Chapter 3 - Market Day
Chapter 3 - Market Day
Noah’s detestation towards the Montego Family had grown considerably in the last few minutes.
He could proudly and honestly say that he hated them, and the ridiculous outfit that Lady Cathliene forced him to wear.
“My Lady,” he nearly begged, “forgive me for asking, but why must I wear Lord Ronald’s clothes this Market Day?”
The woman released a frustrated groan. “Johnathon and Ronald were invited to attend the Royal Masquerade Ball in honor of the Crowned Princess.” She said as if that response alone was an adequate reason.
Noah held his tongue hoping that she would elaborate further.
Thankfully, she did. “My sons have already left for the post summer hunting season so they are unavailable. Since you are roughly their size, you must go to Town Central City today and purchase all the materials my family will need for new outfits for the Ball.”
“Lady Montego,” he asked hoping that he wasn’t pushing his luck with her, “I understand, but why can I not dress in my daily attire? I have done so for all other Market Days.”
Lady Cathliene released another frustrated groan. “You are truly an idiotic excuse for a servant.”
Again Noah held his tongue, and eventually the silence prompted her to explain her absurd scheme.
“An invitation to any other event would allow servants the honor of fetching items for their masters, but a Royal invitation requires a bit more selflessness.” She paused as if trying to emphasize her next point.
“If it was known that I sent a lowly servant to get materials for this Royal event, then Society might believe that I do not take pride in my new status or in my family’s appearance in front of the Royals.” She groaned yet again, “But really why must I explain myself to one as low as you. Servant, you should be thanking me for allowing you the honor of wearing such fine clothes.”
It took every fiber in Noah’s being to refrain from uttering a sarcastic remark. He knew what would happen to him if he let something slip.
Noah bent his head towards his Mistress as a sign of apology. His eyes caught a glimpse of the horrid thing that was draped about him. He remembered when Ronald had worn the particular outfit that he himself was now clothed in. The attire consisted of tight burgundy pants, a matching velvet jacket, and a magenta silk shirt with a high collar and frilled laced sleeves. The odd combination of colors and materials had worked well with Ronald’s darker features, but that had been several years ago.
Now, the suit was discolored from its lack of wear and it smelled like one of the hunting dogs had used it as a bed.
Noah forced his face to appear emotionless. He felt preposterous and wished that he could turn the whole outfit into new washcloths for the housekeepers. But those actions wouldn’t have helped the situation.
He nodded towards his mistress, as a sign of his departure, and went off tell Horse that the carriage would be needed for the next day. At least being forced to ride inside the thing might save Noah some humiliation.
~~~ The next morning
Market Day was just as busy as it was every Thursday, in Town Central City. With the Masked Ball still several weeks away, the market place wasn’t as packed as it would become the closer the Ball drew.
He left Horse to tend to the carriage and horses at the market stables on the outskirts of the city and walked in a straight path towards Madam Pumberly’s. Hopefully it was early enough for him get there without being noticed.
“Is that who I think it is?” A familiar booming voice called out in disbelief a few moments later.
“Hey Bert.” Noah cringed, forcing himself to smile as the old baker ran up to him.
Bert stilled as Noah walked closer, “Well, I’ll be,” the man laughed. “Noah, why in sky’s name are you wearing that?” he asked motioning to the suit that clung loosely to Noah frame.
"Lady Cathliene,” he explained trying to calm down Bert’s obnoxious laughter, “doesn’t want people to think that her sons are too stuck up to get their own materials for the Royal Ball.”
“But they are,” the man replied, “Most of the Society already knows that they both went off hunting.”
“That is why their loving cousin is lending a hand to their frantic mother.” Noah responded defeated.
“Cousin? Hahaha. Oh that’s a good one. As if you could be related to that family.” Bert joked.
The two laughed at Bert’s comment, but soon the moment turned into one of awkward silence. Noah shifted uncomfortably; hating the feeling that being in his masters old clothes was giving him.
“Hey,” Bert offered, as if trying to cheer him up, ’come by the shop later. Annie and I will treat you to lunch.”
“Really?” He asked knowing what it meant to give away a meal.
“It’s the least we could do considering the awful day you will be having.” Bert teased releasing a hearty laugh.
