This Is Your Captain Speaking

A lovely, brisk winter day to you, my dear colleagues!  My goodness, things have been busy at Mischief Headquarters these days.  However, I came across two little artifacts that I knew I must take a moment to share.  Our Ladies have much in common – strength, ingenuity, intelligence – but it would be a mistake indeed to assume that means they’re all alike!  The juxtaposition of these two Pre-Flight Checklists, from our intrepid Airship/Dirigible captains Coraline and Anna, simply had me in stitches.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

Lilith Ascending Pre-Flight Checklist

From the desk of
Coraline Hackworth
President, Hackworth Airships International

1 ) Review crew roster
2 ) Compose pre-flight inspirational speech
3 ) Don flying coat, cowl and hat
4 ) Pick up news reports from the International Affairs division
5 ) Pick up latest maps from the Navigation division
6 ) Verify supply of Darjeeling tea (also honey and cream)
7) Check yarn and needle quantities in Yarn Room
8 ) Review stationery supplies
9 ) Complete walkthrough inspection with First Mate Perkins
10 ) Assemble and address crew

Anna’s Pre-Flight Checklist

Right, it’s time to be off again!

1.  Is there enough sharp cheese and sourdough bread on board?  Must double check quantities.
2.  Check stock of Irish Afternoon Tea.  Important! Ran out last time, had to drink that dratted Darjeeling.
3.  Guns.  Need at least four rifles and twelve pistols, among others.  Don’t forget ammunition this time!  Had to buy all new silverware after Egypt.
4.  Remember to bring ALL the sizes of knitting needles this time.  Whittling them out of kindling is entertaining, but not as entertaining as actually knitting.
       4. a.  Check status of yarn cupboard.
5.  Pack a dressing gown this time!  The pirates probably enjoyed the view last time, but that was a damned breezy battle.  Shouldn’t like to repeat it.
6.  Will three tins of shortbread be enough?
7.  Oh, don’t forget the butter just because of the stock of cheese.  Buttered toast is also nice.
8.  Speaking of, make repairs to the stove.  Using the boiler for cooking might have been exhilarating but probably not recommended.
9.  Clean underpants.  DO NOT FORGET AGAIN.

Unexpect Turbulence, part 3

Happy Easter Sunday to you, dearest colleagues!  Or just a happy Sunday if you’re not an Easter-celebrating type.  As you can see, I’m choosing to spend my holiday pouring over Ladies Of Mischief artifacts, so to each his (or her) own.  Today I have the exciting conclusion of Miss O’ Hare’s forced landing in Constantinople, with a drenched and shell-shocked Kristoff in tow.  Having landed successfully and secured the dirigible, Miss O’ Hare seemed have a few ideas about how to pass the remainder of the evening (nudge, wink).  Let’s find out what they might be…

“Well,” I decided out loud.  “Assuming that is Constantinople we’ve landed near, first thing on the agenda for tomorrow is buying you some other clothes.”  My voice dropped to almost a purr.  “But first thing on the agenda for tonight…”

Kristoff swallowed, staring determinedly at the wall.

“…is getting out of this damn soaked nightgown and into something warm.”  I marched out of the galley, leaving Kristoff behind with the whispering kettle and popping fire.  “I’ll look through my things for something to lend you for tonight,” I called back over my shoulder.  “I promise it won’t be a nightgown!”

I managed to just catch a glimpse of the returning blush on his face as I ducked into my cabin.  I shucked the wet nightgown as quickly as possible and put on a dry one, then wrapped myself in a dressing robe and found my previously forgotten slippers.  Digging through my wardrobe revealed a knitted cabled jumper, a pair of men’s trousers, some socks I had knitted for myself but which had turned out to be entirely too large, and a set of striped nightclothes.  I squinted at them, trying to remember why I owned such things…  Oh, yes!  My absentminded younger brother Colin had left them behind when he joined me on the dirigible for a short journey a few years back.  I had to admit to being similarly absentminded, considering I had forgotten all about the items.  No matter!  They would be put to good use now.  I added a spare dressing gown to the pile and headed back to the galley, which I found empty except for a pot of hot tea on the table and a still-steaming kettle sitting on the sideboard.  Clearly Kristoff had gone to change out of his wet clothes…  But into what, I wondered, looking down at the folded garments in my hands.  I smirked a bit and headed to his cabin.

“Kristoff?”  I knocked on the closed door and giggled inwardly to hear him curse very quietly and politely.  “I found some spare clothing in my wardrobe.  I’m assuming you find yourself rather in need of it.”

The door cracked open and Kristoff eyed me through the opening, keeping his body carefully hidden behind the bulk of the door.  “Really?  What did you find?”

