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E - Everyone

Fool Without A Master (Chapter 4 Part 1)

by MissGangamash


Chapter 4 - Boiled Eggs

“You’re supposed to go straight through the fabric.” Alta snatched the sleeve from me and unpicked what I had just spent the past painstaking few minutes stitching.

“But then it looks all ugly on the other side,” I whined.

“The side that no one is going to see? Yes, yes it does.”

“But the insides of your dresses look nice.”

Alta dropped my mess of doodle fabric back onto my lap. “I’m a professional. You’re not.”

I sent her a sour look and got back to attempting to create a basic rose pattern with my needle and thread.

Alta was the best dressmaker in Cragdale and the only person I trust making my garments. Her needlework was second to none. And considering I can do fantastical things with ink and paint, who was to say my talents don’t stretch to needle and thread? So, once a week I took a seat at the back of her shop and spent the afternoon creating tangled messes with Alta’s cut offs.

She enjoyed watching me squirm, prick my own fingers and accidentally stitch the pieces of fabric to my own shirt sleeves or britches. But she was also a very patient teacher, and in her downtime, she would sit beside me and guide my hands.

“You have great hands for needlework,” she had commented. “So dainty.”

I took it as a compliment, but despite how thin and agile my fingers were they still would not cooperate.

I sewed until my vision blurred then held my creation at arm’s length. It was… something. Possibly roses. If not roses, they could be berries. Yes, they were berries. Just as I had intended them to be.

Alta was busy at her station, chalking up pieces of fabric and writing down measurements. Her dark hair frizzed at her temples and there was a sheen of sweat on her forehead.

“Look.” I turned my piece around to show her with a grin.

She squinted at the pattern which was supposed to be detailing around the cuff. “Better.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“Well, you couldn’t do much worse.”

I got up and made my way over to her. The pieces set out on her work bench were panelling for a dress. It looked like a simple, modest shift of muted lavender. I reached out to touch the embroidered bodice but she slapped my hand away.

“I’m trying to focus,” she said, then started mumbling numbers and jotting them down. I watched her for a moment, captivated by the intricacy of her work. This was where her babies were birthed. Most of the garments from my wardrobe started off just like this. Splayed out on this very table like body parts.

“Actually.” She dropped her notes on the table. “While you’re here, you can help me with something.”

I furrowed my brows. “Really?”

She laughed and disappeared into the back of her shop. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t require sewing. As if I would let you go anywhere near my work with a needle.”

“Well, that was hurtful.”

She returned with a dress bundled under her arm. “I need a model.”

I grinned. “That I can do.”

There was a little podium by her wall of mirrors. She gestured over to it. “Get up there.”

My jaw dropped when she unfurled the garment. It was a spectacular affair in the richest red I had ever seen, and definitely hadn’t seen in this town. The only people who paraded around in something so exquisite were the royals.

I cleared my suddenly dry throat. “Who is this for?”

Alta held it up to give me a better look. The bodice was a structured, boned corset with gold lace work. It was floor-length, the front parting to reveal more golden detailing.

“The Lady Delphine.” She peered over the top of the dress, her face splitting into a toothy grin. “Can you believe it, Wallace? Me, making dresses for the princess. What an honour.”

The world tilted and I almost toppled off the podium. A lump swelled in my throat.

“Now, you’re a little skinnier than her. Far less curves. But I will just have to pad you out a little.” She sized me up, using her thumb and sticking out the tip of her tongue out as if it helped her concentrate. “You’re about the same height, I’d say. Take your shirt off. You can leave your trousers on.”

I did as was told and the cold attacked me instantly. Alta was dressed in a simple shift, the dark skin of her arms bare but she seemed completely comfortable with the temperature. I hugged myself, feeling exposed.

“Pop this on, then. But be careful. There’re still pins in the skirt and sleeves.”

She helped me slip into the huge dress and flattened out the skirts. It sagged about my chest and it was clear that my hips were much narrower than they needed to be. Alta left and returned with woollen padding. She stuffed some down my front to imitate breasts, and then stuck her arm up my skirts to give me a fuller figure.

Alta stepped away, assessing her work. “Do you want to see?”

The mirrors behind me taunted me. Of course, I wanted to see. I closed my eyes and turned slowly. The skirts shifted and swayed, their thickness making the material almost feel alive. I didn’t need to see myself to know I had never looked so regal. I felt it.

