Unless Expected

Title: Unless Expected
Time Period: October, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: The Ross Clan's newest employee answers a summons.

Ross Manor makes an imposing, statuesque shape against a drizzling gray sky on the evening that Ruth Schroder arrives in Dornie. She comes alone, and without any fanfare, a small, slim silhouette perched on the back of a horse whose coat is an indeterminate colour in the gloom. If she has any luggage, then she's left it behind at the docks so it can be delivered to wherever it is that the Rosses decide to house her; she is not quite so presumptuous as to assume that she'll be living under the same stately roof as her employers.

The horse's hooves churn up gravel and mud as it trots up the drive, splashing through shallow puddles that gleam gold in the manor's warm yellow glow.

Word travels fast enough when you have grounds as large as theirs and your family is the Ross's. Ruth's arrival is not without notice even in the weather and by the time that the horse and woman have made it's way up to the front, she is far from alone. Wherever Adler is, he's not here and instead it's someone waiting to help her off the horse and take it off to where they keep the beasts. There's also a woman in a blouse that has long lost it's crispness, an intricate shawl wrapped precisely over slim shoulders, heavy skirt. All the better to ward off the damp. Older she may be, the mistress of the house stands with chin up a fraction, hands cupping something unseen, though her thumbs strokes across it and waits for the visitor to make her way to the front door proper.

Dina can't hear the words exchanged between rider and stableman, but she senses that Ruth's tone is clipped and short. So are her movements as she swings over the side of the animal and dismounts without assistance, then passes off the reins. Brisk strides carry her up the manor's front steps and into the light leaking out through its yawning glass windows.

She wears her dark hair pinned back at the nape of her neck and a long wool coat tailored to fit a female figure with pressed black trousers beneath and a pair of leather boots with a slightly elevated heel to give her that extra half-inch of height. Rainwater sloughs off her clothes, hair and skin, but she doesn't seem too bothered by the Scottish weather.

It came with the job.

"Young women riding in the rain do not often stop at our steps" Dina's words are not clipped, though welsh in origin to those who are in the know. "Not without purpose or having been called." Satisfied that the horse will be taken care of, the matriarch turns, parting hands to lift one and beckon the woman in. Doing so exposes a long pink tail and glimpse of soft furred rump. "Come. Speak your name and let us get out of the chill. So we know what to do with you"

Inside, far warmer than the outside and significantly more drier, someone's waiting to take jackets, make guests more comfortable. "Dina Ross" Her offer of introduction. "Come"

"Danke, Frau Ross," says Ruth, moving indoors. She's more lenient with the doorman than she was with the servant who took her horse and gives up her coat as soon as she's shrugged out of it. Her boots leave tracks on the floor under her feet, and there's a moment where she looks as though she might apologize for them, but what comes out instead is: "You and your husband are already knowing who I am."

"As I said, young women do not often ride up to our front door unless expected Ms Schroeder." A glance down to the tracks is dismiss, a gentle wave of her hand as if that just might make it disappear. "Don't worry. Edgar has tracked in far worse and it is expected when the weather is at it is." A smile forms on her face, the fine lines evident around Dina's eyes, upper lip.

"Do you have a place to stay or would you like for us to arrange that? Now that you are in town, Adler will wish to bring you Ducan to see what you can do to help us and what can be implemented as swiftly as possible and prepare for what will need time"

Off her hand, across her sleeve, disappearing under her scarf goes the wood mouse, out of sight, hopefully out of mind. "Do you wish something hot to drink? You must be chilled to the bone"

"I have no place," Ruth answers, blue eyes hooking toward the movement that she thinks she sees darting between the folds of Dina's clothes. She ultimately disregards it — a trick of the light, perhaps, or her exhaustion making her think she sees things that she doesn't. "A coffee," she adds. "Also: a chair? I would like to sit."

"A chair is a given. Follow me, there will be coffee. I don't think I could function without coffee. We can speak then, and I can send someone to see to make arrangements in town for tomorrow, tonight I will extend the hospitality of a room, so that you will not have to make your way back through the rain"

And Dina soon enough showing them to a room that is far less formal and more personal than anything, warmer with a fire that will deal with chill and damp, the rattle of impending cups, pots and hot beverage. Another gesture - but no actual offer of her hand to shake in greeting - She's taking up a wingchair opposite another before the fire.

"Your trip was not too taxing I hope?"

Ruth sits down, back straight and legs crossed at the knee. The carpet has already soaked up most of what's stuck to the bottom of her boots, and a glance down at her feet confirms that all she has left to do is leave them out in front of the fire until morning, then give them a good rub-down and polish once she can be sure that they're as dry as they're going to get.

She sniffs back what might be a sneeze. "No," she lies, then follows with a truth to excuse it: "But I do not enjoy making the boat ride."

"How anyone enjoys boating, I don't know. Adler tried to woo me in my younger years with a rowboat across a pond. Very nearly tossed him in, for all that he liked to rock it back and forth" Commiserate, is what she's doing, even as someone walks in with the coffee finally which means she's shifting forward to start pouring the dark liquid into the cups. One pushed towards the stiff backed woman, forefinger tapping the lid of the honey pot, another of a glass cannister with sugar, and then cream. Into her own goes cream and one solitary small spoonful of sugar.

"I rather prefer the ground beneath my feet. Now, tell me Ruth, may I call you Ruth or do you prefer Ms. Schroeder? Would you rather a small place of your own to reside in, or a boarding house? For that matter, where are your things. I can have them sent somewhere?" Silvering brows rise, expecting an answer.

"Frau Schroder, Ruth — it is no difference." Ruth leans forward to accept the cup, which is too hot to pick up by anything except its dainty handle, and breathes in the coffee's bitter scent. She pays a polite amount of attention to the canister of sugar, honey pot and vessel filled with cream, acknowledging that they exist before she declines them.

"I am writing every day," she says, "so for houses— private is better. I send my trunks."

Writing. "If you would like, while you are here this night, I could have someone show you to our collection of books. We take great pride in our collection. It has inspired us to try and make the town a better place for those who end up settling here" End up. Not choose. Some people have no choice after all. "You might find interest in there. We have a school as well, to educate the children. Adler will be taking care of introducing you to… Duncan" Not the softest of words when Dina speaks his name. "I am sure that you will be a tremendous asset to our home and we look forward to seeing what you might be able to educate us in, and help improve. Did you have any thoughts already on what you saw of the place as you rode here? I am curious"

Ruth is quiet as she considers Dina's question and the best way to answer it. She fills the silence with a long sip from her cup, letting the coffee's heat bleed through the roof of her mouth into her skull. Dina was right; she is chilled to the bone, and feels like her brain resembles the half-frozen slush that gathers on the side of the road in winter.

She isn't thinking with any great amount of clarity, and it's still too early to form any accurate opinions about the settlement she just rode through. "It is dark, Frau Ross," she says finally. "Tomorrow ask again."

"You might not see me tomorrow. I have to leave early in the morning, much to do, no rest for the wicked and how is it they say, idle hands?" But a warm smile is offered for Ruth as she nods her agreement. Ask tomorrow. Adler can ask. "Rest, welcome to my home Frau Schroeder. I hope that you will not regret your choice to come here. I will send someone to find you when the room is ready for you"

The much older woman rises from her seat with very little difficulty, catching the small ball of fur that topples from beneath the wrap so that it won't fall. "I shall leave you to the fire and your thoughts. We shall see each other, when we do again" The house is big enough. Her cup put down, a small amount drunk, she's turning to leave, barring any questions.

If Ruth has any, she chooses to keep them to herself.