They have department stores?

A week after her adoption into the Saint-Claire family, Isabel was measure for all sorts of clothes that she hadn't thought was necessary for a lady back then. Day dresses, evening dresses, tea gowns, formal wear, even corests (those were a nightmare. No wonder Elizabeth from Pirates of the Carribean said "Well, women in London must have learned not to breathe!").

So many clothes. . .it felt kind of audacious to wear anything from this time. The formal stuff was finer than anything she could afford after six months of saving.

There was so much to discover about the 19th century, and about the Saint-Claire's place. They had knick-knacks and trinkets lots of furniture. Beautiful portraits hung on the walls. There were flushing toilets (a fact which greatly relieved Isabel), and there was a ginormous cooking range in the kitchen (scullery, she constantly reminded herself). It was really interesting. Isabel tasted her first Garibaldi biscuit in there.

The library was huge (Isabel found one author she recognized, Edgar Allen Poe. She then discovered that he had written detecive stories as well as poems). The dining room was exquisite. Her bedroom and her closet were really spacious and could house a family of four, no problem.

One day, when Ellen helped her to explore the house, Isabel even saw the servants' quarters (a little trip that didn't reach the ears of Saint-Claire, since Ellen insisted that it was improper "and the master might not like it" very much. But, curiosity was curiosity). Even they were roomy, considering the time and place.

The biggest highlight before the arrival of Lady Harrows, however, was Isabel's first trip to town. When the first of her dresses arrived, Grace decided that it would be nice to take a ride into downtown London. They even passed what looked like a playground on the way.

So there's a lot 2011 has in common with 1873 after all.

The streets of London were dirty, and there were people everywhere. But they all made way when Saint-Claire's carriage came along and the three of them, plus Ellen, stepped out. People around here just knew, it seemed, that get out of a rich person's way.

This sort of makes me think of the newest Sherlock Holmes movie. I'll bet Robert Downey Jr. would hate actually being in a time like this. On that note, have those stories even been written yet. . ?

Isabel wondered, but asking wouldn't do any good. She'd have to scour Saint-Claire's library. Maybe that was where the treasures and things were hidden? How did this Andrew guy even know where to look in the first place? He'd have to be close to James and Grace. I'll have to keep my guard up when I'm around a lot of people.

Isabel looked around, then saw something down the street that looked a little familiar. Was that a. . .

"A store?" she murmured to herself. It looked like a 19th century strip mall-type store.

Saint-Claire saw her gaze and gently nudged her shoulder. "Are you enjoying the scenery, Isabel?" he asked, a grin playing at his lips.

Isabel nodded. "What's that place?" she asked, pointing at the store.

"Oh." Saint-Claire looked at the place. "It's called a department store. They started to open about ten years ago. I remember the first one, I passed by it during the grand opening."

I knew it!  "Can we look inisde?" Isabel asked.

"Well. . . .I suppose. Why not?" Saint-Claire looked at Grace, who nodded. So they went to explore a deparement store.

It was a little different from the department stores in 2011. No Sale! signs, no cardboard hanging from the ceiling naming a section or pointing you to one. No celebrity name brand stuff, no (2011) modern designer labels, no jeans or t-shirts (duh!). Isabel was a little disappointed when she didn't see what she thought a department store was. But that didn't mean that she didn't see anything at all.

It was kind of big, although nothing like the Saint-Claire's estate. There was jewellery, and lots of little trinkets and toys. There were hats and gloves of all sort, and chothes, that matched the time (althought nothing as elaborate as what was currently in Isabel's closet), teacups and all manner of dishes and silverware, and plenty of other things that Isabel knew that she might not remember by next week because there was so much to look at.

Saint-Claire and Grace browsed for a bit, but mostly watched Isabel as she browsed the store.

She had always loved browsing in stores during her time. Even if she never bought anything, it was fun just to look, to touch, to examine and determine it's wealth in your eyes without needing to decide if you wanted it.

As Isabel explored, she found a small, simple, just-intricate-enough silver cross on a chain. She held it up to the light, let the chain twirl and stop, and then let the cross rest on her hand while she looked at the beautiful patterns etched into it.

"Do you like it?"

Isabel nearly jumped out of her skin as a young woman approached her.

"It's beautiful." she replied, fingering the cross.

"One of our finest." the woman said. "Would you like to purchase it?"   She must be a salesperson.

"Oh, I, well. . ." Isabel turned around and looked at Saint-Clare, who was walking towards her.

"Has something caught your interest?" he asked.

Isabel nodded, showing him the cross.

"Oh, it's quite beautiful. One of your finest, I heard you say?" Saint-Claire looked at the salesperson.

"Yes, sir, three of them were sent in not one month ago. This is the last one." she replied.

"How much?" Saint-Claire asked. "I'll give you fifteen pounds for it."

The saleswoman smiled. "That is the exact price, sir. If you'll come this way, please, we can do the exchange. Unless there is something else you would like?"

Saint-Claire looked at Isabel, who shook her head. Grace approached, and said "No, thank you, Darling." when her husband asked if anything had caught her eye.

"I believe this will be all." he said. The saleswoman nodded, and turned around. The three of them followed her to where the purchases were made. After that, they left to have lunch at a little restaurant. For one of the few times in her short life, Isabel tasted a fish product that she acutally liked from a genuine fish and chips place. It was a great day.

So far, so good. I'll do a little searching tonight.

The End

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