The Interesting Case of Two Opposites.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by LadyHarpy, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Somewhere in the streets of London, among the busy cobble stone streets and the shouting of street vendors selling their wares, was a quaint little shop. It stood out among the shops around it, being the only one to specialize in its lovely wares. While other stores sold knives or clothing, this shop sold books. There were not many book stores in London, and most that were were stationed in high class areas. Not this shop, no this shop was in the thick of the market place, where all could see through it's window and gawk at the lovely interior.

    On the outside it was like any other shop, painted a dark and dull color to blend in, a hanging sigh baring the name of 'Barnes Books' just above the door. The inside was completely different though. It was warm and bright, the wood floor nice and clean from constant sweeping. The shelves were organized and went all the way to the ceiling, covering most of the walls as well as filling in much of the shop as they lined up in rows, just leaving enough space for shoppers to pay at the counter. A black register sat to the side on the counter along with a few books that needed to be organized back into place on the shelves behind it. In the back room, which was enter via a door behind the counter, would be an area filled with books as well as the way to the owners home.

    Finally there was a shinny bell to ring for getting the shop owners attention, though it would not be needed as he was sitting right next to it, reading a novel quietly as he waited for a customer to wander in. If one was looking closely they could tell he was a handsome man, his black shaggy hair looking nice on him even though it was a bit messy. He was neatly dressed though, his uniform clean and crisp. As for his facial features, well those were hidden among the pages of his current obsession; A history novel of some sort, if one could catch the title that was on the binding. There was nothing that could easily pull him away from the pages...except for a customer of course.
  2. And then, by a horrible trick of fate, there was a customer. A tall, well dressed young man came through the door, closing it roughly. He wore a finely tailored brown suit with subtle blue pinstripes with a button-hole full of hyacinth and forget-me-not that mingled with the smell of paper and old books. As for his face, it was well kept, clean shaven, and tinged with freckles. His cheekbones were high and fine, and he had dark, deep set eyes. He was a dandy, clearly, and carried with him the characteristic aspect of a dandy; a look of apathetic boredom on his face. He glanced around the room with disinterest, his dark brown eyes examining the books and the shelves with a cold, calculating eye. He straightened his suit, and only then did he seem to notice the young book-keeper. His brown eyes were trained on the young man now, yet there was no human emotion behind them, nothing empathetic, just sheer ennui.

    He walked up to the counter, and tapped the bell with one of his long pale fingers making the bell's chime echo through the room. He folded his arms across his chest, and said in a low, soft voice, "I am looking for a book, but I don't know what kind of book." This was directed towards the young book-keeper, and the voice was not so much a question as a statement or demand. "I want a book of stuff and nonsense" He leaned back on his heels slightly, which somehow managed to make him look even taller, "But maybe also a grain of truth." He picked up the small bell, and inspected it, looking at his distorted reflection in it. Perhaps upset by what he saw, he hurriedly put it down, "Do you have anything like that?"
  3. The closeing of the door seemed to go unnoticed by the reading shop keeper, too lost in the story of his novel to notice the dapper mans enterance. It wasn't until the bell was run right next to him did he seem to jump out of his small stuppor and look up. The head of the shop keeper shot up and bright blue eyes looked into brown ones, sparkling with a bit of surprise as if he hadn't expected the man to be standing there at all. His expression quickly changed though and a warm and polite smile was painted on his face, marking the page in his book and closing it as he spoke.

    "Well, Sir, we have many books to that discription, though the topics in them range all over the place. Is there anything more you are looking for? A possible topic or gerne that I can use to cut down the possible selection. Of course I could also recommend a few to you if you are interested, though they all vary in topic and writing style." He said in a quick and calm voice, his expression completly sincere.
  4. The tall young man was surprised by the book-keeper's friendly tone and smile. His sincerity was equally surprising, as the gentleman was so used to people lying to him and being concerned with such petty things as who was having tea with who, and why her dress didn't become her. He looked at the young-man carefully. He seemed warm, friendly, earnest, and eager to please. The gentleman leaned down slightly, so that they were eye to eye, nose to nose, lips to lips. He inspected the book-keeper objectively and gave him a long hard look, brown eyes against blue. The gentleman stood up straight again, and turned to peer at a shelf. He plucked a slim red book from the shelf, read the title, snorted, and set it aside. He functioned awkwardly, like he was new to interacting with people - an alien to the human race.

