Boasting Befitting

Title: Boasting Befitting
Time Period: October, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: The sleepless and the early risers make further acquaintances on a chilly morning.

Fall has begun to slowly tighten its grip across the British countryside. More than once, the people have woken to frost outlining the leaves of trees and plants, making white the roads and stiff the fabric of canvas tents. And stubbornly, this band of travellers continues north, where this trend will only continue. The sun has not yet broken through the trees this morning to banish those lingering traces of frost, but its intent to emerge soon is signified in the recolouring of the hue of the night sky.

Elvira Banes has trouble staying asleep on a good night, and trouble sleeping at all on a bad one. It is a case of the former today, and she emerges from her tent, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders as she approaches the fire. She's gotten used to the pre-dawn and the sounds of the world waking up around her. And those who've not yet gone to bed.

Clutched in her hands is a tin cup with tea, meant last night to help her sleep. Tea that's also long since gone cold, but is too coveted to justify dumping out onto the ground. She'll either suffer the temperature, or see about reheating it. For now, it provides a psychosomatic comfort to the woman simply to have her morning-stiff fingers curled around it.

It's hard to tell if Arthur Banes ever actually went to sleep or not. For better or worse it looks like he's moved very little from the spot that Elvira last saw him early that night, back propped against the tree nearest to the fire. Just on the edge of light he sits with noticeably heavy eyes as he looks at the small book in hand. He may be literate, but if he can see at all, it's got to be barely enough to actually read. His free hand rubs at his cheek as he sighs and tightens his scarf a bit to help ward off the morning cool air.

In the tree above him, Fake sits perched on a outstretched tree limb, keeping a vigilant eye… well, mostly on Arthur, rather than the camp at large. But not one to let things slip by him, the bird looks up towards Patience when she emerges from her tent, stretching his wings for a moment before his attention returns downwards.

Algernon's horse is a looming, dark bay brute, nearly black from roman nose to shaggy hock with heavy hooves and a deep chest. Built for survival rather than speed, bred down from whatever robust, muttly stock happened to be available. There's a patchy, uneven texture to the coat, shedding well on its way to acknowledging changing weather, grey mud spined and dried coarse wherever it's been able to reach.

As to why, one need look no further than the slow, shoveling lope of his hooves in off of soft earth onto the harder stuff camp's been built up upon, Elvira and a nearby tent spared loose turf and stinging flecks of frost by timely stay at the reins. As to why Algernon has been galloping around in the grey and the gloom far beyond the fire's reach — the sling of his rifle down from his shoulder before he dismounts might have something to do with it.

Or not.

He does not look harried or breathless or wild in the eyes. Tired, of course. A bit muddier than he was when he left some time ago. A blandly unfriendly glance to brother in tree is extended to sister by the fire and he goes wordlessly on about the business of tying his mount off to a post and slacking out the strap of the saddle.

"Good morning, Mister Fogg," Elvira greets softly while putting some distance between herself and the man so she might join her brother. "Trouble already this early?" Though trouble knows no hour, of course. Or if it does, it certainly doesn't expect the laws of human decency, striking only when people are most prepared to deal with it.

To the bird in the tree, Elvira angles upward a small smile. "Good morning to you as well, Fake." Her brother is nudged with the toe of her shoe. "I can't imagine your morning is good if you haven't even bothered to sleep."

"I got a bit," Arthur replies blandly, choosing to not yet look up from his book. "Long enough to get me thorough until we stop again, at least." Road and caravan travel has never particularly suited Arthur, for as much as he's had to partake of it over the years, and a lack of sleep is only one symptom of such a thing - though thankfully the rarest. "And morning to you as well, Mr. Fogg," is tacked on at the end with the same indifference. "Whatever trouble there may be, do let us know in advance enough so that we can get the hell out of the way." That does bring a faintly visible smirk to his face, Fake ruffling his feathers up in the tree as if to agree.

"Morning," returns Mister Fogg at a mutter that is — at the very least — civil, if exaggerated in his distraction with mud and tack. A second glance over his shoulder for their combined reference to the familiar present is unsubtle but fleeting. They're all given his back so that he can level a stonier, private follow up stare and slow-filtered sigh out into the surrounding country while he works.

The saddle is dislodged and dropped aside across a flat expanse of rock; the blanket follows it down. A stiff-bristled brush is drawn from somewhere, somewhen. He sets to work on the horse's sullied coat.

