1861/07/12 A Little Help
Scene A Little Help
Characters Adolph Charlotte
Place Main Street, General Goods
Date 1861/7/12, Evening
Scene Theme <Song>

It is a summer night. The weather is hot and fair.

It's getting late, and Adolph is finishing the last of his deliveries for the shop. It's not technically in his agreement with the storeowners, but the young man is keen to make himself useful, and he occasionally picks up penny tips when he delivers, plus it's a good way to keep up with everyone in town, so he's happy to do it. His shirtsleeves are rolled up to the elbow and buttoned in place, and his suspenders sit tidily over his shoulders as he makes a long trip down Main Street shorter by half-singing, half-mumblehumming a song to himself. The wicker basket which had held his deliveries is empty, now, and it hangs from his elbow, swaying in the breeze of incipient evening.

Stepping out of the church and into a sky that's just beginning to turn yellow with the setting sun, a new face in town brushes her hands together and takes a deep, long breath that is let out much faster than it was gathered. It's the distance she glances too, first. A spot in the far distance where the plain starts to sharply curve upwards to create the crest of a tall hill. When she glances back to the street, her gaze passes over someone she must do a double take of. At first her mind registers the feminine features and assumes one thing. A closer inspection reveals that initial judgment to be wrong. "Excuse me," she calls out, lifting her hand towards him to identify herself as the speaker even as she takes her steps. "Sir? Would you mind telling me where the general store is?"

Adolph is keeping his eyes ahead, less to pay horrifically close attention to where he's going (it's a straight shot, after all, and he's observant enough not to run into anyone on an open street) and more to gaze along the silhouette of the town and off toward that horizon, himself. He's been here a year and still sometimes can't believe just how much sky there is out here in Colorado. Then, someone's excusing herself, and he rocks backward a half-step and turns to look, gentle hazel eyes wide for a moment as though to wonder whether he's the 'sir' in question. But he is, and his features ease into a polite and helpful smile. "Of course not. I'll do you one better and show you the way, if you'd like. I'm going there myself," he explains.

Adolph speaks English fluently and with the cadence of one with at least some education. The German accent is there, for sure, but not all that prominent.

As soon as he notices her, she drops her hand to her side and moves over. There is no rush to her walk, though her fingers do lightly bunch at her skirt to keep the front of her boots from getting anywhere close to pinning the fabric between the sole and the ground. On getting closer, it's easy to take note of the color in her face, which is different from the warm glow that highlights her eyes and makes her hair seem lighter. It, paired with how she sounds out of breath, suggests she's just recently finished some sort of work. "That's very accomodatin' of you, and I appreciate you takin' the time to do so. The good Sister showed it to me on the way in, but I find myself unable to recall where it is." The whole exchange is marked by frequent trips to his blonde hair, and the slightest tilt of her head. As if his words are being studied. "You can probably tell I'm not from 'round here, so I apologize for imposin' on you."

Adolph doesn't spend too long looking at Charlotte's face. It's a very nice face, he's sure, but it's rude to stare, so he limits himself to cheersome little glimpses to keep himself engaged in the conversation while drifting into a dawdle in the direction he'd already been heading. "I was going to ask wheher you came in on that train today," he admits. "Not to say you don't fit in, it's only… there aren't many people living here, so when you do, it doesn't take long to know them all." He pitches his voice light, effortless in mirth and good-nature, only a little shyness loitering in his volume and his fleeting glances. "It's not an imposition at all. I work at the store, in fact, and my employers let me a room on the second storey, so to say that it's on my way home is," he underscores the jestful coincidence of language with a mild titter — perhaps a light giggle, "I suppose a little bit on the nose. Are you come to work in the church? Or are you a relative of Sister Mercy's?" He refers to the nun with a healthy dose of respect in his voice.