    The gentleman looked over at the book-keeper with narrow eyes, "I want a book about the book-keeper and the gentleman who met each other on a morning very much like this." He pulled down another book, this one was a heavy leather-bound volume. He blew off the dust and read the title, before setting that book aside as well, "I would be keen on hearing your suggestions, Mister Bibliophile."
  5. For a moment, the shop owner was quiet as he was inspected and observed, his smile and politeness never wavering from his face. He watched as the man before him picked at the books on the shelves and looked over the titles before putting them down, he would sort them back in place when he was finished helping this customer. A small but light laugh passed his lips as the man asked for a book about this situation, always able to find humor in everything, even if the man hadn't ment to be funny.

    "Well, I do hate to say this but I have no books that follow that plot but I shall gladly call you when one does. As for my suggestion, I have plenty to give you. If you would just follow me Sir." He said in a kind voice as he went around the counter and joined that man before walking down on of the many shelves.

    As he walked he ran his fingers along the bindings at the level of his hands, seeming to almost know what each said without looking at it. He stopped short of the end of the shelf and bent down to pull two books from the bottom shelf. He then pulled another from the middle shelves and finally one from near the top, just within his reach. He quickly turned on his heels and smiled up at the taller man as he held up a dark green book with gold lettering on the side giving the title.

    "This is a lovely read, one of my favorites, its about a man who sees the spirits of the dead that wander london. Throughout the story he is helping the spirits find rest as well as solving mysteries that were though to be unsolveable! It also points out th difficulties of finding justice in todays society with its standards. Its full of comedy, hints at romance a bit, and has a very nice lesson to learn from it." He said slowly as he held out the book for the man to take and inspect on his own while the shop keeper looked through the others he was holding to see which one to talk about next.
  6. The gentleman inspected the book, feeling the dark green cloth cover between his fingers. It felt pleasant enough he trailed his fingertips over the embossed title. He opened the book, and read the first couple sentences with a blank expression, making it impossible to see whether the book pleased or displeased him. The former seemed more likely, as he tucked the book under his arm without a word. The man scanned the shelves, and then the stack of books in the book keeper's hands, wondering what else this young man could offer him. The tall man was considering what it must be like to be a book keeper, with your endless hours of reading and talking. The reading, maybe, he could stand, but the incessant small talk with people who were not only uninteresting but also sub-moronic would really get under the tall gentleman's skin. He wondered if the book keeper ever felt that way about his occupation, and if he found his current customer uninteresting. He reached up and twirled a curl, something he did when he was concerned or nervous. He supposed that he wasn't exactly endearing himself.

    "What is your name, book keep?" He asked the shop owner, looking down at him slightly. He supposed he had to develop an interest in the young man. He didn't think that this would be particularly difficult. The young man was helpful, cheerful, and seemingly earnest, traits that the tall stranger was not particularly accustomed to; they seemed to be ever-increasing as a rarity in polite society. He stopped twirling his curl, realizing that this habit was not a particularly attractive one, nor was it particularly interesting, it just served to make the man look uncomfortable and out of touch with his surroundings.
  7. As the man looked over the first book, the shop keeper started to rattle on about another. It was a bright red and had black lettering on the front for its title as well as on it's spine.

    "This one happens to be a war story about a young soldier falling in love with a forgien girl. It's about his hardships as well as his growing love and understanding for both the forgien girl and her traditions. It's very controversial and involves quite a bit of violence, but ending is beautiful and very satisfying, it doesn't leave you wishing for more. There is also a sequal-" He held up another book, this one blue with white letter for the title "And it goes on about the soldier a little more, I can't tell you much about the plot for it would spoil then ending of the first. Take my word though when I say if you read the first you will certainly want to read the second."

