April 1, 2006 at 7:36 pm #1948CatherineParticipant
(Thanks and XP to Egeria Fellows)
Armed with the new knowledge he'd received thanks to the witch's father, it was with a light step and amusement in his smile that the Bishop had made his way to Madame Renault's shoppe. He found the blind woman alone downstairs in the basement, tending to the boiler, and he stood upon the stairs, a few away from the bottom watching her for a moment.
“Abraham?” There was a smile that formed around the name when spoken. A final shoot of tinder was shoved into the furnace to stoke at the coals before she rose to turn. Slender hands brushing away the soot of coal and spliters of wood before smoothing over a pale blue linen walking dress and half apron. “You did not have to come all this way. I would have met you at the pub.”
His lips curled into a smirk at the mistaken identity she'd placed upon him. This should be interesting. He descended the rest of the way to the basement floor, and took a few short strides in her direction before waiting again.
The whine of steam made it difficult to hear even the lightest of whispers. Though, they were there. For this to have been the boilier room, freshly tended to, there was a cold feel to it, hollow. Egeria smiled, standing there. Lithe arms draped and clasped before her, hanging loose and near against the front pockets of her apron. “Abraham, oh speak up you wicked thing. I can't hear you. Come, I'm famished. Lets visit the lunch cart or find our way back to that pub.” She moved to meet him halfway, holding her hand out to catch his own as she passed.
With a brief grin to himself, he allowed his hand to be taken, and then pulled her towards him, planting his lips upon hers, and his hands wandering where they probably shouldn't have.
Swift hands swatted at him furiously once the familiarity of her lover's lips had been replaced by the all too, and unfortunately familiar, lips of Octavius. From her apron between them, she extracted her shears. “Touch me again and I shall scream. Touch me after that, and I will slit your throat before the others will hear *you* scream. What are you doing here, come to be rid of an eye?”
“Not at all, my child. Tell me, how is that new wardrobe you promised me coming along.” With a smirk, he stepped away from her once the shears made their appearance. “And my, what a rude greeting.”
The implements were held out between them, “then go first to parlor and I will follow you there. I've only a frock from Rome, just in, for you today. If you will comply, you may have – and you would do well to be on your way shortly thereafter.” The sharpened tip of the shears indicated where he ought to take his path, towards the stairs, and quickly.
“Ah, but there's another matter, dear child, and one which you might not want to speak upon in range of the good Madame Renault's ears.”
“I have no intent upon speaking to you, so the widow's ears are none of my concern, Octavius.”
“Ah, but I think you might change your mind, regarding this particular subject, my dear.”
“You've spoken for me and what you deem to be my better interests long enough, Octavius. I will not allow for that mistake to be made twice either.” A narrow of pale eyes set upon him, she motioned once more by the tip of the wicked blades that he ought to consider making his way to the stairs while his facilities were still of his person.
“It regards your parents,” he said smoothly, undeterred by the blades.
“I have none now. My mother is dead and my father, hopefully he drowned himself in his own nets.” Her hand dropped, off to the side though clutching cold metal still. Egeria looked away, a moment to the boilier, then back again. “Tell me, is the old man dead?”
“Far from it, in fact. Though didn't you also tell me that you knew so little about your family's history? About your mother, for example? Didn't you tell me you wished to find out? Well,” he smiled, “I've kept my promise to you.”
“Then let us retire to the parlor. This is not an appropriate residing for the sharing of stories, fancy fables.” Dipping her chin slightly against her throat, she moved towards the stairway and began to ascend without the aid of the railing. Slow, but purposeful steps continued, ready to leave him there in the midst of soot.
He followed along behind her, though he did add, “Are you sure you wish to speak of these things there where your Madame Renault's ears will be privy to them? For I assure you, whether you think of them as fancy fables or not, they are quite true, and not entirely pleasant.”
Egeria took pause, steps away from the upper thresh, and looked down upon him. “She found me in street filth, she is already aware that I have been borne of the same.” And with that, she turned to move through the doorway.
He followed her through the door, closing it behind him as he joined her. “Well, wherever you feel is best then. But tell me, my child, you speak as though you already know something of your past, yet you told me you knew naught of your mother when last we spoke on the matter.”
“She married a fish monger, I do not expect to have blue blood coursing through my veins.” The woman took residence in her sewing nook by side of the window. Already it held itself part-way crooked, to hint at her previous time spent earlier in the day. The tallow candle, however, had all but burned away, leaving little more than the wick and stub of wax. With careful measure, she lit the last of it and watched it burned away for a moment. She sighed, “Go on, find your seat.”
“Thank you, my child,” he smiled mildly, and settled himself into a seat. “Hmm…where to begin? Would you like to hear of how I found your father to be during the present day, or would you prefer to hear what he had to say about the past, your past?”
“Tell me of the past. No doubt, for what the future holds, he will not be held to this world much longer….”
“Truly, my child, can any of us say what the future holds with any accuracy? Without resorting to witchcraft, of course.” He smirked slightly for but a moment. “The past, then. You'll find it of little surprise, I imagine, to hear that he places the blame for your mother's death squarely upon your shoulders, nor will it surprise you to hear that he feels you to be marked by the forces of Evil.”
“And he is marked, by death in the form of rotting fishgut, and a festering soul.” Full lips curled to sneer which caused her words to hiss from between her teeth. “I have heard that many times before in his company. I've ears still.” The needle she threaded nearly snapped at the loop for as swift and taut she pulled the string in her anger.
“And yet it seems as though his words trouble you still,” he noted. “I do hope you realize that, in this case, I'm merely the messenger, and that you remember that you did ask me to uncover what I could.”
“Fine. I am fine.” Still, all of her, but for the hand that looped the needle through a petticoat's hemline. The flame by her side, however flickered away when there was not draft to catch it. “Well, go on then, why delay your amusement?”
“My amusement? I assure you, dear child, I take no amusement whatsoever out of your discomfort. From what I've discovered, you've a tragic history. Your father, it would seem, sought ways by which to ease you into the next world, for your own sake. He said that you didn't scream when you were born, nor did you speak to any apart from yourself.”
“I did not speak to myself.” She paused, quiet and still. He had known better, she need not set off on a tirade to give explanation. “And my father made attempts of such to ease his own troubles, not my own. He is no philanthropist.”
“I only tell you of what he told me, my child, regarding you. I fully know and understand that it wasn't yourself you were speaking to, though if anything, the truth is even more unnatural. He also said that he could find no suitor that would accept money to court you, nor would any whorehouse take you.”
“And? What do I need of that now? I've done well for myself, I've done well all this while on my own.” Idle fingers, a pinky and empty ring finger twitched as she drew the hem taught. Pale eyes narrowed, to half-mast, then crecents.
“Again, I'm only informing you of what I've discovered of your past, my child, as you asked me to do. Would you rather hear of your parents, then, and less of your own self? And, if you'll pardon my saying so, are you doing so well, then, that you've prospects for marriage and a family? Or are those suitors,” he made the word plural on purpose, though he very much doubted there was any apart from the foolish old knight, “that you've managed to ensnare merely there to pleasure you?”
“I've no interest in the company than the one I currently share. I do not need prospects for a marriage, and I would curse a child to the same fate my mother bestowed upon me.” Egeria leaned close to the burning wick, as something whispered to her from beyond the eaves. A nod. “You mock me. That is fine. Do not speak to me of pleasure, there is nothing I could offer to you that you have not known, not experiences, unlawfully so, a thousand times over.”
“I assure you, I mock you not. Nor am I looking for you to offer me anything. Would you like for me to speak of your parents, my child? And just what fate do you believe your mother cursed you with, hmm? What do you blame her for?”
“Her filth has caused me to loose my sight, well before my own birth. That is what I believe.”
“Her filth?” A brow rose smoothly in his questioning of her.
Egeria rose her shoulders to shurg, as it was a sense experienced in passing that she could not explain for herself.
“Your mother,” he began, “came here from the islands, though your father was unaware of where or which one.”
“Islands? Ireland? Or one not much farther from this one?” A curious brow rose, sharply. Her world had been made so small, to fathom much beyond what she has heard of outside of the fashion districts – certainly concerned no island.
