Princess the Chiko
The Glacier Noktoa
Age: 2 years, 2 months
Born: December 27th, 2017
Adopted: 8 months, 1 week, 4 days ago
Adopted: June 15th, 2019
- Level: 6
- Strength: 12
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 10
- HP: 10/10
- Intelligence: 49
- Books Read: 48
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Candy Maker
She was born Sarah Smith. As a scrappy kid raised on the streets near the docks, no one thought she was going anywhere. From the age of 13, she set out to prove them wrong. She'd lived in a gutter, a convent, a boarding house, and a charm school, all before the age of 15. She paid her way into school by singing in clubs, and eventually selling her innocence to the highest bidder at the age of 16. She had many loyal fans in the clubs she frequented, and if she wasn't truly innocent that night, the gentleman paid enough to pretend otherwise. At 17, she graduated with honors from Mrs. Rosaline's Finishing School for Fine Young Ladies and entered society as Miss Sarah, fine lady.
Miss Sarah was offered a position watching over two small children. The children adored her, but so did their father. When the lady of the house found out her husband was inviting Sarah into their bed at night when she was away, she quickly had Sarah thrown out.
With nowhere else to go, Sarah returned to one of the clubs where she had always received good money for singing and playing the piano-forte. After performing a set to great applause, she sat down at the bar to have a drink.
"What'll it be tonight, Miss?" the bartender asked her.
"Whatever's cheap and won't kill me, Mac," she replied. "And a room for the night, if there's any vacancies upstairs."
Mac slid her a glass of watered down wine across the bar. "A room for sleeping, or for business?" he asked. There were rooms above the club where customers could pay to stay for the night or for the hour.
"A bit of both, I should think? I've made enough for the night, at least," she said, sifting through the coins approving patrons had dropped in her hat passed around the club after her show.
"Lose the gig with the kids, didja?"
"Nothing good can last, Mac. The gentleman was very fond of my customs, but the lady was not."
The bartender laughed. "That's a refrain as old as time. You know, Miss, I don't know if it's my place to say, but I've heard the House of Songbirds on Bourbon Street has an opening, if you're looking for a more permanent position."
"The House of Songbirds, hm? Think they would allow a piece of street trash like me?"
"You're a lady, ain'tcha? So you don't have the pedigree, the country wasn't built by pedigrees. I know the driver there. I can have him take you in the morning, so you can sniff out the place if you're interested."
Sarah slid a stack of coins across the bar and blew a kiss to him. "Bless you, Mac. That sounds like just the thing."
The next morning, Sarah arrived on the stoop of the House of Songbirds. A man, tall and broad and dressed quite finely stood on the top of the steps of the entrance, presumably to bar the entrance of any undesirables.
"Hello, sir. I've heard there's an opening here for a girl and I'm here to apply for the job," she addressed him.
He looked her up and down, seemingly unimpressed. "No," was all he said.
"No? Whadja mean, no?"
The man looked past her, like she were nothing more than an annoying pest he'd rather not have in his field of vision. "This is a house for fine ladies, which you ain't."
Sarah gasped in mock offense. In truth, she'd heard and been called much, much worse, but she found it paid to pretend otherwise. "I am so a fine lady, and I have the credentials to prove it! I was top girl in my class at Mrs. Rosaline's Finishing School for Fine Young Ladies, I'll have you know." She wasn't actually ever top girl, but no one got anywhere in life without stretching the truth just a bit here and there.
The man just shrugged and continued looking past her. Sarah growled in frustration. This was not going the way she'd hoped it would. Just then, two giggling girls in more feathers and finery than Sarah had ever seen waltzed out of the house and down the stairs arm in arm. Sarah came up beside them and followed.
"Excuse me, ladies, but I'm trying to find whoever's in charge of the house. I've heard there's an open spot and I want it."
The two girls paused in their step and giggled. "You want to talk to Madame Annabella," said one, "She's in charge."
"How can I find her?" Sarah asked.
"She's inside, never too far from the entrance. You'll have to get past Bill, first, of course." The girl nodded her head in the direction of the large man still standing like a statue at the top of the steps.
"I tried, but he won't let me in!"
"You have to impress him somehow," said the other girl, "I spoke to him in French and he let me right in on my first day."
"Oui!" said the first girl, "He likes a show of class. Madame does too, for that matter. Class and a clean fanny."
"As if you've ever had a clean fanny, Rebecca, dear!" The second girl said teasingly.
"When will you ever learn, Lisette? My fanny is always clean, it's my mouth that's not!" Rebecca replied.
Lisette and Rebecca burst into brief unladylike laughter and began to walk again, arm in arm.
