Walking into the Back Room at the Whitby Cake And Tea Co. Yard in Port Babbage, Dee Wells had an odd feeling, something she couldn’t put a finger on—but a sensation that there was something familiar here. Seeing the proprietor Garnet Psaltery winding the grandfather clock in the corner, Dee walked over and introduced herself.
Miss Psaltery rose to greet her pleasantly and asked how she might be of aid.
“I have heard through the grapevine that you have been left through difficult circumstances with a paucity of tea to serve in your fine establishment,” Dee began.
Garnet nodded and her cheerful smile faded into thinly-disguised uncomfortable worry.
Without allowing her to say anything Dee continued, “I may have a solution for part of that problem; I have available a substantial quantity of tea. While unfortunately a single variety, it is most fine and carefully preserved, and is certainly quality product directly from the new tea regions of Ceylon. Over the past decade or two since coffee has been wiped out, their growers have mastered fine tea production, as you may be aware.”
Garnet again nodded, as her involvement in the tea importing business made her sharply aware of these facts about the industry. The worry in her eyes was being replaced with interest, and possibly some hope. Noticing this, Dee continued: “As the individual who provided it to me is in some difficulty, he has offered me this consignment at a greatly reduced rate; and as your story has become known in the region it seems to me it would be a shame if you were unable to benefit from such a windfall. By brokering such an exchange between him and yourself, I would be helping out a friend.”
Garnet finally found space to speak, “That sounds marvelous.”
Dee nodded and resumed, “I’ve brought with me a sample; it is wonderfully pure and well preserved.” Garnet watched with interest as Dee produced a cloth packet and unfolded it to reveal a modest mound of beautiful aromatic tea leaves.
While preparing a cup of the concerned sample for each to enjoy, Garnet inquired about details of the tea’s origin, quite interested in both the shipwreck and the salvage operations. Dee left out some of the more sensitive specifics, but gave her the gist of the value of the opportunity.
A general pricing strategy was discussed, and as the two ladies enjoyed their first sip of this fine tea together, arrangement was made to transfer possession of the shipment as soon as could be managed.
As glad as she was that she was a step closer to helping Alowishus with his obscure project, Dee also felt gratified that Garnet seemed to have a lighter mood, and that things seemed to be coming together for everyone. It all helped take her mind off the other matters hiding in the city’s shadows.
Their business concluded—or rather begun—the two women exchanged well wishes and Dee stepped out into the streets of Port. As she walked away, she still felt the uncanny sensation of familiarity…