A happening documented upon the 31st of August in the year 1883, at the West Carriage House, involving the dapper Mr. Bartholomew Endicott, the plucky Miss Jessamyn Watts, and the formidable Mrs Gertrude Patterson.
Jessamyn dodged out of the way as a carriage was pulled out of storage and prepared to go collect its Hilltop resident. She was dressed plainly in what was unquestionably a work-dress and generally blended in with the groomsmen and servants in the carriage house. Her hair was tucked away in an unadorned snood. She'd arrived early enough to scope out the spaces to find the best place to meet. A well-placed coin in the hands of one of the grooms had secured one of the carriage stalls. Now she was sweeping hay out of the pathway to keep herself occupied (and to blend in). Well, when she wasn't dodging carriages and groomsmen and the like.
Bart led the way towards the carriage house, feeling a strange sense of anticipation at the prospect of seeing Miss Watts again. Though, of course, he would have preferred it to have been under different circumstances. Gertrude was chuckling at some groom's gawking stare at her as she walked with her hand tucked familiarly in Bart's arm. The groom in question was rather young but no doubt as hotblooded as most youths were. Bart glared over at him with disapproval at his admiring look. The boy ducked his head and refocused on the carriiage he was cleaning out The carriage house had many forms of transport available, not just horse and buggy, but also the steam-powered trams and vehicles which were becoming more popular (though far more costly to hire). Bart cast his gaze about, searching for Jessamyn in the crowd of workers and patrons still milling about.
"Bartholomew, you're as wound up as a coiled spring." Gertrude observed with amusement. "It's like holding onto a wooden post." "My apologies." Bart murmured, trying to relax his posture while still looking around for their 'contact'.
Jessamyn heard the name "Bartholomew" louder than it was actually spoken, though the woman's voice was the sort to carry no matter what. Clearly this was a woman used to having attention paid to her. Jessamyn wondered fleetingly if it would've been better to have tried to pass herself off as a Bluer to meet the woman just in case she got uppity on Jessamyn... but it seemed more likely the woman was enjoying the game of using a messenger and so long as Jess kept her speech more Hillborn, she could play up the game aspects of the entire thing. With that in mind, she gave a distinctive sort of whistle as though it was a secret signal for her 'contact'.
Hearing the whistle and finding the source, Bart nodded subtly and steered his companion towards Jessamyn's direction. She was dressed as she'd indicated she would, as a lower class worker. His usually perceptive gaze had passed over her several times in his search he was ashamed to discover. They were soon ushered into a stall, which was thankfully clean and which also sported high enough walls to be somewhat discreet. "Thank you for meeting with us, Miss Piper." he greeted quietly, taking one last glance to make sure that no-one was paying undue attention before closing the stall door. "This is Mrs Patterson."
Gertrude was eyeing the girl with much interest, and she held out her hand haughtily. "So, this is my erstwhile courier. You did not mention how pretty she was, Bartholomew."
"I did not think it was relevant." He countered, flushing slightly.
"I'm teasing you, dear. He's makes it so easy, doesn't he?" Gertrude spoke to Jessamyn, clearly expecting an agreement.
Jessamyn smiled and nodded politely at Mrs. P. Although the woman called her pretty, Jessamyn rather didn't believe that it was anything more than a way to tease Mr. E, who obviously colored in response to the teasing. Of course, dressed as finely as he was (hair oiled down, impeccably dressed in an elegant suit, crisp shirt and neatly tied cravat...) it was no wonder he'd color when another Bluer implied he might think a commoner was pretty. Mrs. P was perhaps more impeccably dresssed, and holding her hand haughtily towards her. Jessamyn touched it politely and dropped a curtsey, but didn't speak as the question posed her didn't actually require a verbal response. She'd smiled and nodded - it was enough of a polite reply until the woman was ready to ask something that required response.
Bart suspected that Gertrude's remark hadn't been entirely joking, but then he did not understand what often went on in women's minds regarding members of their own sex. He watched as Jessamyn mutely affected a curtsy as befitting the role she was playing. It was odd to see her acting so...meek and subservient. It was unsettling. "Well, Gertrude, now that we've dragged the poor girl out here, perhaps you might enlighten her, and myself as to why it was so important to arrange this meeting." He sounded perhaps a little more grudging than he wished, but he did not altogether appreciate being the object of amusement.
