' trouble with it myself since that's the second time I dumped it out..."
"You can hardly be blamed, I snuck up behind you and nearly stepped on you." He dropped to his heels to start replacing bits into the box. "Lovely to see you again as well."
"Somehow when I thought about what'd happen when you came back, I didn't figure on bein' sittin' on the floor."
"An oversight on your part, clearly. Although now I admit I'm curious, what did you think would happen?" He didn't quite manage to hide his grin.
"Honestly I figured you'd have to ask my Aunt or Uncle for me since I only work the counter a couple hours a day."
"Ah, seems a logical consideration then. You're Aunt is a charming lady." He grinned, "And I had meant to ask her about cigarette papers again."
"Cigarette papers? They were for you?" Jessamyn murmured... "Aunt Rebecca tol' me I was supposed to be findin' some for a customer." She shook her head, clearly her aunt had been having fun with her. "I manage to get a small envelope with some I bought off a sailor but no regular like delivery yet."
"I'm the customer. I had to explain what they were, I didn't expect much success actually." He tilted his head to see if any bits of parts had rolled off underneath things.
"Well she'd said it was for a sailor-bloke an' so I just put word out down at the waterfront and at some of the waterin' holes down at the docks that cater to the blokes that are in port for a day or two."
"You know its odd not doing that myself. I've got nothing particularly useful to swap for them besides cash though, really."
"Yea, I had to swap a a piece of mutton for some tin scrap I was able to trade for some buttons to fix a shirt that I swapped for a pair of boots to get the papers."
He blinked, "That's rather more steps then I was expecting. How much do I owe you for the papers?" He grinned crookedly, "And you can't have my boots."
"Sailors always need funny stuff." Jessamyn noted. "An' the boots weren't exactly the finest - not even a Hampit." She said, meaning half an Imperial. "I was plannin' on charging a bit a piece for 'em since they're hard to come by yea?"
"That's fair, they are terribly hard to come buy here." He dropped the last of the escaped gears into the box, "There we are, all done, where did this go?"
"At the moment? Where I can't knock it over again."
"Ah, right. So, this being your shop, some direction please my lady?"
"There's a shelf behind the counter." Jessamyn replied with a grin.
"Then there it shall go." Alex agreed, standing, box in hand, to stow it where she suggested, "So," He said over his shoulder, "You recall, you were charged with selecting the events of the evening."
"Yes... and picking up assorted parts wasn't really part of that plan." Jessamyn laughed.
"It hardly counts as anything but a short diversion, pretend it never occurred and all went entirely according to plan," He settled the box behind the counter and straightened up, "So, where are we going?"
"Sallys' Shoppe over by Waterdown does a good roast - dunno how she affords it but she uses real pepper on the outside coating!"
"Has a deal with someone maybe. Is that where you've decided on then?"
"It was the idea if you called early enough, yea." Jessamyn grinned at him again. She'd had contingency plans.
"Oh my, and if I hadn't? You put some thought into this I see." He moved to offer her his arm, a gesture that was rendered a bit less fitting by the clothes he was wearing today.
Since Jessamyn was dressed like a store clerk, they at least matched well. "A little. Except for a few errands here in town it hasn't been much excitement since I got back."
"Harry didn't give you a hard time did he?"
"I think he was amused. You obviously don't get girls leaving you messages with him that often."
"You would be the first." He grinned.
"Of course you said yourself you're only recently back in town... I'm sure he'll get used to it if you stay for any length of time." Jessamyn teased.
He sounded as if he took it in stride, although he might have flushed a little, "I don't expect allowing Harry to speak to any lady I call upon would be a good idea. Lord knows what he says about me when I'm not present. If what he says about me when I am present is anything to judge by, I doubt he does my reputation any good."
"Actually thought he was kinda singing your praises - well the way you sailor sort do." Jessamyn replied with a smile as she lead him out of the shop and down the street. "So I don't suppose it was exactly flatterin' but iffin you know sailor talk he was quite complimentary by a fashion."
