1934-12-13: Two And Six
Two and Six
IC Date December 13, 1934
OOC Date 12/13/2010
Location The Alderwood Bookshop, London
Cast Evan MacKenzie Kathryn Weir
Description New in town, Canadian pilot Evan MacKenzie finds his way into The Alderwood Bookshop, where he bumps into Kathryn Weir, the shop's proprietress.
Editor's Note Having found out that the game is temporarily time-frozen sometime in the spring of '35, we've backdated the log to the winter of '34. Book titles, thus, had to be changed… but the rest can stand as originally played.

Setting: The Alderwood Bookshop, London

The Alderwood Bookshop is halfway along a reasonably respectable, middle-class mercantile street in the heart of London. On the outside, it actually has something of a lingering Victorian feel to it. The building itself is red brick. The large windows, crisscrossed with slanted mullions, are framed by sturdy wood, painted a traditional hunter green. The name of the shop is painted in ornate gold letters on glass, ornaments and flourishes sparkling in the corners. Behind the glass, displays of books and small gifts can be seen. Some appear to be quite antique, others quite modern. Often, a golden-brown tabby can be seen curled up in the sun down in one corner.

The shop door is also painted green, with a brass pull handle and a small set of golden bells — more likely polished brass than actual gold — hung above it. The bells jingle merrily whenever anyone opens the door. The same gold lettering applied to the window of the shop is applied to the window in the upper portion of the door, where the letters instead read: Est. 1782.

Within, the shop has a comfortable feel. Cool in summer, warm in winter. The interior is divided by the sweep of an old red wood counter into a front and back browsing area. In the front area, bookshelves and display boxes are prominently featured, creating narrow aisles that are still fairly maneuverable. None of the shelves or displays in the middle of the room are over four-and-a-half feet in height, though the shelves along the walls are floor-to-ceiling. A step ladder can be seen behind the counter, in order that the clerk may aid customers interest in those things otherwise out of reach.

The back area, beyond the thrust of the counter island, holds taller shelves and more ornate display boxes. Generally, the merchandise back there also appears to be more antique and is quite probably more expensive. Notably, tucked into one corner, is a tall stone hearth — nearly big enough for a man to stand up within. It is largely blocked from view by a cunning arrangement of shelves and seating, but the reflection of its fire, when lit, can certainly be seen. In the opposite back corner, a narrow door leads out into a narrow corridor, which further leads to stairs — one flight going up to the owner's flat, a second flight going down to the cellar and the storage area.


It's a grey day outside. That's not unusual for London at this time of year. Nevertheless, it's warm and cozy in the shop. Kathryn has lit a fire in large hearth to the back and is now in the midst of adjusting the Christmas decorations in the front window — thanks to the golden-brown tabby that decided they were simply in her way, earlier.


Tucking in from the hustle and bustle of that called 'London traffic', with a touch of the Christmas spirit taking more to the streets, a young officer dressed in blues pushes on the door, thus causing the bells to jingle, making their announcement. It's an expected noise, however, and only registers with him long enough to be sure the door is closed behind him before taking that extra step in and the hat removed and held in one hand. Immediately, his gaze falls upon the 'new books' area, his manner and mien expressing that there is something specific that he's looking for.


Twisting around a moment, there is the quick search for someone that could posssibly help him.


Kathryn straightens as the bells over the shop door ring. A light smile graces her lips as she sees the officer. Her eyes dart to his insignia. Squadron Leader, then. She steps away from the window, brushing her hands together to rid them of the half-imagined dust motes from the windowsill.

"Welcome to The Alderwood, sir," she says in greeting, a soft, lilting tone to her accent — a holdover from her childhood in Ireland. "Is there anything I can do t'help you?"


A sideways step is taken, and a quick smile comes to his face as he nods in prelude to an answer. "Yes m'am." His own accent is missing that distinct London accent in response. "It's a little late, but I'm setting up a package home. Looking for Rex Stout's new book. Dad read others by him, and wants to get his hands on the latest."

Holding up his hand in a 'one second' gesture, he dips that free hand into his pocket, pulling out a scrap of paper and uncrinkles it. On the paper is written in fountain pen, 'Fer-de-Lance'. Evan hands it over; easier that way.

