Open Rambler's Roost
[warning: racism; antiquated terms, etc.]

Adapting to a migrant lifestyle had been no easy thing. He still often pined for the comforts of a claw-foot bath, port and cigars, plush carpet on the floor. But each time he doubted, his devotion to Vatsalya prevailed. Not to mention his desire to stay a pace ahead of his arrest warrant. Warrants? Who was to say at this point? 

Then the matter of his newfound flesh and blood. He hadn't desired to investigate his birth father, putting himself at risk of identification should he be asking about for some mysterious oriental man. Surely the whole of London knew by now; the bastard of Owenson's wife. How very unholy - the spawn of a heathen foreigner! So when he happened upon Haruka, he assumed she was one of the Chinese whose patronage he'd taken advantage of many a time in London when he ran out of laudanum from the chemist. But nay, that Tachibana devil, she was his child. It was quite the most serendipitous meeting he'd ever had in his life. She and Thomasina were he and Salya's ticket to escaping - Benefitting from each other in talent and transportation. Tachibana's Glass Circus gained a performer and accompanist, and in turn they had free mobile room and board. The stars aligned!

Madsmoor was just another stop, at least that had been the plan. Quite like many a Yorkshire village; utterly quaint, so very small, and sparsely filled with simple farm trade. But this one had the stodgy castle on a hill, quite a fairy tale until one got around to eavesdropping, then it was more a ghost story. It was no detractor for him, however. It was endearing, how very serious they all were about it all! How very enthused were they who tipped themselves out of chairs in the tavern in drunk declaiming! The whole manor was bloody mad, they said. Adorable!

If it had not been for the lie he'd concocted upon their discovery when 'visiting' the town hall, where he had found the most handsome of harpsichords, they would likely be miles away by now, perhaps all the way from the coast and back. Instead, they had become absorbed by some little gathering of singers and musicians, and soon up went the theatre. When it became clear that they'd make profit not only from their knockabout show, but from little concertos and plays performed for the Marquess and his ilk, there was little doubt in the matter of staying. At least for a while. Who would think to look for them all the way out here? The extra coin might help them fix broken equipment, and perhaps even afford to eat bread purchased instead of stolen! Such luxury.

Ellis had his turn at the wash today, and he was hanging costumes and plain clothing over a clothesline tied from the front of the caravan to a tree, on the village outskirts where they'd made camp. He'd grown to nearly enjoy work of this nature. After all, if he had no maid to launder his delicates, who better to handle them and their precise care instructions but himself?
Ever since he had started to help Catherine out around the hospital, Noah had found himself with considerably less idle time to adventure.  This probably came as a relief to many adults whom he had incessantly pestered, but it had started to make the boy quite restless.  A wandering spirit was a hard one to tie down, after all.

Full to bursting with unused mischief, Noah had slipped off and made his usual rounds about the village. It was when he had been eavesdropping on a small knot of people that he'd gotten the idea to investigate the caravan of traveling players he'd seen at the theater.  He couldn't imagine what it could be like to go from place to place performing!  To get out of Madsmoor and meet all sorts of people!  He just had to see where they lived.

The boy tiptoed his way into their camp with an excited sort of grin.  If anybody asked, he'd say he was lost.  He was quite sure that would be the best excuse.  It probably would have been if he hadn't laid eyes on the costumes hung up to dry.  Like a raven drawn to a shiny pendant, Noah was drawn to the colorful clothing.

He couldn't imagine what such a thing could cost!  Is that what performers really wore?  The ragamuffin looked down at his faded, church donated, and hand-me-down clothing with a crinkled nose.  Noah had never been a vain child, but he couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have finer clothing. 

Not realizing Ellis was nearby, an idea quickly weaseled its way into his brain.  What if he borrowed it?  Just to try it on.   Then he could fully imagine himself as being a world-famous singer!  Even if it was just for a minute.  With an eager expression, the waif quickly tugged the still soggy jacket off of the line and started to pull it on.  It probably looked more like a dress on his tiny frame, but he couldn't help but beam from ear to ear.
The countryside offered one good thing that Haruka missed that she'd had during their time in America: clean air. Certainly she liked the overall sophistication she had found in most of England but it was filled with the stench from the factories that filled the big cities. She hoped they would not be there long so she was going to enjoy the small positives while she could.

The short refreshing walk had ended when she returned to the camp and her eyes narrowed upon the small vermin. He was filthy and poor like most kids around the area. Seeing his hands grab at the jacket, she brought her paper fan down upon his shoulder from behind as a sharp clearing of the throat alerted him to her presence.

Her lips tightened as her eyes move to her brother and her voice carried out to him despite sounding low. "We seem to have a visitor. Are you picking up extra baggage without me?" She spoke in gist but it was impossible to tell from her tone, only their familiarity would make it clear.

She walked towards Ellis folding her hands neatly before her and tilted her head eyeing him over. "Hard at work too. I was going to ask if anything needed stitching."
He had been so taken with his own thoughts that he'd noticed neither boy nor sister until she spoke. Ellis popped his head up from behind a hanging shirt and frowned as he spied the little boy.

