For day three of Blogmas, I thought it would be fun to look at two of my characters doing their Christmas shopping.
For those new to my blog, “Shopping with Character” is a series that gives insights to how the people in my books think and behave based on their shopping habits. When I first learned this technique, the idea was to imagine taking your characters shopping and see what they do. What I discovered was that I could learn new things from looking at how my characters went about buying things on a day-to-day basis. What we learn in this snippet is that the recently married Claire doesn’t worry about money the way she used to (notice that they go shopping in a costly department store) but her friend and major-domo, Gilbert, is more cautious with his funds. Enjoy this snippet from my debut novel, In The Eye of The Beholder!
One day when I felt up to activity, it snowed in London. I had planned to visit a museum, but Gilbert had a different idea.
“There is a frozen pond at the Tower, Claire. Perhaps you would like to try ice skating? I would be happy to accompany you. Alas,” he gestured toward his leg, “I shan’t be joining you on the ice. Nevertheless, I could take you there and back while Erik is at the office.”
“It’s the Stubbins’ day off, Gilbert. If we take the carriage, one of us shall have to stay with the horse. That wouldn’t be much company for either of us. I might just as well to stay home in that event.”
“Then we shall have the grand adventure of taking the omnibus.”
Gilbert would brook no resistance, and I was glad to have something to do. I had never tried ice skating, but was grateful to Gilbert for his willingness to help me. The days that I felt like trying to do anything were crucial, and could not be ignored. So, I dressed warmly in a grey tweed walking suit and black boots. Over the top went a bottle green coat with black fur trim, matching bonnet and muff. We took the omnibus to the Tower and I rented a pair of skates to attach to my boots.
I was frightened at first and a little off-balance. I fell more than once, but with the assistance of some children eventually learned the correct motions to propel myself around the pond. There were many folk out on the ice, laughing and enjoying themselves, and I could not help but feel my mood lighten.
After I returned my skates, my legs rubbery with exertion, Gilbert bought mugs of tea and roasted chestnuts from a nearby vendor. We watched the other skaters for a while, sharing our snack in companionable silence. When we finished our treat, I thanked Gilbert.
“It is nothing, Claire. Seeing a bit of color back in your cheeks and a smile on your face are worth more than gold to me.” Gilbert’s gaze was penetrating at first, and then he looked away. “I should take you home soon, Claire.”
“Perhaps you could help me with my Christmas shopping before we go,” I suggested. I was not ready to be shut up in the house again today. Tomorrow might be different; I had to take advantage of my improved mood.
So, we again took an omnibus into Knightsbridge to shop at Harrods. We browsed the entire seven floors. In the men’s furnishings department, Gilbert especially admired a walking stick with a faceted blue glass knob for a handle.
“That’s a gentleman’s stick for certain,” he said. “It’s very handsome.” He examined the price tag and put the stick back in the display.
“Let’s see what we can find for the family,” he said.
“What are you planning to buy for Honor?” I asked.
“I don’t really know, Claire. She is a hard one to read. She doesn’t appear to care for frills and things; she’s said more than once that she’s a simple girl and not ‘one o’ them toffs’ she could name. I think she may be something of a snob.”
“I think she may just be sounding you out, Gilbert. She’s a good girl and you could do much worse for yourself.”
“I suppose you are right,” Gilbert smiled. “She is a very appropriate match for someone like me.”
“She is quite pretty, too,” I smiled.
“She is that. I am a rather lucky fellow.” His smile broadened, and I could not help grinning back at him in delight.
I was grateful for Gilbert’s help with the packages at the end of the trip, for there were gifts for the Stubbins family and Erik to manage. We hailed a hansom cab to take us home with our bounty. I would shop for Gilbert on another occasion, that I might surprise him with that walking stick. I owed so much to him, and he would be pleased.