LaqueusThe evening was cold, damp, and a trifle foggy, but rarely was the town not in such a state. A cold wind blew throughout the place and nestled itself into every nook and cranny. The young Eliza Whitmore walked with her father down the near-empty streets, as the wind played with her chocolate colored curls. Her father, Frederick Whitmore, looked at his pocket watch and frowned.
"It is getting late, Eliza. We can always come back at another time," he said. His daughter shivered in the cold air and pulled her red coat closer to herself.
"I know, Father, but you promised me a new doll tonight. It must be tonight or my other dolls shall perish in their lonely state," Eliza replied, looking at her father with large green eyes.
"I don't think that's a possibility, darling. Likewise, everything is closed up for the night."
"No, Father, please tonight! You have been gone so very much and so very long! And soon you shall leave me again to go shoot at Germans in a trench, while I must stay here and lead a dreary existence at the manor with Auntie!" The little girl started to cry into an embroidered handkerchief. Her father's heart melted as he consoled her.
"My dear Eliza. For you I shall continue the search! And I would not wish for your dear Ann and Emily to perish," he said with a smile. And with that, he and his daughter started their determined search for a proper doll. They walked for a good while longer, their hope dwindling with each step. Lights began to go out as the hour grew later and businesses began to shut down. It was not until they approached Laqueus Lane that they finally saw results. There was a single shop still open. It was a humbly sized establishment with chipping paint, but a smart sign sat above the doorway displaying the message: 'Madame Annette's Novelties and Toys'. A smartly dressed toy soldier, a wooden boat, and a plush rabbit sat in the window, beckoning them inside. Eliza especially was drawn to the store.
"A quick peek couldn't hurt, Father," piped his daughter excitedly.
"Ten minutes, then. And no more." The gentlemen and his daughter entered the store and took in everything.
The space was cozy and warm and simple. There was a counter, with shelves behind it displaying all sorts of delightful oddities. There was a book shelf of wonderful tales nearby and opposite that there was a large display of fine dolls. Eliza marveled at the sight when an unsettling voice interrupted her thoughts. However, the voice was not nearly as unsettling as the person it belonged to.