Gertrude merely raised an eyebrow at him and then turned back to Jessamyn. "I simply wish for a detailed report as to how my letters were received. Leave nothing out, Miss Piper." The imperious quality in her tone caused Bart to frown slightly.
Jessamyn was used to such tones, and scarcely noticed it. "Yes'm. Do you want me to start from receiving the letters, or with the delivery?" She replied, keeping her gaze on the woman, but subtly, so it appeared she was politely keeping her gaze downcast to a superior.
"Receiving the letters, if you please." Gertrude replied, her gaze becoming quite intent.
Bart, for his part, was still uncertain as to why his companion needed a personal account. It was not his place, though, to interject, so he stood silently; watching the two women conduct their business in front of him.
Jessamyn bobbed another motion that could pass for a curtsey but didnt quite achieve that level of formality. "Mr. Endicott indicated I ought meet him at his office to receive the letters on account of it wouldn't be remarked on if someone came by his office in order to pick up or drop off something. An' Mr. E had his foreman lead me in an' to his office and he closed the door and 'is cook Mrs. Trentham came by to remind 'im he 'adn't eaten yet, so he had 'er bring tea and scones 'cause he didn't wanna eat a full lunch in front of me while he was meetin' with me. And then once everyone was off an' the tea was arrived then he produced the packet I was to deliver for you..." Jessamyn watched to see the reaction to the level of detail she was including. There was a certain humour in doing what was asked when it might not be what the person really wanted.
Bart was rather embarrassed by the references to himself in Jessamyn's accounting. He reached up and fidgeted with his white silk bowtie. Hopefully she wasn't going to mention the butter incident. Gertrude at least seemed satisfied with the report.
She nodded, a smirk lingering on her lips. "Go on."
Jessamyn did as though she hadn't paused for a breath. "Well then Mr. Endicott gives me the sealed envelope an' the pouch an he says he don't know the recipient an' that it was for my eyes only and I ask 'bout whether its okay to take a tip when I deliver or iffen you didn't want me to, and he said that there was no instruction and what I did was my business an' I wasn't gonna demand one but I didn't wanna offend you if I was offered and took it so I wanted to make sure before I went and made the delivery 'cause some folks get upset about stuff like that when they pay but often times people wanna tip when they take a delivery..." Jessamyn prattled on but was watching the reaction to that information before adding, 'but it ain't polite ta talk so much about that when you wanna know about the delivery."
"Mister Endicott was correct." Gertrude commented, regarding the issue of tips. Her expression had become less patient though, and she waved her hand in a gesture that indicated for Jessamyn to get to the point.
Bart, on the other hand, was somewhat amused by her prattle, and the pointed commentary he detected behind it. This was more of the woman he was used to dealing with.
Jessamyn didn't smirk but instead gave another bob that might've resembled a curtsey and continued. "Well then the tea came an Mr. Endicott an' I's chatted a few minutes then I left an' I had the instructions in one pocket an' the package for delivery in another and I went home 'cause it was a nice private place wherein I could open the instructions an' read 'bout who I was supposed t' deliver the package too an' how you wanted 'em done if you had anything special... but you know what you wrote so then I put the instructions away so that they wouldn't get found after I'd memorized 'em and then since it wasn't dark yet I waited 'til it was so I could make the delivery..."
"I am pleased that you have such a prodigious memory, but I should like to know how...the recipient of the message was. His demeanor. His attitude after reading the message and so forth, if he read it in your presence." She was leading towards something, that much was certain, but Bart had not yet fathomed the true purpose behind her questioning.
"Of course, I was just gettin' there." Jessamyn replied, "So just at dusk then I went to the address indicated an since it was a meetin' house an' they's always open I just went into the chapel and there was a boy there an' I asked to see the Mr. W I was to deliver the parcel to an' the boy asked what I wanted and I said I needed to talk to 'im iffin he pleased and he was a mouthy sort so I tol' 'im to hurry up 'fore I got mad and he finally went and the Mr. W. came out into the chapel an' I said I needed t' talk to 'im iffin he pleased and he had a nice sorta voice and said he was listenin' and so I gave 'im the package like you wrote I oughta and tol' 'im that this was for him and that I'd been instructed to deliver it to 'im and he looked kinda surprised by it and gave me a kinda funny look the sort where the brows come in in the middle an' since his brows are pretty full it was an impressive sort of look."
"Hmmm." Was all that Gertrude said, her own eyebrows coming together to form a faint frown.