"I did," she mentions, anyway, even though he explains that he recognizes she's not from here simply because of the small population of the town. "Sister Mercy showed me some of the town and then the church. I decided to help out a little, and next thing I knew, the sun was settin'." If she notices any shyness or reservations on his part, she doesn't seem to show it. There's something of an excited aura about her, probably making her oblivious to everything else. "I admit, I reckoned it was goin' to be a bigger town, but I don't mind that it's not. It seems more friendly this way. Is that weird?" She laughs, perhaps in spite of herself. "I truly do thank you, though. Lucky me to meet an employee of the exact place I'm goin'! I'm stayin' at the boardin' house, myself. I just need to get some things." Prompted about her purpose in town, she casts a glance towards him rather than leaving it focused ahead of them. "Oh, pardon me," she says with what amounts to self-reproach. "I'm Charlotte Wright. I'm the teacher for the children."

Adolph is put at great ease by her scattered attention; it's easier not to be shy when nobody's really focused on him. And her excitement, well, it's contagious, and soon Adolph is grinning as broadly as if it were his first day here, too. Except in a lot more comfortable circumstances than his actual first day here. "No, I don't think it's weird. Small is good. Makes for a real community. At home I'd have never gone to a church run by Papists. We used to tell fairy stories about Papists coming around to kidnap us in our sleep when we were children. Here it's like… well, we're all for the same God, aren't we? You start to realize some of the things you thought about people once upon a time are just kind of silly." He has a manner of prattling on, too, doesn't he? Or else he's just caught her excitement and is matching pace with her. Her profession makes both his brows rise at once. "A teacher! How wonderful! I had free learning at a public school, myself— it's a thing everyone really should be able to have, and we're lucky you've come to tend to it. What will you teach?" he wonders, too excited to remember to give his own name.

Something between humor and confusion twists her expression when he says the word, 'Paptists'. Some of that humor starts to evaporate from her face when his story unwinds, and her eyes start to widen, too. Tales of Baptists kidnapping children will do that to anyone. It's not entirely gone by the time he finishes, though, and instead of some horrified reaction, he receives a nod for his tale. "We are all for the same God, and He teaches us not to judge anyone, for we are sinners, ourselves. Some of us believe different things, but we all believe in Him." Hiked eyebrows mark his outburst of excitement at learning of her profession, and she can't begin to suppress her smile returning to how wide it was before. "Readin', Writin', Arithmetic, and History. Nothin' too fancy. I don't have the books to teach anythin' else. Or any books, really, save for an older one on history.." She shifts from mostly excited to mostly considering, eyes turned upwards towards the sky as she recollects. A lifted hand paws at the air. "Ah, well. Never no mind. The children will learn the basics, and maybe I can learn more to teach more."

Adolph misses the better part of her look of confusion, looking on down the street with a small smile while he goes on. He does look to the side when he's done, and pinkens visibly across cheeks and ears, "Oh, gosh. I'm sorry, I was hardly thinking. You're a, you're a Catholic yourself?" he stops using the slang word, in case she finds it derogatory. As the conversation moves back to education, his blush slowly fades, just lingering around his eartips as a reminder of his faux pas. "Letters and figures will be a good start, I'm sure. Will you have space in the Church?" he wonders, bfore the conversation fairy whaps him over the head with the sme wand she'd hit Charlotte with a moment ago. "I'm Adolph, by the way. Adolph Schneider. Very good to meet you."

"I'm a Baptist," she confides, but there's no condescension. Nothing malevolent that chastises him through her open admission, even if that very thing puts him in more of a predicament given his recent comments. Refusing to let tension dwell between them, she's quick to add more. "There's a side room in the church that Sister Mercy has been usin' to teach the young ones. We'll use that space, she says, until the menfolk can do somethin' more proper-like for a schoolhouse. I don't care, too much. I can teach anywhere. God will provide." A more focused look in his direction comes from the announcement of his name. "Adolph?" She says it far more drawn out, capturing only the first sound before her twang twists out the last part into something less enunciated. "It's delightful to meet you, too, Mister Schneider." That, too, lacks the proper clipping at the right points, but she doesn't give any consideration to how her accent might be butchering his name.

