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Oh Drat!
July 28th, 1889 — Salem Square, Irvingly

If there was ever a place of business to be so inconveniently located, Evie Hughes was certain it was the butcher's. Salem Square Quality Meats was tucked in among the other buildings at the corner of two intersecting streets near the far edge of the square; streets that were monstrously crowded today. No one wanted to be indoors on such a pleasantly fine day and thus one constantly found oneself weaving and dodging in an attempt to reach their destination. Ladies and gentlemen clogged the open areas, enjoying leisurely strolls around the square meeting friends, stopping to chat to one another. Frustrated and with a sheen of sweat beginning to form on her neck, Evie sidestepped and maneuvered until she finally had the meat shop directly in her view, only half a street away now.

Armed with her basket, Evie gave a resigned sigh as she pulled out a small list from the pocket of her apron to check once more. She wouldn't normally be out here at this time of the afternoon, running errands for the cook at the Woods' home. However, they were a small staff that worked there and the scullery maid had taken quite ill of late. As such, Evie had been recruited by the housekeeper to run quickly to the shops at the cook's impassioned pleas that dinner would be non-existent if someone did not go, this very moment, and pick up what she required. Although it wasn't necessarily Evie's responsibility to fetch things for cook, it was her responsibility to do her part to keep the household running smoothly- and this meant being certain there was ample dinner for the masters. This is what the housekeeper had said, anyhow. Evie's chores had been coming along in a timely manner, and if she did not dawdle, she would make it back with plenty of time to finish them up before she was really missed.

It was common knowledge among the servants that Evie was mostly illiterate. They had stopped giving her notes with any type of writing on them a few weeks after she'd started working at the Woods'. Instead, they now used pictures in order to illustrate what it was they needed doing. There was a picture of a sheep on the paper, which Evie knew was to signify she should purchase a side of mutton. There was also a picture of a large wedge of cheese. Easy enough. Tucking the paper back into her pocket, Evie pursed her lips at her own stupidity. Surely sheep and cheese were not hard words to learn, they sounded rather short. What pleasure it would give her to be able to see two small words such as those scrawled across a paper and know that those letters in that precise order spelt 'cheese' and 'sheep'. She hated being give paper with pictures on it, as if she were a baby. However, this was the only way the staff could ensure she did not, in fact, bring home the wrong products (as in the case of her first two weeks in the household before admitting sheepishly that she could not, in fact, read very much at all). Certainly it was not uncommon for others like her to not have the gift of reading and writing, but it had always bothered her so. It made her embarrassed, and shamed.

As Evie looked back up from tucking away the note, she pulled up short as she realized was directly behind someone who had stopped in the street. Unfortunately, before she had been able to stop herself, the step she'd been in the middle of taking when she looked up resulted in her knocking her boot against the back of the strangers own garments, at which a light pink blush crept across her nose as she took a quick step back. "Beggin' your pardon," she mumbled softly. Oh Lord, don't let them be a nutter, she prayed. Although it wasn't as if she was in the slums or an area of disrepute, one never knew who one might bump into in Salem Square. Hopefully this stranger would be good natured about the whole affair..
It was lucky Penny and Pascal had stayed home. Amelia had a feeling both the dog and cat would have been positively scratching at her to leave quickly. No animal would be happy about this crowd today. Even Amelia herself - not one to fancy large crowds - was rather flustered in the large crowd. Hood donned and basket tucked under her day cloak, the witch had hoped to make this trip a quick one. Thus far the vegetables she'd gotten had been way too overpriced and she was worried she'd scarcely have enough to get a good slice of meat. She might have to wait until she got paid again. Nevertheless, might as well take a glance at the prices since she was about there.

Approaching the shop, she paused to pull out her list and took a glance at it, making sure this was the last stop she needed. Her hesitation cost her, however, and she was immediately stopped as she took a step forward by someone kicking the back of her cloak. She turned in annoyance, an irritated expression written across her face. It quickly lessened as she realized it hadn't been done on purpose. "Oh, that's quite alright." she said kindly, offering a soft smile in hopes of remedying any damage she'd done with her previous irritation. "Please don't worry yourself too much, it's only my day cloak."

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Evie was relieved to see the woman she had accidentally kicked was not too put out, nor was she a nutter. She had seemed rather irritated at first, but Evie supposed that was fair. She'd have felt the same, and the heat and the crowds did have a way of making people rather short tempered.. However, Evie was pleased to see the irritation melt into a smile and the incident be waved off non-nonchalantly. She offered the stranger a smile in return. "Still, I'd hate to have got anything on it," she replied.

"I shouldn't have been walking and looking at my list at the same time," Evie admitted. "It's just terribly crowded today and I wanted to take a last look before making it to the butchers. I am sorry." She should have been more careful about keeping her eyes up and not bothered with the list. However, here they were, and there was little she could do but apologize. Thankfully the weather was dry, so there was no need to worry about any transfer of mud or horse muck or the like from boot to cloak. Had it been raining and wet out, she was quite sure she would have received a much different type of reaction. "But I shan't keep you, you'll want to be on your way I'm sure Miss."

Really, the worst Amelia figured she could have gotten on it was dirt, and wasn't that what cloaks made for? Honestly how some people bought such expensive wares and didn't want anything to happen to them was beyond her. Amelia laughed genially, "I'll give you it's terribly crowded," she offered, hoisting her basket a little further up her arm to secure it. She glanced around, not exactly pleased by all the hustle and bustle.

"In any case!" she said, glancing towards the butcher's shop then nodding towards the basket in her arms. "I'm on my way to the butcher's as well, if you'd like to accompany one another?" Might as well, if the other girl accepted it. Less of a reason to get jostled in the street if they stayed together.

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What a coincidence, that they should both be making their way to the same destination! "Certainly," Evie nodded. Two was better than one when travelling in crowds. It wasn't much of a walk to the store, but none the less she decided to attempt some sort of conversation. This other woman seemed friendly enough, and was awfully unbothered about being knocked in the street.

"I'm called Evie." Might as well begin with introductions, now that they were setting off together. "Are you running errands for someone today?" she inquired as they picked their way along the street. She glanced curiously at the stranger, wondering if she'd found another servant, although she doubted it. This woman's cloak seemed to be of a bit better quality than what most other servants Evie knew wore, and thus she was more likely to be of better class than a mere servant. It wouldn't hurt to ask though, if they were to walk together anyhow.

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