Bart was himself starting become quite disturbed by what he was hearing. A chapel? Mr. W? Then he came to a realisation and he gave Gertrude a look of utter shock. "Not Parson Whitby. Tell me that is not who you have been trying to seduce."
Gertrude gave him a defiant look. "Oh, stop being such a stuck up prude, Bartholomew. A man of the cloth has needs just as any other."
Bart's expression was both affronted and scandalized. "He's a married man, Gertrude."
She scoffed at him. "And I am a married woman. As I was *before*, if you care to remember."
That shut Bart down rather quickly, but his jaw was clenched together rather tightly as he waited for her to continue.
"Miss Piper, what did he say? Was there any message? I have not received one by other means, so you are my only hope. It has, after all been a week or so."
Jessamyn caught undertones - and the implications, but her focus at the moment was not on Mr. Endicott and his relationship with his 'friend' Mrs Patteron but on the woman herself and her request. "'e didn't say much Ma'am. He just read the outside and then tol' me thank you and put it away in 'is pocket - so it made me think it was a private message an' not something that he was gonna read an' reply to at that moment and he asked me if I needed anythin' and I said that no I had eaten but thank you and asked iffin he'd be wanting me to deliver a reply or message back or somethin' 'cause I'd be happy to do it," Jessamyn debated whether or not to torment to woman by going into excessive detail about the immaterial details and opted against it, "An' he said that he would take care o' it himself an' that I didn't need to wait for a reply and I shuffled a minute just in case he changed 'is mind but he'd already put it away and so he thanked me again and said he hoped it hadn't been too much trouble and I said that no it wasn't and then there was nothin' for me to do but leave and so iffin he hasn't responded I don't know why 'cause I know he gots what you wanted him to get."
"There. You have your answer." Bart retorted, his gaze extremely unsympathetic.
Gertrude, though she hid it well, was clearly disappointed by Jessamyn's report. "Thank you, Miss Piper. I suppose that shall have to suffice. If he received my missives and chose not to reply, then that is that." She adjusted her embroidered shawl and reached into the small purse hanging on her wrist for a coin tip.
"I cannot believe that I aided you in this foolhardy quest. Had I known-"
"Had you known, you would not have helped me, which is why I did not tell you, Bartholomew." Gertrude's gaze was rather cynical as she regarded him.
"I'll thank you next time not to drag myself, or Miss Piper into your...sordid games."
His companion leveled him a rather withering glare. "But, my dear, what would you do for fun if you did not tag along?" She turned back to Jesamyn and handed her a tip. "Thank you for your services. I shall be taking a carriage home now. By myself." She gave Bart a pointed look, and then waved down a passing groom.
"No. Let me escort you back."
Gertrude shook her head and patted his cheek in a condescending manner. "That would not be wise, as you said, I have involved you enough." She nodded to Jessamyn and then allowed the attentive groom to direct her to her cab.
Jessamyn's deliberately downcast gaze and posture shifted subtly to a more relaxed, less controlled one once Mrs. Patterson had taken her leave. She turned the coin over a couple times in her hand - identifying what currency it was even without looking down to see what it was, and then it disappeared into a hidden pocket. She stole a glance at Mr. Endicott to see his reaction to the departure of his friend and to take in his fine dress again. This was the definition, to her mind, of a well-dressed Hillborn gentleman.
Bart was still feeling the mortification of having helped his friend in such a shameful endeavor. But then again, he himself was not beyond reproach. He adjusted his bowtie again which was starting to feel quite constrictive and then turned back to Jessamyn who was still standing beside him. "I apologise for...involving you in something which...I don't quite know what to say." Even though Jessamyn had fulfilled her duties and been amply rewarded, he still felt a compulsion to try and explain himself.
Jessamyn couldn't help the upturning at the corners of her mouth that indicated the smile she was trying not to give - she didn't want him to think she was laughing at him, but the way he was appologizing made her somewhat amused. "It don't bother me none what it was for. Not like it does you." Jessamyn noted. "Ta me its just work, yea? Ain't my place ta be snoopin' into others personal affairs." Her speech patterns were still the much more common dialect she'd been using all evening, despite having given up the posture to match the style of words.
Myna was trying to hide her amusement, but Bart was acutely aware of their differences in reaction. For her it was nothing to get riled up about, and yet, for him, it was the height of embarrassment. "Perhaps you are able to be more detached with your feelings on the matter, not having a close association with those involved the way that I do. Pastor Whitby is my own minister. Gert- Mrs Patterson is ...an old friend who should know better than to play with people's lives. Passion has its place, but not when it affects those around them as well."