"Oh!" Adolph remarks at her declaration of faith. "I'm Lutheran," he goes on to relay, since she offered the information, first. Not that it would take any great leap in logic to assume as much. "But we only have the one church, here. Which is well enough for all," he smiles softly, eyes casting to the street's surface while they walk. "A schoolhouse would be a great project, if only the funds could be gathered for it. The church has been serving, but I'd like to see more of the kids attending." She might butcher his name, but he knows whom she means, and it draws a goofy little smile from him, anyhow. "The store's just down past the city center and apothecary, across the road from the jail." They can just see it coming into view down the main street, and he points it out even though they're still walking.

"Ah!" She tries to suffuse her exclamation with some sense of knowledge, but the truth is that she neither recognized his use of 'paptists', nor does she necessarily recognize the significance of him being Lutheran. Feeling silly for doing so, she comes clean. "I must admit, I don't know too much about anything other than Baptists. My Daddy and my Momma," Charlotte's eyes swim away at the mention of the woman, before arriving back on him. "They were both Baptists, too. And their parents were, and so on." The gesture of his hand into the distance leads her to spot their destination not so far off. "My, this road is longer than it seems," she says, only to shoot him an embarrassed look. "Not that I mind the walk, I mean, but it seemed shorter when I first got here. What do you do at the store, if you don't mind me askin'?"

"I don't know too much about Baptists, but I know you're closer to Lutheran than to the Papists by… heh, by the length of our main street," Adolph jokes gently on the topic of the walk. "Catholics believe that there is one man through whom all relations between man and God must pass, and whose word is God's on earth," he explains, and he can't quite keep the distaste of the notion out of his voice. "Baptists… as far as I've learned, don't follow the Pope. Do they?" Just in case he's wrong; she'd know better than he, being one. "At the shop? I'm their tailor. I mend, and patch, mostly, and alter clothes. I've made a few pieces myself, but for the most part people tend to buy them already made. I also run deliveries," he lifts the basket in demonstration, "Do the tidying, make coffee or tea if business is slow."

Charlotte doesn't show the reaction that he does to his explanation of Catholics, but her eyebrows are hiked higher after hearing it. "..Ah." The nod that follows is slow, as if she's trying to process what he's just said. She's quick to shake her head, though, when the topic arrives to Baptists. "Oh, no, sir. We don't." The topic turns to something less involved and complex, and there's relief on her face because of it. "Oh, I've never met a tailor before!" It's a return of her excitement from before. She listens, rapt, to his revelation, nodding along. "I can do some sewin', but it's just for mendin' stuff. Nothin' like makin' clothes or anything. Sounds like you keep yourself real busy. I never saw someone do deliveries like that, though. We always had to go ourselves if we wanted anything. The store was kinda far from our farm." Although she's remarked that the road has felt longer, she's caught off-guard by finding the store looming next to them when she looks away from their conversation.

"I go if I have time. There are only so many clothes to keep in good repair. And there's usually a tip in it for me, so it's worth my time to go," Adolph chuckles. "Otherwise, yes, generally people come in to pick up their things themselves. I try to keep myself occupied, yes. Idle time just gets a fellow into trouble, you know." He makes the remark, then immediately regrets doing so, pink blooming to red at his ear-tips and spreading down the pale flesh of his throat. "I mean— not— I didn't mean— oh." He has no idea what he meant, other than things one really oughtn't say in front of a lady. Gambling and drinking and the like.

She avoids bringing him any further embarrasment by acting as if his past few statements have fallen on deaf ears. It's easiest for her. Certainly easiest for him. Charlotte uses her chin to gesture at the store, and the almost inaudible thud of her boots on the dusty ground turn to hollow, echoing taps against the wood platform that allows her to step up and head for the open doors. "Do you sell clocks here at the store? That's what I'm lookin' for. Somethin' small." With any luck, she can help him focus on something else to take away from the literal stumbling of the words trying to find themselves on his tongue.

