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The Language of the Flowers was a popular method to express feelings where words might be improper, but did you know other means of doing so? Some ladies used their parasols, as well as their fans, gloves, and hankies to flirt with a gentleman (or alternatively, tell them to shove it!). — Bree


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Ester Montgomery for Thomas Montgomery. The one that got away (with the pornographer...)
This boy, then. He wasn't new. Wasn't one of the worst people in the common room, those rotten rich boys - like Mr. Jailkeeper - who could not fathom a world beyond their own farts. Was a good working class lad, so he'd heard. Had a bit of a weird looking face, and a bit of a weird thing for preaching. Still.

Aubrey Davis in The Under-Sofa


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Bumps in the Evening
#1
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July 29th, 1888 — Ros' Greenhouse, Ross Residence, Bartonburg

"I have a shovel," the witch warned sharply, "and I will use it."

The words were said with far more confidence than Roslyn Ross felt.

In the waning daylight hours—though with the fog, even the midday light was scarce—her workbench was illuminated with an oil lantern as she tended to some budding flowers. She had been spending more time in here than usual, for the lack of magic had been a nightmare for her more exotic flora. The quiet and solitude suited Ros, but as a result, she nearly lept out of her skin at the sound of a rustle from behind one of her shrubs.

The "shovel" was, technically, more in the trowel family of things, but Ros held it in front of her like a sword, yearning for the use of her wand once more. A simple stunner could have stopped any burglar in their tracks, but her small frame and complete lack of experience in fisticuffs? Less promising.




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#2
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"Get back here!"

The rat wiggled out of her arms and skittered straight out the door, behind the house, and towards another. With a frustrated grunt, the small child dashed after it, waving her fist all the while. She needed it as proof for a job well done, and it had fled. The nerve!

The fading daylight and the fog had her stumbling in what she thought was the right direction, but she couldn't be completely sure. A noise had her spinning about, and she chose to pursue it, whether it was created by the rodent or not. Without thinking, she elbowed her way into Roslyn's greenhouse, her rat catching sack held clutched in front of her. It probably appeared like she was about the ransack the poor woman's vegetables, if she had any.

Noticing the light, Billie tried to put the breaks on, but she wasn't quick enough and ended up stumbling nearly clear through a shrub. The 'shovel' in Ros's hands caused the ragamuffin to let out a startled squeak, and she immediately threw her hands up to protect her face.


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#3
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Almost immediately, Roslyn’s expression softened, and she lowered the trowel ever so slightly—though did not put it down. Instead of the burglar or boggart she had been expecting, it was only a young lad lurking. Still technically a crime and there was every chance he might rob her blind (or worse, damage one of her plants), but the mother of two could not help but have a soft spot for youth.

“Come out here, then,” she directed sternly, though her expression was more neutral than angry. “Let’s get a good look at you.”




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#4
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Billie continued to eye the trowel as she slowly edged closer. Grip tightening on her sack, she fearfully stared up at the woman. The sternness in Roslyn's voice was what made her obey. She clearly thought she was going to be stabbed or at least struck with the gardening tool if she didn't comply. People had done worse to her for less.

"I weren't stealin' nothin', Miss!" The waif nearly shouted, expression guilty. She seemed adamant to clear the air right then and there, not wanting to be picked up by the authorities for a crime she wasn't even attempting to commit. Today. "H-Honest!"


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#5
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“Breaking into someone’s home is still a crime,” Roslyn pointed out sternly, “even if that ‘home’ is only for plants.”

Merlin, but he was a scrawny little thing! In spite of her nerves and her better judgement, Ros couldn’t help but wonder when the child last had a proper meal—but no, one did not reward a break and enter with a hearty supper. That would certainly not send the right message!




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#6
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Billie's legs wobbled about as if she were about to flee. She didn't want to get arrested. She stared up at Roslyn fearfully, and her face crumpled into that expression children get when they were on the edge of wanting to cry. "I didn't mean to!" She squeaked out and suddenly started to explain in a jumbled mess of words. "'M sorry. Iwasjustcatchin'aratthat'smyjob!"

Billie quickly pointed toward the direction of the door she had entered through. "It runned outta that house an' Irunnedafterit an' itrunnedinhere an'...an'...an'...I didn't mean to commit no crime!" She took a deep breath as if she had just spouted that all out in one. "Please don't arrest me or nothin', or kill me dead with that thing!"

Usually, she was a bit more brave, but she felt cornered. And she really hadn't meant to break in. This time.


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#7
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The vagabond was clearly frightened. Good. Scared straight, hopefully. Still, Roslyn could not help but look skeptically at the trowel she still clutched so dearly. No doubt there were many who could make a weapon of it, but the witch was quite certain she needed something a great deal more impressive to kill anything with it.

A breath, and then, “You cannot just enter others’ homes with impunity, even if it is in the course of your duties. To whom are you employed?”

For good measure, the witch set the trowel on her workbench, her hands finding purchase instead upon each of her hips.




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#8
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"Im...im wha'?"

The question blurted from Billie's mouth before she could stop it. From the puzzled look on the child's dirty face, it was clear she wasn't sure what exactly Roslyn meant. The woman's question, at least, was one she could understand, and the child rather quickly relayed the answer. "Them folks who is behind ya sorta. A Miss Hill is the one who asked me to get a rat outta her kitchen."

She wasn't sure if Miss Hill was the woman's correct name, nor was she sure if she was the mistress of the house or some sort of hired help. Either way, Billie told the truth about her current employer. "But I work for myself, kinda." She added, not wanting to get someone else in trouble for her mistake.

The waif allowed her shoulders to relax just slightly after Roslyn put the trowel away, but they scrunched back toward her ears once more as the woman soon placed her hands to her hips.


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#9
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There was no “Miss Hill” living in back of the Rosses, of that Roslyn was sure, but she was not knowledgeable enough about who was and was not employed where to dismiss the boy’s story outright.

“Then I think you’d best take yourself back to this Miss Hill,” she directed sternly. Better still that he should take himself back to his mother, but if his story was true, Ros could hardly suggest he forego his pay.



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#10
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At first, Billie nodded her head rather quickly, absolutely ready to get out of Roslyn's greenhouse and out of trouble. She was sure that, the longer she remained, the more likely it was that she would be arrested or worse. However, the thought of Miss Hill (or whatever her actual name was) not being able to have any sort of proof that she had driven the rodent away, had her almost sulking. No rat, no pay. And a very angry woman. What a waste of a day.

Billie didn't want to press her luck, but she couldn't help tentatively and rather quietly saying, "I...I'll get right outta here, but, erm, Miss?" She paused, anxiously chewing on the inside of her cheek. "Ya...ya didn't see wheres that rat went or nothin' did ya? I can't go back empty handed, or--" She squinted about in the dim light, hopeful that she'd catch a glimpse of any sort of pest at all. "Ya ain't seen it have ya?"

The urchin scuttled back a few steps toward the door she'd barreled through, just in case she had been too bold in asking and had to make a run for it.


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