Of course Mr. Endicott would begin preaching on the subject. It was a wonder he wasn't a pastor himself, although being a Bluer it probably wasn't a distinguished enough profession, although it was at least considered respectble. "You seem close to her." Jessamyn noted evently, particularly as he was going on about passion having its place, and the relationship she'd implied they had had - and how passionate Mrs. Patterson herself was in all her encounters in life. "I ain't bothered by it 'cause I don't live on the hill." She pointed out. At the waterfront it wasn't uncommon to see prositutes out picking up sailors and innumerable other 'embarrassing' experiences.
He glanced sharply at Jessamyn before nodding stiffly. "Mrs Patterson was a good friend to me in the past when I...needed one." He wasn't about to elaborate on his association with the married woman. It was all in the past anyway, though he had resented Gertrude's allusion to their connection that evening. Almost as if she desired for 'Miss Piper' to know that there was some kind of history between them. "If you are not bothered by what transpired, then I should not concern myself with it any longer." He paused, becoming keenly aware again of their surroundings, and the fact that they were now alone, with each other. Well, as alone as one can be while still in a public place. "I did not see you at first." He confessed as he regarded her. "You are very accomplished at blending in."
"No one takes note of a girl sweeping up." She pointed out, although Bluers in particular were prone to that sort of blindness, it would be rude to say as much to one. "I'm just glad your friend there didn't throw a tantrum and blame me her lover didn't reply."
"Why would she blame you? You were merely the messenger." He attempted to reassure her. "Had she done so, I would have taken her to task for her misplaced ire. Being no stranger to it myself." His wry smile was fleeting, but discernable nonetheless.
"Well it's just as well it didn't come to it." Jessamyn mused. She rather suspected he could be formidable when his temper was raised. Not that she was the sort he ought get his temper in arms about but that was another matter.
"Indeed." Bart agreed, then because he wasn't quite sure what to do next, he consulted his pocketwatch, the familiar weight of it in his hand being somewhat comforting to him.
"You have another appointment to rush off to?" Jessamyn inquired, noting the way he sought out his pocketwatch.
"No. I...Do you?" He hurriedly stowed the timepiece away again in his pocket and smoothed down the front of his coat.
"I didn't know how long this was going to take." She pointed out by way of saying 'no, she didn't', at least not for some time. "It's a nice watch." She offered by way of peacekeeping.
"Thank you." He smiled again, and this time it stayed a little longer. "I suppose we ought to see about getting you home."
She grinned and took in his dress. "I feel I outta be walking you home, not the other way around." He was far too nicely dressed to be walking around the waterfront district.
"How about a carriage ride? I'm not sure if I selected the right shoes for a prolonged walk about town." He confessed with a faintly sheepish expression.
That would be a sight - a Bluer done up in all but the Imperial Jewels sitting next to her in a carriage? "I'd hate to put you out for my sake." But he'd already offered to walk her home - now was offering a carriage ride? "Do you have your own carriage then?" She asked curious only.
"No. I hire one as needed. And you are not putting me out. You did me a favour after all." He summoned a groom and was directed to a horse and covered carriage that was ready for a fare. The driver doffed his hat to his prospective passengers, and moved to open the carriage door for them. Bart positiioned himself at the other side of the door, and offered his hand to Jessamyn to help her climb into the carriage. It was the proper thing to do for a lady, no matter what class, he reasoned to himself. Once he was sure she was settled, Bart gave the driver the address to his companion's place of residence and then climbed in to sit beside her. It was a small enough carriage that it only seated two people and did not have seats facing opposite.
Since it was clear her companion was determined, even though he'd been doing her the favor by securing work for her, she let him call for a groom, and returned the broom she'd borrowed quietly while Mr. Endicott secured a carriage. She'd just think of the carriage ride back as part of her tip. It saved her having to walk back to the Waterfront herself. And, she rationalized, Mr. Endicott wasn't about to walk all the way back to his house from the carriage house anyway, so he'd have to hire one regardless. And she was struck by his manners once more as he handed her up into the carriage as though she was a Bluer herself. "Thank you," she murmured, more than a little conscious of her costume for the night - the dress was very suitable of course, but for working in a carriage house and the plain cotton stood out next to the fine dark fabric of Mr. Endicott's immaculate suit.