Alex lifted an eyebrow at that, "Indeed? What's he been telling you then?"
"Reccon he mentioned something 'bout you bein' almost more trouble than you was worth, but that you was right true. An' then 'e got off on sea monsters that he mighta hadta save you from while tryin' ta keep the ship afloat."
"You see what I mean? Not a lady's man, Harry."
"So I ain't a lady?"
"No, you are a lady, and he told you stories about sea monsters." Alex chuckled, "And how many ladies want to be told sailing stories?"
"Ya mean most don't find 'em amusin' or excitin'?" Jessamyn laughed, knowing she wasn't usual in that.
"No, I suspect not." He shook his head, "Oh I expect that some find it amusing for the first tale or so, as one might a novelty."
"So you ain't planin' on tellin' any over dinner then?" Jessamyn asked, knowing she could probably get him telling them easily anyway. "So I gotta believe Harry's versions then."
"I'm not as prone to exaggeration as Harry, I suspect the versions with sea monsters should stick." Which meant he was either modest, or not particularly worried about how Harry may have painted his character.
"Of course not." Jessamyn grinned, and let it go for now, confident she'd get stories of some sort. And pointed to the hanging sign ahead. "Sally's - I wonder if she's got greens today or just taters ta go with the roast."
"Greens are still in season," He escort commented mildly, glancing at the sign she pointed out.
"Should be." She agreed. "Look okay?" She asked, nervous again about her choice now that they were nearly there.
"Sure, looks great." Alex grinned, "I mostly eat my own cooking."
"You cook yourself?" Jessamyn asked voice filled with respect. "Aunt Rebecca does all the cookin' for me... I'm gonna make a terrible bride."
The way she said it seemed so out of place for the comment, that though he tried not to, Alex ended up laughing. He was then forced to assure her it wasn't at the idea that she would make a terrible bride. "I'm sorry, its just not worthy of that much respect. Its not very hard to learn. I was a cooks assistant for a bit because I wasn't good for much else beyond pealing potatoes."
"Might not be hard, but it's a good skill." She pointed out. "Prolly should start studyin' it, but that'd mean bein' home when Aunt Rebecca's cookin' and not out on the streets lookin' for stuff. So what'dyou cook?"
"Whatever was handy." He joked, "On a ship, mostly things that don't got bad to fast. Lots of bacon and potatoes."
"Suppose that makes sense." Jessamyn agreed, grinning. "An' you didn't get a cook now that you're back ashore?"
"Not really, we've someone cook maybe twice a week. Otherwise its fend for yourself."
"Good thing you ain't no spoiled Highborn boy you can't fend for yourself." Jessamyn grinned, teasing a little.
He snorted, "Anyone can eat bread and cheese and not starve."
"Yea but not everyone's willin'." Jessamyn pointed out.
"Perhaps not in theory, but anyone with no alternative, will eat bread and cheese rather then starve." Alex pointed out.
"Hope your cookin' ain't so bad as that alternative."
He laughed, "I don't think it is. No one's become ill from it, anyway."
"I'd hope not." She joined his laughter. "But no matter you don't gotta eat it tonight, 'cause we're here."
"A reason for rejoicing, certainly. Shall we?" He moved to open the door for her.
Jessamyn gave him a wide smile and entered the establishment, waving a greeting at the bustling waittress as they found their way to an open seat.
Alex followed her in, glancing around the room and taking it in all at once. It looked like a cheerful sort of place. He managed, just barely, to decide where Jess had selected to sit and arrive first in order to pull out her chair. It was clearly intentional, even if unnecessary.
Jessamyn grinned at the flash of innate manners from her escort. "Thank you, Sir," she rather thought she liked the moments of Bluer manners from him.
"My pleasure," He smiled, and moved to take his own seat. He sprawled a little, apparently comfortable with the atmosphere of the place. "Is this a favorite place of yours?"
