Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

A Chance Meeting at the Apothecary Shop

with 10 comments

It was “Mojito Week” at Il Taverna di Muse, and the Proprietress sent me to the Apothecary Shop to purchase bundles of fresh mint leaves, an essential ingredient for the drink. I was excited to make my first visit to the Shop as I had heard it was an extraordinary sensory experience.

The moment the door chimes announced my entrance into the Shop I was assaulted by the pungent scent of spices, the earthy smell of fresh clipped herbs, bundled and hanging from the rafters, and the warm, inviting aromas of tea and fresh baked pastries.

Besides providing apothecary services to the neighborhood, the Shop was also a place for writers and craftspeople to gather who preferred a quieter, less frenetic environment. There were some tables and chairs near the pastry section and in the back was the Stitching Room were some textile artists were piecing together a quilt.

After I made my purchase and was heading toward the door with the wrapped bundle of mint under my arm, I noticed a middle-aged woman in a Victorian-style dress, black silk with starched white lace around the collar. Her hair was pulled high and she balanced a pair of wire glasses on her nose. She was busy reading a book. I stopped and stared for a moment. She was so familiar. Then I knew—it was her!

The woman became aware of me and looked up. “May I be of assistance?” she said with a prim clip.

“Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to stare… you look just like…. I mean…. Oh what am I trying to say….Maam, are you Miss Alcott? Louisa May Alcott?”

“I am she.”

“Oh, this is such an honor, Miss Alcott! I’ve enjoyed your work so much.”

“Thank you, my dear. I am gratified that my little women mean so much to you.”

“Maam, I wasn’t referring to Little Women—I mean, don’t misunderstand me, Little Women was wonderful, but I was referring to your…your…..”

“Potboilers? Blood and Thunder stories?”

“Well, yeah.” I sheepishly smiled.

“Please, have a seat, my dear.” She smiled. “Most of my readers don’t know about those stories.”

“And it’s a shame—Pauline’s Passion and Punishment, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, and my favorite, A Modern Mephistopheles—they were innovative, way ahead of their time.”

“Their time?”

“Oh, yes, well, you see, I’m from your future. It’s a little strange, I know.”

“Strange? My dear, this is Lemuria. Everything is strange in Lemuria.”

“Yes, maam.”

“So you read my potboilers?”

“Yes, maam, as part of a research project.”

“My works will be researched? “

“Yes, indeed. You were, er, ARE, one of the first feminists. Your women’s suffrage work is well documented and your literary works reflect this as well.”

“Feminist?”

“Yes, a person who supports women’s rights and strives for justice and social equality.”

“I see. And you see this in my writings?”

“Yes. Your female characters are fiery, independent women, most particularly in your potboilers, but even in Little Women—Jo for example.”

Miss Alcott chuckled. “May I share a secret with you, uh…..”

“Lori.”

“Lori, the fact of the matter is….” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I wasn’t very eager to write Little Women.

I suppressed a smile. I already knew that her publisher pushed her to write this simple moral tale for children. “Really!” I said.

“No, I didn’t really want to write it. Very dull and ordinary.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I very much enjoyed writing my potboilers. They are so …lurid.” I believe Miss Alcott was beginning to blush. She continued, “The women in those stories were far more interesting and….and….” She struggled for a word.

“…More real?” I said.

“Yes, indeed. More real.”

I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Is that the time?! Miss Alcott, I don’t want to be rude but I really need to get back to the Tavern.”

“Of course, dear. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance.”

“Likewise, Miss Alcott.” I headed towards the door.

“Miss Lori.”

“Yes, maam?”

“Did women ever get the right to vote, in the future, I mean?”

“Yes, maam, we did.”

Miss Alcott picked up her book and resumed her reading.

“Outstanding” she muttered with a smile.

Lori Gloyd © 2006

Written by Pelican1

August 21, 2006 at 1:36 am

10 Responses

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  1. Applause Lori! A standing ovation! This is just splendid. What a thrill it would be for someone like Louisa Alcott to know that her work is still loved and revered.

    Heather Blakey

    August 21, 2006 at 7:43 am

  2. Wow this is absolutely great! I really enjoyed reading it. What a fantastic thought that we can meet anyone from the past or future. And you made the place and situation come alive! Thank you.

    peacebird

    August 21, 2006 at 9:12 am

  3. Just great! I am fan of using dialogue without all the ‘he said’, ‘she said’ distractions — not often seen

    faucon

    August 21, 2006 at 9:31 am

  4. What a wonderful experience. How I would like to have asked about Jo’s stove in Little Men for I so wanted one just like it! Fran

    cronelogical

    August 21, 2006 at 11:37 am

  5. This is splendid, like a cool sip of ice tea! This is what Soul Food is for me, the essential conversations of strong, independent thinkers. Thank you for this thought provoking meeting with Miss Alcott. I will have to look into her work more.

    lunagirl

    August 21, 2006 at 11:18 pm

  6. Ah, Jo March. The character who is single handedly responsible for my becoming a writer in the first place. I have a story about that somewhere, I must look it out and post it.
    This is wonderful. There are writers and even some of their characters popping in here all the time. I’m sure I spied CS Lewis lurking behind a plate of crumpets and lavender honey. Anyone else like to tell about their meeting with someone inspiring, famous, or infamous?

    gailkav

    August 22, 2006 at 10:01 am

  7. Lori this was a truely splendiferous read!!! Your talent for making us feel like we are right there with you is wonderful. I LOVED this! Emmm, do you think that maybe you might need a wee bit more mint perhaps….never know who might be there this time?!!

    soulsister

    August 26, 2006 at 5:16 pm

  8. I just read this piece and then read it again and I’m sad to say Lori I am disappointed. Why did this have to end and cut off the fun I was having in being there and listening in to that conversation! Is there a chance that this is to be continued….?

    jan2

    August 30, 2006 at 12:33 pm

  9. I never stop by the Taverna when a story doesn’t enlighten or inspire me. This does both–I had no idea about Louisa!

    quinncreative

    June 16, 2008 at 3:07 am

  10. […] Lori Gloyd © 2006, 2015. Original post for this story: https://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2006/08/21/a-chance-meeting-at-the-apothecary-shop/ […]


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