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Keeping Busy

The weather outside was horrible, the sleet pelting the glass and leaving the cobblestone streets below slick, the gaslamps’ glow reflecting dimly upon them. I watched as two dark figures, Mr. Gears and Giles came through the front gate, each carrying two large sacks. They disappeared around to the side of the house, no doubt coming in through the kitchen door so they could hang their wet coats in the scullery and get a bracing cup of hot tea (or oil in Mr. Gears’ case) from the cook.

I turned away from the window and surveyed the room before me. Piles of scraps were scattered here and there and a few large sacks were in the corner of the spare room. Other than the disorder, the room was warm and cozy, a fire dancing in the grate and the lights casting a warm glow about the room. Opening one of the large sacks, I dumped the contents onto the floor and knelt down, sorting the bits of fabric into their respective piles, by colour and fibre content. Laudanum the cat purred happily in his basket near the fireplace and I softly hummed a jaunty tune I had heard earlier in the week being whistled by some men on the street.

After awhile Giles and Mr. Gears could be heard coming up the stairs with their burdens. As they entered the room, Giles’ red cheeks and nose suggested that the weather truly was as chippy as it would seem.

“Where would you like these madam?” Mr. Gears asked.

“Over with the other ones, if you please Mr. Gears”

They brought over the sacks, Giles struggling a little with his and left them with the others.

“Thank you for assisting me with this, I appreciate your help, as I’m sure those who will benefit from these quilts will appreciate them as well” I smiled warmly at the men “I cannot stand to see this perfectly good fabric go to waste while there are those who will be suffering from the cold this winter”. Giles nodded in agreement, while Mr. Gears inclined his head at my words. “I’m sure you have things you’d like to attend to this evening, so I’ll not keep you here. Thank you again for bringing these sacks over from His Grace’s shop”. The men turned and left, each heading to their respective activites for the evening.

I opened one of the new bags and looked through the fabrics within. This sack contained a good mix of fine woolens and tweeds, along with some bright red scraps left over from the merino wool long underwear that Edward sold in his shop. All of the fabric was new, it was the discarded bits left over after each garment had been cut out. Most of the fabrics were of a wool blend, but there were some piles of linen and cotton’s from the shirts as well as colourful bits from the waistcoats.

In the previous weeks, when trying to learn my way around Babbage, I had noticed a large population of urchins as well as those who seemed to live by their wits alone. As the weather grew cooler, my thoughts had turned to how these people were going to keep warm during the winter in Babbage….the deep snow blanketing the streets, the frosty wind whipping around the street corners, whistling through broken windows. A warm quilt or blanket and a few other items would be very useful to keep the cold at bay. Edward had shown me some time ago his left over fabric remnants and now I would turn them into something warm, useful and comforting for others this Christmas. With any luck I would be able to put together a Christmas hamper for anyone who would like one.

After sorting fabric for an hour, I heard Edward’s step in his study and decided I had done enough for one evening. Smiling softly and brimming with ideas, I closed the door to the spare room and started towards the study, looking forward to spending the remainder of the evening with my beloved.

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