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Some Like It Hot II - A Fitting Sequel


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Mature Content: Not really.

Author: Arabella Mudd

With: Miriam Kaufmann, Caroline Mundee, Worchester Pettigrew & Jemima Wigfall.
Location: Pettigrew's.
When:  22 June 1876
Time of Day: A fitting time.

 

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No hat. No Bonnet. Outside, on the street, with just a black velvet band in her hair. Black choker pressing at her throat, black dress clinging to her. No shawl, no basket. Scandalous! This hot house atmosphere of demi-monde bohemianism in no little part contributed to the wild alcohol fuelled misdeeds that took place a few nights later between the two saloon workers. But today’s activities were a little more restrained, if vaguely indicative of the excesses to come.

 

Arabella looked at herself in Caroline’s full length mirror one last time before running downstairs to catch up with the other half of their little double act. She looked wildly at the outrageously hatless blonde and considered that she too must look equally debauched. She took a deep breath as they pushed through the swing doors together and out into the prudish, frowning streets of Kalispell. You could get addicted to this sort of thing.

 

Meanwhile at Pettigrew’s, the eponymous owner of the place flipped open his hunter and directed his staff. “Miss Wigfall, you will attend to the store. Miss Kaufmann, you will assist with the fitting.” He hadn’t completely explained what was involved in the ‘fitting’ – it was better to learn by doing than describing, in Worchester’s book.

 

Jemima pulled her usual sulky face, but if Arabella tagged along with the wanton singer again, as she strongly suspected she would, she would hear all about it, by and by: whether she wanted to or not. She had already spent an hour yesterday being interrogated about ‘The Jewess’.

 

@Wayfarer

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Caroline always tried not to be judgemental, especially as so many 'proper' folks were quite judgemental of her so she said nothing to Arabella about her outlandish get up. You'd think the girl was a grieving widow of a long married husband. She also did not ask. Not like she would have gotten much chance to, given Arabella was chattering away again. Mostly about the young clerk at Pettigrew's. Actually, on that score, it might well be good for Ara to find someone her own age to befriend and.........Caroline suddenly decided not to think about it. Again all part of being non-judgemental.

 

***

 

Within the shop the saloon entertainer's arrival was certainly expected and any minute so her employer was preparing his employees. Miriam had been called from the back sewing room where she had been busy.

 

“Miss Wigfall, you will attend to the store. Miss Kaufmann, you will assist with the fitting.”

 

"Of course, sir. Whatever you need," Miriam instantly nodded, though not really certain what exactly was meant by fitting? Perhaps she was to assist the saloon girl into her new dress. Mr. Pettigrew had been working on the garment both slavishly and literally secretly. She had not even gotten a glimpse of it yet, her piecework being on other less 'expensive' projects. And, in truth, she was curious.

 

The tiny bell above the front door tinkled musically then and, sure enough, there was the saloon woman and.....yes, Arabella. Her possible new friend. Miriam smiled. Odd choice of colors though given it was a hot summer day but she had already decided the girl was on the odd side. She could overlook such foibles though as long as the girl was friendly.

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The tiny bell above the front door tinkled musically then and, sure enough, there was the saloon woman and.....yes, Arabella. Her possible new friend. Miriam smiled. Odd choice of colors though given it was a hot summer day but she had already decided the girl was on the odd side. She could overlook such foibles though as long as the girl was friendly.

 

“Oh! Ladies, ladies!! How wonderful to see you both!” Prettigrew gushed, all a flutter, as Caroline and Arabella entered the store. “Now come, Ladies, come! Through the Magic Curtain and up the wooden hill to Wonderland!” he chivvied them through into the back and up the stairs. “Bear right! Bear right!” he shouted up behind them “Come, Miss Kaufman!”

 

Arabella was amazed that the store had a ‘behind the scenes’ even though she toiled most of the day in a similar establishment. She was even more amazed at the big fitting room upstairs and that she was offered A SEAT!

 

Here was a dark purple dress, unfinished but already shining with beauty, fitted around a headless dressmaker’s form, and little else besides a mirror and screens. Oh, a small table and some glasses.

