Bou and Rau: Carrigh Averleigh, Master Seamstress of Hallanys
The following morning, court had been suspended on the account of the headaches and general illnesses that were announced by nearly all the noble families besetting the royal quarter. Alasdair was awaken by the herald with the news of the absence of the nobility for the day. He agreed that such unfavorable reports were ghastly and dreadful and a multitude of other mendacities, and once the herald hand gone from his door the king leapt from his bed, free to do as he liked with his one solitary day. He dressed with great alacrity, humming a pleasant tune as he sculpted his pristine hair. He decided that today was to be a celebratory one and therefore warranted the wearing of his favourite embroidered jerkin.
Alasdair carefully removed his pressed garment from the armoire beside his large bed and donned it with the utmost care only to find a small hole in the seam of the right shoulder. He shrieked in agony for the sight of such a catastrophe and panicked, whining in misery for his dear departed jerkin. It had always been his favourite article from the day his grandfather had it made for him on the day he had turned the ripened age of thirteen. He was never certain whether to be proud that it has always fit him due to the maintenance of his perfect weight or saddened that he had not grown in form since that particular day. There was only one hand other than his that he would permit the touching of such a stately and revered cloth and that was the hand of Sir Pastaddams, the Brennin royal family tailor who had mended and fashioned each one of Alasdair's vestments from the day the king was born. Since then, the tailor had proven there was nothing torn that could not be restored and there was nothing ruined that could not be repaired.
Alasdair peeled the jerkin from his lean torso and hurried down to the tailor's place of residence within the servant's quarter of the keep. He leaped toward the clothier with a pained expression and a prayer for her jerkin, which he held folded delicacy between his arms. He cradled his beloved and ancient garment, hoping that the tailor were not afflicted with the same fanciful headache the nobles had contracted from the night's merriment, and when he came to the door of the clothier, the king knock with a tremulous hand.
The king, however, nearly dropped his precious commodity upon the ground when the door was opened and the maid with the golden hair he so longed to find the evening prior was standing before him. Alasdair could not find the strength to breathe as he was too occupied with the frightful business of blushing. He stood in his place at the door with no words in his mind to convey for the sight of the stunning young creature before him was more than he could comprehend at present. He managed to swallow, which was all he could muster himself to do, and stared shamelessly at her glittering blue eyes and her glowing complexion.
The maid was trapped in fright, assailed by the sight of Alasdair standing blatantly before her. The king was barring the only exit to the small room therefore ruining her means of escape. She had no choice but to oblige his company through her timidity and collected herself into a curtsy. She anticipated that once she had given him all proper courtesy and civility a king would expect to receive he would stand aside to allow her flee from her apprehension but when she stood rightly, the king had not moved. He only looked. She smiled nervously and searched about with her downcast eyes, waiting for the king to give her a command or leave for the disappointment of finding her when he clearly sought someone else.
Alasdair blinked and recollected his breaths. He was further assaulted with the shining of the woman's golden locks in the shaft of sunlight beaming from behind him and when he had resolved in his bemused mind that he could no longer remain silent for the purpose of propriety he said, "Where is Sir Pastaddams? He is not ill, I hope." The king began to dread is own poorly elected words, causing himself to fear that his precious tailor had befallen some unfortunate circumstance without gleaning from him the knowledge of the man's exquisite stitching and finely blended fabrics.
The maid noted the aggrieved look on the king's handsome countenance and gave him a fleeting smile, pleased that one of such regal consequence would care for one so decidedly lower than himself. "No, your majesty," the young woman said in a small voice. "One of the nobles requested his services. I assist him with some of the garments when he is away from the clothier. Shall I go and fetch him for your majesty?" The woman started, hoping to walk past the king and flee her imprisonment but Alasdair held up his hand to impede her parting.
"No, madam, please don't trouble yourself. I'm sure you're-" The king was silenced by the woman's sudden flush in her cheeks. He did not believe he had said nor done anything that would cause such an unprecedented coloring and he reiterated his words in the quiet of his thoughts as he watched the woman curl into her shyness. He smirked and beheld the woman in her entirety beneath the brilliance of the morning light. Alasdair was lost to her smiling eyes and innocent features until he noticed the woman holding a pair of familiar breeches in her hand. "Are those mine?" Alasdair gestured to the clothing in the woman's one hand and observed that she had been working on them as she kept a needle and thread in the other.
"Are they your majesty's?" the maid asked with swift anxiety. "Forgive me, I didn't know."
The woman continued on the subject of her lesser ability and meager experience in comparison to her superior but the king had not heard any of her depreciative musings for he was engrossed with the sartorial elegance in her seams and the distinction with which she employed her threading. The king neared and the maid quieted as he grazed his fingers along the work she had just completed.
"You're stitching is flawless," the king murmured in awe of such intelligent expertise.
"My father taught me well before he died," the maid softly said, hoping to assuage the king's idea of her being more than she supposed herself to be. "I helped my mother in his clothier when he took ill. Your majesty is generous with his compliments and has a fine eye for tailoring, I see." The maid inclined her head toward the king in gratitude for his admiring comment and she found herself suddenly presented with the king's embroidered jerkin.
