(123-06-21) A Particular Lord
A Particular Lord
Summary: Esme's trade in foreign plonk grows more and more profitable. Camillo looks on.
Date: 21/06/2016
Related: None.

The late afternoon rush has died down, all those last-minute little items purchased in advance of dinnertime; and in the grocery shop on Oldtown Square the proprietress is leaning an elbow on the counter, chatting idly with a man in a green linen shirt who appears to be her only remaining customer. Some remark he passes inspires her to lift her head and laugh, the sound of her amusement mingling with the tinkle of the bell over her front door. She looks round him and lifts her eyebrows: "Evenin', Lord Lars," she calls past her companion; "and what brings you this way again so soon, eh?"

Camillo must have a dry wit, for when Esme laughs, he only looks at her. But then he's turning to look over his shoulder when she greets someone else, expression difficult to read but not intimidating by any means.

Lars removes his hat as he enters, flashing an amiable smile. "Here for your delightful company, of course," he insists, tone implying that he may just, possibly, not be entirely serious. "Honestly, what has the world come to when a fellow can't step into a shop in passing without being questioned as to his intentions," and without even pausing continues, "do you have your quarterlies, when you have a moment? Hello, ser, do please excuse me," he adds aside to Green Shirt Guy, for that is clearly the fellow's true name, and adds a disarming smile to boot.

"Now, your lordship," chuckles Esme, detaching herself from her counter and stepping round from behind the fellow in the green shirt, "you know I only asked you to find out what I can sell you today, same as I'd ask anyone else. The papers, though, they were sent round to your office this afternoon — p'raps you've not been in to see 'em," she suggests diplomatically. "Oh, now where're my manners? — This is Lord Lars Costayne, the customs master; and this is Master Camillo, who's in service with Lord Ormund up at the Hightower." With a work-worn hand she gestures from one man to the other, making the presentation more simply and more efficiently than would a noble.

Camillo steps out of the way when a man addressed as a lord asking for quarterlies appears. And when he's introduced, he makes a little bow with the same solemn look he's been wearing since the customs master appeared.

"I'd say I've been rushed off my feet with work, but it would be a lie," Lars admits cheerfully, leaning one elbow on the counter, then thinking better of it, lifting it, and trying surreptitiously to remove with the fingers of the other hand any dirt he may have accrued. "I've been meeting and greeting and trying to avoid the office as much as possible. Master Camillo, what is it you do?" And before even waiting for an answer, he's confiding in Esme, "End of quarter audits, Esme, it's horrific in there, trust me."

The little shopkeeper's lips press together in a firm line at the silent implication that her counter is anything less than cleanly; but that look is only for Camillo, and by the time Lars turns again from Camillo to her, she's smiling nonchalantly. "Oh, dearie me," she chuckles; "I'm sure I don't know how you manage, your lordship. Just my own papers're enough to be goin' on with. I do hope you'll find 'em all in order — when you find 'em." A rueful broadening of her smile. "Was there anythin' else I might do for you?"

"I serve at the Hightower," Camillo responds, sparing just a quick glance at Esme before returning his gaze to the customs master. He does not embellish the answer with any unsought details, but good servants are rarely garrulous.

"Oh, how wonderful for you," Lars insists, and somehow makes it sound as though he genuinely means it, too. "Good fellow!" And Camillo gets a friendly slap on the back. "But of course, I'm interrupting you both, now, I'm so sorry. If we have the papers already - I really ought to have checked again before I popped in - then my business here is done, and your company has already been claimed so I mustn't intrude. Unless… well, I don't suppose you have anything in that might take my fancy? You know how I do have a taste for the unusual."

"Ooh, well," and Esme is still smiling indulgently, "I reckon you know everythin' unusual I get in, don't you, your lordship…?" She narrows her eyes at him. "Happens I did unpack a crate full o' bottles just yesterday mornin'," she reveals, sounding as though she suspects that has something to do with his eagerness to collect her paperwork in person, right on time. "Don't know if you'll like this one — it ain't one you and your good lady have had from me before — but if you'll give it a risk…?"

Camillo gives a humble duck of his head which may also communicate a certain distaste for back-slapping, but only very subtly if it does. "The Hightowers are very good," he ventures to comment.

"They do treat you well, I hope," Lars insists, showing some kind of genuine concern for the welfare of the little people. Not enough that he doesn't rub his fingers together where he slapped the fellow on the back, just in case he's covered in some sort of poor people specific dirt of his own and has thus spread it. "Good staff are an absolute godsend. Oh, do you know, Esme, I will have two of your bottles, if that wouldn't put you out too much? I think the chaps deserve a bottle for getting through this week."

Esme's smile doesn't waver. Perhaps it's getting tired, but only on the inside. She nods to the customs master and steps across to the relevant shelf, reaching up to take down a pair of dark glass bottles which, to a Westerosi eye, appear slightly off in their shape, as though the proportions aren't what they ought to be. "Right you are, your lordship," she declares. "Bit heavy to take with you, though," and she hefts them experimentally, one in each hand, before setting them on the end of her counter. "Shall I send 'em round?"

"Of course," Camillo answers readily to Lars. "They are very kind and very fair." And he at least sounds genuine in saying so, however serious his expression.

"That would be awfully good of you, thank you, my dear," Lars responds, eyes lighting up as he sees the bottles in question. As ever, his hand goes to his purse (exquisitely tailored, as with everything else he wears - another of the perks of being the customs man), and draws out a rather generous number of coins. He raises a brow at Esme, plucking one from his hand to begin offering them across until she gives the nod.

Which signal is longer in coming than it would've been had he not cast aspersions upon her counter; but at length Esme nods and closes her palm about a very tidy, satisfyingly heavy handful of coins of the realm. "Thank you, your lordship. One to the office and one to your home," she asks, "or…?"

Camillo does perhaps notice the number of coins being passed along to Mistress Esme, but of course he does not do anything so bold as comment on it. Or show any obvious indication of interest. He is merely present, as servants so often are.

"I think that would be best, my dear, don't you?" Lars confirms, before tucking the rest of his money away, giving a short, amiable nod to the pair of them, and beginning to take his leave (it's a protracted affair, distracted as he so often is by various goods on display).

Again Esme nods. "As you like, your lordship," she says, in a tone more formal, more respectful, than their earlier bantering. "Thank you for bringin' me your business; and I hope you'll find my papers all in order as usual." The coins vanish into a pocket already jingling as, less vulnerable to distractions in her own establishment, she moves ahead of him to the door. The bell tinkles again as she holds it open for him, to spare him having to touch the handle of it, since he's so particular.

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