    He put both books together and handed them to the man politely to look over. He looked up at the gentleman with a smile as he asked him his name.

    "The name is Mordecai Barnes, Sir." He said as he took the last book in his hands and tucked it under his arm for a moment.

    He didn't seem to notice or care about the man nervous habit, just smiling and looking up at him with gentle and happy eyes that reflected his personality.
  8. The tall man took the red-bound book from the newly named book-keep. Mordecai Barnes. The last name was all too familiar of course, as his brother was married to a girl from a rather different Barnes family made up of powerful aristocrats and busy bodies. The first name, however, was odd enough for their to be no relation between the two, along with the fact that no member of the Barnes family had ever worked a day in their life. The book-keep seemed to be experienced at his work, and was likely the son of the previous owner. He took the other book, no not bothering to read the first page, and trusting the judgment of Barnes. He tucked the books under his arms, pleased with his stack of three, though it didn't show on his face.

    "Thank you, Mr. Barnes," he said, returning to the counter, setting the stack down on it, so that he could pay for them. Barnes' earnest and upbeat attitude were infectious, the gentleman thought to himself. He was even feeling in a better mood, though what he usually felt was nothing, sheer apathy and numbness beyond imagination. He realized he hadn't introduced himself properly, and cursed his lack of manners, "My name is Webb. Nicholas Webb." He half expected the book-keeper to know his name. Afterall, he came from a very powerful, wealthy family, and their exploits often appeared in the columns of the newspaper.

    Webb ran a hand through his dark curls, trying to get them to lay quasi-flat on his head. He liked this shop, and he liked this book keep. He wondered if there was a small possibility that they could ever be friends. Maybe in a different world, where he was a merchant too. Class was very important after all, as Webb would happily tell you. Though he couldn't tell you why. Webb thought about that for a moment, silence lingering in the room. What should keep him from being friendly with merchants? It may be improper... but maybe it would convince the women that he was supposed to marry that he was no good for them, and should be ignored at all costs. That was a very pleasant thought.

    "Perhaps, Mr. Barnes..." he said polite, about to make the offer, "I could have the pleasure of taking you to tea. There's a lovely little cafe right nearby." Webb gave his best smile, though it was more of a half-smile then anything. The tall gentleman was not used to such expressions.
  9. Mordecai followed the man to the counter after putting the book he was holding back onto the shelf, quickly moving to get around the counter and over to the register. He clicked at the buttons quickly, knowing the prices of the books by heart. When the gentleman introduced himself Mordecai smiled at him politely. He knew that name, The Webb family was one of the wealtiest in town, they were only outdone by the royalty. They also supplied many jobs to the working class in the city with their large need of servants and gardeners and coachmen. Mordecai could only imagine what it must have been like to be of high class, but the idea didn't really tickle his fancy, he prefered to be working class, he didn't have to worry so much about how he acted.

    However, when Mr. Webb invited him to tea, Mordecai was a little surprised, though he was able to hide it behind his smile. To be invited to tea by someone of such high class was completely unheard of but it seemed that today it was heard, and by him of all people. What was worse is that he would have to decline such an invitation that many people, mostly women though, would have taken in an instant. It wasn't that he didn't like the idea of having tea with Mr. Webb at a cafe, it was that he couldn't leave his shop. His mother and sister had left that morning to go shopping as well as try to get Ethel, his sister, an apprenticeship with a seamstress somewhere. This meant that he was the only one there to run the shop and he certainly couldn't close it, what if a customer came and needed his help? He cleared his throat a bit, it having gone a little dry after having tried to think of a way to politely decline.

