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01 August 2007 @ 12:16 am
Road Town's a port town, and a new one at that, and the vendors offer dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of different things, but none of those things are things that Todd dares touch yet. The ache in his wrist when it storms is still fresh enough to warn him away, hunger or no hunger, and the food sellers know by the way he stares longingly at their wares what to expect from him anyway.

He swallows thickly as he pads down the street in one of the shabbier parts of this shabby town, thinking of how nice it would be to go back to his cranny and curl up with Crookshins to sleep, but he can't sleep to avoid the hunger for much longer (oh, he is so hungry) so he keeps moving, a shaky nervous boy in worn and ill-fitting clothes just looking for one simple easy purse to cut, one bauble hanging too loose on someone's wrist.

To-day he might even be quick enough to keep what he takes.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 05:35 am (UTC)
There's a young woman walking nearby -- her clothes aren't anything particularly special, and there's little in the way of jewelry on her person...all the same, she carries herself with unusual poise and self-possession.

She looks around at her surroundings with vague and largely shuttered distaste. Whatever it is, mostly it's ignored in favour of quiet grief.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 05:44 am (UTC)
...why, good morning.

Todd's a much keener observer of people when he has good reason to be, and perhaps this is a wealthy man's daughter out on an illicit stroll? She could have something worth taking.

He attempts to sneakily sneak around her front, eyeing her surreptiously for signs of valuables.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
Elizabeth has little of value -- there's a silver medal hanging between her breasts, though, St Christopher's if he can get close enough to pick it out, although with the careful way she steps and observes her surroundings, he might have some difficulty.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 06:05 am (UTC)
Todd knows he is not nimble enough to go plucking a medal right out of a lady's bosom, and even if he were he doesn't believe he would. She's careful, too, and that'd be a difficulty.

He fully means to walk by her. He does. It's not his fault there's a bit of- well, all right, he trips over his own feet, but that's still not wrong, is it? He doesn't mean to go crashing into her, and that's a simply fact.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
Elizabeth stumbles to the side, cursing colourfully in a foreign tongue (proper ladies may say anything they please if nobody understands what the words mean), her hands shooting out to steady herself. One catches on his shoulder, and she has a fairly good grip before she lets go, straightening. "Goodness me! Are you quite all right?" Oh yes, there's no mistaking her for anything but what she is, when she begins to speak...English, that is.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 06:24 am (UTC)
Oh by all the saints in Heaven- Todd's squirming like a soaked cat even before she grabs at his shoulder, and he flings himself back in such a way that it's mostly a miracle or simple ignorance of the natural laws that keeps him on his feet, however wobbly.

He makes a soft, frightened sound at her, just a few notes below a scream, and holds her hands up to ward her off.

"I- I- y-yes, m-miss, I-" He flinches from nothing, fingers curling as he squeezes his eyes shut.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
It's become automatic -- she checks her pockets for the few things she does now have, before she tries to wrangle with this strange child any more. Satisfied that she hasn't lost the few coins her rescuer gave her to entertain herself with today, she puts both hands on her hips and surveys young Todd.

"You ought to be more careful where you're going, young man. We could've had a nasty spill." It's a gently reproving tone, motherly in a way that comes easily to her.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 06:35 am (UTC)
Todd's eyes flick to her checking her pockets and he bites the tip of his tongue, gaze far too bright and avid for simple curious interest. He could have used this - John would laugh if he saw him now, though John usually laughed at Todd for no reason anyway.

He smooths the front of his shirt, letting his gaze drop to the ground near the edge of her skirt as his heart races fit to shatter.

"Apologies, miss," he mumbles, in an accent that's not English, French, Dutch, or Spanish, but an odd, jumbled mixture of a dozen dialects. "Tripped on a- on my feet, miss."
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
The dusty red fabric of her skirt is surely fascinating. Her shoes, a little too small, pinch at her toes and the edge of her skirt moves with her as she adjusts her stance to make allowances for the discomfort. "Do be more careful in future, will you please?" she smiles, encouragingly. "My name is Elizabeth. What's yours?"
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 06:45 am (UTC)
He winces, drawing back and glancing up at her through a tangled, unwashed mess of hair.

"T-Todd, miss. I'll be more careful, miss." He not sure how often he should say miss, but surely too many times is better than too little.

(It comes in a flash: her face darkening as she calls for the watch, him being dragged off to the clammy stone cells of the fort and Todd knows full well that if he can barely live out here he'd be dead there in a matter of days.)