"If you don't know there's trouble in advance, or otherwise," he says at length, "it's because I'm doing my job well enough that you don't need to."

Tea is set at Arthur's side, not necessarily an invitation for him to help himself to it (and not that he would want to), in favour of moving back toward the man and his horse. "You do a very good job around here," Elvira praises not disingenuously. "Arthur's just being a prat." And he's briefly given a dirty look for it as well, before she turns back again to Algernon. "Is there anything I can help with?"

"Well, I can't argue with that," Arthur replies, his book slapping shut between his fingers with a sound loud enough to startle the sparrowhawk as it echoes across the camp. A look is given down towards the tea, and then a bit of a grimace offered to Elvira. "I hope you're not planning on running into trouble, sister. That's my job, not yours." Serious enough, at least. "Though, yes. We are here in the favour of others, if there's anything you need, please, say so." The book is tucked under his arm as he looks up between the other two.

"Thank you," says Algernon, automatic (if not terribly enthusiastic) and somewhat to himself in the face of praise. He is not interested in help from either of them, clearly, but Elvira is near enough now that it's impolite not to at least acknowledge her with a look. Which he does. Jaw flexed concave against the convex trim of his chops, he considers her for longer than he should before he resumes brushing from a pause mid-stroke.

"You might tell me where you're from," is probably not what she meant, when she offered to be helpful. Genuine curiosity and a halfway companionable tilt of his brows as he works keeps this from being an interrogation. "And why you're here." Brrrush.

Because neither of them is under any obligation to answer. Honestly or otherwise.

Despite the fact that Elvira is not the outright liar of the pair of siblings, she's actually not bad at lying when she feels it's a necessity. "Cheshire." She doesn't shrink back under scrutiny or appraisal, though she does absently draw pinched fingers along the length of her nose briefly. Her voice grows softer than usual, but not so quiet that she's unable to be heard. "My husband died. There was nothing left for us there."

Apart from eventual prosecution, really.

"Mister Cruikshank was kind enough to allow us to join your… charming little troupe." She suspects Algernon may agree with her less than sincere use of the word charming in this case. "It beats travelling alone." Though she flits a quick look to brother and spirit to indicate that they shouldn't take alone to mean their presence is unappreciated.

"Nothing left for her," Arthur corrects from his seat with a feigned grin. "But I certainly couldn't let my younger sister strike out on her own the way that she wanted, and Cheshire is so droll and devoid of anything interesting to do anymore." He toys with the corner of his book, offering a look but up to Patience. "She wanted to get away, so I agreed to with her. Besides, most of the children were growing up and there were better teachers than I." He shrugs a bit, eaving any other "details" his sister wishes to elaborate on up to here. "As for here…." Another shrug. It had been Patience who made that call.

Algernon's horse twitches his flank and lays back his ears against a particularly stiff stroke through the lock of Fogg's shoulder, his survey of Elvira broken off shortly after the sharing of her husband's fate. "I'm sorry to hear that," he says, again appropriately. The sort of thing one should say, for all that he briefly looks like he might follow it up with something slightly more vitriolic.

In the end he wrinkles his nose instead, tension disseminated through the lock of his spine. Manners.

After all, she might be telling the truth.

Arthur provides ample distraction from the subject anyway, fingers catching at bridle when the beast he's brushing tries to lean more of its weight over into him, closer to the fire. "You're a teacher, then."

Patience Elvira bristles at her brother's correction. She doesn't argue with him, however, and instead tips her chin toward her chest, staring at the ground. Condolences after her admission about her husband are to be expected, though they aren't strictly necessary. "That's kind, thank you," she tells Algernon.

Mention of Arthur's profession would otherwise cause his sister to beam with pride, and boast about how he's a wonderful teacher, but she's feeling far too slighted this morning to talk him up. Elvira reaches up instead to lightly brush her fingers along the neck of Fogg's horse, catching herself quickly, realising she shouldn't touch what isn't hers.

Perhaps Elvira speaking for him was exactly what Arthur had expected, as he seems to have no initial intention of answering Algernon's inquiry. Instead, his attention remains focused down on on the ground in front of him as he things. But the silence - and specifically, Elvira's lack of filling it - does catch up with him after a few moments, and once he's flashed a bit of a look her way, he turns back to Fogg and gives a small nod.