    "I am terribly sorry Mr. Webb, but I will have to decline your invitation. My sister and mother are out, leaving me the only one here to attend to the shop. I can't close the shop either since my mother and sister would then have to wait for my return before they could get in again. If it were anyother time would have accepted, but for today I will have to pass on tea." He said with the kindest smile and gentlest voice, still keeping that upbeat and happy attitude going. "Anyway, your total is 6 pounds, Mr. Webb. Would you like me to wrapp these up for you?" He asked as she looked up at the tall man once again.
  10. That was surprising to Webb. He wasn't used to being turned down, particularly by a commoner. Despite Mordecai's bright honesty and friendliness, he still was a commoner, and still, shouldn't associate with Webb. Still, the tall man felt a little put-out by the refusal. He wondered if he should insist upon it for a moment, or coerce the shopkeep through money or force, but frankly, he didn't have the heart for the latter, and Morecai's refusal was logically sound. Even though association with such a commoner could lead to his salvation in his long quest of not being married to some prim and proper lady. The tall man pulled out a small, leather pouch, and withdrew the book-keeper's price.

    He counted it out on the counter, and then scooped it up, and handed it to Mordecai. His hands were surprisingly soft, much like Webb's own hands. Apparently, book-keeping didn't wear on the skin as much as he had suspected. They were almost aristocratic, and to Webb's eye, nearly as elegant as his own. He let go, realizing that he was holding his hand for too long. He returned his leather pouch to his pocket, straightened the flowers in his buttonhole. He managed to say, slightly subdued, "No, no need to wrap them up," and he tucked the books under his arm. He just stood there for a moment, stood there and looked directly at the young man with those same cold brown eyes. He was inspecting, examining, and puzzling out the young man, though Webb realized that this task could potentially take a very long time.

    Webb said, "How about tomorrow, Mr. Barnes?" He ran his freehand through his hair, and tugged on one of the curls of dark hair that was in his eyes, "May I see you tomorrow for tea?" And, he added, since he knew very little of what the life of a peasant was, "Surely you don't work all the time."
  11. Maordecai accepted the money, unable to stop himself from noticing the softness of Mr. Webb's hands, that was only to expected of a man who hadn't worked a day in his life. When Mr. Webb finally pulled away Mordecai put the money in the register and closed it with a quick movement of his wrist. Just when he was about to say his goodbye to the man he was stopped by him asking if he was free tomorrow. This man certainly was persistant! However, tea and talk was tempting, and it was rare for Mordecai to have the time to relax when he was busy with work...Certainly one trip for tea whouldn't be wrong. He certainly deserved it after having such great sales that week! With a quick nod of his head Barnes's smile seemed to get bigger if possible.

    "Well, I'm sure I can spare an hour or two for tea, tomorrow my mother and sister will be in so I could let one of them keep watch for a bit. I will join you gladly, Mr. Webb." He said with his bright smile, crossing his arms and a relaxed manner as he leaned into the counter. "Please do come again, and shop around a little longer if you like. The shop is always open! Until tomorrow, Mr. Webb."

    He gave a small bow in his drection, showing his gratitude for the patronage and the invitation as well as showing he knew his place in the class system as well.
  12. Webb nodded his head. Finally, some progress. He wasn't sure what he wanted to get out of this tea-time with Mordercai. He had heard many grand stories about brave, rich young men who dallied with members of the lower-classes and always turned out better because of it. He supposed he was trying to be one of those people. He couldn't help feeling a creeping sense of dread though, that somehow, having tea with a book-keep would spell his end; socially, politically, physically -- maybe all of them. He realized that thought was silly and fatalistic. He gave Mordercai a very weak smile, and said, politely, "Tomorrow then. I'll see you in the early afternoon." He glanced at the books under his arm, as if pondering what their meaning was, before turning on his heels, and walking out of the shop.