As the ride got underway, Bart became aware of how small the compartment was. Perhaps he should have chosen a larger carriage. But then it would have seemed as though he was trying to impress her by paying for one larger than was necessary. Still, he could not help but be aware of how closely they were seated next to each other. There was no avoiding the occasional rhythmic bump of shoulder against shoulder, or brush of trousered thigh against skirt as the motion of the carriage dictated. Bart did try, however, not to invade Jessamyn's side of the carriage. Which wasn't always easy when the driver took a corner a bit more sharply than was warranted. "How are your aunt and uncle faring?" Bart inquired, in an attempt to get his mind off of their physical proximity.
"Uncle John has been distracted the last couple days with a broken barometer, so that has kept him occupied. He hasn't figured out what parts are broken or missing yet." Once he finally figured it out, she'd have the task of finding the missing parts, though with the stock of broken bits they kept in the workroom, they likely had most things that might be needed. "But he likes having a project to work on, and Aunt Rebecca likes when he has a project to to work on too. She was so pleased you liked the chairs." Although it had taken no time at all to fill the missing space in the showroom once they'd been delivered. Now they had a pair of sailor's storage trunks...
"It must be a nice feeling to be able to take something disused and broken and make it whole and working again," Bart mused quietly. "I'm glad that your aunt was pleased with the sale. They are very splendid chairs, and the restoration was impressive. Your aunt likes to keep your uncle busy? Keeps him out of her hair, does it?" There was humour in his gaze. "My mother was much the same way around my father. When he didn't have a project or work to do, he was always 'sticking his beak into her women's business.' "
"Uncle John goes shopping for things when he doesn't have a project." Jessamyn admitted. "He likes technology even when it's not something we could use or that would be hard to sell." She grinned.
"He seems a very practically minded sort." Bart commented with a returning smile. "Technology races ahead at a pace that I fear we shall not keep up with. Especially those of us who do not like too much change too quickly."
"It seems especially true these days." She noted. "How many of the carriages were steam-powered and the like."
"The West Carriage house has several, at least four, as I recall. But they are still the most expensive to hire (and no doubt run). You may think it strange I did not use one considering that my business profits from such vehicles. But sometimes the journey itself is the goal, rather than the speed at which one arrives at one's destination." He glanced over at her, his gaze drawn to her delicate features.
"And the steam carriages aren't known to be that reliable if what I've heard is anything to go by." Jessamyn noted, pursing her lips together just slightly as she thought about it. "There is something to be said for reliable."
"I don't doubt that eventually reliability will catch up with innovation. But for now, I don't see any reason to spend extra coin on a new fad, when a normal horse drawn carriage suffices." He tore his gaze away to look out of the window at the street they were travelling down. "Besides, the evening is clear, and the lights from the harbour are pleasant to watch at a leisurely pace."
"They were lighting the gaslights as I was walking up to the Carraige house." Jessamyn observed. Gaslights in her neighborhood were set so far apart as to be of little use, but around the carriagehouse was part of the Hill, so obviously was better lit. "You sometimes can't tell what's water and what is the shoreline sometimes because of the lights."
"Yes. There are times when the town actually looks beautiful to me." It was clear from his tone that the occasions were often few and far between.
And this from someone who lived on the Hill. "Your part of town is very pretty, I thought." Her part, less so, but it was the commoners' area.
"Sometimes beauty is only skin deep." He murmured pensively, his gaze drawn to the reflection of lights on the water. "Scrubbed streets, heavily landscaped gardens and ostentatious displays of wealth cannot always hide the flaws within."
"Yea, but you don't get yelled at when you walk past your neighbor's house... or have trash on your stoop when you come outside..."
"That's true." Bart acknowledged, not wishing to sound like he thought his life was a hardship in comparison to what other people endured. "Why would your neighbor yell at you, anyway?" He asked curiously.
Jessamyn laughed. "Mama Froume yells at her cat at all hours... And anyone who walks by that might be her cat..."
"I see." He chuckled at the idea. "Though, to me, you seem more like a bird. A very inquisitive bird."
She tilted her head at him, regarding him and his words, "A bird?" She inquired, curious and intrigued that he'd picked an animal for her. "Because I use the name Sandpiper? The Fishmonger gave it to me when I started working for him."