I offered the small pile of clothes.  “Trousers and nightclothes that used to be my brother’s.  A jumper that I think I knit a few years back, some socks that turned out too big for me, and one of my dressing gowns.  It’s the one with lions on it, so it should be sufficiently masculine.”  I smiled at him, the picture of innocence.  “May I come in?”

“No!  No.  Thank you.”  The blush was slowly re-emerging in his cheeks.  “You can just…  Leave them outside the door and I’ll grab them when I have a moment.”  He shut the door quickly, then cracked it again just as quickly.  “Anna…  Thank you.  I do appreciate it.”  His eyes dropped from mine to the pile of clothes, and then to the neckline of my second nightgown, visible under the my untied dressing gown.  His eyes snapped back to mine with a quickness, and the blush came back full-force.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”  He shut the door again, and as I bent down to deposit the clothes outside his door I heard him mutter, “Why must she walk around half-dressed?!”  I giggled wickedly as I slipped back to the galley and poured myself a cup of tea.  “Because it’s ever so entertaining, Kristoff…” I whispered into my cup.

Oh, I’m a terrible person, I really am.  He’s just so fun to tease!  How can I resist?  No one could resist once they saw that blush.  It’s simply adorable and ever so endearing.  I presume he’ll eventually become used to seeing me in a nightgown, so if I want to continue seeing that blush I may need to resort to other tactics in the future.  Perhaps a letter to Miss Alyssa Rynne is in order?

We shall see later.  For now, diary, I am off to my warm bed while the wind blows itself out around me.  I hope Kristoff sleeps well…  It was quite an evening.

Oh, that Anna!  Our ladies sure knew how properly (or perhaps improperly) intrigue a gentleman, while still conducting themselves appropriately – a skill lost on much of the modern dating scene, it seems.  Though we have another reference to the mysterious Miss Alyssa Rynne (you’ll recall Miss Sett’s correspondence with her) and her knowledge of such “tactics”.  Hmm… I hope to find some more information on her soon!  And I’m very glad Anna and Kristoff made it through the storm and landing intact.  Perhaps further diary entries of their journey into Constantinople will turn up as well.  I’ll keep my eye out, as always.  In the meantime, stay tuned for an exciting surprise coming next week!

Unexpected Turbulence, part 2

Good evening my colleagues!  I hope you’re having a lovely one.  Without further ado, I’d like to present to you the continuation of Miss O’ Hare’s exciting account of her sudden arrival in Constantinople.  We last left our heroes descending through the storm and into what they hoped was a city, rather than certain doom.  Let’s see how they did….

“Kristoff!  Now!”  I held tightly to the wheel as he pulled the lever with all his might.  Our descent leveled off with a speed that made our stomachs flip-flop inside of us, and I got a glimpse of the lights of the city, now at our eye level, before we struck the ground with a mighty thud and were knocked off our feet.

We lay there for a long moment, breathing deeply and trying to calm our nerves, before either of us spoke.  Kristoff broke the silence with a quiet, “Ow.”  I sighed deeply and pushed myself to a seated position.

“I concur.  Unfortunately, we’re not done here.”  I pushed myself to my feet on shaky and slightly nauseated legs (I hate sudden landings.  Hate them!) and staggered toward the door with determination.  Kristoff groaned and pushed himself up onto his elbows.  “What?  Do we need to crash again?  Because once was enough for me, thanks.”  He pulled himself to his feet with the help of a trusty guardrail and trailed after me.

“Well, if you’d like to avoid any more crashes tonight, we need to go outside and anchor the ship.”  I hurried down the steep flight of steps into the hold and opened the door to the driving wind and rain.  I grimaced at the awful weather but snatched up the sledgehammer I needed to anchor the stakes and headed out into the storm.

Kristoff stuck his head out the door behind me.  “Are you mad?” he shouted as I removed the first of the anchor stakes from the outside of the airship and prepared to drive it into the ground.  “It’s freezing out there!  You’ll catch your death!”  I rolled my eyes and commenced pounding the first stake into the muddy grass beneath my feet.

“Would you prefer I catch my death from an unrestrained airship being blown all over the goddamn land?” I shouted back between the ringing strikes of the sledgehammer.  “Make yourself useful and uncoil the bloody rope so we can tie this down properly!”  I pointed at the mooring rope wrapped up next to the slot that had held the anchor stake that was now firmly lodged in the ground beneath my feet.  My bare feet.  I hadn’t actually noticed until that moment that I was barefoot.  Excitement does such strange things to the mind…

Kristoff staggered out into the wind with the rope as I had asked, and held the sledgehammer while I tied the wet knots with the surety of a sailor.  “Three more!” I shouted to him as we darted through the pouring rain and howling wind to the next mooring point.  We struggled a bit with that one, but by the third we had learned to work together quickly, and with the fourth it was as if we’d been mooring airships in the pouring rain for years.  It certainly felt like I’d been out in that rain for years, I grumbled inwardly as we hurried back into the hold with numb feet and soaked clothes.  I returned the sledgehammer to its tool hook and hurried upstairs to the galley and the iron stove that lived there with a fire always banked in its belly.  Kristoff followed, dripping water onto the floor, and collapsed into a chair as I threw coal on the banked embers and stoked the fire.