But I did look.

There were three mirrors. The centre stood straight on and the two flanking it were tilted to show all angles. Tears instantly sprung into my eyes. Alta came up behind me to fasten the bodice. She pulled at the lacing, accentuating my fake bosom and hips. The neckline was squared, revealing my protruding collarbones. My hands skimmed over the silk.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered in awe.

I had a lot of Alta’s creations back home. But they were dresses for pantomimes. They were how royals would look on a budget. But this… this was the real thing. Because Lady Delphine was the real thing. I was the mockery playing a fantasy.

Alta was on her knees fiddling with the hem.

“What is this for? Some sort of event?” I asked, trying to force the tears into the back of my skull.

“Apparently there’s going to be some jousting tournament soon. It will be a good time for us to see the prince in action, said the king.”

My heart fluttered but then sank. Kaspar hadn’t told me about any upcoming event. Did he not want me there? But he must have known I was going to find out. You couldn’t hide a royal event.

She moved onto the cuffs. The sleeves were skin tight. It was a good thing I didn’t have any muscles or I would have busted the seams.

“I’m going to the palace tomorrow to give the Lady her final fitting. But I want to make sure I haven’t made any silly mistakes. I need to make a good impression if I want a chance to dress her again.”

“She is going to love it, Alta. And I already know she loves you. I spend time with you, on purpose.” I looked down at her. She smiled as she inspected her stitching. “And I am very fastidious with the company I keep.”

“Oh, how you flatter me so.” She straightened and then gestured a twirling motion with her hands. “But not too fast. Don’t want anything coming loose.”

I spun, my feet skittering carefully in a circle on the podium. The skirts were so heavy it was a good job I hadn’t put any extra flourish in my movements as the dress would have definitely have taken me on a not-so-romantic trip to the stone floor. Alta was scrutinising the way the material fell, instructing me to grab and gather parts of the skirts to check the layering.

“Looks good.” She nodded to herself. “Turn around so I can undo you.”

I pouted as I showed her my back and I watched her in the mirror as she unfastened the bodice. The corset gave out and my fake breasts plummeted to my feet.

“Age sure does take its toll on a woman,” I tutted as my fake hips also made a quick escape.

Alta chuckled, shaking her head in that way of hers.

I miss her. Writing this now, I do wonder what came of my dear friend. Did she continue to dress the princess? Did she move into the palace as the royals’ personal dressmaker? I do hope so. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

Alta helped me out of the dress and I was quick to slip back onto my shirt. While she returned the garment to its place in the back, I wandered back over to her station to study her newest creation.

It looked much more like something I would see on a washerwoman at the fountain, or worn by a woman I buy my bread and cheese from.

“I tried to get it as purple as I could.” Alta made her way back to me and dropped onto her stool. She frowned a little. “Didn’t come out how I expected but my dyes are running low. I’m trying to work with what I’ve got.”

After seeing what the Lady would be dressed in, this piece definitely paled in comparison. Which was obviously the point.

“I’m hoping the king will be charitable after seeing how hard I have worked. I think I’m running low on everything at this point.”

“I’m sure he will.” I looked out the window. The shadows of the buildings opposite had lengthened substantially. “I’ve taken up too much of your time. I’ll stop being a distraction.”

“Much appreciated.” She sent me a mockery of a smile, and I made my own way out. 


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Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:28 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hello!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was an interesting change to the tone of the story. We seem to have taken a break from Wallace and Kaspar. But even though he wasn't directly in the chapter, he still manages to have his presence felt in every chapter and simultaneously Wallace's life.

I liked the different approach to this chapter. We meet a new character and even though you seemed to provide a conclusion of her life towards the ending of this very chapter, it still brought out a new freshness in the story. Because Wallace is a very flexible and easygoing guy, he has almost no problem adapting to anyone. With Kaspar, we see a different side of him and again with Mirabella he is someone else. So it is always intriguing to see him interact with other characters outside the plot and discover new aspects of his personality through these interactions.

Because Lady Delphine was the real thing. I was the mockery playing a fantasy.