He flushed a little at her asking him why he had said what he had. It had been an off the cuff remark, not one that he'd reasoned in his mind. "Perhaps that was it. Though, I suspect it was more the image of you finding a shiny trinket in the dirt when we first met." He confessed after thinking about it for a moment.
She didn't remember it as a particularly remarkable thing - she was always pocketing things as she found them. "Stuff's useful." She pointed out, somehow though the words might be, she wasn't defensive.
Bart nodded, wondering if he'd spoken out of turn. It was just an image that still stuck in his mind, whenever he thought of her. People milling around her at the Tie Downs, and she, seemingly oblivious to them, stooping down to retrieve the 'treasure' she'd found. At the time he'd been shocked, almost affronted by the sight. But now, now it seemed a moment of true colour in his otherwise dreary life.
And since it seemed necessary to tell stories, "It's been part of my job since I could walk. Finding stuff for the shoppe or to help Uncle John fix things."
"I expect it is second nature now for you to salvage an object that could be potentially useful; to see beyond what it is now, and imagine what it could be in the future. It's a rare gift." He told her sincerely, even if the words sounded a little too effusive to his own ears.
"It's just practical." She said, modest about it. "I mean, most down by the water can't afford new things."
Bart shifted to look at her more fully again, though it was hard to see her face when they were between gaslights. "Do you enjoy it? I mean, are you content with the way things are? Working for your relatives and doing your other odd jobs on the side?"
It wasn't something she had the luxury to think about much - was she content? Aware of his scrutiny, she replied, "I do." It was what she knew. "I mean I don't like it all the time - the shoppe can be really boring, and there are days I just can't find anything that I'm looking for, or the job has me running all over every part of town when I'd rather be down at the docks."
Bart leaned back into his seat, not sure if he should be pleased that she was, or disappointed. Jessamyn was content with her lot. Alex enjoyed being a sailor. Why then did he feel so restless, so stifled in his own world? In his own skin? "I envy you." He hadn't articulated it last time when it had been on the tip of his tongue to say. This time, however, he did not bite back the words.
Her look, obvious surprise, was telling though it wasn't overstated. The Bluer envied her? "You wouldn't say that come winter and there's no money for coal to heat the place."
"Perhaps not," he replied, withdrawing slightly, reminded of the anonymous pamphlet. Perhaps his concerns were trivial. The indulgences of one bred into privilege and not knowing what true hardship was. "But the profits I seek to make are passed down to those in my employ. To ensure that they *do* have money for heating, and clothing, and other basic needs. It is not just myself I must worry about when it comes to securing contracts or managing my business." He pointed out, not with an accusatory tone, but with a need to for her to understand his perspective.
"I'm sure you're a great owner." She laid her hand on his arm to reassure him. "I just meant it ain't always somethin' to envy - it ain't some easy life. I mean I'm happy anyway but it's real that if we don't sell things we're eating tack."
"I never thought your life was easier than mine," he protested in earnest, noting her hand on his sleeve and being ashamedly grateful for it. "I did not mean to imply that."
She did about his life. "Its hard fo' me to fathom being jealous of it is all."
He nodded mutely, and resisted the urge to cover her hand with his own. That would be too forward. Too presumptuous. And of course she could not understand the pressures he was under. Nor would he wish for her to experience them first hand herself. "Perhaps it is just the brandy talking. The grass always being greener," he offered, trying to make light of his earlier confession.
Brandy then... that made sense. Sort of. "Yea but we don't got lawns down by the waterfront." Jessamyn said with a smile, trying to lighten the tone a little.
"I must find another analogy then." He quipped back, doing his best to move past his melancholy. "Hmm, something more appropriate?"
"Water is calmer over the horizon." Jessica supplied the sailor's analogy unconciously.
"I like it." Bart declared after trying it out for himself. "Though I suspect that sailors still prefer some wind currents over none at all." Which of course reminded him of..."Have you...have you heard from your fiance?" They were drawing closer to Jessamyn's district and already Bart was wishing there was some way to prolong their journey together.
The question surprised her. "Tommy? Not in more than a month." Why was Bart asking about Tommy? "It's not uncommon, its hard to send letters from the Orient, and takes longer to get them delivered... It'll be months and then I'll get two or three at once." She admitted.
"Ah. Well, at least our postal service is rather reliable, if not always speedy. I - my mother would often go a month or so without hearing from my brother. Still, the letters were much anticipated and gratefully torn open and read when they arrived." Bart wasn't sure why he'd brought up his companion's fiance, especially when he wanted nothing more than to forget that this 'Tommy' even existed. But exist, he did, and there was no use in wishing otherwise.