"I have something here I need mended," Alasdair said with urgency in his pleasant voice.
"I will make certain that Sir Pastaddams sees to it when he returns." The young woman held out her small, work worn hands upon which the king was to place his delicate garment but instead of complying with her motion, the king only drew nearer to her.
"Would you be able to repair it?" Alasdair delicately asked.
"Yes, I can but would your majesty would not prefer the royal tailor to mend it?"
The woman could not deny that her quickly beating heart greatly desired the opportunity but it was Alasdair who's sensibilities were flustered. If the woman would agree to mend the article he had brought, he would be asked to either stay until the repairs were completed for fitting or return to do the same. His plan was to remain in the woman's presence until he had gained some semblance of her name and hoped she would grant him the favor of a conversation if they could assemble enough courage between them.
"I would like you to do it," he said, placing the folded jerkin in her hands, and quickly added, "Might I know your name, madam?"
"Carrigh, your majesty," she said with a smile, accepting his prized garment. "Carrigh Averleigh of Hallanys."
"How did you come to Diras, Miss Carrigh Averleigh?" Alasdair cleverly added the designation of miss in hopes that if she was a missus she would correct him but she did not, much to the king's happiness.
"My father died and my mother took over my father's shoppe but with the invasions, business has been scarce," Carrigh explained. "I was told there was work to be done in the castle so I came hoping to find a position as a seamstress."
"Then you should be in here, not scrubbing stones of parapets," the king bitterly said, thinking of the woman ruining her delicate hands with the harshness of soaps against the stone of the castle walls. "If there were more work here for you, would you stay in the tailor?"
The woman beamed in delight at the question. "I would, your majesty. Nothing would make me happier. That is-" The maid suddenly recoiled, fearing that she had made herself seem ungrateful for her previous work under the king's employ.
The king drew close to her, near enough to garner the sweet scent from her hair. "The seam in the shoulder came undone," he struggled to say without buckling his knees. "I was hoping it could be fixed by this evening."
"It's easily done, your majesty. It will only be a few moments." Carrigh immediately went to work in the corner of the room, elated that she had been chosen as the selected tailor for the king's garment. She examined where the seam had torn and as she prepared her needle and thread, she noticed that the king was still standing there beside her, not venturing to leave while the procedure was done.
Alasdair realized is intrusion and began to fathom and excuse as to the means of his remaining. "May I wait in here with you?" was the only phrase his besieged mind could convey.
"I would be honoured."
Carrigh continued her work, attempting to hide her timid smiles in the pull of each careful stitch she sewed but Alasdair requested that she work facing him, she believed him to judge her quality but he had asked only to see her exquisite features while she was deep in concentration. A few crossings of her thread and the repair was nearly complete when the woman stopped and inhaled to accumulate her thoughts into words.
"Am I permitted a question for his majesty?" Carrigh asked, biting her plump lips.
Alasdair exhaled in pleasance and grinned foolishly. "Of course," he declared. "But please, do me the courtesy and forgo the unnecessary titles."
"May I use sire instead?" the woman asked, feeling uncomfortable with immediate familiarity.
"If you would rather, you may."
The woman stifled a capricious laughter and prepared her preface to her query for the eager king. "Sir Pastaddams tells me that he has been in the Brennin family's service for nearly three generations. Was he knighted for some service in the ranks?"
Alasdair had hoped that the subject of the tailor's odd knighthood would not abound and he looked to the side, wishing he would not be asked to explain it for fear of mockery on his behalf. "Not exactly," he muttered.
"You . . . you knighted your tailor, sire?" Carrigh asked in disbelief.
"He has saved my life more than once," Alasdair mutedly argued. "I felt the title was well deserved."
The woman was pleased to see that the king regarded the saving of a garment equal with the saving of a life and could not cease her wide smiles for all the trying. "You are generous indeed, sire. It is good to be in the service of a king who rewards his subjects with such charity."
Alasdair wished she would say more whether it was for flattery or for conversation but the woman was beleaguered by shyness at being given the occasion to speak to his majesty with acquaintance and simply allowed him to remain there with her, watching her every movement as she mended his favourite item. She quickly finished her work and lifted it up for Alasdair's scrutiny but the king could find no fault. The stitching was all virtue and purity and he placed the vestment on, feeling its immaculate fit.
The king wore his jerkin out of the clothier and bid Carrigh a good day with a promise of return the instant he required her particular abilities. She bowed to him and smiled in silence and the king was suddenly over come with the want to rip every item he had in his position for the notion of being allowed to watch her mend each one of them. He skipped away with a joviality he had narrowly knew he possessed until he came to the head maid's quarters. He asked the older woman to make Carrigh remain at the tailor as the new royal seamstress so that he may better find her in a sunlight room rather than under the darkness of moonlit parapets. His cheeriness was stunted when he discovered Carrigh's wages were only one gold a month. He was astounded to discover that someone with so much splendor in her work was being paid a mere gold and immediately ordered that her wages be raised to three, knowing that Carrigh's gentle character would compel her to send home two to her mother and keep only the one for herself.