A Little Gift

Title: A Little Gift
Time Period: December 24, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Arthur receives a Christmas bounty of invitation, information, and sustenance. At least enough of one of the three to get him through a few days.

A slim figure picks her way through snow covered heath and brambles to the camp. Her blue velvet dress making a sweeping track through the white carpet and nearly masking her path. Nearly. Small heeled bootprints make a winding trail behind the blond woman as she navigates a large basket over a low brush. The campfires will be warmer than the walk, she'll be a hero to the people seated around them. The thought makes Luna beam with pride, although they aren't the reason she's doing this.

Pulling her cloak away from a particularly grabby branch, she grunts for one last heavy lift before breathing a sigh of relief. The overstuffed container is let down to swing in front of her. Letting go with one hand, she pushes a few stray tendrils of blonde hair out of her eyes and off her forehead. The rest is pinned up in the back, a fancier style than what she's been seen with here but here she's usually seen creeping away in the mornings mussed and tussled.

The first campfire is the one the prostitute chooses to grace, mainly because she's tired. The rose glow of wear mixed with cold is on her cheeks, giving her a healthier look than normal. At least when she's being sparse with the makeup, like now. Her lips are protected by a bit of beeswax stained pink, giving them a bit of a gloss. Her eyes have a slight shadow of coal lining them thinly. The rest is natural.

"Hello?" She doesn't sing a greeting, finding them obnoxious— and for old women. "Is Fletcher here?"

"You look far too nice to be milling about a place such as this."

The disembodied voice accentuates that comment with a distinctive crunch sound, the sound of teeth digging into an apple as one takes a bite. Against a nearby tree, just on the campfire's edge stands Arthur Banes, chewing the piece of fruit noisily. A faded purple scarf wrapps around his neck, a heavier coat than usual sitting square across his shoulders. It looks a little big for him, but you make do with what you can get when in a position such as his.

"Fletcher's away at the moment." In truth, Arthur has no idea where the camp leader is. But I can tell you that you might not want to hang around here too long dressed like that." Because someone might get the wrong idea. Or someone might decide they want those nice clothes. Or because she'll freeze to death. Any number of reasons, and all of them go specifically unstated. "Unless there's something someone else can help you with."

Another bite of the apple, and Arthur pushes off the tree and back into the warm glow of the fire, approaching Luna slowly. "If it's something smiple, perhaps I can help. Though I don't even begin to speak for the camp at hand."

"I do?" Luna beams at the compliment. Looking much too nice means little to no competition when it comes to turning eyes. Fluttering hers at the stranger, she smiles and brushes the few stray bits of hair behind her ear… again. "Thank you, I think, I hope. My name is Luna, Luna Owens."

Her hand is held out to the man with the purple scarf, her blue eyes flitting over his details; face, hair, shoulders, scarf, shoulders again, eyes, boots… then slowly sweeping back up. "A great pleasure to make your acquaintance, I can tell that already. A shame Fletcher isn't here, I brought food for everyone. I have a few favors owed to me, so I went a bit mad with a few necessities… He won't mind at all, will he?" Worry touches her eyebrows and they draw inward slightly as she risks a glance to the largest tent.

Arthur eyes her apprasingly as he approaches, though without the fluttering of eyelashes or threading of hair. His free hand, currenly resting comfortably in his pocket, doesn't immediately move to hers, however. "You're welcome," he replies once his mouth isn't full of Apple. "But I mean that as much as a word of warning as I do a compliment. You never know which man oe woman ehre may take a shine to someone dressed in such a lovely manner." Okay, yes, he is laying it on a bit, but still. And he wouldn't actually expect anyone to do anything uncouth, besides perhaps liberating her of some of her clothes. Or all of them.

But the mention of food gets a raised, curious eyebrow, and finally his hand rises to meet hers. "Arthur Banes," he remarks, leaning a bit so that he's looking past her, to see if he can spy any more baskets of food waiting in the wings."And I doubt he or anyone else here will mind some supplies. I'm sure it'll be greatly appreciated."