"That's correct. Not my first choice of profession, but it's worked out well enough for me." He means to continue speaking, but a yawn takes care of that for him, forcing Arthur to sit up a bit starighter, lest he slip back to sleep. "I do what I can, though, with what I have and what I know. If there's anything anyone here needs that I can provide, please, let me know." For once, not a pack of lies either.

Exterior tension draws Algernon's attention again, eyes cast dark by the fire in their turn from Elvira to Arthur, and back again in time to catch her withdrawn hand. "He doesn't mind," is quiet, halfassed reassurance, but earnestly granted. And accurate. The gelding pushes his nose lazily down after her absent hand in search of sweets. Or attention. Or both. A horse is a horse, of course of course, brush scuffed from shoulder to flank to clear out the worst of the grit clinging there.

Nothing further said on the subject of dead husbands or history, Algernon carries on the conversation at his habitual growl, hackles settled without enough energy to maintain a warier bristle. "I suppose that depends," he says, "on what it is that you know."

"Arthur, you should sleep. You aren't capable of doing much good to anyone the way you're yawning." And before he can protest, Elvira adds on, "Fake agrees with me." Pulling the familiar into a debate, generally to insist he takes her side, is a staple tactic of hers in these things. Even though she has no way of communicating with the spirit beyond reading whatever passes for the body language of a sparrowhawk.

Encouraged both by Algernon's verbal permission, and nudges by the beast, Elvira smiles. "What's his name?" she asks, rather than offer up what it is she brings to the table in so many words. What she does instead is show him. When she places her hands on the horse's neck, his coat gradually becomes a brilliant, snowy white, the colour bleeding out from beneath her palms and slowly spreading out across the creature entirely.

"I think I would save you more time listing what I don't know," is a cocky response from Arthur, a grin to match spreading across his face. "Bit of a jack of all trades, at least that's how mum always sold me." Both of them, really. Always funny how things can take on such different meaning depending on who says it. "Master of none, I believe the rest of it goes. If someone needs something, like I said… ask. I'll see what I can do. I have my ways of figuring out things in a pinch." Usually because he can find something to tell him what to do.

His sister's chiding, though, earns a curious glance followed immediately by the rolling of his eyes when Fake is brought into matters. "You're one to talk, on matters of sleep," might be a bit of a low blow, but it's meant to be far from that. In truth, Arthur should know better than to touch on that topic - a rare, tired slip up. "But I suppose you right. Fresh minds and all that rubbish," he says with a casual wave of his hand as he draws himself to his feet. The book is offered to Elvira, and a look offered over to Fogg. "Read that," he says, "it'll be good for you. If there's enough light. I doubt Fake can help you like he does me. And it was nice speaking to you, Mr. Fogg. Hopefully, there will be more."

He turns, shoulders rolling and a bit of a hunch in his back as he starts off, a look angled up towards Fake. "Keep an eye on her. And, I dunno. Find a way to knock over the tent if there's trouble." Not that it'd help.

"Dusty."

Fogg smiles tightly when he says so, teeth kept to himself in weary awareness that this is not the most dignified or intimidating name for a big black steed to have. Formerly big black steed, increasingly big white steed. Algernon's brow furrows beneath the brim of his hat as he watches the progression, brushing slowed and then stopped entirely so that he can arch a brow over at her sideways instead.

He's slow to look back after Arthur's imminent departure accordingly, skepticism blackened through the slant of his mouth once it's taken on a harder set. A silent, I'm sure you do.

He says, "Of course," instead. Hard to tell if he's replying to the initial claim or misinterpreting Fake's instructions as being meant for him.

Elvira takes the book in one hand and tucks it under her arm. "I don't think I'll need Fake's help," she mutters under her breath after her brother's retreated. She instantly regrets the jab, even if he did start it, and even if he didn't hear her. She looks more than just vaguely guilty even as she returns her attention to Algernon.

"Dusty's a good name. He's a beautiful animal." His colour returns immediately, in stark contrast to the initial change, which had been for show. Banished with merely a thought on the woman's part. "I'm an illusionist," she offers for clarification.

"I see." And he does, some unconscious stiffness through the poise of his brush against white hide relinquished when the animal's natural hue blacks comfortably back into place. Brushing is resumed at a more deliberate and metered pace, "I didn't name him," imparted offhand between strokes.

"Charming fellow, your brother," comes next, voice kept low enough to impede any ears that might be prying through flimsy tent walls. Brushing finished, evidently, after those last few rakes of bristle to hide, as he turns to dispose of the brush in the same waiting pack he originally drew it out of. "He should fit right in."