"If you don't have that one, the new Agatha Christies?"


Kathryn takes the page from the man, glancing down at it. "Rex Stout…" she murmurs, half to herself. Her head cants to the side as she thinks. "Well, we keep our newest releases over here," she says, giving the man another smile and stepping towards a pair of shelves between the door and the window.

Giving the shelves a quick scan, she purses her lips faintly. "I'm sure I saw a shipment of them. My own Da' wanted a copy." She chuckles softly. "Mam's set one aside for him for Christmas. If worst comes to worst, I'll give you that one. I can get another one in before then."

After another few moments, she finds the black and brown cover in a corner, midway down the rightmost shelf. "Ah ha! Here we go. You're in luck."


"You sure—" No sooner are the words out, however, that a copy is located and brandished.

"Ah, good. The last thing I'd want is to keep a man from his mystery." Evan's smile is easy, friendly. "Seems I came to the right store, then. If your father reads the same mysteries, there's a good chance you'll have them in stock." He chuckles, "What I call lucky."

It's a couple of steps to approach where Kate went, curiousity now striking to see what else may be on the shelves. "What other goodies, considering that your father and I, and my father all have pretty much the same taste in mysteries?"


"'Pends on what you're looking for," Kathryn reponds, handing the book to him with an easy, sparkling smile. "We get the Agatha Christies in fairly regularly. And since Stout's quickly turning into one o' Da's favourite authors, I'm sure we'll keep him in stock, too. Him and Carter Dickson. Have you read The Plague Court Murders, yet? Finished it last week. It was a lark."

Odd description, maybe, for a mystery, but she says it sincerely enough. Apparently, she enjoyed it.


"No.. haven't heard of it." There is the sound of interest, however. "If you have a copy, it's just as easy to put it in the box home." Evan shifts his hat into the other hand simply to give his hands something to do. "See? Easy sale. I'll have to read it first, though.." Just to be sure?

Evan reaches out for the book, taking it and doing a quick scan, making sure he avoids the end of the novel. "I figure that anything we get here first before Canada and the 'States is a good choice. I've also found you really can't go wrong with Agatha Christie. Those, even mother reads."

Taking a step back to give Kate some breathing room, he tucks the book into the same hand holding his hat. "I do appreciate this. It's hard to find things the parents like, so I get them something they wouldn't necessarily get themselves. Too much to do than going to a book store to get the latest serial."


"I can imagine," Kathryn chuckles, rocking a little as he takes a courteous step back. She smiles and steps around him, further into the shop once more. "You're from Canada, then?" Given the uniform, it's the logical assumption. "Long way from home. 'Specially at Christmas. Can't say I envy you that. Here with the Air Force, then, are ya? Good for you."

She gestures lightly around the store, however. At least, around that area on this side of the counter island that nearly bisects the premises. "You might want to take a look around. We've souvenirs, as well — a few of them quite cunning, if you or your folks like puzzles or old fashioned games. And if there're things you'd like from home, I'd be happy to order 'em for you. Just let me know."

A beat. She thrusts out a hand and gives a bright smile. "I'm Kathryn, by the way. Kate. Kat. I answer to any of 'em."


"If I wanted to keep flying, it was either here or Australia. And, I probably couldn't get Rex Stout's new book for another couple of years if I went there." Evan sounds upbeat enough, and he nods, or rather, it incorporates a little more of his body in the acknowledgment. "Canada, yes ma'am. And," twisting around to follow the gesture of the rest of the shop, he nods again as his eyes follow the shelving, the wall, "I just may do that.. take a look around. Now that I've got the books." His attention is once again brought forward to Kate, and he raises the book with his hat.

"Evan." Taking the proffered hand in introduction, it's not a 'shake' that two gentlemen may make, but something lighter, forward — making the attempt to shift the hand forward as if he'd kiss the knuckles, but not going quite that far. "A pleasure." He pauses a moment before adding, "Kathryn."