Once the shake is done her hands both grip the large basket as she glances around for a place to put it. Settling on a fallen log, she lets it drop heavy to its resting place and lets loose a long sigh. "Well I've met quite a few people here already during my stays," she keeps her head down, picking that time to uncover the basket, revealing a few loaves of break, cheese, bottles of milk, bags of oats and flour, and of course… a jar of tea.

"I admire all of you for being so rugged as to survive out in this cold. I wouldn't be able to manage it at all," a ghost of a smile is offered to Arthur before she breaks off the end of a loaf and offers it up to him. "Here, if you're anything like Fletcher, I know you must be hungry. Don't worry, it's a gift, there's no barter or charge to be made for it."

"I wouldn't be out here if I could help it," Arthur replies quickly, watching as she reveals the food. Elvira will certainly appreciate the tea, at least. "So, you kind words are misplaced. As soon as I can start working in town, my sister and I are moving into the inn, for a bit." With any luck, at least. Not that they have much of that lately.

He eyes the loaf for a moment, efore taking it and nodding. He's certainly not one to turn down something for free, much less food. "It's apprecaited," he repeats, before looking around the camp. "So, you already've met some of them, hmm? I wonder how I managed to miss you." Because she stands out like a sore thumb, mostly.

"My mother owns the inn, I've been meaning to talk with her about finding a place for all of you. As exciting and scandalous as all of this is.." Luna waves her hand in the air, dramatically gesturing the tents, "… you'll all catch a death and I've been having much too wonderful a time here to allow it to stop. Not if there's something I can do about it."

Covering the food again, she pushes it a few inches in Arthur's direction, a hint that he's to take it. "If you could make certain everyone gets a share? I'd be grateful. What is it you do for work? There's always employment available at the munitions factory but I wouldn't suggest there… I wouldn't suggest anywhere owned by Rowntree or Ross, personally. Unfortunately nearly everything in this town is."

Innkeeper's daughter. Arthur's smile widens a bit, remember the appoint he'd never had the chance to make. "It would be greatly appreciated if some arrangements could be made. Perhaps I could come in and talk with her in the next few days? Some place warm to sleep would be a wonderful gift for my sister." For the holidays and all. But before he can continue, something else gets his attention.

"Oh? And why wouldn't you suggest it?" Not that Arthur has any intention of working for the Rowntrees, but condemnation of working for them earns a fair amount of curiosity. His eyes tilt down to look at the food. Oh, I see. Not that he really knows much of what to do with it, but still he moves over to it, and Luna. He'll pick it up when he's ready to head off. "I'm a teacher. I don't think I have to worry much about it."

"Of course, I'm sure I'll be seeing her and my da over the holiday season…" Her voice drifts and a strained smile tugs at her lips. "It's the least they could do, right? A charitable contribution for the betterment of our town, ma would see it that way, I'm sure, it's my da that'd be the hard one to convince." Giving the man a warmer sort of smile, she's careful to keep her eyes a little wider to keep from crinkling at the corners.

"As for the Rowntrees and Rosses, well, I'm certain you've met Duncan Rowntree if the militia stopped you on the way in and confiscated your books, you poor things. The lot of them are brutes and pigs, they come to the Dovetail quite frequently." She pauses, clenching her teeth together and looking away in anger for a moment. Plumes of steam shoot through her nostrils, like an angry bull before she puts on her brave smile again and looks back at Arthur. "Any rate… the Rowntrees are a bad lot, there's only a few good among them. Aislinn, she's married to Edmund, she's a healer. Not a local woman, which might be why she's a good one. Edmund isn't so bad anymore, but that's only because of Aislinn's influence. The rest of them are scoundrels."