Noah rolled his eyes at the old man next to him, “Thank you for your words of encouragement Bert. How are the kids?”
“Are you trying to change the subject?” The man chided, his laughter finally dying down. “Don’t worry about my boys, Noah, they’re fine.” Bert paused and them lowered his voice, “and um don’t tell Cook but I think that my Timothy has his eye on young Ginger.” He winked.
Noah rolled his eyes. Ginger feelings towards Timothy were mutual but each family was trying to keep it a secret from the other because the kids were still young.
“Ah come on Bert, its young love,” he teased, “You should let Timothy enjoy it while he can.”
Bert looked at him sternly and kept his voice low. “Am I getting this advise from the man that has had every young maiden in town ready to lift her skirts, but is too much of a gentleman to take any up on the offer?”
Although he knew that the man was joking, Noah couldn’t stop his face from reddening.
“Listen son,” The baker continued softly, “I am starting to worry about you. You are nearing twenty and still you have not been with a girl. I am not saying there is anything wrong with abstinence, but know that I worry about you sometimes.”
“Look Bert,” Noah interjected feeling embarrassed enough by the outfit he was wearing, “my mother made me promise to wait for the right girl. It was her dying wish. I don’t care how long it takes; I will honor that wish.”
Bert sighed defeated, before seeming to remember that the two of them were still standing out in the street. “I wonder sometimes at how you became such a good lad.” He smiled, his teasing tone returning, “You are more kind hearted than any Royal, and probably more handsome as well. I would have been proud to call you Son.”
Noah wiped away a fake tear. “Awe Bert what happened to your pride? Don’t get soft on me now old man.” He could hear the rest of the City coming to life, and remembered why he was there. “I better get going; the Montego’s want me back before nightfall so there is little time to waste. We can continue to catch up at lunch alright?”
Bert nodded and headed back into his shop as Noah took off towards the town’s center.
~~~ A short time later
Madam Pumberly’s shop was busier than normal, and everyone knew the reason why. Still things weren’t as bad as they were going to get.
Walking around the store, Noah tried to blend in with the fellow members of Society, which was difficult given the attire that he had been forced into.
He found it baffling that Lady Cathliene had been correct in her remarks about how more members of Society would be there in person.
An ironic side effect of picking out, or hand stitching their masters’ wardrobes, was that the servants tended to be more up-to-date on the current fashion trends than their masters. Yet for this event, what well bred member of Society would trust their servants to pick out attire suitable for a Royal Masquerade Ball?
The situation left a bitter taste in his mouth.
A shrill voice behind him caused him to cringe. “May I help you ssssir?”
“Madam Pumberly,” he sighed looking the middle-aged woman in the eyes, “it is good to see you again.”
“Noah? ” she scoffed in disbelief, ” Noah Jenkinssss issss that you? Heavensss, you look terrible. Who alive thought that you would look ssssuitable in ssssomething like that?” She turned her nose up at his outfit in disgust.
Noah gave the woman a pointed look and rolled his eyes. She knew him well enough to understand.
“Well if they’re trying to fool anyone it then thosssse people are sssstupider than they act. Let’ssss get you a better dissssguisssse, one that will flatter you and not the dogssss that Lord Montego now callssss hissss ssssonssss.
Noah gave the woman a serious look, “As long as you drop that awful accent, I don’t care what you put me in.”
“Oh come on now, you know how my cusssstomerssss love it.” She stated swirling in her multicolored skirts.
Noah frowned at her, and crossed his arms stubbornly.
“Oh all right,” She gave in a few moments later, “I’ll stop as long as you let me take that hideous, foul smelling thing and burn it.”
“You can’t burn it!” he shouted in worry, catching the attention of several people near by. He nodded apologetically in their direction and dropped his voice considerably; “If I do not return with it on they will think I have sold it for pocket money. I can’t afford a beating at the moment.”
It was Madam Pumberly’s turn to roll her eyes. “You would be lucky to get enough to buy a sweet roll with that outfit.” The woman clearly had a desire to destroy the monstrosity, but her eyes finally softened. “Fine,” she eventually sighed. “I promise not to burn the appalling thing.”
Noah relaxed and offered her a warm smile, “Then, please, feel free to find me something worthy of your praise.”