Sarah crossed her arms and stared at Bill, unmoved on his post. "Class, huh?" she muttered to herself, "If he wants class, he'll get class. I've got class coming out of my ass, they'll see."
Sarah went shopping all that afternoon. She had an idea in mind that required some certain supplies. First, the dress. She went to several different dressmakers to find something of the right style, but it was in white, so it would require coloring. She purchased the fabric dye from another shop, and found a suitable scarf that could pass for a turban. She also bought a lantern with a hood that directed a beam of light from its flame to shine as brightly as it could in one spot. Lastly, the hardest, but most important piece. She needed an impossibly large pearl earring.
She had enough saved from her earnings made singing and playing in taverns, as well as from the willing men she met along the way, but even if she put all her pennies together she would still not have nearly enough for a pearl of the size she needed. After searching many jewelry shops, she found a metal worker selling polished balls of tin that could pass for a pearl earring with the proper fastening and the right lighting.
Once she had her supplies all purchased, she rented a room with a bathtub at a small inn that charged by the hour. She only needed it long enough to dye the dress and get herself ready. Her plan would go into effect tonight, so long as the dress dried quickly enough.
She dyed the dress, a close enough color to the one she needed, and hung it from the window to dry. The dress received little attention from passers by. They were used to unusual sights in this city. Sarah bought herself a bite to eat and waited for night to fall.
The dress was still damp when 10 o'clock rolled around, but it didn't matter. It didn't need to feel good, it only needed to look good. She put it on and wrapped the scarf about her head, covering her hair under it like a turban. She applied foundation to her eyebrows to make them blend in with her skin, and put the brightest red lipstick she owned on her lips. She looked in the mirror and practiced the look she was trying to invoke. It wasn't perfect, but it would be instantly recognizable to anyone with a taste for art, and that's what she was going for.
At half past 10, she strolled down the street towards the House of Songbirds. She turned a few heads of men interested in her low cut bodice, but if they thought the rest of her garb odd, they made no sign. When she reached the stoop of the house she could see the lights glowing inside, bright and warm and welcoming. The only silhouette was that of Bill, standing in wait of gentlemen callers, to either turn away if they were not up to par, or invite them in, if they were.
Sarah set up her lantern at the foot of the steps and lit the flame of her lantern. The beam of light shone on her as a spotlight, and she struck her pose. "Ahem," she said, clearing her throat loudly enough to attract Bill's attention.
He stared at her, then did something she did not expect. He laughed. Hand on his belly, he guffawed at her. She had not seen him smile before, not once, but now he positively shook with laughter.
"What are you laughing at? Don't you get it? I'm Vermeer's painting, the girl with the turban and the pearl earring!" sputtered.
"You are ridiculous if you think dressing like a foreign buffoon is what's going to get you in here!" he said between bouts of laughter.
"I most certainly am NOT ridiculous, I'm classy! Art is classy! I can be classy!" she shouted at him in desperation and anger.
"Oh sure, you're a real Miss Priss," he said condescendingly.
"What is going on out here?" a woman's voice came from inside the house. She stepped out, a tall woman in the biggest, frilliest dress Sarah had ever seen. "Bill, what has got you up in a tizzy?" The woman turned to look at Sarah and gave a short laugh of her own. "What on earth? You, girl, who are you supposed to be?"
Sarah sighed and rolled her eyes. "Am I the only one here educated in art? I painstakingly recreated a painting by a famous Dutch artist and no one recognizes me!"
"And why, praytell, would you go to such lengths to entreat us with this...vaudeville?" she asked, looking entertained at Sarah's frustration.
Sarah threw her hands up in defeat. "Two of your girls said I needed to show some class to get past him," she gestured at Bill, who was still smiling in amusement.
The woman glanced at Bill. "Well, you moved him, which is not easy, even if it was not in the way you wanted. Why do you want so badly to enter our house?"
"I want a job," Sarah said, simply. "You have an opening, don't you? Make me your girl and I'll make you lots of money."
The woman smiled. "Will you, now? We'll see about that, come on in and we'll talk."
Sarah didn't know whether to sigh in relief or laugh at the weird way fate works sometimes. She settled for gathering up her lantern and skirt and walking up the steps with as much dignity as she could muster. She curtsied to Bill at the door's threshold and followed the woman inside.
"I'll be seeing you, Miss Priss," Bill said after her with a wry grin on his lips.
Sarah followed the woman through a lobby filled with lights and music from a man playing piano in the corner. There were beautiful people in lavish clothes chatting and laughing and drinking colorful drinks from expensive glasses. To Sarah, who had been born on the streets, it looked like Heaven.