He licks a sore at the corner of his mouth nervously, fidgeting in place.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
"Very good, young Todd." Her face doesn't darken and she doesn't raise her voice, rather just regards him with her usual bright observation. "Now, before you go on your way, I think we might be able to help each other." She produces her coin purse and jangles it in one hand -- it's sort of pathetically not very full at all. "I need to know where I might find a ship in need of an interpreter."
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
The growl of his stomach, he hopes, is not heard; and if she doesn't notice the ways his fingers twitch and his eyes light up while his mouth dries out, all the better.

"You'd be wanting the port, miss," he says, not taking his eyes from the purse, "I- I think I know of a few ships who'd be interested." Todd does not tell her that he knows the port about as well as inside of the governor's house (vaguely and through hearsay) or that, as a woman, and a lady at that, she's as likely to get aboard one of those ships as he's to get invited to a high society dinner.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
It's okay, really -- Elizabeth knows perfectly well the likelihood of persuading a Captain that she belongs on his ship, and she has some vague idea of how badly it could go for her even if she did make it aboard. Vague, because Captain Sumner's men were interested in things other than a young woman promised to wed their leader, and there are things you don't repeat to ladies.

She's just perfectly willing to try her luck at the docks before she resigns herself to either trying to get home (she shudders to think of what her mother must be thinking, and wonders if news of the shipwreck would reach them before she did) or settling to live out her life...like this.

"Mmm..." She opens her purse and spills three coins into her hand. "Which, perhaps?"
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 07:10 am (UTC)
Good. Merciful. God.

Todd hadn't truly expected anything to come of today, but those coins, if he stretches them - and he knows how to stretch a coin - could feed him for almost a week.

"I-I'll show you, miss," he says, wrenching his eyes up to her face with a terrible effort of will, "I'm not much for names."
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)
"Very good." She tucks her purse away and closes her fist tightly around the coins he wants so badly. "Let's to the port, then."
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 07:14 am (UTC)
Clever, Elizabeth; Todd would have been more than willing to snatch those from your palm if you'd given him a few more moments to think about it.

He bobs his head in a deferential nod and turns to begin guiding her through the streets, careful to take safe ways. He won't let anyone take this particular purse from him, not if he can help it.
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 07:18 am (UTC)
Elizabeth follows, moving quickly on her tightly-shod feet. She's quiet, after that exchange, her mind racing through the options as they've presented themselves to her and trying to think of what Marshall would want her to do. He was never a man who believed in giving up, and his quest is hers, now.

She's just not sure how she can ever begin to accomplish anything.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
It's not awfully far to where the ships are moored, and Todd falls back a few paces to walking by Elizabeth's elbow, scanning the swarm of activity nervously and imagining ways to fool her into thinking he knows what he's talking about.

He rather wishes he could read, now.

"That one," he says, pointing at the closest ship, "I can't recall the name, miss, and I'm unlettered, but it's a sure thing. They're looking for all kinds of folk."
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 07:27 am (UTC)
Elizabeth isn't entirely naïve -- she is aware that Todd's probably more concerned with those coins than giving her accurate information. But, as optimistic as she can manage these days, she's trying to have faith that at the very least she'll be able to get somewhere out of this.

"That one," she echoes, and almost absent-mindedly opens her palm, offering him the coins. "Thank you, young Todd."
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 07:58 am (UTC)
Despite his earlier eagerness, there's a distinct hesitancy to his reach when she offers the coins. Her hands are so much cleaner than his own, and he feels a hot surge of embarrassment as his rough, filthy fingers glance over her palm as he collects his payment.

He pulls his hand back quickly and bobs his head in another short, quick nod. "You're welcome, miss, more than."
foratlantis on August 1st, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
Elizabeth's hands are as clean as she could get them, and soft from a lack of hard work. This is a woman who grew up with books and philosophical discussion, not the need to earn her way in the world.

She smiles at him as he takes the coins and pats his shoulder, briefly. "What an unexpected spot of good fortune, running into you." It's forced cheer from a woman suddenly allowing herself to be, momentarily, tired.
corkscrewchild on August 1st, 2007 08:26 am (UTC)
He smiles in almost a wince, a brief flicker of expression that barely has time to be seen before it leaves for better pastures.

"That it was, miss," he says, and then on a flash of inspiration, "My mother's expecting me home, soon, so I'd best be going. Good luck finding your ship, miss."

He turns to leave, imagining what a boy going home might walk like.