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Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Junior Member

21 Posts
1 Thread

Pronouns: She, her
Age: 19
Height: 5'4"
Registered: Sep 2020

#1
She had never worked a day in her life, and it showed in the smoothness of her hands and her poise. But she was hungry... She had spent the last several days skulking in the library until it was closed, and her nights were spent sleeping wherever she could rest her head. Her funds were gone. She had just enough left to rent a room for an hour just so she could get herself cleaned up and in her best gown, which was a faded grey number that had seen better days, but was at least clean.

Then she packed her carpetbag and went to respond to the ad she had found in the paper in her search for employment.

She arrived at the office and had to lean against the building for a moment. She was feeling lightheaded and stupid for not spending her last bit of coin on food, but it was a catch 22 situation.

Pippa wasn't sure whether just to walk in or knock, so she knocked firmly enough to be heard, but not so firmly that her knuckles hurt. She sighed in the meantime, pressing her hand to her empty belly.
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Member

68 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 31
Occupation: Physician
Height: 6'1''
Registered: Nov 2020

#2
[Content warning: reference to racism]

Tristan was in the waiting room of his office. It was not time for consultation and there were no patients - not that he had seen many so far anyway - but he was waiting for a potential maid. He paced the floor to get rid of some of the stress of it, for though he didn't like to admit it, he was pretty nervous. So far, he had lived in institutions ever since leaving the home of his parents and this was the first time he was troubled with having to hire staff - a delicate issue anyway, he remembered from home. Once his family had grown wealthy enough to hire servants, they had been confronted with the fact that for them, wealth wasn't everything. Poor white people were willing to swallow their pride and serve other white people, but his family had found few willing to wait on them.

When the knock at the door came, Tristan took a deep breath and reminded himself that he was the employer here, and if he did not like the interaction, he could keep looking. He looked more confident when he opened the door. "Miss Danes? I'm Dr. Wells. Do come in." He stepped out of the way. Young, average size, pretty, healthy face, no signs of heavy drinking, clean, old faded clothes, that had to be second hand, and yet fitted her well. She seemed sensible and prudent at a first glance.

The white-washed waiting room was small and bare safe for a few chairs and a large plant that looked like it was dying for the bleakness of it. The door to the examination room and office was open. The door next to it was closed.
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Junior Member

21 Posts
1 Thread

Pronouns: She, her
Age: 19
Height: 5'4"
Registered: Sep 2020

#3
Pippa was taken aback for a moment as the man came out and asked if it was, indeed, her. "Yes, sir," she said respectfully, as she was not the type of person to disrespect anyone, no matter what the circumstances were. She met his eyes just for the sake of showing him exactly that. She followed him in and was white-knuckled with nervousness. How would she be able to convince anyone to hire her if she hadn't worked or had no references to speak of?

She glanced around for a time before looking at him again, her face pinched with the hunger she was feeling. Her stomach rudely growled and color filled her cheeks. She hoped he didn't hear the blasted growling, but how could he not when it was loud? "I am Philippa Danes," she said, adjusted her bag so it wouldn't fall open and send her worldly belongings to the floor, and held out a hand for him to shake if he so chose.

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice," she said, not knowing that he was desperate as she possibly, or what would happen.
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Member

68 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 31
Occupation: Physician
Height: 6'1''
Registered: Nov 2020

#4
As soon as she spoke, Tristan realized that she was not a local, not English even. Irish? No, the servants they could find back at home had been Irish, and he had treated a few Irish inmates. She didn't sound like it. American maybe? And it sounded refined.

He also noticed the growling of her stomach. A strange contrast.

"Thank you for being available so soon," he replied. Phillipa was hardly a name for a servant girl, he thought to himself.

He led her into the office. A window on the left looked out across a yard. Apart from a sofa and several cupboard with medical appliances, there was a wooden desk in the room, with files stacked on one side, and a tray with a teapot and cups in the middle. He gestured for her to sit on the side closest to do door. On the other side, behind the chair, there were shelves filled with thick books. But Tristan did not sit down immediately. He had brought down tea, but he now wished he had brought something to eat as well. He thought about going up to the apartment to get something, but then remembered he didn't have any cakes or anything else that would easily go with the tea, and he did not want to embarrass her by making it obvious that he had heard her growling stomach. And so he sat down, resolving that if he would reject her, he would at least give her some food.

"Where are you from, Miss?" he asked. "You don't sound like you're from here."
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Junior Member

21 Posts
1 Thread

Pronouns: She, her
Age: 19
Height: 5'4"
Registered: Sep 2020

#5
"Boston, sir," she said softly. Her expression tightened slightly as a wave of grief tried to force through her. She did her best to regain her composure as quickly as possible, not wanting to burst into tears at the thought of how she was the only one left of her family. She set the carpet bag down on the floor neatly, and then took a deep and calming breath. She was alright.