They walked up a grand staircase and down a hall to a thick oak door. The woman produced a key from a pouch under one of the many layers of her dress and unlocked the door. Inside was an office, decorated in purples and yellows. It should have been garish, but somehow she'd made it work.
"I am Madame Annabella," the woman spoke, taking a seat behind the large and intricate oak desk that must have taken the wood of several trees and the work of several skilled carpenters and artists to build. "Please, have a seat."
Sarah sat on one of two chairs arranged in front of the desk. It reminded her of the set up Head Mistress Rosaline had in her office back at finishing school.
"What's your name, girl?" Annabella got right down to business.
"I sign Smith to any papers as needed."
"No family, then?"
"Good." Annabella got out a piece of paper from the desk and wrote some notes on it with a quill.
"Sorry, but, why is that good?" Sarah knew she was probably speaking out of turn, but she couldn't stop the curiosity in her from saying something.
Annabella paused in her writing to look Sarah in the eye. "This life is not for girls with family. You know the nature of our business?"
"Then you'll understand why." She continued writing on the paper. "Do you have any belongings? Things you need to send for?"
"I left some things with a friend back at school, but all I have here is what I can carry with me."
"Do you have any money?"
"I have a little saved up, but not much. I spent a good deal of it on my current outfit." Sarah fiddled with her earring self-consciously.
Annabella smiled just briefly at that. "You'll be charged for your lodgings here, and your food. You'll have to earn your way same as any of my girls, do you understand?"
"Do you have any skills? Anything that would make you stand out to our clientele?"
"I can sing. And I can play the piano-forte. I've also dabbled with the harp and the fiddle. An old music teacher tried to teach me the flute, but he was more interested in my skills with the skin flute."
That got another small and quick smile from Annabella. "Yes, I'm sure he was. That skill will doubtless come in handy here too. I'll have to have the doctor examine you before you can start work. Will he find anything amiss?"
"No, Madame. I'm clean and healthy. I'm picky about which men I have dalliance with."
"You won't have to be so picky here. All our customers are cleared for entrance by Bill at the door."
Annabella stopped writing and looked at Sarah again. "What was it that Bill called you when you walked in here?"
"Er, Miss Priss, I believe. He was making fun of me."
She nodded. "Yes, he was. But you're going to learn to own it until no one makes fun of you anymore, do you understand?"
Sarah stared silently, for the first time since they conversation began not fully understanding.
"That will be your name from now on. Wear it like a crown, and no one will be able to knock it off your head. Are we clear, Miss Priss?"
"Yes, Madame." Sarah's cheeks burned with shame. She knew she had no choice but to trust Annabella, even if she didn't see the wisdom of it.
"Good. I'll have one of my girls show you to your room. Get some sleep tonight. You'll meet with the doctor in the morning." Annabella picked up a small bell from her desk and rang it. A moment later a young girl Sarah had not seen before came in through the door and curtsied to Sarah. "Take her to the empty room and see that she's comfortable, Giselle."
The girl Giselle curtsied to Annabella and took Sarah by the hand. "This way, miss," she said, and led her back down the hallway. She opened another door like the one Annabella's office had, and they went inside. It was sparsely furnished, with a bed and a vanity that held a mirror, a basin, and a water pitcher. The bed looked fluffy and was covered in many pillows.
"You'll be comfortable here, miss," the girl said.
"Thank you, Giselle, was it?"
"How old are you?"
"I'm 12, miss."
"And you work here?"
"I help with the cooking and cleaning, and run errands for Madame when she needs it."
"Well that's a relief. I mean, I started young, but, not that young."
Giselle smiled shyly. "Madame says I'll have my pick of the gentlemen, but only when I'm ready."
"She's a nice lady, isn't she?" Sarah asked.
"I don't know about that, miss. But she's good to her girls."
Sarah nodded. "Thanks, Giselle."
"Welcome, miss." Giselle curtsied and left Sarah alone in the room.
Sarah looked around the room and pulled back the feather comforter on the bed. She pulled her dress off over her head and wiped the makeup off her face with water from the pitcher. She crawled into the bed and pulled the comforter up to her neck. She was going to sleep well, she could already feel it.
Sarah awoke to the sound of birds chattering and the sun shining across her face. Not a bad way to wake up, all things considered. She got up, washed her face in the basin and did her business. She stood in her shift and looked at herself in the mirror, realizing she only had two dresses to choose from, the one she'd worn for the painting lookalike, and the one she had worn into town, which was badly wrinkled from where she had stashed it under the other one.