Arthur can't help but smile wide as he listens to Luna, immediately regretting having not gone to see the innkeeper's daughter before now. This was exactly the kind of conversation he'd been hoping to have for over a month now, and it has him listening with with rrapt attention as he turns to face her. "Not all of our books," he boasts. Nor all of their weapons, but that little bit he keeps to himself. "I met Duncan Rowntree. He's an arse, and I've made it a point to keep my sister from him." An opinion he'd normally hold close to his chest, but in this instance, he doesn't really care who hears. "And the Rosses?" he asks, quirking an eyebrow. "It's nice to know that what I've heard," or rather, inferred, "about the Rowntrees is true, though." Mostly because now he has a better idea of how well he has to watch his ass in the future…

Luna's eyes light up and she grips Arthur's hands, leading him to the same fallen log that holds the food. "Fletcher told me that you were wise enough to hide some of them. I'm working on getting the rest back, I assure you." Seating herself first, she lifts the cloth and pulls out the broken loaf, taking two more pieces, one for each of them. "Oh, Mister Banes, the lot of you need to know so much if you're going to be living in Dornie for more than the winter. I can already tell that you and I are going to be fast friends."

Looking up to the sky, she takes a bite and chews thoughtfully. "Alright, the Rosses aren't near as bad as the Rowntrees but that's because Old Missus Ross is something of a philanthropist now. She runs the schoolhouse, if you're a teacher, you'll wish to go to her to secure a position. She might even have a house that you and your sister could live in. It wouldn't be hard to play on her sympathetic side, aye?"

Fast friends, Arthur isn't so sure about. Fantastic source of information? Almost certainly. "You think?" he replies as he takes the piece offered to him. "Well, it'll be nice to have someone to talk to when we finally move into town, yes." The fact that there's a lot to know, and that the Rowntrees are apparently the root of much distaste, at least form one person's perspective, doesn't surprise her. Much less that, from what he gleaned from Constance, it goes both ways.

"Old Mrs. Ross?" he repeats, hoping she'll provide more of a full name. "Well, I'm not going to get my hopes up that terribly high, but I'll certainly speak to her." Oh yes. First thing in the morning, if he can manage it. It's good to be getting more names attached to points of interest.

"Missus Dina Ross, you'll want to see her personally. Do mention that you'll be looking for a house to live in too. The Rosses are as wealthy and almost as influential as the Rowntrees, the only reason the Rowntrees are moreso is because Duncan would have anyone who spoke up shot." Leaning in, Luna places her fingers to one side of her mouth as though she just committed a great faux pas. "Don't mention I said that bit… I like having my head exactly where it is."

It gets placed in her lap again and the blonde kicks some snow out from under her foot. "Your sister will have to join my circle, my sewing circle. She'd get to know everyone quite quickly. Anyone who is anyone attends, also you'll both be going to the New Year's Masque, aye? If you're in need, I can likely swindle a costume or two from Constance Rowntree's theatre. That's Duncan's daughter, be careful of her, she likes to play pretend and not admit to who she really is."

Arthur seems content to nod and listen, his expression souring a bit at the mention of Elvira joining a sewing circle. But he becomes noticeable stony faced, turning away form Luna so taht he can grit his teeth when he hears the name Rowntree attached to the name of the young girl he had met here at the camp. Of course. He really shouldn't be so surprised, she said she had a father in militia. It just figured her father would be Duncan. He can't believe he was outfoxed by a young girl.

"I don't know anything about a New Year's Masque," he admits in a low voice, still facing away from Luna. "I doubt I will be going. Perhaps my sister would enjoy such a thing. I imagine I'll be too busy." He looks back over his shoulder, a bit of a scowl still on his face. "The offer is appreciated. And thank you," he adds, for confirming his suspicions, as much as it angers him.

Luna shakes her head and waves her hand dismissively at his balking on the party. "No, you should go, everyone in this camp should. What better way to have people get to know you here than join in the festivities? People in Dornie'll be suspicious if you don't start mingling. Not all are as open to new people and ideas as I am."

Pressing her lips together, the prostitute lets loose a sigh through her nose and folds her arms over her chest. "I've gone and upset you, haven't I?" A tsk is clicked through her teeth and she shakes her head.

Arthur remains silent for a few moments before he sighs and shakes his head. "No. Just confirmed something I'm not terribly pleased about for me." So, it's not her fault that he's upset. Not directly, anyway. "I'm more worried, that if we try to mingle, Dornie will simply give us the brush off. It's a very precarious situation for some of us, you know." He turns back around, one eyebrow quirked up as he regards her for a moment. "Such seems to be my experience so far, and I imagine might stay that way as long as we're in this camp."