    Webb sighed, and looked up. His carriage had been waiting for him outside of the shop. He slumped a little, reducing his otherwise impressive height. It wasn't like he could travel alone. Wealthy Webbs didn't travel by food. He reluctantly piled into the carriage with his stack of books, and began the red book, quickly becoming absorbed, until the rocking and shaking of the carriage no longer bothered him. A nagging thought in the back of his head kept reasserting itself though: Why was he doing this?
  13. Mordecai watched Webb leaved, a little bit curious and a little more excited. Finally, a much need break. And it would be with someone of the highest class no less. Even so, He couldn't help but wonder why he had been invited in the first place. He certainly wasn't of high class nor was he as well educated as the man that had spoken to him. Maybe he was bored? The idea was not crazy in the least. Rich people often did things on a whim, since they could afford to do so. He shook his head a bit and returned a few books back to their places on the shelves before sitting down and picking up his own novel once again.

    He could think more into it later, for now he would enjoy the company and educated speech of another person. Also the break was something he certainly needed, standing on ones feet all day hurt, and her mother and sister really didn't make it any better with their constant nagging. Thoughts like that would have to be put on hold for now though, for Mordecai was quickly consumed by his novel once more and would not be easily brought back to reality.
  14. The next day, in the late morning, a carriage rolled down the street infront of a certain bookstore. Some of the common folk stared at the vehicle, surprised to see another one so soon in the same location as the small, urban street. The horses brayed, and a footman opened the door for Webb, who continued his fine tradition of immaculate dress. Today, he wore a simple, finely tailored grey suit with blue pinstripes. It was a simple outfit for him, perhaps because he didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to himself, though already, the carriage had made a mess of that. He looked at the footman with his hard, cold brown eyes; "You will return to the manor. I will walk home, or borrow a horse." The footman nodded, not daring to inquire why, and the carriage took off, rattling down the street.

    Webb straightened himself out, ran a hand through his hair, and entered the small shop, finding the smell of books and paper welcoming to his nose. He inhaled deeply, but as subtly as he could. He looked over the shelves, and the fine assortment of novels the store had to offer. He noticed that they were organized, somehow, though he didn't look closely enough to know what manner of organization they were governed by. He kept an eye out for Mordecai - maybe feeling more than a little nervous about finding him, though he was anxious to have tea with him, to puzzle out the book-keep.
  15. Mordecai wasn't in the shop, but what seemed to be a younger female version of him was. It was his little sister, Ethel. She was a rather pretty thing, having the same dark hair as her bother and her nose also burried in a book, though instead of a novel it was a book on sewing and fashion. Also, unlike her big brother, she wasn't as deep into her reading as he was. She looked up and stared with blue eyes as Webb walked in, acting just like any other girl would have when someone of his status graced her path. She quickly closed the book and smiled widely at him.

    "Hello and welcome! We got many new books this morning, Sir, so you will be the one of the first to see the lot. If there is anything I can help you with please ask me, it is my job to be of help after all."

    Elsewhere, in the back of the shop, Mordecai was cleaning up a bit. He would be in the presence of high class today and should look as good as he could afford to. He had taken off the apron and put on a rather nice red vest and matching tie, both made by his sister. He then slipped on a black jacket to complete his outfit, his best shoes on his feet. He certainly cleaned up well but he still did not compare to Mr. Webb. At most he.would look like a well dressed commoner...Which he was. He ran a comb through his hair quickly before deeming himself aready.
  16. Webb looked down at the young woman. She looked just like Mordecai, but smaller and younger. Clearly, the two were related some how, either siblings or cousins. He smiled a little at her friendly demeanor, but he knew she acted this way only because of the gentleman's obvious status and wealth. He bent his knees a bit so that he could speak to her more at her height. He made eye contact with his cold, dead eyes, and said politely, though perhaps a bit awkwardly, as he was unused to not immediately finding the person he wanted to find, "Actually, I'm looking for Mister Mordecai Barnes," He glanced around the shop, as if Mordecai would jump out from behind a pile of books, or from one of the shelves, "He's supposed to meet me here for tea."