Kathryn accepts the gentlemanly gesture graciously. As he releases her hand, she passes her fingers by an ear, tucking an errant strand that's come out of its sculpted waves back out of the way. "A pleasure to meet you, Evan," she says in return. "Welcome to London…" Not, mind, that she has any idea how long he may have already been in the country. It just seems the thing to say.

"I think you made the better choice, myself," she admits. "I'd sooner be off to Canada than Australia, myself." She thinks about it for a moment. "I think one of me Da's uncles and his family immigrated to Canada when Da' was a boy, but I'm not sure." She laughs ruefully, now. "I have trouble keeping track of everyone here, nevermind overseas."


"The best welcome to town yet." Evan chuckles, his gaze flickering down in the gesture, "So far, almost been run over by hay wagons, one of the doubledeckers.. and almost ran over a herd of sheep out at the flight line.

"If I went to Australia, I think there'd be more sheep."

His gaze wanders around the store again even while his steps bring him closer to the counter, and reaching out, places the books there for safe keeping. The smile turns to a grin, "Traditional Irish family, then?" The accent is unmistakable to his ears. "You have brothers and sisters?"


"Not so traditional," she admits. "At least, not in then immediate family." She chuckles, "Presbyterian," and gestures lightly, generally, "living in London… and it's just me. Da' went away to war when I was still a wee lass. And when he came home…" Her words trail off. She gives a shrug. It's not an uncomfortable gesture. More matter-of-fact. "Well, I've no idea really. Doesn't much matter, though. Still more'n enough people to keep track of. He's from a big family. Mam, too, come to think of it. Can't say why there's no more besides me. But, with them being over in Ireland… well, I don't always keep as close track as I should, I s'pose."

She moves, now, to straighten a couple of books she notes are out of place, though her attention lingers on him. "What about you, then? No double-deckers, where you come from in Canada? Gotta step lightly out there, that's certain. Gets busier, every day, I swear."


Evan nods soberly, a passing acknowledgment to the war that touched everyone's lives. There isn't a family that isn't affected by the Great War still. "At least he came home." He's more than happy to put a positive spin on things. "And if it's just you, then it just must be that it's hard to improve on what God's given him." The compliment comes easy, conversational.

"Understandable how you could lose track, though. Unless an effort is made to correspond, lives get in the way." A quiet chuckle sounds from the pilot. "And no, no double deckers. I'm off the farm." He sounds a little embarrassed by that; city hustle and bustle is still a little odd, even if the town back home isn't a 'village'. "Still mostly hooking up the horse to the cart. Easiest there. Don't have to get petrol for a horse. Can't tell you how many times my father has had the pleasure of calling out to a college boy, 'Get a horse!'." The last words are spoken with his hand theatrically set aside his mouth as if he's calling. "Traffic is still strange. The sides of the road, and which way traffic is coming. I'm not sure the drivers know which side they're supposed to be on."


Kathryn gives a brief nod and gentle smile of acknowledgement at the man's compliment. If her smile twists just faintly wryly for half a moment, it's hardly noticeable; it's such a fleeting, such a subtle subtext. "Mam keeps in touch with most everyone over there," she allows. "I read the letters periodically."

She has to smile, though, at his farmboy confession. And she laughs outright at 'Get a horse!' "M'Da' wouldn't like me sayin' it, but it's easiest if you cross away from the intersections. Easier to keep track o' two directions than four, I've found." Her eyes sparkle some. She's had a few years to get used to London traffic. "As for the drivers… I suspect you're right about that. Though, if you think it's bad here, y'oughta see in Paris. I was there a few years ago. You'd think the whole world'd gone mad, the way drivers were careening here, there, and everywhere. All over the ruddy street." She chuckles. "And if you think London handsome cabbies have mouths on 'em, y'oughta hear the Frenchmen. Tain't fit for none to hear what they say."


There's the smile, then the laughter. Always a good thing to make a lady laugh. How many times has he seen the greetings some of the other pilots get in the form of a slap in the face? Of course, that in itself is pretty funny…

"I guess it's better than going around and around and hoping eventually you get on the side of the road you want," is offered in bemusement. Probably something he's tried, but to no avail?