“Does this happen often?  Crashing, I mean?”  He stared out the window at the rain-blurred city lights.  I wrung some water out of my skirt and warmed my hands in front of the stove with a shiver.

“Not usually.  Normally I have a bit of warning about storms and can land before they become an issue.  This one was moving fast and I didn’t predict it.”  I turned from the stove and grabbed the kettle.  I could at least start some water for tea before I went and changed out of my wet things.  Kristoff looked up as I moved and made a sound the likes of which I’d never heard before.  It was like a mouse being startled by a large piece of cheese that it didn’t think it deserved.  “What…” I trailed off as I looked at him, kettle suspended in my hand just above the top of the stove.

He was staring at me, his gaze traveling from my shoulders to my feet in disbelief.  A blush heated his cheeks.  His mouth worked ineffectually for a moment or two, and then he blurted, “Your nightgown!  You did all of that in your nightgown!”  The blush on his cheeks was furious now as he turned away and shielded his eyes.  “And now you’re only wearing your nightgown and it’s all wet!”

Confused, I set the kettle on the stove and looked down at myself.  I was, in fact, in my nightgown…  Which was made out of sensible black cotton, had cap sleeves and fell to my calves.  It was, admittedly, very wet.  And cold.  And plastered to me.  But still…  My eyes snapped back up to him.  “You just now noticed?”  I suppressed a laugh.  “I didn’t exactly have time to change, unlike some people…”  I indicated his soaked trousers and dress shirt.

“I was distracted earlier, what with the storm and the crash-landing!  I didn’t have time to notice!”  He still was looking carefully away from me, lest his eyes wander again.  “And I’ll have you know I didn’t have time to get dressed, either.  I have to sleep in this.  You didn’t exactly give me time to pack, you know.”

I pursed my lips.  He had, in fact, been wearing the same suit in various combinations since I picked him up.  I had simply assumed he was very attached to that suit.  I had a favorite wrench, after all, so who was I to judge what other people liked?

“Well,” I decided out loud.  “Assuming that is Constantinople we’ve landed near, first thing on the agenda for tomorrow is buying you some other clothes.”  My voice dropped to almost a purr.  “But first thing on the agenda for tonight…”

Kristoff swallowed, staring determinedly at the wall.

And since I’m as much of a tease as Miss O’ Hare I’ll leave you with that until next time!  Which will be soon, I promise.  I hope you all stay cozy and warm and out of any horrible rainstorms in the meantime.  Brrr!  Better go start a pot of tea myself…

Unexpected Turbulence

Hello my colleagues!  I hope you’re all having an enjoyable weekend.  I am feeling much relieved, having found an entry in Miss O’ Hare’s diary with a more detailed account of her and Kristoff’s sudden arrival in Constantinople.  As you know, she loves to write good yarn (and knit with one too) so I’ll present the first part for you now.  Enjoy!

Diary, 14th of June, 1885

Well, that was a fine greeting for Kristoff’s first dirigible journey!  A raging storm nearly tore us out of the air and we were forced to make an emergency landing in the dark and howling winds.  He behaved quite admirably, I am pleased to report.

The storm blew up on us suddenly in the night as we were close to reaching Turkey’s borders.  I had planned to stop at Constantinople for refueling and resupplying anyway, but I did not wish my landing to be so rushed and dangerous, and I certainly do not welcome being awoken by the ship shuddering and tossing me from my warm soft bed onto the cold wooden floor.  Why must everything happen in the middle of the night?  Why can’t it happen at tea, when I’m awake and alert anyway?  The howling winds and beating rain outside quickly brought me to full wakefulness, and I made my way to the bridge with all haste and collided with Kristoff in the narrow corridor.

“Anna!”  He caught me by the shoulders before I fell, having to shout to be heard above the cacophony of the storm.  “What’s happening?”

I staggered toward the bridge and out of his grasp.  “We’re having a tea party for the gods!”  I stumbled into the bridge and grabbed onto an instrument panel for stability, checking our altitude and course.  “No, wait, I lie!  There’s a ruddy great storm outside, what does it bloody sound like?”  We still had most of our original altitude, but were probably a bit off course from the wind.  It was blowing from the northeast, and we had been heading southeast, so if we landed soon…

“All right, that was admittedly a rather stupid question!”  Kristoff staggered in after me as the ship jerked and bucked against the wind, threatening to throw him into a wall.  “What do we do now?  Do we wait for it to blow itself out?”  He grabbed a guardrail for support, then looked down at it for a moment with a new appreciation.  I could almost see him thinking, “Oh, so that’s what these are for!” and I suppressed a smile as I took the helm.