Jessamyn nodded. "When I got extra coins." She admitted.
"Seems a nice sort of place." It seemed, in fact, a comfortable and familiar place. "I'm glad you chose it."
She grinned widely. "Glad you like it. I figured ya might."
"You did eh?" He leaned forward to rest his elbows on the table, "Am I so easily predicted?"
"It's good quality but ain't fussy." She justified herself.
He grinned crookedly, apparently amused, "I like that description."
He had a nice grin. "See. 'sides I like it so that works so I thought you might too."
"Well the point was to do something you liked." The grin managed to settle into place like it meant to stay.
"Oh so I oughta have chosen someplace I liked but you woulda hated?"
"I confess I prefer the alternative. Although now I'm curious as to what you might like that I would hate."
Jessamyn made a face considering. "Prolly stuff I couldn't afford." She admitted.
"Ah, so dress shopping?" He teased.
"Yes exactly!" Jessamyn smiled brightly at him. "And makin' ya tell me if this ribbon of that one was better on the flounce o' the dress!" She waved her hands to demonstrate her words.
"I don't have the faintest idea what the flounce of the dress is."
"The ruffly bits. Like on the bottom. Or along the bustle." Jessamyn explained, pointing to the hem of her entirely unadorned gown as if that would explain it.
"Ah, so the pointless bits?" He offered, still somewhere between actually asking and teasing.
"Yes, just so." Jessamyn agreed still smiling.
"Then yes, if you intended to demand we do something you would enjoy and I would hate, ribbons for dresses would be a good candidate."
Jessamyn grinned. "Good thing for you I don't bother wasting time on stuff I can't have no matter anyway." She turned that grin to the waitress waiting expectantly for their order and informed her the roast an' an ale would be just the thing.
Alex just cheerfully informed the waitress that he'd have the same before turning back to Jess, "Its something most girls like though, isn't it? Ribbons and lace and having a fancy dress?" He made it sound like an honest question - as though he accepted it was true without really understanding it at all.
Jessamyn tilted her head considering. "Ain't sayin' it mightn't be fun for a little while." Jessamyn admitted. "But that's for the girls on the Hill who ain't gotta work. Lace wouldn't be practical iffin you gotta pick up gears an' springs outta the gutter when they sees 'em." She said with clear practicality.
"It seems remarkably uncomfortable regardless," Alex considered, "I suppose most people like to dress up now and then."
"Part o' the fun of what I do." She grinned. "One day I dress a milkmaid, the next a merchant girl."
He leaned forward very slightly, and said in a conspiratory tone, "I thought you kept a shop." Clearly he didn't...actually, but it was a subtle reminder that she hadn't actually come clean about her message delivering second career.
"Hence dressin' like a merchant girl." She grinned back. "At a secondhand shop. We get all sorts o' clothes in." There was a definate wicked quality to her smile, joining in the conspiracy and the fun of the game again.
"And, upon what occasions do you find yourself dressed as a milkmaid I wonder."
"What occations do you find yourself dressed as a Sailor?" She countered.
His grin widened slowly, "That's the thing of it, ain't it? I find myself dressed as a sailor when I'm sailing."
"Or when you're hangin' out with 'em." She pointed out.
"Or when my one decent shirt is in need of laundering." He countered, easily.
"Important reason that." She agreed easily.
"Are you suggesting then, that you dress as a milkmaid made when you are milking cows, or when you are hanging about with milkmaids?"
"When I hang around milkmaids of course." She grinned, happy he'd given her a ready explaination.
"Mmhmm. I see. Great many milkmaids about then, are there?"
"Someone's gotta milk the cows."
"The nearest cows are some miles outside of town."
"True enough." She agreed.
He considered for a moment if he was about to push his luck, or spoil the game, and then forged ahead regardless, "Shop girl, milk maid....fishmonger?"
She grinned. "Nah, I just know fishmongers."