She was still pondering about what to do about finding something suitable to wear when there was a knock at the door.
"Miss! Are you decent?" came a muffled voice from the other side.
"Giselle, is that you?" Sarah asked.
"Well come in, then. It doesn't matter if I'm decent or not."
The door slowly creaked open and Giselle peered inside like she wasn't sure if it was just Sarah in the room.
"It's just me, come on in, I won't bite," Sarah said gently.
Giselle opened the door the rest of the way and came through. Her arms were full, barely containing the bundle of yellow and white fabric she was carrying. "I have a dress for you, Miss. Madame wants you to put it on to see the doctor."
Sarah took the armful of fabric and laid it out on the bed. It was indeed a dress, in the same French style as Sarah had seen the two girls wear the day before. "It's beautiful," she said.
"It'll make you look like a princess." Giselle reached out and smoothed out some imagined wrinkle. "Do you need help to put it on?"
"No, I think I can manage," Sarah replied, "Do you know when I'm meeting the doctor?"
"He'll be here shortly, I should think."
"Suppose I should get to it, then. Thanks, Giselle."
"Welcome, Miss." Giselle curtsied and shut the door behind her on her way out.
Sarah put the dress on quickly and stared at her reflection in the mirror. She couldn't help but wonder what her younger self, skinny, broke and hungry, would think to see her in such finery now.
There was a knock at the door a quarter hour later. "Excuse me, Miss. I'm Doctor Abner Lainey, Madame Annabella sent for me. May I enter?" a gentle male voice asked.
"Yes, come in," Sarah called. She had still been standing in front of the mirror but now she turned and curtsied to the gentleman. "Good morning."
"To you as well," Abner said, shutting the door behind him. "I hope you don't mind, I've been asked to examine you."
"Of course. Where should we start?" Sarah spread her arms wide and presented herself to him in her new dress.
The poor man blushed. Sarah smiled, he was precious. "Er, you may sit on the bed, if that's alright."
Sarah sat on the bed, crossing her legs demurely, but giving him the hooded and beckoning eyes that always seemed to drive men crazy.
"Um, I must ask you, are you a maiden?"
"No," Sarah replied, a small smile on her lips.
"I should, um, examine you there as well. Uh, but first I need to listen to your heart and lungs."
"Be my guest, Doctor. And please, you don't have to be so punctilious. This is a house where men do much worse to women than check them for their health."
"R-right," Abner stuttered. He adjusted the small glasses perched carefully on his nose. "I'm going to put my ear on your back and then I'm going to listen to your lungs."
Sarah turned so her back was towards him and felt him gently place his head against her back through the fabric of her dress.
"Take three breaths in and out, slowly, please."
Sarah did as he instructed.
"Good, no obstruction or liquid in the lungs," he muttered to himself.
"I should hope not," Sarah responded, and Abner pulled back as if surprised to hear her.
"Right. Um, now I'll listen to your heart. If you'd turn towards me, please."
Sarah turned to face him and gave him a nod of permission before he placed his ear on her chest. She could feel him tremble slightly.
He listened for a few moments before pulling back and nodding. "A consistent beat. No signs of irregularity. May I see inside your mouth?"
Sarah obediently opened her mouth.
Abner turned his head this way and that, looking inside her mouth from different angles. "You still have all your teeth, and they're in decent condition." He almost sounded surprised when he said it.
"Oh stop it, Doctor, you're making me blush," Sarah said with a wink.
Abner blushed even redder and adjusted his collar as if it were suddenly too tight. "Yes, well, I do still need to examine your, er..."
"Undercarriage?" Sarah helpfully provided.
Abner cleared his throat. "Y-yes."
Sarah leaned back on the bed and hiked up her skirts. She had removed her under clothes to better sleep and had not put them back on this morning explicitly in anticipation of this.
Abner examined her, leaning closely but not touching. Sarah could tell he was doing his best to remain professional.
"Tell me, Doctor," she said, "When you were studying medicine, did you ever think you would be using your skills for this?"
"You may cover yourself, thank you," he said, pulling away. "But to answer your question, er, no."
Sarah smiled. "Well, you did a fine job. Did I pass?"
"Yes," Abner smiled back, for the first time some of the sheepishness melting away, "Clean bill of health."
"Glad to hear it!"
Abner bowed his goodbye. "It was g-good meeting you, Miss."
"Likewise, Doctor," Sarah said with a curtsy. She watched with a little sadness as he turned and left. He was exactly the type of gentleman she would have loved to make into a regular customer. Men like him were always so sweet, and they always paid well. "Ah, well," she thought, "There will be others."
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