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Abraham lingered on the curb, letting the noise of the carriages and horses and pedestrians fade away to a background buzz. He clutched his gloves in his left hand, not putting them on again despite the cold chill of approaching winter numbing the tips. Instead, he glanced down at the apple creating a noticeable bulge in his front coat pocket. Abraham had been residing in Italy and had a special fondness for winter and the produce it brought. He’d made it a priority to grab an apple from any cart he saw when out conducting his affairs. He’d just bought one from this young man…

Abraham made his decision and turned back around. He strode down the block with a straight back and steady gate, despite the limp from a childhood accident. The young man didn’t see him coming. He was restocking fruit from a crate.

“Excuse me.”
Ethan looked up and he blinked at the stranger. “May I help – oh you were just here.” He set down the create. “Is there something wrong with your apple Sir?” He puffed warm air out of his cheeks into cupped hands, rubbing them together.

Abraham couldn’t tell how old he was. A young man, clearly, still dressed like a boy. They were almost the same height, but it was impossible to see his shape under that stretched sweater he was wearing dotted with holes and trousers patched far too many times. Abraham felt embarrassed standing next to him, because he felt foolish, like a ponce. He envied the natural beauty of this fresh-faced pauper.

“Here,” Abraham said, a bit too loudly, straightening his arm. “Please, take these.”
Ethan’s jaw slackened. “I – I can’t Sir I -“
“I"m not asking. I’m tell you. Take them.”
Ethan hesitantly took the gloves out of Abraham’s hand, as if this were a mean trick. When Abraham didn’t mock him or pull them away, the young man dared to inspect them. They were fine leather – calfskin, maybe. They were hand-stitched and lined with wool. Ethan slipped his hand into one and was surprised at how warm it was, and how well it fit. It was if it had been custom-made for his own size. His hand began to tingle from the sensation returning.

Arbaham saw the happiness on his face, and it occurred that it was the first true, earnest emotion he’d seen in a while. It made him feel contentment he didn’t know to be possible. He nodded, tipped his hat, and turned to leave.

“Wait!” Ethan interjected.
Abraham turned.
“…I can really keep these?”
“Yes. I’ve bought apples from you before, and you’ve always been pleasant. It’s getting cold, and it’s nonsense that a boy your age shouldn’t have a pair of gloves in this city. I have an extra pair. It’s no bother.”
“My god, thank you Sir, these are – these are – I can’t even form words to describe my gratitude.”
Abraham smiled. “I hope better fortune finds your way soon.”

Ethan nodded eagerly and watched in awe as Abraham went. He watched Abraham go. He was a handsome fellow, and even with his uneven gate, had a commanding presence. Ethan felt a knot of arousal flair up low in his hips but quickly pushed it away. It wasn’t nice to lust after a man who just gave you a present, even if he was handsome. He was a dandy, and his mother said to be wary of men like that. Still, Ethan doubted a man of such fine standing would court a boy of such low standing such as himself.

When Ethan slid his hand into the other glove, his fingers bumped against something. He’d missed it before because the glove had been on the bottom and folded in half. With confusion on his face, he pulled the heavy thing out – it was a half sovereign coin. Ethan softly gasped. It was his weekly wage in the palm of his hand.

He looked up for the stranger but found him gone.


Text is fictional.


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