“No, storm’s too powerful.  We’re trying to get to Constantinople, and the damn city’s on the Golden Horn.  Surrounded by water!  If we stay in the air we’ll get blown out to the Sea of Marmara, and I do not relish a swim at this hour.”  I looked over the instruments again and gritted my teeth.  “We need to land, and we need to land now.”

“All right.  So let’s land, then!”  He gripped the guardrail tightly as I began to calculate our descent.  I rolled my eyes a bit.  Right, because landing in the middle of a gale, in the dark, is something I do all the time.

“It’s not going to be smooth!  And as I don’t have four hands, I’m going to need you to do some work in here!”  I struggled with the wheel as the wind threatened to rip control of the rudder from my hands.  Kristoff made to take it from me, but I shoved him off with one shoulder and planted my feet firmly.  “Not the wheel!  This is my dirigible, you’re not learning to fly it in the middle of a bloody tempest!”  I jerked my chin to my right, where the controls for the wing flaps were located.  “I need you on those!”  Kristoff nodded and staggered to the levers I had indicated, another shudder of the ship causing him to nearly fall on top of them.

“What do I do now?”  He looked over the unfamiliar levers, quickly taking in the labels.  “This one says ‘ascent/descent!’  Is that the one we need?”  Smart boy!  I nodded absently, squinting through the rain-lashed windshield and hoping we were still above land and not water.

“Yes, that’s the one we need!  It controls the flaps on the steering wings!  When you push it forward, toward ‘descent,’ the flaps on the wings go up and that makes us go down!”  I looked from the window to the instruments, and then over to Kristoff and the altitude controls.  “Push it forward four notches!”  Kristoff nodded and moved the lever, struggling a bit against the force of the wind and the propellers.  I felt the slight lifting sensation in my stomach that is always there on descents, and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Right, we’re on the way down now!  We’ll be out of the clouds in a moment, and that’s when we’ll find out where we’re landing!”  I gritted my teeth and squinted through the windshield again.  “I’m hoping for land.  You’d best do the same.”

Kristoff swallowed.  “Anything else I should hope for while I’m at it?”

I considered for a moment.  “Flat land.  No mountains.  No trees.  And hopefully not on someone’s house.”  I grinned at him roguishly.  “People tend to get a wee bit pissed off when you accidentally land on their house…  Not that it’s ever happened to me.  Except that one time in Scotland.”  I sucked air through my teeth for a moment.  “And that other time in Ceylon.”  A strange noise distracted me for a moment, and I realized that Kristoff was snickering.  I hadn’t heard him do that before…  It was quite nice, actually.

There!  Lights!  Through the rain on the windshield I could see blurred lights, and lots of them.  It looked like we might be landing close to Constantinople after all, or at least a large city of some sort.  “Right!  Kristoff!  We’re out of the clouds and coming up on the ground now!  When I tell you, I need you to pull back on that lever as far as it will go!”

Kristoff nodded and gripped the level with both hands.  “Anything else I should do?”

“Hold on to something!  This is going to be bumpy!”  I steered us toward the inky blackness on the edge of the sea of lights.  I was reasonably sure I wasn’t steering us into the sea, since the lights petered out in a gradient that suggested the outskirts of a city rather than the sharp edge of the coast.  We’d find out soon enough, I supposed.

… and so will we!  Dirigible travel always sounded so lovely to me, but I hadn’t yet taken storms into consideration. Fortunately, Miss O’ Hare seems to have handled a few rough flights already.  We’ll find out how the landing goes shortly.  Stay tuned!  (Oh, and speaking of yarn, there’s more of that coming soon as well!)

She’ll be waiting in Instanbul

Good afternoon my colleagues!  I have a quick update for you today with another telegram from the trunk:

 

TO: LADIES OF MISCHIEF

EMERGENCY DIRIGIBLE LANDING FORCED BY STORM STOP HAVE TAKEN SOME DAMAGE NOTHING SERIOUS STOP SENDING THIS FROM CONSTANTINOPLE STOP WILL REPAIR AND RESTOCK HERE STOP KRISTOFF HAS NOT YET FLED ME IN FEAR STOP WANTED TO UPDATE YOU STOP

ANNA ROISIN O’HARE


As you might guess, I’m anxious to find any more news of what befell them in Constantinople (as it was know then).  At least Anna and Kristoff seem to have made it through unharmed, thank goodness, and have stuck together.  I’d honestly be much more worried about him surviving in a unfamiliar city than her!  I’ll let you know as soon as I find anything.

Antsily yours,

~The Archivist

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.


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….


%d bloggers like this: