Our group is gathered discussing our immediate plans for the day. Mr. Cereny seems intent to head to China Town. I do not have personally have an issue with these areas, but those we are conducting business with may. We agree to meet for dinner at Swearengen’s saloon around 7. I inform them I shall be at the hotel meanwhile. Justice offers me escort back and I happily accept. Once back in my room I write a note to Mr. Bear Claw thanking him for his time and expertise in the matter of the telegraph lines.
After a few drafts I am finally satisfied and there is still lots of time left before dinner. I head down to the desk and inquire to the location of the telegraph office. I head out in the direction and notice a woman in a bowler hat and bright red hair. She waves to me and begins speaking. I am unable to hear her, and motion thus. I go across the street expecting this may be the Calamity Jane person one of our party is interested in meeting, I do stand out in this town and likely easy to spot for one with even a base description of my person. I notice too late her eyes are the same shade green as my own. She introduces herself as Ruby Jade. Jedadiah Dupont is her given name though. I am gob smacked and quite flustered. She requests we meet at the Green Front. I say I have dinner plans at 7 and she says that is fine the establishment is open late. She then takes the most relaxed pose against the wall unconcerned by my proximity. It is as terrifying a situation as vexing.
I abandon my trip to the telegraph office temporarily and make haste back to the hotel. I need more information on this. Entering I quickly notice Aunt Lou Marchbanks in my brief time here I have already clocked her as someone in the know. She notices I am a bit pale and offers some tea. I accept and I am quite surprised to be tasting a more than competent cuppa. I inquire about the woman Ruby Jade and how to meet her without going to the Green Front. Langrishe Theater or Nye’s Opera House are the places she mentions for a meeting.
As I finish my tea Ms. Frost enters. I know it is a long shot for a teacher to have knowledge regarding a women of this reputation, but inquire any way to give her the background for my next inquiry. She does have a way to get a note to Ruby without me risking reputation. I head up to my room and refill my pen. I scribble out a note hurried, just wanting to put this out of my mind for an hour or two if I can. I fold the correspondence and move to get up, then think better of it and re-write the note after a few deep breaths to steady my hand. I only sign it with an “E”. I hand the note to Ms. Frost as I ask what the service costs. She seems to not know quite how to answer so I hand her $5 and thank her kindly for the discretion.
It is nearing dinner time at this point so I ask Ms. Frost to head to the Gem with me. No sooner do we step on the walkway then a young girl comes up and tugs on Ms. Frost’s skirts. Frost excuses herself from me and talks to the child. The little girl is scared. Apparently she wished her father had died instead of her mother and subsequently a creature appeared under her bed that left marks on her. It looks like a hand print but burned into flesh. I am a bit surprised that Ms. Frost merely rolls with this story seemingly accepting it as truth. These things are still rebuffed by the population at large despite the mounting evidence. I am less surprised she genuinely seems to want to ease the little girl’s mind and offer assistance. She does seem quite empathetic and a good fit for a school teacher. I snap out of my thoughts at her addressing me and I assure Frost this is exactly the sort of thing Cyrus would be interested in looking into. We secure a temporary place for the urchin at our hotel with Aunt Lou and head to the Gem. There is a bit of a kerfuffle attempting to get a table and I am about to attempt to diffuse when Mr. Cerny of all people steps up and cowers the rough man giving us issue and we take a seat. Perhaps I have underestimated the man.
We sit and it is not long before my desire to leave grows quite a bit stronger. While I am no stranger to the more rough and tumble establishments, my reputation in these parts is not one I care to have marked with being comfortable here. At least for now. The man seated next to me is quite grubby and leans into my space a lot. He claims to be a dentist and asks if I am in need of this service I decline, though his teeth do appear to be in quite good shape. He asks if my friends do, I tell him I will enlighten my friends this town has a dentist.
Turning back to the group, I attempt to join the discussion about the day’s events. I am quite distracted by both my meeting later and the man next to me. Cerny picks up on the latter distraction and engages the man. He is able to wave the man away. He returns and Cerny again rebuffs him a bit more rudely this time and he takes his leave. Not long after Ms Frost notices a Ms Johnson enters. She is not exactly a whore according to Ms Frost, but operates quite similarly. She approaches the group, Clockwork in particular the dandy air about him is cat nip to those in her line of work. He rebuffs her quite rudely saying that he is sure she would “show him a good time”. Whilst her slap still bounces off the walls I must say I let loose an honest guffaw at this little bit of entertainment.
I begin checking my timepiece, quite anxious for my meeting and as I take my leave the group also finds reason to leave and we all travel to the hotel together. I am saddened a little for my soul that I had forgotten all about the little girl, but Ms Frost seems capable and is taking charge. I take my leave and write a quick note detailing where I am going and whom to start looking at if I disappear and head off to the meeting.
I enter the Opera house and am asked for a ticket and I pay. I take a seat and the production is a bit impressive given our location. I notice Ruby and steel myself before approaching. I make my presence known and she offers me a seat I take it graciously. I sit and before long she is twisting a curse. I sit patiently knowing she could have ambushed me at any point so harming me here is unlikely, though it is dangerous to apply logic to matters of my family. I maintain eye contact and smile waiting for her to finish. She mentions the singer has made her dislike of Ruby known and will have her evicted if she shows again. She inquires what I would do if repercussions where not an issue. I mention I assume this also excludes the lord, her reaction to this tells me little either way, then after a quick thought say I would ensure her costume malfunctions to embarrass her on stage. She thinks this is delightful in its subtle deviance. I do take pride in that.
She begins to twist another curse and the singer appears to be choking. I smile large and wicked at this as it is one I remember wanting to learn before my crisis of faith in regards to the family business. Mother was quite fond of this curse when she we failed to heed her, or she was cross, or we weren’t understanding a lesson, or…. Well Mother was just quite fond of this curse. The reasoning so very obvious and I have longed for its knowledge finding far too frequent a use for just such a thing myself. Ruby insists we head back to her room where we can discuss more vigorously assuaging my fears by suggesting women of our ilk having a few options at doing so and maintaining my reputation. I agree and we head off. The unbound joy I feel slipping on the comfortable cloak of shadow in the night with family once again will likely cause my mind trouble in the morning, but for tonight I just feel alive. We race each other to the Green Front no need for setting out rules or even agreeing to do so, Ruby winning by a close, but undeniable margin.