Measure For Measure

Title: Measure For Measure
Time Period: December 24, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Two old acquaintances pretend not to be and, instead, exchange quick wit and delightful banter.

The morning before Christmas is a busy one in the market square; there is a hustle and bustle as people do last minute bartering and errands for that evening's dinner and the next day's festivities, meager for many as they will be. Most people in the square seem to either be in a hurry to get from one place to the next or in a sociable mood, stopping to chatter and wish one another good tidings on the frosty day.

Falling into neither crowd, one young man strolls slowly along, a hat and scarf covering most of his face, though in a town the size of Dornie, it's easy enough to tell most people from simply their garments, shape and posture. His height makes him stand out even if the gray of his coat and blue of his scarf do not.

Mariah stands with one particular merchant, in the middle of paying for a particularly nice looking tie that she holds in her fingers. It isn't hard to guess her profession, given the general immodesty of her dress that seems to prove she's here not only to shop, but to act as mobile advertisement for the town's brothel. Or maybe she's using it to get a cleavage-based discount, because she looks pretty pleased with herself as she tucks the tie into a pouch and turns away from the merchant.

And that brings her right into view of a particularly tall gentleman, and not a bad looking one, either, which may explain why she steps over. "You must be new around here," she greets and if there's any lingering familiarity from when they were younger, it doesn't show on her face. But a gloved hand is held out in his direction. "Mariah."

Brows rise as Beisdean suddenly finds himself face to face with the younger woman, surprised at her introduction and more so at the name. He pulls a gloveless hand from his pocket in order to take hers, bending his head almost as if to kiss it in a mock bow.

"New might be a stretch of the word, Mariah," the man says, though he doesn't offer his name just yet. His blue eyes scan her face, comparing it to one belonging to a girl of the same name in his memory. "Are you new to the town?" he counters back.

"Is that right? If you've been hiding away somewhere, I shall have to accuse you of being fantastically unfair," Mariah's smile tips a little crooked at the bow, or perhaps at his examining look. "What, me? Oh, it's been far too long since I could have been considered new to this town. Something of a staple these days."

She puts a hand on her hip, her smile widening just a touch before she goes on, "Are you going to give me a name to call you by, or do I have to start guessing? I'll warn you that I'm awful at guessing games."

Beisdean's smile widens at her words, and he opens his mouth to answer before she confesses to being poor at guessing games. He lowers his head to aim a low chuckle at the ground before lifting his eyes once more.

"By a name, dear saint, I know not how to tell thee who I am," he begins, amusement crinkling his eyes, "only because if I were to do so, I would miss the adventure of hearing what guesses you might hazard. Mariah is a lovely name, and suits you well. What would Mariah dub me? I'm curious, I admit, to hearing what name you think would fit me, based on just meeting me in this auspicious moment."

"Something of a wordsmith, you are," Mariah says, that smile evening out as she looks up at him. "Alright, I'll make a guess or two, since you're so curious, but remember. I warned you."

Her eyes narrow a bit, her hands rub together and she looks deep in thought for a moment before she makes a leap at her first guess. "Eoin," she says, her hands returning to her hips, "Yes? No. Hold on, I've got a few others. Wallace. Graham? No, wait, wait. I've got it. Fergus. That is your name."

It is, of course, quite clear by the end that she's purely being playful.

Beisdean makes a face when she suggests Wallace, then chuckles again. "For Fergus rules the brazen cars and rules the shadows of the wood, and the white breast of the dim sea and all dishevelled wandering stars," he murmurs, looking up and to his left to recall the words from memory.

When he stops the recitation, he shakes his head again. "No, nor Gillespie either though some have thought that might be my name," he murmurs. Finally, he gives a small tip of his hat as if just greeting her. "Beisdean Skye. Pleased to make your acquaintance." It's hard to tell if he doesn't remember her or if he's allowing her simply to believe he doesn't.

Mariah chuckles softly at the poem, although it's not exactly amused. "I must say, I approve of anyone who can recite Yeats at a moment's notice." When he tips his hat and does finally give his real name, her smile turns crooked again. "Quite the rare moniker, Beisdean. I dare say it was cheating, asking me to guess, but it's just enough of a pleasure to meet you that I feel infinitely forgiving."