Bless you, Charlotte. Adolph might have ended up crawling down into a hole to die if that had gone on much further. But he's saved by Charlotte's kind ignorance of his comment. He dampens his lower lip and swallows once, nodding his head. "A mantle clock, you mean? Or something smaller, like a pocket-watch?" he wonders. "Either way, yes," he goes on, realizing that it doesn't much matter, given the inventory.

"A mantle clock? Oh, no, nothin' that big. Where would I put it? The boardin' room doesn't have a mantle. No, I need somethin' just a little bigger than a pocket watch. Somethin' that can sit on a little table." Navigating carefully around any words that might bring the awkward atmosphere back, Charlotte explains what she's looking for without explaining where exactly it's going to go. Entering into the store fully, she takes a moment to survey the interior. "I think I see them.." Charlotte doesn't wait to set off, but if there's any question of whether or not this is her attempt to end their walk on a polite note, there is a small glance over her shoulder, as if she's looking to see if he follows.

"No— well," Adolph is still a little stumbly-mouthed, but at least he's not so red anymore. "There are smaller mantle clocks. Yes, something for a writing-desk or…" he was going to say a bedstand, but he stops himself from making the error of mentioning the woman's boudoir to her. Good lord. "Or for your school-room," he recovers, with something much more innocuous. "Something to keep track of the schedule of lessons for the day?" he supposes. He doesn't trail her back toward the clocks, but unless she's going into storage or up the stairs, it's a small enough space for an easeful conversation from a polite distance. Up toward the front westmost corner of the store is a tiny table underneath a hanging lamp, with a stool next to it where Adolph can sew in residence and watch the place. He tucks the basket back into its proper spot behind the stool while they talk.

"That's a good idea," she remarks while heading over to the table the clocks are laid out on. There are a few that are immediately unsuitable for what she wants. There are also a few that are immediately out of her price range. A hand creeps from where it brushes against the side of her skirt to dip into the little pocket sewn into it near her waist. Withdrawing a little leather pouch, she holds it in her hand while the other hovers near the edge of the table. "I don't remember seein' a clock in that room in the church. Somethin' that I can carry back and forth will be very helpful." She finds what she's looking for not just because the selection isn't that large, but because it almost leaps out at her eyes when they trail across it. It's not much larger than the palm of her hand, and it sits upright thanks to the two halves that are pulled open in front of it. It's the kind of clock she can close up and stick into her suitcase if she needs to. There's some minor work on the front of it. Just engravings that look like filligree. Picking it up, Charlotte turns to head back towards the front for her purchase.

Adolph looks briefly proud to have supplied a good idea to the proceedings. He keeps his eyes on his little table, picking up a taut cloth dob stuck with a collection of pins and moving it a few inches up and to the left of its previous position, an re-arraning a few other things with similar vacuity of purpose thereafter. When he notices her drifting back to the fore of the shop, he asks, "Would you like for me to write up your purchase? I'd start you a store account, but I'm not allowed to on my own."

The trip back allows her to view him as he rearranges things, and she wonders if it's lingering embarrassment that leads him to it or just a desire to ensure everything is in its place. Charolette sets the clock down on the counter at the front and nods at the question he asks. "Oh, that's alright. You've done more than enough by now, anyway. I'm sure I'll be back. It's the only store in town, isn't it? I don't think I'd have much luck tryin' to walk to the next one." The jest of her tone is emphasized perhaps a little too much, but she wants to ensure that's the way it's taken rather than letting some personal insecurity drown it out and turn her joke into something that's spoiled instead of appreciated.

Mission: accomplished. As Adolph steps around a stack of coiled ropes and scootches his way between a cluster of rakes and the edge of the glass counter, the joke tickles him just right and it calls up a bright laugh from the tailor, his soft hazel gae flits up to her and even makes eye contact for a moment before he's looking down to open the register-book and turn it to the right page for him to record the purchase. "You're right. That sort of walk will make our main street look like nothing at all," he jokes right back, merry in spirit to do so.

