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.