"Well Mister Fogg has assimilated himself quite well, though I worry about the position he's taken. All of you need to be out of these tents, as I said, you'll catch your deaths." Once again, she looks toward the largest of the tents before turning back to Arthur with a faint smile. "If it will encourage you a little more, I'm certain there will be a hot banquet. You can at least fill your bellies before melting off into the shadows."

She takes a small nibble from the crust of the bread in her hand, chewing it slowly as she stares into the fire. "How long have you and your sister been traveling with Fletcher? Mister Fogg said he'd been with him for months."

"I'll have to talk to Elvira about it. See what she thinks." He's a bit surprised she isn't here with him at the fire, but chances she's back in the tent with their shared book, or curled up in what they have for blankets. "We've been travelling just a few months, ourselves. I don't believe we'll be continuing on with them, if they don't choose to stay here, at least. Dornie was always our goal." And now that they've reached that, Arthur is somewhat reconsidering.

Blinking, Luna seems a little surprised at the revelation. "You think they'll be moving on? I'd rather you all stay. I mean, you're the most wonderful thing that's happened in this town in all the years I've been here." Putting her hand over her mouth again, this time as though she's holding back sickness, the woman stares at the ground near her feet. The other hand is brought up to join it, the crust of bread dropped for the birds, or the magpie familiar that she's already become acquainted with.

"What would they require to stay for good?" It's half whisper, muffled by her hands, but loud enough to reach the short span between them. Turning to give a pathetic expression up at Arthur, Luna's lips twist as she tries not to let them downturn. "Please tell me what I need to do?"

"I would imagine so. I mean, at least, I wasn't aware of any plans for everyone to day," Arthur replies honestly, not seeing the big deal in it. At least not until that whisper and that pathetic look, and inwardly, Arthur grins, though he tries not to show it on his face. He gets it now. "I can't say I know, exactly, what the plan in," he says nonchalantly, "but I can ask about." There's a moment of pause, before he looks back at her with a smirk. "Grown attached, have we?"

"He is rather bewitching," Luna admits, lacing her fingers together and tucking them between her knees. "The first night we met, he asked for a lock of my hair before I left him. Isn't that the most romantic of favors to ask?" A slight blush mingles with the redness caused by the cold weather and the pathetic expression melts into a bashful grin. "No one's ever touched the way he did before."

Looking up at Arthur, Luna's eyes brighten along with her whole face as she smiles at his offer. "I would be grateful, Mister Banes. I would owe you a boon if you could find that information for me, if he's leaving and what he would require to stay. I'm certain I could arrange it."

That's more than Arthur ever wanted to know, but it still tells him exactly what he was hoping to hear. He nods slowly, looking over towards the big tent. "It's certainly not one I would normally expect to hear." Outsides of tales of witch's brews and the like. "I'll speak with him when I can, and get back to you. I assume you stay at the inn with your mum?"

He doesn't wait for an answer to the question, before peering down at the basket of food. Clapping his hands together, he motions for Luna to get up. "Right then. Come on. We'll drop a bit of this food off with whomever's around and then make our way over to his tent with it, so that he knows it's here. Would you like to leave a note or anything of the like?"

"No, I'm not at the inn, I have the uppermost room at the Dovetail." There's no shame in the admission, by the way Luna's chin lifts and her smile remains carefree rather than coy or flirtatious. She stands, when bidden but doesn't move to follow, rather, she points back the way she came and shakes her head. "I must leave you to the distribution of the gift, there's nary a note to give either. Make certain that you tell everyone that if they need anything, let me know? I do wish for all of you to stay."

Pulling the hood of her fur lined cloak over her hair, she waves to Arthur before lowering her hand again. Then the velvet skirt is lifted just high enough to clear the snow as she turns to pick her way back toward town. As horseless as when she came. "I'll put a good word in for you with whomever I meet, Mister Banes," she calls behind her before she begins winding her way around the brambles again. "And please tell your sister to pop in for sewing, she could have a bath beforehand, and a warm meal."