To Be Gilded: Ch 3

The carriage ride back to the Goldsman’s Guildhall was quiet between his mother and himself for a time. Restless energy swarmed the cabin as it jostled on the path. He cradled one of the small boxes from Albrecht, ginger with the contents.

            “Out with it, son. Your fidgeting is worse than a horse waiting on its oats.” His mother broke the silence.

            “How many years do you think it took for him to figure out how to make the iris?” He traced the petals in his mind.

            “You’re just as bad as he was.” She pulled out her embroidery, setting it on her lap. Her fingers did not find needle and thread, though.

            “It is a poor match?” He kept his eyes to the pastures and the sheep in the heatherland.

            “It is not what I said.” She rubbed a thumb over her threads. Deryk allowed silence to hang in the carriage, as pendulous as the velvet handholds. Eventually, she tried again. “His work is beautiful. I’ll give him that much. He is no jeweller, though.”

            “He need not be, though, with his eye for small detail, I would not put it against him to create pendants and beads easily comparable to gemstone.” Deryk returned his focus to his mother.

            “And you prepared a piece for him before even meeting him. Were you going to take him whether his art was to your liking or not?” She ventured as they passed into a smoother section of terrain.

            “No. I would not have even shown him the piece if I did not appreciate what I saw.” He folded his hands in his lap to watch emerald thread slip through the fine linen.

            “No. I guess you could have pointed out your pocket watch face, your bracelet, even your signet ring if you thought to.” She twisted her thread to create a raised decorative knot.

            “It is not that I am without enough material on my personage to show off at a moment’s notice.” He dismissed the concept with a flick of his wrist.

            “Why those then?” She tied off her thread and snipped it to start with an amethyst shade.

            “A ring would be presumptuous, would it not? Same as a necklace or a bracelet. All things that would either conflict with the university uniform or single him out from the crowd quickly as to who his patron is or how well off. Earrings would also fall within that bracket and mark him more openly if for some reason the patronage fell apart before a wedding.” Deryk tugged to settle his gloves more closely against the webbing of his fingers.

            “Those will leave a mark.” Angelica set thread to cloth.

            “If he decides to have them placed. I left a note in the box for him that it’s up to him. In the end, if he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to, and it leaves him with a bit of spending money if he decides to pawn them later.” He relaxed as they passed into the farmland before the suburbs and city proper.

            “I only now realized, in inviting myself along, that you were placed in an awkward position.” His mother made way for an apology.

            “It is not that anything changed in what would have happened had you been occupied elsewhere.” Deryk noted the harvest coming in.

            “Anyone within the Queen’s domain knows of what is typical in the acquisition of a Designer.” His mother insisted on having this conversation.

            He would have rather it stopped before it began. “Yes, mother. I have a type. Redheads and freckles are my type. If that is what you are after. It was fortunate he had a craft skill. I don’t think I would have honestly considered him much further than a glance at his photo otherwise. If, instead, Albrecht had been a woman with the same skill, I would have been interviewing her in the same manner. You of all people should know you taught me to be better than a pig in the mud.”

            “Not entirely what I was expecting, but I am reassured at how you handled the situation. The Guild leaders will be pleased to know you’re at least pursuing patronage at the Universite. That should keep them from raising a fuss before the Queen’s Jubilee.” She set aside her sewing as they emerged from the grain fields into the first sets of estate settlements.

            “May I assume they will not be made privy to my exchange gift?” He fingered the smoothed wood that held the ocean globe.

            “It would not raise my status any to tell of such personal matters, and it would neither lower nor raise yours for others to know of it. What of the gift you received?” She turned her glance to the little box.

            “For now, it will go in my study. If the time comes, I plan to display it in the head store alongside a series of aquamarine and pink sapphire series Alexandro is intent on completing for a Duchess as an example of his homeland’s works.” He tightened his grip on the lid, a shaft of fear running through his spine at the thought of the ball breaking by some unfortunate accident.

            “Is that why you chose it over the other pieces?” She straightened the pleats in her skirts as they crossed the paving into cobblestone, designating the shift from suburbs to city.

            “It is what he was saying when he used it as his opening act.” A soft crease of his lip cast a dimple on his cheek.

            “As bad as your father, you are, Deryk. I don’t believe I will ever fully understand when you begin talking of others’ work in such a fashion.” She studied her son’s features, questions flitting across her own face.

            “It is not like you are without your own creativity, mother. Often you tell me you can tell if Cassandra or Beatrix is in a good mood or a foul just by the way their handwriting lays on the paper. You talk to them not only through the words you write but how you write them.” He recalled the many conversations she had gossiped with him.

            She paused at the consideration. “I had never thought of it that way. You are not entirely wrong in the assumption. If the script is hurried or the structure patterned in a particular way, I can tell if one is in a mood. If Beatrix’s wife has offended the maid again. You do this with jewellery? He can do this with glass? You can tell that just by looking?”

            “It tends to be easier when the medium is shared. His dedication and his curiosity, though, cannot be missed. That is what I want in both my employees and my partner. The drive to master a craft and the capacity to divert from old traditions for new innovations.” He flipped through his memories of the other boxes, wondering at how many other spectacular pieces Albrecht Van Dermarch had accumulated.

            “What does that one tell you, then?” Angelica motioned to the box.

            “It told me he could find intrigue in the mundane. See a world in a drop of water.” The carriage drew to a halt in front of his mother’s townhouse.

            “And that was enough to offer him your patronage?” She took his hand as he helped her step down.

            “It told me that being fianced to a workaholic jeweller would not cast him into shades of boredness.” He escorted her to the door of her house, where her butler and a maid waited to welcome her home.

            “You are quite strange, Deryk; you know that, right?” She patted him on the cheek.

            “It was not father that I got it from.” He bowed, a twinkle in his eye.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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