House of the Merchantman, Plesz, Grand Navigators…
“It would be good if I could see more of Plesz, get a feel for the place, if indeed it is going to become my new home,” said Y’lanna.
“Excellent!” The gleam in Ruili’s eye and his bright smile showed how much he was looking forward to a night on the town.
After tea and freshening up — and Y’lanna’s first sight of the small white bedchamber Mrs. Bodling had assigned her, adorned with floral draperies and sharing a seaside balcony with the other rooms on the second floor — a dog-cart, literally a cart drawn by an enormous dog and driven by a small child, came to carry the Selkie and the Zoneloger into the heart of downtown Plesz.
This third trip of the day took them again across the up-down, side-to-side face of the city on the cliffs, and deposited them in a posh square at the shop of Grimbull Bros., Clothiers, by appt. to their Graces, the Dukedom of Ereon.
The discreet and professional tailors, who clothed all the best people in Plesz, took the strange, purple alien in their stride as much as any of their celebrity or dignitary clients. Ruili explained briefly that the lady had lost her own possessions, that she was a stranger to Aeldreth (that much they could see for themselves), and that she required something to wear immediately as well as a fuller wardrobe to be delivered to the House of the Merchantman, all on Ruili’s account.
The two Masters Grimbull bowed to the Lord Admiral and called in their ladies-wear specialists.
“Your lordship, we can alter some already made things for tonight, and the rest can be delivered by … first quarter tomorrow?”
“That will be fine.”
The next few hours were spent, first, in leafing through design books illustrating the current fashions, pulling out fabric swatches and notions and accessories. Y’lanna, in her “sailor’s plains,” was made to stand on a stool while the tailors measured her up, down, sideways and around. Then, the fittings of the pieces as they were stitched together.
The Grimbull shop was a luxuriant and gleaming environment of tall mirrors and fine fabrics, softly a-buzz with the work of making clothing to order. On the main floor, customers chose their designs and colors, etc., and stood for fittings, while in the upper gallery work rooms, cutting and sewing went on all day long. Clerks carried finery up and down the stairs, and the pixies, whose tiny hands did the finest stitchery, flitted on their wings in and out for their smoke breaks.
All the while, in this quiet bustle, as Y’lanna was being worked on, Ruili shopped for cravats and waistcoats, tried a few samples on, but mostly read the newspapers — or scribbled thoughts in their margins.
The tailors ticked off the standard list of women’s garments Y’lanna was to receive. No one asked her if she wanted all of it. The Dukedom was paying, so what difference did it make? Not every being that came in from the Vortex Zone received this treatment, though all were, technically guests of the Dukedom. But this one had been handed into the care of Ruili Windwolf, and that would certainly be a boon to more than one set of merchants in Plesz, if the Windwolf tastes held true. To start her off, they planned out one gown, two each of skirts, bodices, shirts, shifts, britches, and vests, one short jacket, and one knee-length frock coat. They put her in a chair and measured her feet for shoes. Hose, sashes, and ribbons were selected. And so on.
She was invited to touch all the fabrics, hold the colors up to her face to see how they complimented her skin in the mirror. She was asked to decide between a long, lace-fronted gown with half-sleeves and a woman’s suit of iridescent silk with an even more tightly laced bodice. Whatever she selected would be quickly altered to fit her body so that she could wear it out of the shop immediately.
As this choice was presented to her, Ruili was making choices as well, reading through the newspaper society pages to see what was happening and who was about in the town. “Lady Lavender,” he said at one point, reclining on a sofa with The Navigator open on his knee, “do you like the theater?”