"Why who is this? I didn't hire him." Finding it perfectly likely that a child might be here to audition. Or beg, or had run from some brutality and needed refuge. He'd hardly thought about thieving.
Noah hadn't seen nor heard Haruka, so, when her fan touched his shoulder, and the sound of her clearing her voice reached his ears, he nearly jumped out of his skin.  The boy whirled around to face her, tripping over the jacket he had snatched in the process.  He tumbled, gracelessly to the ground and merely stared at the poor woman in response.  "Uhh..." 

An explanation for his actions didn't even reach his lips.  Instead, he busied himself with trying to shed the jacket, even though he seemed to have some trouble since his hands didn't spill out the end of the sleeves.  It seemed to take him an unusual amount of time, but he soon had the garment removed and messily tossed back over the line in a soggy heap.
"Well now it's wrinkled and ruined." He tried not to raise his voice at the poor thing, going to straighten out the jacket back on the line in its proper way again. "If you want a job, we could use an errand boy..." He eyed Haruka hesitantly. It would only be so if she bade it, really.
Haruka stared displeased as the boy wrestled off the garment and then rehung it on the line. It looked like a slayed beast that was hung to dry. She raised her fan to her lips and looked back at her brother. Her expression did not lighten when he mentioned the possibility of them hiring this child. Certainly she had been different when she'd taken in her own little one who was now a beloved member of the group. This was different, far different as far as she was concerned. He probably lived in the village and was being destructively curious.

A long sigh came from her and she closed her eyes in defeat. Haruka looked again at Ellis and shook her head softly. "I think we do not require another mouth to feed, especially someone who will ruin the laundry. It is your choice though... but I'd suggest making sure he was useful to start."

Her gaze moved down to the child with a piercing look. It was a good look for when she wanted to warn someone in the group without words that they were walking on a very thin line with her. The lady's voice remained soft and quiet. "If he does not want to work, or can not, and is just here to cause trouble... Might I suggest we ban him from the site? We do not desire someone who will just make things harder for us."
Noah cringed and crammed his hands into his pockets, awkwardly scuffling his feet about in the process.  He hadn't meant to wrinkle and ruin the jacket.  He'd only hoped to try it on, so he could pretend to also be a performer.  But he was much too embarrassed to admit such a thing.

"A...Aye.  'M good a' errands."  He blurted out in response to Ellis.  He didn't intended to ask for a job, but he wasn't ever one to shy away from an opportunity.  After all, he liked to keep his options open.  The hospital was wonderful right now, but it could be gone in a blink of an eye.  Everything always turned out that way.

His attention drifted to Haruka, and the waif's eyes immediately dropped to the ground, not wanting to meet her piercing look.  His body took to anxiously fidgeting as she spoke and quickly shook his head, forever a guilty conscience.

"'M not 'ere t' cause nah trouble.  Jus' wanted t' see wha' ya is like 'cause ya are performers an' they is real interestin'.  I can work real 'ard.  'Onest!"
Ellis felt he'd merely been given the illusion of choice under the guise of compromise as he watched her deliberate internally.

"Alright then. I suppose you could start by carrying some things from here to the theatre. You know the way, boy?" He'd start with something simple, looking around and taking a wooden sword that had been propped up against the side of their caravan and held it out to him.
"Then it is done. I do hope you mean what you say, child." Haruka spoke soft but there was a meaning to her voice the way the tone dropped subtly. Her eyes bore into the boy, letting him know that she was not one to cross before her attention returned to Ellis.

Her fingers touched his arm, conveying her seriousness as she spoke. "Becareful. You always mean well, in your own way. A circus is dangerous to a boy who doesn't know where they don't belong, and it can take a lot of attention to keep them in shape. I trust you.. but if you need anything.."

Her lips turned slightly upward. She did love her sibling truly, but it didn't mean she wouldn't enjoy him admitting she was right all the same.
Carefully, Noah took the wooden sword.  It was quite difficult for him not to immediately start swooshing it through the air, pretending to be battling some sort of invisible foe.  He wasn't so sure Ellis and Haruka would much appreciate him doing so.  Though, once he was far from their sight, perhaps he would do just that.

"Aye, I knows t' way."

Warily, he eyed the woman as she looked at him.  He most definitely didn't want to cause trouble with her.  He supposed she'd probably skip right over beating him and go straight to murder if he did something she didn't like.  She seemed terrifying.  The man seemed a bit nicer, but he couldn't be sure of him either.

"I...I do."
He narrowed his eyes at her playfully. "Sweet sister. Your trust in me is flattering. Perhaps someday it will prove warranted."

To the boy, "Then off with you." Ellis made a shooing motion. "Come back and I might have tupence or bread or something for you."
The woman smiled just at the corners and nodded. "My greatest flaw is how soft I am on you", she teased. Her attention returned immediately to the child and the smile vanished as if it had never been there.

She turned on her toes gracefully to leave her brother to his work. "I shall get lunch started for every one. Did you have a request for the menu?"
Noah perked up at the mention of tuppence or bread, and he quickly turned on his heel and dashed off toward town. He didn't dare glance back for he was sure the woman could murder someone just by looking at them. Maybe he wouldn't even play with the sword, too terrified of facing Haruka's wrath if something unfortunate did occur.
Ellis laughed as the boy ran in terror. "We're such witches." He attempted a proper cackle. "Caviar and chutney, darling." A joke. "Anything resembling food I shall make-believe is from a cafe in Bombay." then he fiddled with the washing some, smoothing down sequins and gold piping to be sure the boy hadn't ripped anything off.

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