(124-05-22) Wildflowers Club
Wildflowers Club
Summary: Camillo brings Esme flowers. He attempts to explain why.
Date: 2017/06/04
Related: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)

Of course a keenly observant fellow like Camillo knows by now at what hour in the morning to call to find Esme comparatively unoccupied about the business of her shop. He finds her engaged in an earnest three-way consultation regarding the quality and price of the turnips she is presently offering for sale; but she offers one last warm, open-faced assurance to her uncertain customer, pats the woman's arm and hands her smoothly off to young Talia — several months now elevated from shopgirl to daughter of the shop — and comes round the counter to meet Camillo before the tinkle of the bell has quite died away.

"Mornin', dearie," she calls out cheerfully, looking him over with inquiring eyes. It's three days since she summoned him from the Hightower on the grounds that she had something of his that wanted collecting by the end of the day.

Camillo has under his arm a bundle, something of a fair volume wrapped in cheap cloth rags, but despite the bulk, he slips in almost as unobtrusively as ever. It is always as if he is trying to dupe the bell and get in without it ringing. He nods at Esme's greeting, in his usual way. "Mistress Esme," he greets. "I hope you are well."

"Oh, I'm very well," chuckles Esme, as though amused to be asked. She certainly looks smart, in one of the handsome wool dresses which have crept into her wardrobe since the time of her son's marriage. This one is an extraordinary shade of orange — the blue one and the teal are likewise vivid, suggesting the finest Tyroshi dyes, and her skirts have quite a rustle to them. She looks, these days, a prospering merchant with a husband high in the service of the royal house… at least, she looks it as far up as her yellow headscarf and the green woolly hat worn over it at a haphazard angle. Some things don't change.

"You got home all right, then, did you? The other day?" she asks, as though it were a matter of urgent personal interest to her. Well, it is.

"Yes," Camillo says, as soft-spoken as ever, approaching nearer. "He went to sleep." He hefts his bundle. "These are cut flowers," he says. "I thought you might like them for your apartment."

And if his inquiry into her health amused Esme, the prospect of a floral tribute downright astonishes her. Her jaw drops and her eyes open wide and she hesitates upon what to say, as though to give Camillo a moment to modify or to retract his offer, as he thinks best, before she settles upon: "Well, ain't you kind—!" A wondering shake of her head. "I'm sure we'll like them very much, dearie, though I don't know why you'd go to such trouble, I really don't. You know you don't have to bring anythin' when you come here, eh?" she reminds him, reaching out to pat his hand. "You're welcome just as you are."

"Yes," Camillo says softly, glancing from the rag-wrapped bundle to Esme when she touches his hand. "But I was grateful. They are only the fall wildflowers." Most likely he cut them himself rather than paying for them anywhere.

Picking them himself is rather where Esme supposes the trouble must have come in. "I like wildflowers best," she confides, in the manner of a great secret, and with another touch upon Camillo's hand she enlists him in stepping aside to make a path out of the shop for the customer who was worried about the turnips but has, at length, invested in a supply of the vegetable in question.

"Thank you for your business, mistress," the little shopkeeper says to her in passing, "and if you ain't happy after all, just you bring 'em right back, eh?" She smiles encouragingly, and holds the door for the woman and her basket, and then turns back to Camillo. "Why don't we put 'em in water?" she suggests. She lifts her eyebrows at him and gestures for him to precede her upstairs.

Camillo steps out of the way and nods at Esme's suggestion, which he has been expecting. He heads up the stairs ahead of her and enters the apartment, though he stays on his feet, not presuming to know where it would be all right to set down the slightly damp bundle.

And well he should pause. Extensive pie-making operations were underway up here before Esme was called down to weigh in on the root vegetable situation: she left an apron hanging over the back of a chair, dishes and tins hither and yon, and the fragrance of good meat well-cooked hanging in the air.

"I hope you won't look too hard at all my mess," she says anxiously from behind him as they emerge into the flat; "I'd just popped down for a word with her about the turnips when you happened by. Let me just find a jar, eh?" But first she finds her apron, and ties its strings about her waist as she walks.

"No, no," Camillo says, brushing Esme's anxieties aside at that. "Um. I know that…you spoke to him and…he told me briefly just one or two of the things you may have said but…I wanted to thank you. Whatever you said, it… I'm grateful."

These eloquent sentiments arrest Esme just before she can vanish into the other room; she turns, her hands still behind herself tying her apron strings in a bow, and looks back at Camillo only to duck her head and look away again.

"Oh, I don't know about all that," she disclaims. She clears her throat and vanishes from his sight. As she collects the glass jar from the shelf over the bed, her voice drifts through to him. "I'm just sorry for givin' him so much to drink, dearie," she apologises; "I don't know what you must think of me."

She upends the jar over the previously empty slop bucket by the washstand, pouring out the water and her previous somewhat bedraggled collection of late blooms with it, to avoid comparisons which might be injurious to either party, and reappears round the corner. A thought seems to occur. "What does 'ee say I said?" she inquires of Camillo, furrowing her eyebrows at him.

"Well, just…he said you made him think about some things," Camillo says, seeming vaguely uncomfortable at trying to report the conversation second-hand back to one of its authors. "To…realize his own feelings. He…found his…his sense of self, you could say," Camillo explains. "And…that is what I think is so good. He knows his own mind better. He realizes that it is…there to know."