She took another breath and then began, "I know you have questions to ask of me to see if I am a good match for this job, but I have to be honest with you before you ask me anything more. I've never worked before and I won't lie and say I did. While I was away in school, my family perished in a house fire." She looked down for a moment and it was clear she wasn't acting when it grew difficult for her to continue speaking. But after a few moments, she continued, "I have nothing but the clothing on my back and in this carpet bag... I sold most of what I owned, my better gowns and everything but the locket my father gave me. I have nothing left otherwise. I spent the last of my coin just today to take a bath so I wouldn't smell horrid when I came here. I have no references to speak of. If that makes it easier for you not to hire me, then so be it, but at least I was honest with you. I can learn all the things I need to do for you, however, if you would just give me a chance."
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Member

68 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 31
Occupation: Physician
Height: 6'1''
Registered: Nov 2020

#6
He assumed that was American Boston. He nodded and was about to ask about her experience, and whether she had served as a maid before, here or across the Atlantic, when she started speaking.

So she wasn't a working class girl. Tristan thought he had indeed observed something out of place about her speech, her manners, the way she carried herself, though he hadn't been able to entirely place it before. He wondered why she did not seek out marriage or better employment, if she was educated. He wondered what had led the girl to cross the ocean. Or perhaps she had come here with her family before they perished. But he reminded himself that he sat here today as employer, not as alienist. It would be inappropriate to pry, especially as he observed that recounting the unfortunate events unsettled her.

"I am sorry for your loss, Miss Danes," he said. He reached out to pour her a cup of tea, to fortify her, and he gently moved the cup across the table. "I'd be willing to give you a chance," even if it was just because he felt morally obliged to do so now, "and if you can read, you can learn about the housework from manuals, I suppose." Although it would mean he would have to send his laundry out, he realized. He wouldn't entrust the mending and washing of fragile materials and ironing to inexperienced hands. "But could you handle being treated like a working girl?"
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Junior Member

21 Posts
1 Thread

Pronouns: She, her
Age: 19
Height: 5'4"
Registered: Sep 2020

#7
She was silent for a moment as if she didn't hear what he said. He'd give her a chance. Firstly, however, she said, "Thank you," her voice heavy sounding as if trying to sound out around a lump in her throat. There was no joy in her eyes for the fact that he'd said he'd give her a chance, but she was grateful nevertheless. "I have no choice if I wish to eat and sleep with a roof over my head. I can read and write, do sums and even take charge of a household. Cleaning doesn't seem that hard, I... am sure I can learn to cook in time if I had books with recipes."

Pippa took the tea and sipped of it, grateful for the warmth that seeped into her and the temporary relief it brought to her empty stomach. He might notice that her fingers shook a little and even recognize that it was from her hunger, but she made no attempt to beg for food. She had to set the cup down because she sloshed a little tea onto her hand. She bit her lip and closed her eyes for a moment, taking in deep breaths as if that would ease the little bit of pain that came with a scalding. "I'm sorry," she said and drew her hands away from the cup, folding them firmly in her lap.

"Nevertheless," she continued, "I will do what needs to be done." That was including, but not limited to, cleaning up poop! But that needn't be said aloud.
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Member

68 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 31
Occupation: Physician
Height: 6'1''
Registered: Nov 2020

#8
She had never cleaned anything at all in her life? Never cooked a single meal? Why was it, that the higher up in society one got, the more infantile and helpless the women were expected to be? This was going to be a challenge. Even a girl of twelve or thirteen fresh out of the workhouse had at least been taught how to cook.

He didn't have long to think of it, though. He noticed how she spilt tea over her hand and he rose quickly. He couldn't help it. He was a doctor.

"Best cool that," he said, walking over to a sink in the corner and opening the tap. The pipe came straight through the wall from outside so the water was very cold. He gestured for her to run her hand under it.
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Junior Member

21 Posts
1 Thread

Pronouns: She, her
Age: 19
Height: 5'4"
Registered: Sep 2020

#9
She stood and swayed a little, nigh unto swooning. Once she was steady on her feet, she moved to the sink and placed her trembling appendage beneath the cool running water. The relief was almost immediate, though one could see the welt forming. As close as she was, he might even see the remnants of the bruising on her throat from the assault at the library. She was trying very mightily to hold herself together, too, and that much was clear by the way she clenched her jaw and rolled her eyes upward, tears threatening to spill from her lashes.

"I am sorry," she said, voice ragged. She was desperately hungry, desperately tired, and desperate for this job so she could ease the former two things. Pippa took in a shuddering breath.
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Member

68 Posts
2 Threads

Age: 31
Occupation: Physician
Height: 6'1''
Registered: Nov 2020

#10
"That's alright..." said Tristan. He looked out over the yard shortly, and closed the tap when he thought the wound had cooled enough. In the light coming from the window he did indeed spot the injury on her neck. "Were you attacked?" he asked, nodding at it.
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