The True Gentleman, part 2

Hello again my colleagues!  As promised, here is the conclusion to Miss O’ Hare’s diary entry.  We last left them mid-argument about the un/importance of A Lady’s Honor.  Let’s hope they can work it out…

He flinched slightly when I swore.  Ah!  Society.  They hide their curses behind pretty words dripping with poison.  I preferred old-fashioned, low-class cussing.  “My parents were Irish.  New immigrants.  New money.  They actually worked for their fortune.  We lived in Society but we were never a part of it.  Didn’t you listen to your mother when we met?  I’m common.”  I stalked around the table slowly, closing the distance between us, never breaking his gaze.

“I invent things.  I tinker.  I live alone, unmarried, with only a few servants to help keep the estate running.  I do sums, I read, I knit and I cook.  I ride astride instead of sidesaddle and I own as many pairs of trousers as I do skirts.  I grew up with two brothers and one sister, and because of that I learned how to fight.  I swear, I sweat, and the only reason I don’t drink is because I don’t like the flavor.”  I was right in front of him now, and he had to look down in order to keep eye contact with me.  His face held an expression that was equal parts terrified and fascinated.  I was somewhat used to that look, I reflected, though usually it was disgusted and fascinated…  I dragged my mind back to the situation at hand.  Kristoff attempted to back up another step, only to find the wall.  I had him trapped.

“So, Kristoff.  Von.  Boltenstein.  If you get any more ideas about my honor and your place in protecting it…”  I put a hand on his chest and shoved him into the wall sharply.  “You put them out of your head.  Or I will remove them for you.  Thoroughly.  I don’t have any honor to speak of, and I don’t want it.”  I wrinkled my nose in disgust.  “It’s a useless thing.  Only serves to hold people back, or push them forward into doing incredibly stupid things.”  I released the hand on his chest that held him against the wall and turned on my heel, striding back toward the table and my nearly forgotten breakfast.  “Things like turning around twelve hours into a trip to Mongolia and returning to parents that were forcing you into an arranged marriage.  That sort of thing.”

Mmm.  Tea.  And it was still hot.  Lovely.  I attacked my breakfast for a moment, then looked up to find Kristoff still leaning against the wall, looking at me with that same fearful and fascinated look on his face.  “You really…  You really don’t care?”  His voice was tentative, still slightly tinged with disbelief.  I laughed heartily and took another bite of toast.

“Of course I don’t, Kristoff.  If I cared I wouldn’t have ended up at that party and accidentally rescuing you.  There’s more tea in the pot, by the way.”  I gestured to the ceramic teapot nestled snugly within a woolen cozy.  (I like that cozy.  I knit it myself on a previous dirigible journey.)  The spell holding him against the wall seemed to break then, and he poured himself a cup and sat down across from me with it.

“You really don’t care.  You brought me onto this dirigible for a month-long trip and you didn’t once think about your honor or reputation?”  He shook his head and peeked at me over his teacup as he took a sip.

“Not once.”  I grinned at him.  “Besides, if you ever tried to take liberties I’d just punch you in the face and toss you out a porthole.”  He choked on his tea, sputtering denials that he’d ever attempt such a thing.  I managed to hold a straight face for a moment or two, but then simply collapsed into laughter.  After a moment, he realized I had been joking and his laughter joined mine.  He has a lovely laugh.  It’s warm and rich and when he really finds something funny, it goes completely silent and he just convulses with it.  Eventually we calmed our giggles and returned to our breakfasts.

“Kristoff?”  I bit into my toast with determination.  “Just one other thing…”

“Yes, Miss Anna?” he asked somewhat warily.

“Two things, then…  First of all, it’s just ‘Anna.’  ‘Miss’ is a title for people with honor, after all.”  We shared a quick grin.  “But more importantly…”  I paused for dramatic effect and he toyed with the handle of his teacup nervously.

“If you ever spring this kind of bullshit on me at breakfast again, I will tie you up and leave you in the cargo hold.  Understood?”

Kristoff grinned at me, and the expression lit up his face.  “Yes, Mi—I mean, yes, Anna.”

I do think he understood.  It has not come up again.  I must confess, I quite enjoyed divesting him of his concerns about my honor…  But I would thoroughly enjoy divesting him of his concerns about his own honor.

Perhaps I will yet get my chance?


Oh, that delightful Miss O’ Hare!  What a wonderful role-model for independent, creative, and capable women, despite the societal oppression of the day.  It sounds like the Ladies of Mischief certainly had more fun than their contemporaries!  I greatly hope to recover more about their journey to Mongolia.  I seem to have gotten through most of the loose items, and am now down to some larger boxes and such.  Hopefully they’ll be a bit more organized (and not require me to pick too many locks)!  I’ll keep you posted.