 

“Now, ladies, I always offer my more illustrious customers a little something to get us in a creative mood: a little madeira perhaps?” he asked “But then straight to business. Miss Kaufmann please undress and put the new garment on.” he ordered, matter-of-factly, waving his hand toward the form. “Miss Mundee, you might as well disrobe now, so I can get accurate measurements. Stays too, if you please!” he added, flexing his tape measure.

 

Arabella jumped up off her chair.

 

“Ooooh! Shall I take my clothes off, too?!” she asked excitedly.

 

“No, that will not be necessary, Miss Mudd.” Answered Mr. Pettigrew, dryly.

 

Arabella sighed sadly at this reply.

 

@Wayfarer

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Well, Caroline had to admit, they got an enthusiastic greeting by the shop owner but then she was indeed used to people being happy to see her what with her career. And the man wasted no time in getting right to it, directing them upstairs to his  'Wonderland". Arabella's favorite clerk was summoned to accompany them. The destination proved to be a fitting room with a few chairs, a mirror, and look at that!  It was her new dress! In all it's glory. At first glance the saloon gal liked what she saw.

 

"Look at that," she sighed happily.

 

“Now, ladies, I always offer my more illustrious customers a little something to get us in a creative mood: a little madeira perhaps?” the man asked.

 

"Sure, sounds good to me," Caroline would not turn down a drink......ever.

 

“But then straight to business. Miss Kaufmann please undress and put the new garment on.” he ordered, matter-of-factly, waving his hand toward the form.

 

Miriam blinked, "What? Excuse me?" She froze in place and looked wide-eyed at her employer.

 

“Miss Mundee, you might as well disrobe now, so I can get accurate measurements. Stays too, if you please!” he added, flexing his tape measure.

 

"Alrighty," Caroline was not a bit shy and instantly agreed, in fact she rather expected it. This reminded her and she suddenly produced a slip of hers from a small bag, "Have yer girl put this on too as I plan on wearing this under that there dress."

 

It was a skimpy little thing of very thin material. Miriam stared at the item like it was something almost alien of origin. Oh goodness! She swallowed and stood there like a statue for the moment.

 

“Ooooh! Shall I take my clothes off, too?!” Arabella asked excitedly.

 

“No, that will not be necessary, Miss Mudd.” Answered Mr. Pettigrew, dryly.

 

Caroline seemed a bit bemused by that little exchange but thought she knew what would please Ara.

 

"Say, why don't you help the young miss, she'd probably appreciate it? I can take care of myself."

 

Caroline could see the mousy clerk was taken aback, what was needed was some enthusiastic  assistance which Arabella could certainly supply. 

 

 

 

 

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At first glance the saloon gal liked what she saw. 

 

"Look at that," she sighed happily. 

 

“Oh, and that’s just the base form, we can fancy it up no end with buttons and bows!” crooned Pettigrew seductively. “I rather favor black embellishments on top of the deep purple, might seem a little funereal to some, but with black gauze gloves and black stockings: can you just imagine the dazzling effect with your complexion and hair! Good Heavens, Miss Mundee, one look at you in this get-up and those salon patrons won't be able to walk right for a week!”

 

“Now, ladies, I always offer my more illustrious customers a little something to get us in a creative mood: a little madeira perhaps?” the man asked.

 

"Sure, sounds good to me," Caroline would not turn down a drink......ever.

 

He poured both of them a drink of the sweet fortified wine but Arabella, being tea-total, didn’t touch hers.

 

“But then straight to business. Miss Kaufmann please undress and put the new garment on.” he ordered, matter-of-factly, waving his hand toward the form. 

Miriam blinked, "What? Excuse me?" She froze in place and looked wide-eyed at her employer.

 

“Yes, yes, behind the screen, please! Chop chop!” Prettigrew waved for her to get on with it as if it was the most natural thing in the world and surely she must realise that was what was required of her. His voice indicated that he would brook no argument on the matter: especially as the customer herself seemed to assume that getting in and out of ones togs was, of course, a natural part of the dressmaking process.

 

“Miss Mundee, you might as well disrobe now, so I can get accurate measurements. Stays too, if you please!” he added, flexing his tape measure.

