Elle trudges the battered sidewalks surrounding the market. She carries with firm hands a basket of colored threads for sewing.
“Thread,” she calls out, “clean thread for dresses, drapes, mending…”
Where people are forced to make their own clothing, deprived of the convenience of shopping, there is demand for things such as thread. Boredom is another factor: Ladies of the Mer district invest their free time doing needlework.
They lack the excitement of London streets. Local parties are held on occasion, but Merpeople are busy surviving. They have no time to spare organizing a ball, but they can embroider a bit of silk, or complete a dress for a doll.
“Here!” calls a familiar voice. “I was looking for you, Elle—Mrs. Whittle needs blue thread for a tear in her apron—”
Miss Rose from the orphanage hurries across the street, reaching for her coin purse.
Elle wonders at Rose’s energy. Perhaps it is because she is hard at work teaching orphan girls; Rose darts from shop to shop, street to street, never allowing her shoulders to slump.
Perhaps Rose’s age is related; at eighteen, she is old enough for love and courtship, all of the things Elle cannot yet contemplate.
“I have blue,” says Elle, gathering a selection of spools. “Which will it be?”
“This one,” says Rose, “the darker one. Here is your payment. How is Ama?”
Elle lifts her shoulders in a shrug. “She is coughing again today.”
Rose’s face falls. Her blue eyes soften with sympathy. “Is she up for company? I haven’t visited her in a few.”
“She always asks about you,” Elle says, “and I’m sure she will be pleased to see you.”
Rose smiles. “I will see when I can slip away. Thank you.”
Elle nods, then watches Rose vanish into the crowd once more.
She tucks her coin into her pocket and wishes that she could one day have the same energy as Miss Rose.
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