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The True Gentleman

Hello again, dear colleagues.  I have a very exciting find for you today – an excerpt from Miss Anna Roisin O’ Hare’s diary!  (I don’t feel too bad about divulging its contents, as she does seem to be quite fond of sharing stories with friends.  I somehow doubt this tale wasn’t already gleefully told to The Ladies well before now.) I believe this is the first entry of her excursion to Mongolia, occurring shortly after the events of her previous letter.  I’ve also included one of the pictures of her – so nice to have a face to put with the story!

Diary, 10th of June, 1885;

Anna Roisin O' HareKristoff and I were not twelve hours out on our dirigible journey to Mongolia when we had our first row.  It was really to be expected, considering the hasty nature of our departure and our status as nearly complete strangers.  What I didn’t expect was the reason for the row…  I hadn’t considered that Kristoff might be a true gentleman in manner as well as in title.  It’s an unexpected combination in aristocracy, after all.

It was at breakfast.  (Why does it always have to be breakfast?  Why can’t it be at tea, when everyone is already quite awake and alert?)  After checking that the dirigible had remained on course overnight, I settled down with a cup of tea and some toast with butter to begin my morning.  Just as I took my first sip, Kristoff burst into the galley from his cabin, a panicked expression on his tired face.  He crossed immediately to the table and stood across from me, his back ramrod straight, his arms folded behind it.

“Miss Anna.  We must return posthaste.”  His voice was urgent, and as I set down my teacup I wondered what had troubled him so.

“Why?  Did you forget something vital?  A medication?  I have a fully stocked infirmary closet on board–”

“No!  It’s not that.”  He cut me off, and I was rather startled at that, as the evening before he had  seemed entirely quiet and shy.  “It’s nothing to do with me.  It’s to do with you!”

I tilted my head at him questioningly and took a sip of my tea.  “I can assure you, Kristoff, I have everything I need aboard this dirigible for our journey.  I don’t need to return for anything.”

“No!  It’s not that either!”  He broke from his soldier-like stance and leaned over the table, placing his hands on its surface.  He met my gaze with those large, startlingly blue eyes, and his face contorted with an emotion I couldn’t immediately identify as he continued, “It’s not medicine or supplies!  It’s you!  It’s your reputation!  We have to go back now, while we still have a chance of denying this!”

I raised an eyebrow.  “Denying what, precisely?”

Kristoff stood up and flailed his hands around as he paced back and forth in the galley.  “You!  On a dirigible!  Alone with me!  Unmarried!  Unchaperoned!”  He whirled around and met my eyes again, running his fingers through his already disheveled brown hair.  “I’ll have ruined you!  You’ll never be welcome in Society again unless we go back now, while there’s still a chance the word hasn’t spread!”

Ah!  Guilt!  That was the emotion I had seen on his face previously.  I smiled gently at him, flattered that he actually cared about my honor.  It had never happened before, with good reason when you get down to it.

“Kristoff, it doesn’t matter–”

“It does!”  He cut me off again, back to pacing.  “It doesn’t for me, I’m expected to sow some wild oats before I settle down.  But you’ll forever be known as the one I sowed them with!”  I snorted at the idea, imagining myself to be a field for a moment, Kristoff tossing seeds from a basket while inexplicably dressed in his gentleman’s suit.  I allowed the vision to amuse me for a moment before I replied, “There’s been no sowing of anything, oats or otherwise.”

“It doesn’t matter if we haven’t done anything!  You know what things are like!  Three waltzes at a Society event and two people might as well be betrothed!  A month-long voyage to Mongolia?  The gossip mill will work itself into a tizzy!  Everyone will know, and I’ll get pats on the back while you get left in the rain!  We have to retu–”

“Kristoff, it would oblige me greatly if you would shut the hell up.”  I didn’t raise my voice, I merely sharpened it.  It cut through his soliloquy like a freshly-stropped razor.  He stared at me, bewildered.  I stood, and it was my turn to catch his blue eyes with my brown ones.

“If you think that I give two shits about honor, you’re quite mistaken.”

………

And since I’m feeling like quite a tease today, I will leave the 2nd half of the entry for later this week. Transcribing these delicate materials takes time, you know.  Oh, dear Anna and Kristoff.  I certainly hope they can get their differences settled.  Mongolia is a long way from home….


Knitting By Numbers

A lovely evening to you, my colleagues.  For your enjoyment tonight, I have just finished transcribing a letter between two friends – two NEW friends for our ranks – that I hope you find as interesting as I do.

Dearest Alyssa,

It’s been a most busy few weeks for me. I have to admit that while a letter from you is always most welcome, as it is sure to be full of your latest exploits, somehow they often are quite the distraction as well. The description of your  latest endeavour, with your need to convey an encoded message naturally piqued my interest as it fits nicely with the mathematical principles I’ve been pursuing of late. I haven’t had any time to address my knitting basket with my latest explorations into cryptography.