A small flicker of relief showed in his eyes, for a moment, "A most well socialized individual. Skilled as well, though we shan't bring up certain applications of slight of hand in polite company."
Jessamyn affected a look of pure innocence. "Parlor tricks!"
"I'm sure," He agreed nonchalantly, "But remarkable well executed. A compliment from a gentleman who considers himself passing capable of noticing such things."
"Thank you." She agreed easily. "I reckon you've seen a couple."
"A skill gained after much trail and error and loss of personal property."
"Unfortunately that's the usual way you learn. Well iffin you're observant. Most never figure it out."
"If you want to keep your wallet from being pinched every time you go ashore, you learn." He chuckled.
"Gotta have the coins to buy the beer ashore after all." Jessamyn agreed readily
"No point in working hard for your pay if you don't get to use it."
She waved at the restaurant. "I like spendin' what coin I got places like this."
Alex grinned again, "I could use a second decent shirt."
"I borrow most o' my clothes from the shoppe." She admitted.
"I suppose in that case, at some point you ought to inflict dress shopping on someone - possibly a gentleman of more refined taste them myself."
Jessamyn laughed. "Not likely. I don't know any refined gentlemen."
"Oh dear. Best stick to lady friends then." He laughed with her.
"Probably so." She agreed.
"I'm more for fixing engines, moving heavy things, and such."
"Fist fights." He nodded
"And random streetcorners. Exactly." She grinned.
"Makes me sound positively unseemly."
"You suggested the fistfights." She pointed out reasonably
"I did, at that. It stands out in recent memory, I admit. You were quite put out with me."
"Of course. I still wouldn't wanna see you get hurt."
"In terms of situations that might be damaging, I expect most of what happens in New Haven ranks fairly low on the scale." He admitted, shrugging.
"Yea, but I only know a couple ports to compare this one too from my own eyes."
He grinned his crooked grin again, "If you'll pardon an entirely overprotective opinion, I would consider that a good thing. Seeking out rougher places isn't how I should think you would like to travel."
"I'd love to do more than I've done." She admitted. "But I ain't a sailor m'self, and can't afford to just sail about for fun."
He nodded, "Not considered much of a job for a lady, sailing."
"And I've never been much for passing as a boy." Oh she'd done it before of course, but only when she was younger.
He eyed her with a put on air of consideration, "No miss, I don't image you'd make a very good lad. Least ways if you tried you'd be a remarkably pretty one."
"An' that would give me a whole new set o' problems I'm sure," she grinned, enjoying his considering eyes.
"I shall be a gentleman, and not speculate." He managed to keep his grin from becoming a smirk.
She laughed aloud at that. "Prolly for the best that."
"Definitely. Perhaps we should return to discussing ribbons and lace, for safety's sake."
"Or you can tell me your version of the sea monster tale."
"You'll have to be more specific," Alex teased, "I can imagine any number of place a sea monster might make an impromptu appearance for the sake of flavor."
"Think it started on a dark and stormy night..." She prompted unhelpfully.
"Certainly, otherwise what's to tell 'twas smooth sailing and a bright calm day at sea, and we all sat about singing songs and enjoying the fair winds?"
"Which makes a lovely day at sea, but not the best story." She agreed readily.
"Entirely. I tell you what. I'll give you an option - would you rather hear about me doing something completely foolish and dangerous with dire consequences, or shall I paint myself in a more dashing light?"
Jessamyn made a show of considering. "As you've already defended my honour in a most dashing way last time... you've piqued my curiosity about what you could possibly have done so foolish as to have dire consequences."
"Any number of things, shall we simply go for the most impressive?" Although he thought that might have been a toss up between joining the legion or accidentally deserting it...
"We can start there." She grinned at him.
"Methinks the lady has to grand an idea of the information she can demand," Alex chuckled, "However, I did offer the choice, so....we'll start in Morocco. Where I was more or less accidentally..." And so Alex proved Jess' suspicions correct, she could get him talking easily enough.