A delightful morning to you, my colleagues! Today I have the latest update from Miss Hackworth’s cross-country airship journey. Having fully restocked and enjoyed some lovely tea in New York, she’s continuing on West, with a few surprises along the way. Enjoy!
15th of June, 1885
Dearest Ladies of Mischief,
The journey West carries on, over seemingly endless plains. Fortunately the tedium of the landscape below is completely driven out by the excitement on board.
As you well know, I make it a point of pride to know every inch of my airships. Dear Lilith Ascending is especially familiar to me, as I was deeply involved in the entire design and construction process. The location of some of the compartments, and their clever concealments, is a secret kept strictly between me and my head engineer, Mr. Charles Tingley. So imagine my surprise to discover not only that we have a stowaway, but that he had located and occupied one such compartment!
I was inspecting a troublesome valve, when it occurred to me to check the nearby compartment for any signs of a steam leak. I opened the hatch (which in the case of this compartment is about knee height), and found myself looking at a pair of worn but well tended men’s boots. The boots retreated, leaving me pondering my course of action: I could pursue the boots and their occupant, possibly placing my life in danger, or I could call upon my ship’s mate and send him into the compartment to retrieve the stranger. My curiosity was raging at this point, and my desire to keep this compartment a (relative) secret was strong. I decided on pursuit!
However, one does not survive a childhood in the shipyard without learning about the value of protective clothing. The size and angle of the hatch required that I crawl in headfirst. It would be the height of foolishness to present such a tempting target as the back of my head to this unknown character. Fortunately my battle supplies (in case of air pirates) were stored nearby, allowing me to quickly grab my fur-lined brass shako, high-collared brass reinforced capelet, and pair of pistols. Upon donning my battle attire, I was ready to confront the invader.
I crawled into the hatch as quickly as possible and leapt to my feet. I found in front of me a smiling gentleman executing a perfect courtly bow.
I was already in a state of excitement due to the surprise and danger, but I found my pulse quickening further as I looked upon him. He was a handsome gentleman with fine but slightly shabby attire. His shockingly blue eyes smiled at me as he introduced himself as Peter Thistleby, Freelance Mechanist.
As you can imagine, I was in no mood for formal introductions. I informed him that he was trespassing on my ship and in danger of being tossed overboard. He showed his intelligence by complimenting my ship in great detail- enough for me to see that he was indeed a mechanist. I interrogated him further to discover how he had stowed away. Supposedly he was doing some work in the New York airship yard when I arrived, and he heard of our destination and decided to come aboard. As to why he did not simply book passage? He found it more entertaining to sneak aboard and hide out. The entire time I interrogated him he was every inch the gentleman, and smiling throughout. Every answer to my questions reinforced his proclamation that love of adventure is his driving force. I found it difficult to fault someone whose interest lie so closely aligned to mine. I admit, I also found his clever answers to be amusing, though I did not reveal as much to him. I’ve always had a weakness for clever wordplay, and he seems a master of it. I do not believe him to be a spy, or an assassin, and therefore I will let him remain on the ship. For now he will be confined to a cabin, so that I may interrogate him further at my leisure. I have many questions for this mysterious gentleman, and a strong desire that he continue to answer them so intriguingly!
Miss Coraline Hackworth
How absolutely delightful! A charming stowaway, and freelance mechanic to boot. I sincerely hope further questioning confirmed his good intentions and we get to hear more about him in the future! Miss Hackworth’s letters seem to be very consistent and in good condition, so chances are we’ll be in luck. The Ladies were some of the most intelligent, adventurous and intriguing professionals of the time; it doesn’t surprise me at all that they attracted other capable individuals to their service. That’s certainly where I’d want to be! Hmm… now which Lady would I most like to adventure with?