Ah..what joy it does bring to bury myself with nothing more than a pile of paper, a pot of ink and my own thoughts to spin through the possibilities found within the beauty of numbers. I shall have to think further on the best solution for the conundrum you posed. Perhaps I shall consult with Monsieur Baudot  for his thoughts on the matter of encoding messages in a secure manner.

Now if only I could knit and write at the same time. I’ve come across the most delightful self-referential, self-similar images and I would so love to render them with thread and needles. Perhaps I should be working on the idea of manipulating time instead of words and numbers! But alas, that is far beyond the scope of my own research. Perhaps a second pair of hands to knit for me would be more appropriate!

I look forward to  meeting again in the near future
All My Best
Julia Sett

I must admit, the concepts Miss Sett is referencing here go a bit over my scholarly head.  (Clearly math nerds have been around for some time.)  I’ll begin scouring the artifacts ASAP for any evidence of her knitted creations; with such a mind for codes and formulas, I’m sure they were quite impressive!  I’m also intrigued  by these exploits she’s pen-palling about with the mysterious Alyssa.  It doesn’t sound like Miss Sett gets out much (no offense), so I can just imagine what fun it would be to wait for the next titillating tidbit to arrive by post.   Mischief indeed…  I’ll be certain to keep an eye out for more information on this Alyssa as well.  So many ladies, so many questions!  It’s beginning to feel a bit like a certain desert-island-related TV show to me…  But fear not!  I’m nearly through the uppermost layer, which appears to have been simply thrown on top in a most disorganized manner.  For being so brilliant, our Ladies of Mischief clearly were in need of a secretary!  Well, I hope to make up for it as their self-elected Historian.  Until next time!

~The Archivist

Tea Time

A lovely day to you, my colleagues.  Today we have a second letter from Miss Coraline Hackworth, airship adventuress (and originator of the charming scented kerchief).  When last we left her, she had just made it across the Atlantic to resupply in New York.  Let’s see what she finds there…

13th of June, 1885
Dearest Ladies of Mischief,
I write to you now from my hotel room in New York, where I am taking a moment to rest after an afternoon of exploration. I was thrilled to receive your mailing with the latest updates from around the world. The new express mail airship is the fastest one in the fleet! I have yet to open the package but I know the adventures of my dear ladies will keep me thoroughly entertained on the long flight West.
But first, New York! The residents of this crowded city are a fascinating mix of cultures. They are arrestingly forward in their speech, and shockingly unfamiliar with manners, but they have a pleasing openness about them. I find some of their speech puzzling- either no one takes offense at the comments of others, or they are always taking offense in the most jovial way. It makes a stroll around the city both loud and entertaining!
I have even found a hotel with an astoundingly good tea service. It seems that appreciation for a fine cup of tea is not lost in America, as previously thought, but instead maintained by a select few. When I inquired about a pot of my favorite Darjeeling, the manager provided me with the very last of their reserve, while also regaling me with a sorrowful tale of his inability to locate another source for fine Indian tea. I’m sure you ladies understand that I found his tale both moving and very exciting. An entire city deprived of fine tea! And my new cross-Atlantic airship line just starting up! It was serendipitous, to say the least! In no time I had written up a contract to provide the hotel with fine teas and other luxury goods, delivered by my fine airship fleet. It always gives me a thrill of satisfaction to arrange a mutually beneficial business agreement over a pot of fine tea.
I have personally inspected my dear Lilith Ascending, and she is ready to embark. Tomorrow we head West, to meet and discuss current technologies with some of the greatest minds of our time. The very thought is quite exciting! I shall write again when I have arrived, though I know any further letters will probably be delivered by my own hand on my return to London.

Sincerely,
Miss Coraline Hackworth

I love a good pot of tea myself, so it seems I have Miss Hackworth to thank for opening up trade avenues in years past.  I dearly hope to find some documentation on the technology meeting she’s headed to in Seattle.  I believe that will be my quest for the afternoon… once I brew up a fresh pot of Darjeeling, of course.

Weird Science

Happy New Year’s Eve, my colleagues!  Not much time to post, as I have to run off to a party soon, but I couldn’t leave without sharing a final 2010 tidbit with you.  It appears to be a page of lab notes from a Dr. Erma Melanogaster, with some interesting scientific observations as well as a few personal memos.

I do love some good science (though her note taking is a bit absentminded for my tastes.)  She appears to be researching a plant compound, and setting up greenhouses on different light cycles for continuous production.  Quite fascinating!  But even more interesting is the note in the bottom left – I can only assume the L.O.M is our Ladies of Mischief, and the “yarn for Cora” would be Coraline Hackworth – for a lace kerchief perhaps?  But now I’m craving crab cakes, so I’d best head out to my party.  A mischievous New Year to you all – and stay tuned for many more adventures in 2011!

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