From the previous chapters, it has been quite evident that Wallace suffers from certain insecurities when it come to Lady Delphine. I think that was highlighted very well in this part. Before he knew who the dress was for, he was simply awestruck by its beauty, drinking it in and standing mesmerized. But once he realized it belonged to Lady Delphine instantly 'his world tilted' as he said it and he was more aware of the extravagant beauty that was made for and belonged to someone else.

I didn't think much about Kaspar failing to mention this event, but I do think it something to wonder about. Then again Kaspar leads two lives and things might slip away from his mind time to time. Wallace does wonder about it, but given his past insecurities I felt that he did not invest much thought into it than I would have presumed. But like he said, a royal event cannot be kept under the wraps, so sooner or later he would have known, and if Kaspar did want to hide it from him, he should have known this too. And that makes me wonder about this little omission in their conversation.

Specifics:

Yes, they were berries. Just as I had intended them to be.

This part made me laugh. It reminded me of the Wallace we met in the very first chapter, inventive, confident and a little smug. In all his interactions with Kaspar, I get the feeling that he is a little less sure about himself and maybe even a bit submissive? I am not sure if that is what you wanted to portray, but this line made me draw that connection to the first time we met him.

Writing this now, I do wonder what came of my dear friend.

This sentence made me feel that we are not going to see Alta again. I think the purpose of this was not to introduce a new character into the story but to watch our main character interact with others. It made for a nice read though. Even though she appeared in the story for the first time, her character was fleshed out and her bickering with Wallace matched his usual playful energy without the tension that is always there when he is with Kaspar.

That's all!

Keep writing and have a great day!






Hello!

Wallace is much more at ease with other people than he is with Kaspar and I'm glad you noticed the way he changes depending on who he is around.

You will see Alta again throughout the story, besides Mirabelle - who Wallace has only just been reacquainted with - Alta is his closest friend.

Thanks for reading and reviewing! Glad you're still enjoying :D



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Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:10 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MissGangamash,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

This was a fascinating new beginning for the chapter. I'm very surprised that we're moving in a different direction here, rather than back to Kaspar and Wallace. But I like how it also changes Wallace's mood and situation, and in part makes his mood seem almost dependent on others.

The tone of the chapter was very pleasant and I like how you start it with a dialogue before going deeper into the explanations. I think you do a good job of starting each new part and jumping right into the action.

I thought it was interesting to see that the part here was more about Wallace and also that point came where they talked about the jousting tournament. Kaspar didn't mention that with Wallace, and I really like how quickly Wallace comes to a negative thought there and kind of blames himself. It almost seems like he's dependent on him, or he's afraid of loneliness.

I like very much how this is not directly reflected in the dialogue, but is only briefly mentioned, but somehow drags on for the rest of the part. I think this has a positive effect on the story without damaging the actual progress of the plot. Because it still seems like something is coming.

This part had a certain lightness in it that I like very much. It didn't come out so clearly in the previous chapters, maybe because the relationship between Kaspar and Wallace is a relationship between two classes and Wallace and Alta kind of fall into the same layer. So I think the dialogue here is also very refreshing because it shows a new face of Wallace.

In general, I liked the start of the chapter. It was refreshing and calm and yet there is something bubbling, maybe a misunderstanding?

Other points I noticed while reading:

And considering I can do fantastical things with ink and paint, who was to say my talents don’t stretch to needle and thread?
 
I like this reflection. It doesn't come across as arrogant here at all, but almost childlike, which is somehow fitting for Wallace.

If not roses, they could be berries. Yes, they were berries. Just as I had intended them to be.
 
Here again I like this change of mood from a possible disappointment to the search for a new joy.

The mirrors behind me taunted me. Of course, I wanted to see. I closed my eyes and turned slowly. The skirts shifted and swayed, their thickness making the material almost feel alive. I didn’t need to see myself to know I had never looked so regal. I felt it.
But I did look.
 
I like the paragraph here, and how you build it up to this point. It's like a little climax here.

Have fun writing!

Mailice






Hello!

Oh most definitely, Wallace has sort of turned himself into a caricature, where he changes to fit the people around him. Glad that's come through!

I wanted Wallace and Alta's relationship to very much feel like the relationship between equals, perhaps even motherly -- similar to his friendship with Mirabelle. Also to show that he has created a nice, content life for himself outside of the palace.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!




Anne felt that life was really not worth living without puffed sleeves.
— L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables