Page 269: Highborn and Lowborn and the In Between
Highborn and Lowborn and the In Between
Summary: Rosanna and Ella meet in the Stonebridge market. One is bratty, one is polite. Guess who.
Date: April 13, 2012
Related Logs: General Groves family stuff and Rosanna/Patrek logs.
Rosanna Ella 
Town Square — Stonebridge
The surrounding terrain has several small gullies and streams that feed into the waterfront area just adjacent to the town square, the sails of the boats visible over the tops of the buildings. The square is floored in the same heavy stone that the east docks and castle are constructed of while the buildings are a mix of the stone, wood, and mortar. There are quite a few fish vendors with their fragrant catches for sale among groups of tables which tend to be busy most of the time.
April 13, 289

Bandits may be on the road, but that still hasn't shut down trade entirely, and Rosanna is determined to shop, apparently. At least with her eyes. She wanders through the market with a handmaiden and a guard in tow, her gown a simple affair in rich shades of brown, but well-made a flatteringly cut to her youthful figure. She tucks an auburn curl behind her ear and leans in to admire the costly fabric one merchant presents.

Beside her, a blonde woman browses, making notes in a small book as she looks over the fabrics on offer with keen blue eyes. She is well-dressed, though not extravagantly, her clothes inhabiting that wide range where it is difficult to distinguish between well-off commoner with good taste and tailoring and noblewoman with simpler preferences and/or fewer resources.

Rosanna does glance at the older woman, studying her with a quick-sliding gaze. It lingers on the book she takes notes in, and from that she seems to make some judgment on the woman's position, because she sniffs in a dignified manner (or an attempt at one) and looks back to the fabric. "That is a very pretty one," she tells the stall owner, tipping her head to a silk. "Do you ever dye it in greens?"

Another note is completed, and the blonde woman spends another brief moment surveying the contents of the stall with quick flickers of her gaze, then shuts the notebook. She turns, passing it and the little stub she was writing with back to her attendant, a handsome young man dressed in plain grey and navy livery, who shifts the parcels he already carries and stows the notebook in a pocket. "Are you looking for a lighter spring green or a deeper forest sort of green?" the woman inquires of Rosanna, turning her way. "If it is the color of your house, lady, I would suggest a shop down the lane. They use a dyer in Fairmarket who captures that shade best, in my opinion."

Rosanna glances once more at Ella, looking briefly considering of snobbily ignoring her. Then, after a moment, she answers, "The latter. Is the quality of the fabric good? It would not do to trade for a better color only to be scratching in poorly-woven material."

"Very good, lady," Ella replies with a nod, her serious expression lightening with a polite smile, "Are you hoping for summer- or autumn-weight? I believe they have just received a shipment of some of the lighter materials, if that would suit your purpose."

"Why should I look for autumn-weight when the summer might last for years yet?" Rosanna says, somewhere between a smile for the lingering season and another sniff for the question.

Ella executes a ladylike shrug, the movement as graceful as such a thing can be, her carefully-styled hair undisturbed by the shake of her head that accompanies it. "Perhaps for cooler evenings," she replies, "Or time spent at the coast? Even in a summer as long as this one, seabreezes can bring a chill. Though that is less a concern here in Stonebridge than at Seagard, of course."

"Yes," Rosanna says, lifting her chin and tossing her hair back in a haughty gesture. "I was there recently as a guest of the new Lord Mallister. I did not find the weather so daunting." So /there/.

"Were you indeed?" Ella's brows lift, and she smiles, "I am glad you found pleasant weather there, lady. I hope your stay was enjoyable. Seagard is a brilliant city, though its charms are perhaps slightly diminished for the moment. But only temporarily," she adds, "I am sure Lord Patrek is already setting things to rights as best he can."

"Yes," Rosanna says firmly. "He will be as great a lord as his father was, Seven keep his soul."

"Seven keep his soul, and Lord Patrek," Ella agrees. "His father was a great man, and raised his son well. I have no doubt he will be equal to these challenges he faces, daunting as they may be."

"He is rising to the challenge of his position better than anyone else could," Rosanna says, all loyal brown-nosing for a lord who's not even there. Productive.

"I am pleased to hear you think so," says Ella. She smiles, and begins to say something else, when, as if on cue, a man with a Mallister badge affixed to his riding clothes appears. "Mistress Weston?" he inquires, and the blonde woman and her guard both nod. "For you, then," says the courier, handing her a letter, sealed in the deep purple of the lords of Seagard. "How timely," Ella remarks to Rosanna, "As if Lord Patrek was listening after all."

Rosanna's slim brows hike over her dark eyes at the sight of the Mallister seal. "Yes," she says, a bit faintly put out to see Ella receiving such a letter. "Very timely."

"If you might excuse me a moment, lady? I ought to see what my cousin writes," Ella says, with a polite smile and a shallow curtsey before stepping aside to unseal the letter and read.

"Your /cousin/," Rosanna echoes in a blurtingly disbelieving sort of way.

Ella glances back, lifting a brow. She tilts her head, nodding, "Yes, lady. I am sorry, perhaps I should have said earlier, or not at all." She smiles, polite and warm, and turns back to reading her letter.

Rosanna opens her mouth, then clamps down on her response with a hint of banked annoyance. She turns her gaze back to the fabric stall, but keeps her attention on Ella out of the corner of her eye.

Ella reads her letter. It is a letter, too, not just a note, judging by the amount of ink on the page and time she spends perusing it.

Rosanna does not try to crane her neck to read over Ella's shoulder. Not — quite. She does keep flitting glances at it from her peripheral vision, though.

If Rosanna peeks hard enough, she might just catch a glimpse of the letter's opening, which does appear to begin 'Dear Cousin,' though perhaps that is just a trick of the angle and the penmanship.

Rosanna glares at that opening. Stupid opening. Then she tosses her hair back with an upward tip of her chin and pretends not to care about stupid Ella and her stupid letter.

After a few minutes, stupid Ella folds up her stupid letter, and returns it to her attendant's care for safekeeping. "I apologize for that interruption, lady," she says to Rosanna, "And for interrupting your shopping. I hope you find a suitable green."

"I'm sorry," Rosanna says (lies), ignoring Ella's own apology. "Do you mean that Lord Patrek is your cousin?"

"Ah," Ella says, at Rosanna's question, her smile faintly abashed, "Yes, the Lord Patrek is my first cousin. Lord Calvan Mallister is my father," she explains. "It is not an especially close relation," she goes on, the words weighted in a significant, but ambiguous fashion, though "Or I should have mentioned it sooner."

"Oh," Rosanna says. Then, "/Oh/." Her lips quirk in a frown, but she seems a bit conflicted as to her proper response. "Lord Patrek must keep you in close regard," she finally decides upon.

If Ella notes the frown or the conflict in Rosanna's expression, she politely does not mention it, just inclining her head in a vague gesture of response. "Lord Patrek is a very intelligent young man, and has always valued his family highly. We all provide what assistance and support we can."

"Yes," Rosanna agrees, folding her hands in front of her skirts to perhaps keep them from any unnecessary gesturing. "He has struck me very much as someone very intelligent. It is to his credit that he values his family so highly."

Ella does not seem prone to unnecessary gesturing, demonstrating economy of movement and keeping her hands neatly clasped. "Indeed," she agrees with Rosanna with an easy smile, "I am quite in agreement. While I mourn Lord Jason's death - as do all who knew of him - I am proud to see the way his son has comported himself. Are you very well-acquainted with the new Lord of Seagard, lady?"

"I was in Seagard for some time after the army sailed; I've only just recently come to Stonebridge." Rosanna offers a demure smile. "I did try to do my best to offer what appropriate friendship there might be as his loyal vassal."

"I see," replies Ella with a small nod, and an answering smile. "I am sure he was grateful for your company, lady. There is nothing so comforting as surrounding oneself with friends during troubled times, and loyal counsel is more precious than gold."

"I have tried to be a comfort," Rosanna agrees. Her warm brown eyes flicker curiously over Ella's countenance. "I am sorry — I have done you the disservice of offering no introduction. I am Lady Rosanna of House Groves." She dips in a graceful curtsy.

Ella's smile warms a shade further at the apology and introduction, shaking her head slightly. "As is your prerogative, Lady Rosanna," she replies, "I may share some blood with nobility, but am only Mistress Weston, myself. It is a pleasure and an honor to make your acquaintance." She curtsies in return, equally graceful and well-practiced (and deeper). "May I ask what brings you to Stonebridge?"

"It was the intent of my father before the war began that I come here with my brothers to explore society and form friendships with the other families," Rosanna says, looking somewhat pleased at the depth of Ella's curtsy. "I only hope that they will return soon and join me."

"Ah," Ella replies with a nod, smile tempered now with sympathy. "I pray the Seven see them safely back to you, lady," she replies, "Several of my own brothers sailed with the host to the Iron Isles as well. I hope we shall see them all again soon."

"I am sure they will sail home victorious," Rosanna says, her smile growing a bit tight. "But I thank you for your prayers."

"As am I," Ella assures her, "They have the just cause and the stronger force, the Ironborn cannot possibly stand against King Robert and the Warrior together. They will be punished for their reaving, and severely."

"Of course," Rosanna murmurs, something flickering quietly in her expression before it's shuffled away. "What business do you have in Stonebridge, Mistress Weston?"

"I live here," Ella replies, "My late husband, Seven keep him, owned a trading company, and its business keeps me occupied here in town the majority of the time."

"Oh," Rosanna says with the /slightest/ hint of interest. "What sort of trading do you deal in?"

"All sorts of things," says Ella, "We watch the markets here, at the Twins, in Seagard and Fairmarket and other places, and buy and sell what goods are in demand and transport them between towns. At the moment we deal largely in timber, stone, food, other building supplies, as you might expect."

"Yes, that certainly seems logical." Rosanna tips her head, watching Ella with a curious gaze from under the shade of copper lashes. "And you run this business on your own?"

Ella laughs lightly, and shakes her head, "Oh, no, not quite on my own. It is a fairly large company, there are a number of employees who assist with various aspects of the business, and whose experience I reply upon. But I do own it myself," she confirms, "My late husband unfortunately had no other family."

"I see." Rosanna studies her another moment, her gaze curious and undecided of its final judgment. "Perhaps I will keep your name in mind if my family requires any assistance in trade relations."

"It would be a privilege to work with House Groves," Ella responds with a smile, "I have not had the honor previously, I do not think. If you should ever like to speak further on the subject, I would be more than happy to assist as I can."

"I will keep your name in mind," Rosanna says again, her smile a little smugly satisfied. "I think I shall take a look at the fabric of the merchant you suggested, though. Thank you for your expertise, Mistress."

Ella inclines her head in thanks. "You are quite welcome, Lady Rosanna. I hope that you find it to you liking. The shop is just around the corner there, to the left," she says, gesturing the way, though she refrains from the unladylike act of pointing. "A good afternoon to you, lady," she adds, curtseying once more.

"And to you." Rosanna doesn't curtsy again, but tips his head to Ella's. And then she turns to head off with retainers in tow.