I blame it on Canolli Capalini. It is squarely her fault. If not for her, I would not now be looking up at the charred butt end of the third floor of my store. Nor would I be directing workmen to pick up the debris from the explosion. Yes, it is all Olli’s fault. But then perhaps I should go back to the beginning, when I first saw the fog shrouded chunk of bricks known as New Babbage.
My sister, Ghilayne Andrew, and I had been out shopping back in early spring of ’08. We happened across some lovely music boxes in an out of the way hole in the wall place. As we were marveling and purchasing boxes, I was politely tapped on the shoulder by Miss Capalini. She had been wondering at the noise and come to investigate. That is how I met Olli. We became good friends, and then to our mutual surprise, found out we were cousins, though very distantly related. Still, a relative is a relative, and I was happy to find her.
At her behest, Ghilayne and I visited her in New Babbage. I had been used to the space of a country estate, and so the narrow streets and noisy contraptions were an eye opener. I met many people, and over the course of time, opened my shop on the Canals in a rather run down pinkish house. It was late fall by this time, and the place was rather odd. But that is another story.
The first night the shop was attacked by some kind of metal monster that spit fire. Olli bravely shot at it while I gawked, praying my newly boxed gowns would not be singed! It was bad enough trying to keep them soot free, but fire proof was beyond me. The monster clanked off and I stared, white faced with horror, at my cousin. She blew the smoke from the end of her pistol, reloaded and tucked it back into her skirt, and told me not to worry, it was just a local. I swear to heaven, if I could have picked up my skirts and run, I would have, but one has to maintain some semblance of decorum in front of family. Most of the time. We retreated to the downstairs parlor and had a cup of tea to calm frazzled nerves. Mostly mine.
I wasn’t sure what to call this new shop. It was small, but it was my pride and joy. I had been designing for a while, but this was my first real shop. I wanted it to have a name that was fitting and memorable. As Olli and I brainstormed names, she threw out Curious Seamstress. I paused and rolled that around in my mind. Curious can have more than one connotation, and if one knows history, one knows that a seamstress wasn’t always just a seamstress. During Victorian times, many a seamstress might run her shop during the day, designing gowns for titled women, and at night, play mistress to that same lady’s husband. Ah, I take it you didn’t know that about seamstresses. We are a curious lot and not all is as it seems. However, I digress. I liked the new name and everything it implied, and so the Curious Seamstress was born on a foggy New Babbage evening over a cup of tea.
The business flourished and grew over the next years. Olli and I often exchanged new creations, her sending me furniture and other items, me trying to give her clothing. If you know Miss Capalini however, you know she’s not one to wear silk or velvets much. After a while I stopped trying to dress her, but she kept giving me her new creations. I have many of them around my own home. One of the latest ones is a lovely electrical music box.
Eventually Seamstress moved to Port and set up a new, three story edifice on the corner. I cannot express how jubilant I was when the doors opened on Port Seamstress. Here was proof that I had found my calling and art. Not everything we do in life is fun and fulfilling. I’m sure you know that dear reader, but this, this was both those things and much more for me. It is a passion, an obsession to bring beautiful clothing to new places. The business is also that, a business, and so on occasion I must change things to update them. That is what happened one horrid night three weeks ago.
I had locked the doors of the shop so that I could refresh paint and redo displays. I had to update those. The holidays are rapidly approaching and I wanted Seamstress to look her elegant best when I decked the halls. The workmen had left for the evening and I was alone on the roof, looking out over the harbor waters. What happened next is mostly speculation on my part. I believe one of the paint thinner cans over turned on the third floor, and the fumes caught and exploded, blowing out good sized chunks of the walls and turning the second floor into rubble. I swear I saw a fiery bird flying out a hole in the wall, but that might have been a chunk of wood too as several did nearly hit me.
I ducked as the weather vane burst from the roof from the pressure of the blast. Only the hand-railing saved me as the building rocked and shuddered beneath my feet. Once everything stopped rolling, I gingerly made my way down, only to gasp with angry disbelief at the sight of my glorious store now in shambles! The only thing left standing? Cousin Olli’s electric music box . . . and a melted can of paint thinner.
Yes, I blame it all squarely on Canolli Capalini. I shall have my revenge, and it will involve pink satin.