"That often? That must've been nice. Tommy's not so good with writing. Your brother was a sailor then?" It was the first time Bart had really mentioned much about his family.
"Yes." Bart admitted reluctantly, though he wasn't altogether happy about it. "Has been for nearly a decade now."
"So you understand." She smiled. Obviously his brother was a captain or an engineer or some such. "He must sail reliable trade routes if you heard from him so often. It gets in their blood though. And makes when they come ashore special."
"It certainly does," he agreed, though his idea of special was likely different from hers. Having his brother reluctantly return after long years of self-imposed exile was not the same as a young lover returning to port to reconnect with his beloved. "You must be looking forward to the next time he returns to you."
"He's been at sea for a couple years now." She admitted. "It'll probably be another one before he gets back. I just hope he'll be in port long enough to plan the wedding." She admitted with a smile. "Papa often comes in for only a week or two before he's off again, but he's back more often since he mostly sails up and down the coastline or across the Atlantic so he's only gone for a couple months at a time."
Jessamyn was content, she was looking forward to planning her wedding with her intended. Why wasn't he happy for her? Suddenly Bart was wishing that the carriage ride was over. That she would no longer be sitting next to him. So close and yet so unattainable. As much as he'd tried to be blind to it, they truly were from different worlds. "Perhaps this time your intended will stay longer, no matter how much the sea is in his blood." He finally managed after a long pause.
She shook her head. "No, Papa taught me that. Sailors are only at home at sea. You've seen that with your brother haven't you?" Here some bit of melancholy slipped into her tone - not much, but the idea of it was apparent.
"Sometimes," he admitted. Perhaps more than he really wished to acknowledge. "It doesn't stop me from hoping that he will also come to see this place as home as well." It was a rather revealing a thing to admit, and yet she did not know his brother, and it was safe to tell her.
Jssamyn nodded, understanding even if she'd accepted it more - of course that had been the life she'd grown up with. "Probably the difference in being the brother of a sailor as opposed to the daughter of one. Aunt Rebecca says Papa didn't even meet me until I was some four months old." She admitted. "Still it's great when they come back to port, even if it's just for a little while."
"Family is important." Despite his current unease with his brother, he still believed in this sentiment; to his very marrow. "Here we are." He noted as the carriage pulled up in front of Tuttle's shop. "Would it be best I stay in the carriage? I wouldn't want your neighbour to have more reason to yell at you."
Jessamyn laughed. "Oh she doesn't need a reason. She's half off her head most of the time. Touched." She said, tapping her temple significantly. "But I'm prolly gonna hear it enough that I was brought home in a carriage... if people saw that I was with such a well-dressed, attractive Bluer, I wouldn't hear the end of it." She said with a smile. "They'd get the wrong idea entirely, not knowing what a gentleman you are."
"Yes. Of course. The wrong idea entirely." He repeated, forcing himself to adopt an equally light tone. She'd called him attractive, but he did not see himself that way. His brother had inherited the looks in the family as far as he was concerned, and so it was more likely just a bit of flattery being offered to him in payment for the ride hime. "Well. I must bid you adieu, then. Have a pleasant evening, Miss Watts. Mayhap we shall see each other again..."
"You know how to find me." She said with a grin, though there was a tinge of disappointment at the finality and formality of his farewell. But that was silly - he'd gone out of his way enough to bring her home and help her find work. In fact, Jessamyn paused with her hand on the door. "Thank you very much for the ride, Mr. Endicott."
"Think nothing of it." He responded politely, "It was the least I could do." What more could he say to her? What right did he have to delay her any further? He did not wish to compromise her reputation anymore than he might have already by delivering her to her doorstep in a carriage. "Goodnight."
As if that was likely to happen... think nothing of it? She'd had only a couple carriage rides in her lifetime. "It might be nothing to you, Mr. Endicott, but its a rare thing for me." She replied even as she was stepping out of the carriage. And then since apparently it was over, "Goodnight."
It had not been nothing to him. Far from it. And that was the problem. As the carriage pulled away, Bart leaned back against his seat and sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. Then he turned to look at the now empty space beside him. Perhaps it was time to put his futilely fanciful notions aside and seek more suitable female companionship. It did him no good to entertain the slightest hope where there was clearly none to be had.