"Lord have mercy," she uses the same expressive humor for this phrase as she did the joke, even going so far as to lift the back of her hand to her brow, as if she suddenly felt faint. That through, she unfolds the leather flaps of the pouch, keeping them towards herself so as not to reveal the contents to anyone but herself. And who could blame her? A young woman on her own, as she obviously is? The last thing she needs to go around doing is announcing how much money she has to the world, even if the only company is the kind young man that's been so helpful to her. "How much do I owe you, Mister Schneider?"

Adolph keeps his eyes politely averted, as he's so very good at doing in general, evidently. He's not going to spy on the contents of her pouch— that would be terribly rude. "Could you spell out your name for me, Miss Wright?" he asks her, voice pitched tenderly at the question so as not to sound bullying or brusque. Even if he leaves out a 'please,' it's inherent in his tone of voice. The prices, those are in another book, and he opens that one over to the side, flipping through and frowning as he tries to make out the prices alongside the descriptions of the different clocks. He finally finds the one he's looking for, "That's a dollar and forty cents, Miss Wright." That, enunciated clearly.

"Of course!" Charlotte waits to see the nib of his pen next to the book before beginning. "C. h. a. r…" She continues each letter after, pausing only long enough for the swoop to happen, all the way through to the the last letter of her last name. If nothing else, she's shown her competence with letters, so the children haven't inherited a total fraud. Her mouth works for a moment when he details the price, but no words come out. There's a movement of her hand in the leather pouch before the exact amount that he's asking for is produced, with what seems like at least some reluctance on her part. "Here you are." Reluctance or no, her voice is steady, and there's even a small smile on her lips.

Adolph doesn't think much on the momentary reluctance; he's too busy making certain he's crossing all the ts and dotting all the is in this transaction; he doesn't often do this, and when he does he's always anxious he's going to mess up and get in trouble through negligence. A little bit of rosiness along his rather effeminate cheekbones stands out against an anxious pallor as he counts out the tender once more, flitting an apologetic smile in Charlotte's direction in case she finds it rude of him to count it. "Thank you, Miss Wright. May I wrap it in parcel-paper for you?" he goes on to offer while he writes her out her receipt.

The woman watches him work in silence, but gazes more at her purchase than anything else. She's busy tracing the engravings with her eyes when his voice demands her attention, breaking her from whatever train of thought is currently running through her head. "Hm? Oh, no, thank you. That won't be necessary at all. It seems a waste for that when I'll just be unwrappin' it so soon." There is the slight flick of her gaze between him and the recount of her money, but aside from just a gentle wrinkle in her brows, she says nothing. The interior of the shop is getting darker, and Charlotte looks towards the door. "Do you need anything else from me, Mister Schneider?" Her voice is pleasant. "It's getting dark and I should be heading back."

Adolph pulls at a creased page of paper, pulling free a receipt for Charlotte to take away with her. "No, Miss Wright. Have a nice evening and please be safe. Do you need directions back to the boarding house?" he asks meekly, not wanting to detain her any longer, but realizing she may yet be on the lost side here.

The offered receipt is taken and folded up to join the contents of her leather pouch, before the pouch itself is tucked back into the little pocket on her skirt. She gathers up the clock and folds the two front halves of it shut, allowing it to take on the appearance of a box rather than a device used to tell time. "I will, thank you. I remember my way back. Just down the road towards the terminus and then a little ways down south street. That's still pretty fresh in my mind. Thank you, again, for all your help. Enjoy the rest of your evening." She turns with her purchase and heads for the door after offering him a farewell smile.

Adolph catches the smile and returns it with a cheerful lift of a hand good-bye. "You're welcome, Miss Wright, and you do the same," which is to say, have a good— yes. Then he's putting away the money and finishing the records, looking generally pleased enough with himself.

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