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….


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