Word Count: 735
“Oh, Adam, Adam Cartwright, might I speak with you?”
The dark-haired young man turned at the sound of his name. He saw Millie Evers standing in the door of her shop.
“Of course, Miss Evers,” the seventeen-year-old answered politely, wondering why the dressmaker could possibly want to speak with him.
“If we could step inside…”
Adam followed the older woman into her shop. He had been there several times when he had accompanied his stepmother into town on errands. He pushed the memory away.
Millie Evers studied the boy for a moment. Without his hat, which he now held nervously in his hands, he looked so very young. She noticed the smudges beneath his eyes and the hollows beneath his cheekbones.
“Perhaps it would be better if I spoke directly to your father, Adam.”
“Pa is out of town on business, ma’am.”
“Will he be back soon?”
Adam turned his hat around in his hands, and his eyes dropped to stare at the floor. “I don’t really know how long he’ll be gone. I’m handling things here, though.” A thought came into Adam’s head. “If, well, if Marie owed you for some sewing, I’ll…”
“No, no, it’s not that,” Millie interjected quickly; “It’s rather the opposite actually. Just a minute. Let me get something.” The dressmaker darted off to the backroom and returned with her arms filled with yards of emerald green velvet and what looked, to Adam at least, a mile of fancy lace.
“Adam,” the woman began, “a few days before Marie, well, a few days before she passed, she brought this to me to make a gown for her. She said Ben brought it back with him from San Francisco. We looked over some patterns, and she couldn’t quite decide. There wasn’t really a rush, and anything this fine needed to be just right, so she was going to take a few days to decide. Well, of course, she never had a chance, and it’s been sitting in my backroom.” Millie’s voice faded away as she saw the pain grow in the boy’s eyes.
Adam reached out and touched the velvet gently. “She always looked beautiful in green. She always looked beautiful.” He choked on the words.
“It’s just that it’s such fine material. If it had been a length of calico or some such, I would have just…but this is such expensive goods. Why the velvet would have cost near a dollar a yard and that Belgium lace…” Millie spoke quickly in her nervousness. “They’re making fine little boy’s suits of velvet these days. Marie even mentioned that if there was enough left, she might have Little Joe…”
“Little Joe wouldn’t be caught… well, he’d never wear velvet, Miss Mille.” A wry smile flickered on Adam’s lips at the thought of the tantrum his baby brother would throw if presented with a velvet and lace suit.
“No, I couldn’t see that boy in one either, but… Adam, I need to know what to do with this. I’ll wrap it up if you want to take it now.”
Adam twirled his hat around and around in his fingers. Then he asked softly, “Miss Millie, I think, well, I think my ma would like if this went to someone, well some girl who hasn’t, who could never hope to have anything so fine, so beautiful in her life. Someone who needs to see herself as beautiful.”
“If I sewed wisely, I could give that gift to several girls, Adam.”
“But you get paid for sewing, it’s your livelihood. I don’t know if we could…”
“I wouldn’t accept any pay. I sometimes sew for pleasure. It would please me very much to use this to give pleasure to others in Marie’s memory.”
Adam smiled deeply so that his dimples brightened his features. “Then that’s what we’ll do. Thank you, Miss Millie. Thank you!”
“No, thank you, Adam.” She reached up and patted the boy’s cheek. Then she asked softly, “Should I mention it to your father?”
Adam shook his head gently. “I’d like to explain to him when, well, when I feel the time is best.”
“I’ll leave it to you then.”
Adam took his leave and walked out the door. Millie Evers eyes followed him as she decided that lately too many things had been left to one so young.