‘Good morning Mr Spearman!’
As the clatter of the shop door closing subsided, all rattling glass and jangling bells, a behatted head appeared above the counter.
‘Ah. Miss Moir.’
‘I have some choice samples for you today Mr Spearman.’ Lycoris Moir reached inside her oversized gabardine and pulled out her notebook with a flourish. The pages flapped and a fine shower of what one would imagine was dust fluttered out and tumbled in the air, catching the sunlight. Instinctively Spearman went to reach forward, then checked himself.
‘Careful Miss Moir, you’ll be spoiling the contraband.’ Spearman’s boot-button eyes blinked rapidly; he appeared nervous.
‘Nonsense Mr Spearman! Contraband indeed! This is a perfectly legitimate service we perform. If only people knew Mr Spearman, if only people knew. They would thank us. Indeed.’ The datamonger looked doubtful and noticing some coppery specks on the glass counter, snatched a cloth from somewhere behind him and rubbed quickly at the glass. It left a smear. Beneath lay large enamel trays containing numbers; some made of copper, some brass, and of varying sizes, piled up just anyhow.
‘I hear Mr Wheelwright’s had a busy week,’ Spearman stuffed the cloth into the back pocket of his trousers and manoeuvred his bulk around Lycoris and hurried to the door. He pushed across the two bolts and let slip the catch so that the door was locked and turned the open sign around to read CLOSED to any potential customers. He scuttled back round Lycoris, who had remained where she was, unmoved by his obvious unease, and towards a doorway at the back of the shop. Spearman drew aside the beaded curtain and extended a hand towards Lycoris, a beckoning gesture.
‘Do come through Miss Moir.’