“Further, from the sound of it. Much further, I believe. Shall I continue?” He smiled softly, leaning back and reclining in his chair.
“Please…” The hem was taken back as pale eyes tailed out over the eaves once more.
“You weren't too far from the mark when you spoke of her filth, you know.” He paused briefly, watching her. “She was a whore. Even after she'd wed your father, she continued in her trade, selling her body nightly.”
A quiet murmur left her, upon a sigh, “well, perhaps then I can take the slightest bit of comfort to the fact that I may not be my father's own.” Though, she doubted her fortunes were as promising. “Filth indeed. I've no qualms to admit as much of a woman I have never known…”
“I'm afraid it becomes yet worse than that, my child. And, I must say, your father, at least, seemed rather certain, for whatever reason, that you were his.”
“Say it then, so your leave can be taken just that moment quicker…”
“Before she was sent away from whichever island she came from, she had lain with her father. From the sound of it, on more than one occasion. She was his lover.”
Egeria felt ill, almost immediately. What color had remained in her face during the course of their exchange drained from her expression till she and the petticoat were made of the same maker – possessed the same ill white. “Filthy bitch…” Her admonition was punctuated with a swift close of the window by her side. The tallow wick and wax smeared to the frame, over the garment she worked on, against the thin flesh of her hands. Needless to say the flame had been suffocated, but heat enough came from her mouth when she cursed to the burn of hot wax.
“Are you alright, my child? Is there something I could get for you? Some water? A cloth?” He shook his head. “You mustn't talk of your parents like that, no matter what they've done. It's a sin to do so.”
“Well bugger them, and bugger you!” She was more concerned with the peeling of wax from the cloth and her hands that what she spoke of a filthy woman already dead, and a man who was certain to join her.
“I've already buggered you,” he reminded her, nonchalantly. “There's more, you know, if you'd like to hear it.”
“What then? What more is there to hear for the sake of the heavens and all of the hells.” Egeria sighed to hear the sound of steps roused above her head. She held her breath, and the steps were gone. The widow, off to the loo, or snooping. Well, pissing or prowling, she was settled now and quiet.
“Your family, your ancestors, on whichever island they came from, dealt in the harvesting and distilling of cane into rum. Your mother traveled here, obviously, by boat. But it wasn't just any boat. It was a trading ship.”
“And what name did it bear?” A visible tension twitched against her jaw.
“While I'm not sure the name of the particular ship, you should know that she wasn't a passenger. She was cargo – shut into and nailed into a crate by her father, her lover who she gave herself to willingly, and sent here via the Hughes. Trading. Company.” He spoke the last three words slowly, relishing the way they rolled off of his tongue.
The garment was let to fall to the floors. It was no dramatic pose, not silent shock that crushed her heart or sunk her soul all that deeper. She was tired, of this night, of this news. “I think you ought to find your way home now, Bishop. The hour is late and the chill is not intending to warm itself over any occasion soon.” Her voice hushed low.
“I hope none of this troubles you much, my child. I only wanted to let you know what I'd discovered, upon your own request.” He smiled softly, rising to his feet. “You said you had at least one garment from my new wardrobe ready for me?”
“Oh, yes…” An absent tone left her as she swept up from her seat, swept low to pick the petticoat from the ground. She tossed it over to him, “for your whore sister. And for you?” A tweed pair of riding trousers, of fine crafting, from Scotland. She handed this one to him, and nodded her head. “There then, you may go.”
“My thanks to you, my child, though I must again remind you, I've no sister, whore or otherwise.” He chuckled and shook his head. “I do hope you have a pleasant evening.”
She smiled in the same. “You do, half of one, and full of the other. Good evensong.”
“No,” he smiled back, “I haven't.” He shrugged and shook his head again, turning and heading for the door. “If,” he called back, over his shoulder, “I discover any more of your family's history, I'll be sure to let you know. When should I expect more of my new wardrobe?”
She muttered something concering the perfect frock to lay him out in, but smiled a bit wider and replied in a kind tone. “A fortnight from now.”
“Then I shall return and see you at such a time, if not before then. Good evening.” And he resumed his walk to the door.
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