    Webb stood up straight again, and dusted himself off, straightening the folds of his suit, "I assume you must be Mr. Barnes' sister?" He asked, trying to make small talk. He was worried, in some, small part of his brain, that Mordecai was no longer interested in going to tea, and had found a better way to occupy his time. The other part of his brain firmly said that was impossible, and a man of his station was entitled to an audience.
  17. Ethel looked him in the eyes, still smiling. When he said that he was looking for Mordecai a look of understanding popped on her face.

    "Ah! You must be the man Mordecai mentioned. He's in the back, I'll go get him for you." She said as she headed behind the counter. "And yes, I am his sister, now excuse me. I'll be back with him in a moment." She said before she slipped through the back door.

    Ethel quickly went to her brothers room and knocked on his door loudly. Mordecai walked over and opened only to be bombarded with questions. He had conviently left out that the man who he was going to tea with was of such high status. Mordecai smiled at his sister snd quickly wiggled himself out of her way and to the front of the shop. He could deal with her anger later, for now he would get to Mr. Webb, it would be rude to keep him waiting too long. As Mordecai steped out of the back he smiled up at the taller man and walked out from behing the counter, adjusting his coat a bit.

    "Sorry for the wait, Mr. Webb. I was cleaning myself up from this morning work. You'd be surprised how tiring shelving books can be." He joked lightly as she took a look around the shop, making sure he wasn't leaving anything unfinished.
  18. Webb stared at the book-keep. He was dressed elegantly, he knew, for a man of his particular status, and he had to admit, it suited him well. He smiled, and tucked a curl behind his ear in a surprisingly effeminate gesture. He regained his composure quickly, and stiffened his facial features and his posture. "I'm glad you're well, Mr. Barnes," He said curtly, seeming to stare right through him with those brown eyes, lacking any depth or human emotion. He offered Mordecai his arm at first, like he was a lady, and then flushed at his mistake, some colour coming onto pale, freckled cheeks. He withdrew his arm, still blushing furiously with embaressment. TO be honest, Webb hadn't spent much time along with other men, save for his brother and his pack of stiff, straight-laced banker friends. In particular, he hadn't been around many lower-class men, and wasn't sure of their customs or nature - and thus, was unsure of how to treat his compatriot.

    "Shall we head up the street, Mr. Barnes?" The tall gentleman asked, "I saw a nice looking little teashop up the way, with a nice garden." he was fumbling, he knew, but there wasn't much he could really do about it. His mouth, usually a model of self-restraint, seemed to have run off on its own accord.
  19. Barnes couldn't help but smile and chuckle lightly when Webb offer his arm, he took it as a small joke instead of a mistake. He would have grabbed it as well if he hadn't pulled away, he was the type of person to role with a joke if it approched him. He headed over to the door and held it open politely as he waited for Mr. Webb to walk out first. He looked up at the taller man with a happy expression, seeming to be rather excited for a day off to enjoy some tea and a gentlman's company, since he was usually being bothered by women, specifically his mother and sister.

    "After you Mr. Webb." He said with an eager tone, ready to be on their way.
  20. Webb left the shop and its smell of books and dust, and he took a deep breath of the outside air. It wasn't the most pleasant smelling air in the world, but at least it was fresh. He watched as common and middle class people hustled about on the street, as horses and carriages, never quite upper-class hustled by. The tall gentleman began to walk up the street, looking over his shoulder to make sure Barnes was following his lead. He remained silent, not sure what to say to the young book-keep as they continued up the street. He didn't know what to talk about, what to say to him, what kind of conversation was appropriate between a gentleman and a merchant. Probably not having one is the appropriate kind, He thought grimly to himself.

    Webb looked over at Barnes. The man certainly was chipper, wasn't he? He wondered if this was a facade, or if maybe Webb had saved him from his family. Webb knew how tiresome family's could be, "What's it like being a book-vendor?" He asked finally. A safe question, he thought, as he rounded the corner. And to be truthful, he really was curious.