"Oh, do you approve of me?" Beisdean says, brows rising in his face as he steps back to study her. "I'm rather pleased to hear that. A newcomer can always use the good opinion of the town's fine ladies to help him make his way and fortune."

The words are lightly bandied back. "And I am quite impressed you know your Yeats. I do wish he'd been a fellow Scot, but I suppose we can forgive him his Irishness as an accident of birth. He's rather a particular favorite of mine. I have a book of his poems I count among my most cherished possessions, second only to my Shakespeare and I suppose my horse, though I hope the books last me a lifetime and I'm afraid Iago won't."

His blue eyes sweep her garment and then rise back to her face. "Such a well read young lady — are you a teacher, perhaps?"

"One might argue that fine ladies are better at helping a man spend his fortune," Mariah quips back, a hip cocking out to one side. "Forgiving a man his Irishness, very magnanimous of you. I suppose his work is good enough to warrant it, though."

When as he goes on, she lifts a hand as if to stop him. "I dare say your horse will last you his lifetime, at any rate. But more importantly, sort of an ominous name to give your horse, isn't it, for someone who admits to reading Shakespeare. Truth be told, a copy of Hamlet is my own most cherished possession. Or, well, it's at least near the top."

Mariah barely restrains a laugh at his question, and she has to look away for just a moment before she can reply with a straight face. "Oh, I can be a teacher of many things."

"Alas, I have no fortune for such a fine lady to help me spend, nor a trade to barter with at present," Beisdean quips back, a smirk tipping his mouth at her quick wit. "As for Iago, well, like the character for which he is named, he warns me of the duplicity of both women and men, imagined or real, and what's more important, he is silent when I chastise him."

Beisdean looks away to give a nod to an elderly woman walking by, her mouth rather primly downturned as she passes. His hand rises to tip his hat before he turns smiling eyes back on Mariah. "And why do you like Hamlet most? It's a touch dark for such a bright disposition, Miss Mariah."

"Ah, a silent companion, what more could a man ask for," Mariah also looks toward the elderly woman, although the wave of her fingers can only be called teasing. She's fairly aware of who in the town approves or disapproves of her profession. She might get a kick out of rubbing it in. A little.

"I suppose I like it because it teaches the benefit of a healthy sense of suspicion. And the consequences of, as well. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't find the women particularly tragic." Why that might be a draw, she doesn't clarify. "And, if was my mother's favorite. So I suppose there are sentimental reasons as well."

The past tense and mention of mothers makes Beisdean's smile fall away, and he nods, his gaze dropping to his boots once more. "A good enough reason," he says, and the sincerity in his voice is a sharp contrast to the facetious words he'd used for most of the conversation.

"Funny how he seems to contradict himself. Shakespeare I mean. In one play, we're taught to be suspicious and in another we're taught that suspicions lead to our downfall. I admit a love affair with the words, but the messages are a bit confusing — and yet, maybe that's the greatest moral of all, that no matter what we do, we fail," he muses, eyes rising to the sky to study the clouds for a moment.

Beisdean smiles and shakes his head. "Forgive me for waxing a touch maudlin there. We can fail merrily enough. I should let you get back to your shopping, perhaps?"

Mariah's hand reaches over to rest on his arm at his answer. It's a comforting gesture, which may just give away that she knows he needs comforting at that topic, or that she just pays very good attention. "At least the downfall is always the best part of the play," she says, her smile a little sad there, as well. Perhaps it's a topic a little too on the nose.

"I've actually finished my shopping, but if you fancy a tour of the pub, I admit to a particular interest in what moral you think A Midsummer Night's Dream leaves us with," she offers with more ease, and a return of her brighter expression.

There is a flicker of something — sorrow or embarrassment or a mixture of both — across Beisdean's face when Mariah touches his arm, but he nods and doesn't pull away. Nor does he say anything to allow them to drop their pretense of not knowing one another from their youth; they both know the truth, and it need not be addressed.

"To give better directions to your hobgoblin, of course," he quips with a flash of a smile as he nods in the direction of the inn and pub.