18. Ch 18 The Seamstress Shop
The pair made good time to Edoras and soon they sat around the table in Aglaril's kitchen. Introductions had gone smoothly and the blacksmith was happy to have both Erkenbrand and Éalwyn stay at her cottage. She put the younger woman in a guest room and the Captain in the loft. Aglaril had seen enough in her life to know when two people were in love; though it seemed to her that the pair in question did not realize it themselves.
"Are you sure?" Éalwyn persisted as Gamling took her things to the guest room. "I mean you have so much going on with the wedding and all. The last thing you should have to worry about is guests."
"Nonsense!" Aglaril said. "The wedding is just a small simple ceremony and everything is all set. Afterwards, my dear beloved and I shall retire to his chambers…"
"Where I will have my way with her," Gamling interrupted as he re-entered the room, grabbing his betrothed from behind and planting a roguish kiss to her neck. Aglaril swatted at him. Éalwyn blushed at the less than subtle implications of the wedding night activities and Erkenbrand chuckled.
"We will see who has their way with whom, my dear," the blacksmith countered with a wink to the blushing Éalwyn. "So, as you can see, you will not be interfering with anything and will have the place to yourselves for the remainder of your time here; we will be going to the high country for a week." The older woman gave a slap to Gamling's shoulder before the man could say anything to further embarrass their guests. Suddenly Aglaril's eye's lit up. "I have to go to the seamstress' shop for my dress in the morning and would love some company." She looked at the younger woman with an encouraging smile.
Éalwyn perked up and nodded, although she looked to Erkenbrand before moving. It saddened the Captain; she was looking for his permission. 'Some habits die very slowly,' he thought. "What are you looking at me for? You are free to do as you please; go enjoy yourself. I am sure I can find something to occupy my time."
Gamling clapped the larger man on the shoulder. "We will go bother Éomer; he has been far to sulky of late." So the next day's plans were made. The ladies excused themselves and retired for the night as the men moved out to the porch to catch up.
The next morning, they all parted ways. Aglaril and Éalwyn walked to the seamstress while Gamling and Erkenbrand rode to the Golden Hall. They agreed to meet at the tavern for some supper so Aglaril did not have to cook.
"It is absolutely beautiful," Éalwyn said with awe as the blacksmith emerged in her wedding gown. "I have never seen anything more lovely! It is so…you."
Aglaril smiled, the years of toil suddenly melting off her. "Thank you." She was actually blushing like a schoolgirl and the women laughed.
"Hold still," scolded the seamstress, "lest you get pinched or, worse, your sleeves will be uneven." The plump little woman shooed the bride back to the changing room. She noticed Éalwyn looking at a lovely embroidered cinch. "It would be lovely on you my dear," she said as she approached. "You have such a sweet figure, but you hide it! Come, try it on; you will certainly have the men's attention with this." She picked up the garment and pressed it into Éalwyn's hands.
The young woman fingered the fabric and traced the embroidered scrollwork. Many women wore them and Éalwyn saw how it enhanced their 'charms'. She was not sure she could do that. "I…I do not think so." She set the item back.
"Oh come now," said Aglaril, emerging from the changing room and handing her dress to the seamstress. "Give it a try." The blacksmith picked up it, gently nudging Éalwyn to the mirror, and wrapped it about her waist.
The smaller woman looked at her reflection. It did fit nicely and look wonderful about her small waist. 'Is this not what Lady Cynwen had meant?' she thought. The stiff fabric rested just below her breasts, causing them to swell and fill the neckline of her blouse.
"He will be quite pleasantly surprised," Aglaril whispered in her ear. "You are such a beautiful woman who was hidden away for too long. His affection is true; it is your inner light that has captivated him. Now show him the extent of your external beauty."
Éalwyn looked in the mirror at the woman behind her. Aglaril looked at her with understanding and compassion. She knew her sad tale and wanted to help her break free. The blacksmith was sincere with her compliments and Éalwyn gave her a small smile.
"I do not know if it will go with my dress, I..."
"Perhaps a boned bodice?" the seamstress offered, picking out a lovely one to show."
The young woman looked to Aglaril, who nodded with a smile. Éalwyn returned the smile. "I suppose it might work."
The other two women beamed. The little seamstress called to the back room and soon a young girl, maybe just past her majority, entered the small shop.
"This is my daughter. She is very skilled. If you bring the dress before the sun reached its highest point, we will see what needs to be done to make it all work. If there are any alterations needed, she can have them done before nightfall." Subconsciously Éalwyn felt the money pouch at her side. The shrewd woman caught the movement and added. "Bring me your dress and then we will see about cost. So, tell me," she leaned closer, "who is the lucky man?"
Éalwyn blushed as Aglaril answered for her. "Captain Erkenbrand." The seamstress nodded with an approving smile.