"… 'Course it's there to know," says Esme absently, setting down the empty jar at the near end of her kitchen table and commencing to clear an area of the latter, in front of the chair where Camillo customarily sits. She does this by making everything else budge up a bit, pie-tin nudging against covered bowl, spice-jars against her crooked-edged marble pastry slab. "He were maybe just not sure where to look, is all." She glances up at her visitor and gives him a small, almost apologetic smile. "If what I said knocked somethin' loose, well, then, I'm glad, dearie. But he's the one did his own thinkin', see, an' if you like what he thought he's the one you should be thankin'."

Nonetheless, there is now a place for the flowers to be put down. She gestures. "I reckon I've still got a slice or two of the pie I made from his lizard lions," she offers, by way of inducement to make himself at home.

"He didn't know, and now he knows," Camillo says firmly, "And I think…I think he is more likely to come back if he knows it." Significance admitted to, he nods at the space made for the flowers. Or maybe he's nodding at the pie, because he moves toward the table. "I'm glad you're getting some of that meat."

Esme agrees with a quiet, "Mmm." Her eyes rest briefly, gently upon Camillo's face. Then she takes off her woolly hat and tucks it into a pocket inside her apron — her headscarf affords warmth enough, up here by her hearth where she's safe from the draughts caused by customers coming and going — and claims the jar again, to ladle fresh water into it from the covered bucket (very briefly the uncovered bucket) next to the sideboard. "It's not half bad, is it, done right?" she inquires respectfully of the lizard lion meat. "I told Master Tybalt I reckoned I'd be able to sell a bit of it, too, if he liked. Won't pay as well as venison but there's less trouble in gettin' it, ain't there? You might remind him, if it's slipped his mind." If, say, he was well and truly soused during the conversation in question, then went directly to sleep.

She turns back to the table and reaches for the bundle of flowers, her hands pausing short of them, her eyes inquiring of Camillo whether she ought to go ahead or whether he'd prefer to do the honours himself.

"No," Camillo says. "We had some roasted. I liked it." He nods his head at her suggestion. "I will tell him," he says, passing her the flowers. "I might have gotten too many," he says. "Pick the best of them if you like. Any you don't want can be fed to the hogs. Except the ones that are white with purple spots." Not that Esme wouldn't know. Now that the bundle is given over, he lowers himself into the seat.

The hogs will not be eating daintily tonight; Esme unwraps the flowers and is straight away all admiration, exclaiming over how fresh and how pretty they are and declaring after a proper examination that she likes them all best. (And yes, it's fair to assume she knows all about the purple ones with the white spots.) She balances the unwrapped bundle atop the covered bucket, just to get it out of the way for now, and hurriedly possesses herself of the usual earthenware plate, the well-worn linen napkin, and the other accoutrements of pie o'clock. In no time at all Camillo's place is set for him with a slice of lizard lion pie, and he's being interrogated as to what he thinks of it.

Esme herself takes up a small knife from somewhere in her pie-related muddle, wipes it clean on a cloth just to be sure (it did already look clean), and stands at the sideboard trimming the stems of her flowers with careful diagonal strokes and introducing them, one by one, into the jar which is to be their new home. "D'you reckon I overdid the pepper?" she wonders, in particular. "Edmyn said his nose tickled eatin' it," she confesses, with a guilty look towards the latest member of her culinary review board, "and he grew up on my cookin'."

Camillo picks up his fork so that he can furnish the desired response. He triest a bite, and shakes his head. "Not for my tastes, Mistress Esme, but I like a bit of spice.. "I am not particular, anyhow."

"Bless you for sayin'," says his hostess sincerely, smiling upon him as the ends of the flowers' green stems fall at a steady pace into her scrap bucket. She always looks at home, does Esme, with a knife in her hand. But of course she was married to a butcher for many years, wasn't she?

"Your hair's gettin' nice an' long," she remarks when he's had another bite.

Camillo dips his chin slightly. "Yes, I…suppose it's quite long, now," he acknowledges. "…Long enough," he adds, and has himself another bite of the pie. A comfort with knives seems to disconcert him not in the slightest.

"Mmm," agrees Esme, favouring him with a slight, grandmotherly smile. "You'll be doin' somethin' about it soon, though, I expect," she suggests as she turns back to the sideboard to put the last wildflower in with its fellows.

"… Oh, now, don't they look fine?" she demands of him then, her knife indicating the jar of flowers arranged according to a system entirely her own. They look cheerful enough to please even her taste, albeit a bit lopsided in their overall shape. The late Lady Margot Rowan need not fear competition.

"I think…I think we may," Camillo allows, nodding once. Then his gaze drifts to the flowers and he smiles gently with satisfaction. "I hope they bring a little cheer," he says.

Esme, quite frankly, beams, at her visitor's cautious admission and then his tentative hope. "They do at that," she assures him. "Now, don't let me forget to wrap up the last piece so's you can take it along to Master Tybalt…"

And, rather than risk such a lapse of memory, she sets about it at once, whilst rattling on about the grand tourney held in the city two days earlier: she could only get away from the shop for an hour, she claims, but that hour seems curiously to have equipped her with a full day's worth of gossip.

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