"As for going to Paris," Evan shakes his head. "Probably not for a little while. If I go anywhere, I'd probably get shipped back home." After all, how can you keep 'em on the farm when they've seen Paris? "And I've heard the hansom drivers. Even I don't want to get into their cabs. So, no thank you. France might not be on my list."


Kathryn nods lightly to that, still smiling. "The Continent's not all it's cracked up to be," she admits with a dry chuckle. She straightens the books nearby and steps away from them, turning back to the young man. "Still, if you get some decent furlough and can't afford the time or passage fare back home, the Channel crossing's not a bad one." A beat. Another chuckle. "Just, maybe not this time of year. I recommend summer, myself. Not only is Ireland beautiful that time of year, but the seas are a lot calmer."

She glances again to his uniform. "Skies, too, I imagine."


"If I cross the Channel, I think maybe being in the air might be preferable. I heard about the water." Evan made a face to express his displeasure at being on the water, "The trans-Atlantic crossing was enough for a lifetime." Even if he has to do it again to get home.

"Now Ireland.. I might visit. The Emerald Isle. Where everything is green." Including the beer?

"I think I will take the suggestion. Next furlough, I won't spend it here in London, but out there and away from crazy drivers." The image of Ireland is, of course, rather pastoral.

Gesturing at the books on the counter with a nod, Evan's hand reaches for his wallet in his inside jacket pocket. "What do I owe you for that? Might as well get them now, and it'll give me a reason to come back.. to look at the other things you have for sale."


Kathryn starts to move toward the counter, now, and its slightly out-of-date looking register. "Say, did you hear about that lady pilot what landed over in Derry a while back? Amelia, I think they said her name was. Reckon she could tell you a thing or two about the skies there, eh?"

Taking the books from him, she tallies up the prices, clicking a half dozen levered buttons on the register. "Two and six," she says, then, giving the price. A beat. She clarifies: "Two shillings, six pence, that is." Works out to a little over $0.50 across 'the pond', as they say.

She takes the books as she waits for the coins, and starts wrapping them in brown paper to preserve them in the elements. "You're welcome back here, anytime," she adds with a smile. "Be happy to chat with you, anytime I'm in. If I'm not around, chances are me Mam'll be. Between the two of us, we keep this place runnin'."


For the first time in the visit, Evan's face drops slightly. "She's looking for attention. She goes really well in a straight line for long distances." Everyone knows Amelia in his line of work.

The price is more than enough to pull him away from thinking about all those long distance timed flights, and placing his hat on the counter, puts the wallet back and digs into his pocket. "Two shillings," he begins, and pulls out a bunch of change. "Okay.. got the six pence." Evan counts it out. Still getting used to the odd money system. "That's a shilling, and two." His brows do rise in askance, just to be sure, but when a high sign is given, he will replace the rest back into his pockets.

"Oh, I'll be back, and thank you. I hope I do get to run into you again." He still has those other shelves to look at, "And I'll let you know how my father likes the new Rex Stout.. and the other one." Carver? "I look forward to it."


Carter Dickinson, actually.

"Yes. Do let me know, if you hear from him," Kathryn smiles, taking the correct change from him and depositing it in the cash drawer. "I'd be interested to hear. And if Da' comes up with any more ideas, I'll let you know." She prints out a neat receipt for him and adds it to the packages. "I'm here most days. Not Sunday, o'course. But otherwise… here often as not."

His reaction to Amelia doesn't go unnoticed, just unremarked — other than a suppressed half-laugh that manifests more as a twitch at the corner of her lips than anything else. Apparently, it amuses her.

"Good luck with your station, here. If I don't see you before Christmas, have a happy one."


Taking up his package, he shifts it to cradle it in one hand and takes up his hat in the other. Inclining his head in a nod, Evan makes ready to depart back out into the mad world that is London. "Great. I'll look for you again, during the week, when I can get leave."

Stepping towards the door, he puts his hat on and settles it quickly before reaching to pull the door open. "If I don't see you before, Merry Christmas… and thank you again." Now, the door is opened, and steeling his shoulders, Evan steps out into traffic, closing the door behind him, the bells tinkling their chimes.

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