 

"Alrighty," Caroline was not a bit shy and instantly agreed, in fact she rather expected it. This reminded her and she suddenly produced a slip of hers from a small bag, "Have yer girl put this on too as I plan on wearing this under that there dress."

 

It was a skimpy little thing of very thin material. Miriam stared at the item like it was something almost alien of origin. Oh goodness! She swallowed and stood there like a statue for the moment.

 

“Ooooh!” Worchester cooed, holding the gossamer material up to the light of the window “This is fine, mighty fine workmanship indeed. “Why, ‘Translucent’ is too opaque a word for it!”

 

He looked at Miriam.

 

“This kind of garment won’t stand bulky undergarments” he instructed her in the same matter-of-fact tone of voice he always used when explaining something mundane, like a fine point of needlework or cutting technique to her.

 

“I should lose the drawers, stays and chemise too, put this on raw.” He added, passing her the light slip. In other words, he was instructing her to strip completely naked behind the screen, only a flimsy panel of silk between her and her employer and the customers.

 

Well, not completely naked: “Oh, I’d keep your stockings and boots on, Miss Kaufmann, it is a little chilly in here today.” he added, helpfully. Daresay she could keep the ribbon in her hair, as well.

 

“Ooooh! Shall I take my clothes off, too?!” Arabella asked excitedly.

 

“No, that will not be necessary, Miss Mudd.” Answered Mr. Pettigrew, dryly.

 

Caroline seemed a bit bemused by that little exchange but thought she knew what would please Ara.

 

"Say, why don't you help the young miss, she'd probably appreciate it? I can take care of myself."

 

“Oh, sure!” yelped Arabella, jumping up and looking like all her birthdays had come at once. This was exciting. “Come on, let’s get you all gussied up!” she said to Miriam, more or less pushing her toward the screens.

 

So, now the poor shy girl was also to be seen in all her red-faced glory by the peculiar girl in the black dress. Well, at least one party in the deal was happy about that.

 

While Caroline got her outer garments off, Pettigrew himself went over to the form and started to remove the dress from its dummy. With the way  he had cleverly designed the fastenings, using small strong magnets on the chest area where Caroline wanted easy access, this didn’t take long. The dress felt a little heavier than it looked. That was due to the ‘secret weapon’ he had installed, and which Miriam would unwittingly demonstrate in a few minutes.

 

@Wayfarer

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, the modeling presentation and the design modifications went well if one went by the reaction of the prospective customer, Caroline loved it. She thought it would be ideal for her act - that is if she used only on rare occasions. Afterall she had always believed in 'give them just enough to tease but not too much and not too often'. The saloon girl ended up buying the dress, which Pettigrew happily assented, assuring he might have to do a few alterations to her particular size and shape of course. Cost was no object for Caroline, half the expense being covered by Matilda Devereau for her money making star.

 

For young Miriam it was much more a harrowing time, she ended up having to undress and then parade around in that garment giving the -granted- small audience a glimpse of far more of her than she thought comfortable or for that matter, proper. If her father would have seen her then he would have been shocked. No doubt he would have decided right then and there to end her service with the clothier. But - and here was the rub - the family needed the money. That was why she was working and she realized she could not tell him about what had just happened, however humiliating. She had to obey Mr. Pettigrew to keep the job and keep silent to her father in the bargain. Ever the dutiful member of the family.

 

It was not all bad though, the young girl that came with the saloon harlot turned out to be so nice and supportive. And strangely enough, Miriam got compliments too. Not just from Arabella but even from the woman customer. Pettigrew seemed pleased. Miriam was not used to such praise. Oh, and even more exciting, the harlot handed her a dollar coin saying she earned it. Suddenly the woman did not seem quite so bad.

 

Perhaps best of all though, Miriam might well have made a friend! The other girl asked about doing something again, perhaps the coming Sunday when both the saloon and dress shop were closed. Miriam eagerly agreed, she needed a friend her age in this new town. Otherwise her entire life would be work and then back home with the family. Even her strong sense of duty had it's limits especially as she was indeed growing up. Was it so bad to want something for herself? She did not think so.

 

So the fitting ended on a happy note for all four participants involved. Each got what they wanted and perhaps, more than they ever expected. Life was good - at least on this day.

 

Finis

 

 

 

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