Salvation of Ignorance - Chapter 10.1: Familiarity With Her Circumstances
Niall had only cried thrice in his life.
The first was as a lad, after being fed dirt by his childhood friend. It was not the dirt that did him in, but the resurfacing worm a day later. His final-two catharses were after the passing of two distinct relatives.
It was this not-so-fine, cool, Autumn noon that tempted his fourth.
"These as well, your lordship?"
Niall lowered his hand and glowered at the page holding another chest with Niall's family name printed on it.
"I hadn't instructed you otherwise the last seven times."
"No, sir," The page said, unnecessarily, before scampering off to add on to the already prominent load. The poor carriage bore the Claremont crest and Niall's future headaches. For once, the crew seemed attentive to decreasing the usual likelihood that a fraction of the luggage may be lost amongst the highway's rough terrain.
Peter better rent himself a hearse.
Obviously, Niall couldn't blame Peter for being unaware of Niall's higher-ranking colleges bombarding the Baron with their paper work on his return. Granted, if the maritime bourgeois took to listening to something other than his own voice, perhaps he might had been enlightened. But that was a matter to address at a later time. No, Peter's fault lay in having promised the retrieval of Niall's paperwork. And then never complying.
Niall pinched his nose once more. No, that wasn't right. Peter did him wrong, but Niall's predicament was set in stone the minute he was tempted by months of undisturbed slumber. However, Niall was pissed and wanted to blame someone and knew he couldn't. He would have to bite his tongue and do his job. Per usual.
Once his anger seemed reasonably settled, Niall lowered his hand. The page entered his vision, staring at him. Having seemed to have been doing that for quite some time.
Niall raised a brow, prompting the page to stand erect. "We've packed it all, sir."
The baron nodded, then folded his arms and examined his well-stocked carriage.
Men of seven and twenty do not cry.
"Will you be needin' an'thin' else, sir?"
"No, that will be all," Niall said with eyes still on the cause of many all-nighters to come.
The vulture seemed intent on avoiding departure. Possibly out of concern for his employer's predicament, but--given that the boy had been shamelessly examining Niall's pocket--more than likely not.
Fortunately for the tax-collector-in-the-making, Niall had set aside his abhorrence for jingling and procured some coins for travel. An even greater fortune was to be made by the choice to carry crowns. Pre-highway robbery at its finest.
The boy scampered off with his coin, probably believing he should depart prior to his donor's awareness of the blunder. But Niall practiced in knowledgeable blunders.
In London's prime neighborhoods, the toll booths were paid generously. With an excess of luggage on his vehicle, however, Niall--respectfully--believed too much for too little. Every miniscule of neglect dipped the vehicle at irregular and rapid intervals. That, or his driver was apathetically plowing those foolish enough to cross a motioned vehicle's path. Niall's lethargy kept him from checking otherwise.
Arms folded and feet upon the opposing seat, Niall relished in the contrast of his thick, thermal skin against the frigid window-pane. The Town Coach was well-furnished, but Niall still sought comfort in wrapping his cloak around his upper-person and merging with the side-cushion. This came at the cost of providing enough space for his unwelcomed rectangular-guests to pester him with jabs during turns.
Each spatial intrusion earned a grunted release of moistened air. As consequence, the windows fogged and he was quite certain he could no longer travel by car without traumatic reflection.
A whiny from the horses and his momentum propelled by the motionless carriage insured as much.
Peeling his face from the front wall, his hands rushed to his on-the-verge-of-concaving temples.
His solitary solace was no sooner disturbed by a rap on the door, "M'lord, are you alright?"
"I would've been better had you not stopped the carriage to ask!"
"M'lord, someone's crossed our path!"
Niall groaned to make up for his paralysis of thought. Then he forced the door open, taking the driver with it. Niall was not felicitous with window-peers on his pain.
"In the future," Niall said while stepping down from the carriage, "check the status of the person you almost maimed first. You did 'almost' maim them, yes?"
The driver emerged from his entrapment by the door to lead the way to the horses, "Yes, m'lord. The girl was staggering--."
Niall hadn't caught the rest. Before his horse stood a crowd of onlookers. None of them concerned enough to check the victim's status in his driver's stead. The girl stood before them, clutching her hand in a familiar jacket. A familiar gentleman's jacket.
"Miss Barrettmore?" Niall called in confusion, rather than confirmation.
The chit did not reply. Either stupefied by what had transpired, or from practice.
Niall took a step forward, but immediately halted. Not because she responded--because she still hadn't--but in remembrance of how she flinched during his farewell gesture those few days ago.
Now, he wasn't entirely conflicted by the gesture. After all, they had only recently cleared the air of his egregious--but logically founded, given his lack of familiarity with her circumstances--accusation and the girl 'with an agreeable temperament' had met him with the only scowl he'd seen from her. It was simply a generality that he disliked the notion of invading the space of someone adverse to the intrusion.
Distracted by contemplating how to instead approach her, the sound of her chattering molars resonated. Christ, she really was scared stupid. And to think he had joked about the unlikely event moments prior.
Welcome to city life?
"Are you going to be alright, Miss Barrettmore?" Niall inquired from a distance. "Did you hurt your hand?"
In her continued unresponsiveness, he noticed her attention lay in a destination from across the road and not the carriage at all. Turning to see what had her attention, he found nothing significant. Confused, he waved a hand in front of her face.
Her glossed eyes clasped onto him. "Mi-Mi...Mister Cla-Claremont? Wha-what are you doing h-here?"
"That's Lord Claremont!" His driver called from behind and Niall instinctively shushed him. His concern resonated in her onset of amnesia.
"'Lord'?" She inquired languorously. Then made a small gesture of her head that resembled a nod. "Ah, yes. You said s-so. I...I need to go now."
"Well, would you like a ride?" Niall offered, considering she was clearly not in a state to refrain from entering traffic.
"Yes, a ride," Niall latched on to her participation. "I mean, we are friends now. I almost run you over. I provide you a ride. We're two for zero on favors at this point."
"I need a 'yes' or 'no', Miss Barrettmore," Niall declared with palms open toward the carriage. His hair roots were beginning to moisten by the continued audience of city dwellers.
Her eyes finally acknowledged the carriage and she followed the direction of Niall's hands. Intercepting the driver from opening the door for her, Niall signaled for the man to take his place at the reins. The sooner he was away from the witnessing ton and the girl was returned, the better.