A happening documented upon the sixth day of August in the year 1883, at the Tie Down of the Airship Paraxia, involving the reputable Bartholomew Endicott and the uncommon Jessamyn Watts.
Bart checked his pocket watch again, and then cast an annoyed glance down the length of the berth he was waiting at. The private airship Paraxia was currently docked there, but that was not the reason he had come down to the New Haven Tie Downs. No, he had a business arrangement to tend to. One that was of a more clandestine nature that he was comfortable with. However, the current economic climate and the state of his family's business had forced his hand in this regard. Dealing with low life's and less than honest operators. People who made a living circumventing the law. It was distasteful to have to lower himself to such levels, but it was borne out of necessity. Once thing things were on a more even keel again, he could dispense with such unpleasantness. What didn't help, though, was the fact that once already this person he'd arranged to meet with had failed to hold up her end of the bargain. It did not bode well for the task he desired from her.
Jessamyn was dressed once again as a respectable middle class girl, in her corseted dress. Unlike her last attempt to meet this individual, her hair was properly pinned - not a tendril out of place. She'd even put on a pair of gloves. The fishmonger made sure she knew how unhappy the 'client' was about the previous missed appointment, but it wasn't her fault the man had been late. Regardless it seemed best to make as good an impression as possible. At the moment she was meandering casually along berth of the Paraxia trying to identify her bluer and not look like she was at all out of place herself. Which meant when she saw the glittering gear in the dirt she picked it up as she walked.
Who was that rummaging in the dirt further down the aisle? Bart frowned at the sight. Surely she should have left the task to some passing worker. Even with gloves on, it still looked a little common to be engaging in such an action. Especially if it were coin. Acting like a magpie being distracted by something shiny. Imagine his utter dismay when the woman in question neared his position and appeared to hold his gaze longer than was proper. This was his agent? He pressed his lips together with disappointment, and reluctantly tipped his hat at her. As soon as she came abreast of him, he indicated they walk further along the platform, to the other side of the ship and away from prying eyes. He did not offer his arm. He was aware that there would be engineers and other workers around, but he was more concerned with passengers of his social circle noticing him loitering with a woman of unknown quantity. "This is your way of paying me back, is it? Making me wait conspicuously at a private docking. I was lucky not to be asked if I had my boarding pass." He admonished her once they were out of earshot of others.
This man at least was acting like expected as she approached - he caught her eye, signaled carefully to walk with him... And was all stuck-up manners and condescension of the worst sort of bluer. "I wasn't the one late." She pointed out evenly, managing a tight smile for her new acquaintance.
"Considering that I was the one paying for your services, the least you could have done was wait for another ten blasted minutes." He countered, taking her smile as flippancy. "I had an unavoidable delay, that should be sufficient. If you are expecting an apology for inconveniencing *you*, you will be sorely mistaken. I did not appreciate being left looking like a fool. I waited for half an hour in that unsavoury place, that's more consideration than you gave me." Bart's resentment was still rather fresh in him mind, but he attempted to calm himself and sighed. "Are we to do business or not?"
"The corner wasn't empty. I couldn't stay." She pointed out - not even knowing why she felt the need to justify herself to this man when it was clear that nothing a mere commoner could say to him would assuage his temper. "You haven't paid me for anything yet. So if you want to forget this whole thing you can."
That gave him pause. What did she mean by the corner not being empty? "Did someone accost you?"
Oh finally some reaction from him. "No, not." She was going to say not there, because she had rather been somewhat accosted at the pub later, but she didn't want Lord Priss to think that he'd somehow endangered her - she'd done it all on her own. "But I wasn't about to loiter waiting for you with some other gentlemen on the corner."
Bart's ire diminished somewhat and he nodded in acknowledgment. "I see. Well, then, perhaps next time, a venue like this one would be more suited to a less troublesome transaction." He waved his hand in an offhand manner. "Yes, yes. That means that I wish to continue. I do not have time to waste tracking down another agent with your level of references and discretion. So..." He reached into his coat to produce a small neatly wrapped package, it had wax seals with the family crest dotted on the joins. "I need this to be hand delivered to Mister Pierce Barrett in Portland by Friday. Unopened." He added rather redundantly.
"Portland?" Jessamyn counted the days in her head and which ships were going where in the next couple days. She ignored the comment about unopened - unwilling to find offense. Bluers always tended to be paranoid when they were doing business. The package disappeared into an invisible pocket. "I probably can't get it there until later in the day - definitely not first thing."
"I do not care what time, as long as it is personally delivered before Saturday. Your broker mentioned that you needed half in advance and the rest upon completion. What of expenses?" Bart hated to admit it, but he wasn't sure he could afford too much extra should the woman run into difficulties.
"It's in the fee." She murmured. "Anything I should know about Barrett?"
Bart thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I have not personally met him myself. He is rumoured to sport a rather large mustache. My dealings with him have been mostly via written correspondence. He is meant to be visiting a branch office of his company at that time. It is rather common knowledge that he spends much of his time on his fleet of airships, preferring to be constantly on the move." There was a faint wistfulness in Bart's tone. To be able to travel to distant lands. To see them with his very own eyes, rather than just hear or read about them...
She nodded. "You expecting a response?" Or was she just supposed to come back and tell him to pay-up the rest? If she combined this job with a little contraband delivery for the fishmonger, it would work well. "And how do I contact you when I get back?"
"I do. Though what form it will take, I am not entirely certain." He admitted, not wishing to elaborate on his private business affairs and yet also not wishing to hold back any information that might aid her, and thus *his* endeavour. He extracted a piece of paper and an ink pen and wrote a quickly on it. "Here is one of my private chirograph frequencies." Perhaps he should have continued to go through her broker, but the man was a shark, and Bart was not altogether comfortable with using an intermediary if he didn't have to.
The scrap of paper disappeared. "So long as you aren't expecting me to return with some ten cases of something," she grinned, amused at her own private joke. She could manage one or two crates of something - had done so before by repacking the materials into her 'travel trunks'.
"That would be too much to expect." Bart acknowledged, revealing inadvertently that the package was not likely to cause an overflow of good will. He frowned slightly at her grin. Was she mocking him? Did she know of his current financial difficulties? Admittedly it made her face quite pleasant to look at, that and the pretty golden colour of her hair. But he was unused to women smiling at him so...freely. "The response will likely be either verbal or contained in a written message, I presume."
She nodded. "I can write." She murmured, as though he might doubt that. He was getting tense again. "So if he just gives a verbal reply I'll mark it."
"I don't doubt that you have an excellent memory and communication skills." He retorted, surprised by her insistence about being able to write. "You would hardly have become a sought after messenger or courier if you didn't."
"I'm sought after because I'm discrete." Her smile did take on a hint of a smirk - pride in her abilities.
"Groping in the dirt for a trinket doesn't exactly scream discreet, if you ask me." Bart couldn't resist pointing out. "What was it, anyway?"
The smile vanished. Then she shrugged. "Gear." And since he'd insulted her, she added defensively, "Waste not and all that shit... We can't all be bluers - never know what might be useful."
"What a quaint term." Bart responded, rather snidely. "I was merely pointing out that if you wished to blend in on a private platform of what looks to be the equivalent of a luxury yacht, bending down in such a manner to scavenge for useful items is not how to do it."
"Yea, but I ain't passing as Quality." Somehow she succeeded in making such a nice word sound snide. "No one cares what a commoner does."
"Really? That is underestimating how noticeable you are just from your sheer physical appearance." Bart then frowned at himself, he hadn't quite meant it that way.
The smile reappeared. "You were looking for me." She pointed out, as though that explained it, but still glad he'd noticed - she'd taken an effort to look decent for the meeting. "But thank you."
"It wasn't- " He let out a sigh and nodded instead. "So, all that remains is for me to pay your advance and then we are done? I have other matters to attend to." He checked to ensure no-one was observing them too closely before he produced a wallet with her payment in it.
She didn't even open the wallet to count - it disappeared into a fold in her skirt (different from the one that had the message). "A pleasure." She said, her smile having reappeared.
"A dubious one." Bart replied, though at least he'd lost his frown somewhat. "I expect to hear from you by the week's end." He doffed his hat at her again and prepared to take his leave.
She shook her head. "I may not have access to a chirograph right away."
Bart was not pleased by the admission, but he shrugged. "As soon as possible, then. Good day, miss...." He'd never been given her real name, but perhaps that was for the best.
The urge to tease him surfaced again, from an unknown place, "Tata." She said - one of the most informal greetings she could give. And then turned, wandering seemingly aimlessly around the ship - eyes scanning the ground and her surroundings as she meandered.