My True North
This character was originally written for a steampunk themed thread that never quite panned out...I would like to use the character, and this could go steampunk or even a more traditional Victorian or even Edwardian era setting.
E. Cordelia Collingsworth, 34, female
Cartographic archivist for the University library. Responsible for preservation, conservation, authentication, storage and retrieval of the library collection of historical maps. She has the ancillary task of oversight of several private archival vaults, as well.
Physical: Average of height, average build and average features. Her auburn hair is generally kept swept back and tacked in a bun at the nape of her neck, especially while working. Green eyes, wire rimmed glasses. Neither particularly athletic, nor feeble, she is certainly not nimble, being somewhat physically hindered by her vestments, common to the day. As far as costume, she tends to eschew feminine styled garb with ruffles, lace, and full skirts, in favor of more tailored skirts, fitted vests, and close fitting sleeves made of heavy cottons and leathers that will not be loose and interfere with her work, and withstand the rigors of her task. There are far too many stairs, banisters, shelves, and drawers to get caught up on to be dragging frivolous garments around.
Skills: Keen intellect, unusually well educated for a woman of the day by her father (who had been the head librarian for the University. Well respected by his peers, she was able to secure her position based on his reputation – hers is not a job traditionally held by a woman, and all of her coworkers and staff are male.) Trained in the classics, adept with classical Latin and Greek which affords her some advantage in translation of historical academic documents, be they in Latin or one of the common romance languages. Well versed in her job, she is able to validate provenance of maps and documents based on paper composition, ink and pen style. She is oft called upon to authenticate valuable maps for appraisal and academic purposes.
Temperament: Even tempered, but reserved and even socially awkward expect towards the few who know her well. Analytical, much to her credit as to her fault.
Here's my opening post/the backstory for what I'd like to see happen. I'm looking for someone to take on the role of Ambrose Harrington. He's really not more defined than this, so you have a fair amount of latitude (so to speak) in his traits. I'm thinking along the lines of world travel and adventures...
Cordelia adjusted the copper comb that held her hair in place at the nape of her neck. At 2:00, Mr. Ambrose Harrington would arrive for his appointment.
A young captain of industry, Mr. Harrington had, under the privileges bestowed in return for a sizable donation to the University library, purchased a private vault in the basement of the archives. Many of the private vaults contained business records, some were used as secured storage for personal effects, and some contained very little at all, built merely for the prestige of having one. A world adventurer, his was designed to house an extensive collection of maps; Cordelia wasn’t certain what Mr. Harrington's intentions were for the space over the long term, but the two had spent some time together going over the details of its construction, from the his technical requirements to the decor and finishing of it. He'd taken more interest in the finishing of it than the average vault owner.
Promptly at 2:00, the door to the library swung open and he arrived, his wife and business partner in tow. He approached the front desk where she stood and tipped his hat, "Miss Collingsworth, may I present my business associate, Mr. Edward Thurber and my wife, Mrs. Harrington." Edward tipped his hat, and Mrs. Harrington acknowledged her with a perfunctory nod, the feathers on her hat bobbing gently in the breeze.
"Mr. Harrington, I'll be glad to show you the progress of your vault; I think you'll be quite pleased with how it's coming along." She turned to her associate, "William, if you'd be so kind as to mind the front desk here, I will be in the vaults with Mrrs Harrington and Thurber. Eying Mrs, Harrington's elegant dress and delicate shoes (in sharp contrast to Cordelia's button up boots that protected her to her knee) she advised "Let's take the lift down to the vaults."
Brass doors with inlaid glass panels slide aside and the entourage stepped inside. "Isn't this terribly exciting, Mrs. Harrington?" Ambrose asked. "I do hope you'll enjoy this, my dear."
His wife rolled her eyes and cast an askance look at Cordelia. "How perfectly awful that you'd have to resort to such horrid measures to maintain yourself, my dear. Certainly, you'd have made someone a decent wife...a common laborer, perhaps?" Cordelia burned at the slight, but spoke nothing. in response.
The lift doors opened once they'd reached the basement floor, the two gentlemen twittering with excitement over the vaults. "You'll pardon the decor," Cordelia interrupped, "the finish work in the hallway won't be completed until each vault is fully constructed. I trust, Mr. Harrington, you'll find that substantial progress has been made in your own space since your last visit."
Each vault door was unique in its design, each with its own security measures, and each with the owners personal imprint upon it. Harrington, young mogul and world traveler, had a dense brass door with an inlaid globe and compass rose of silver and bronze upon it. Cordelia could barely maneuver the large wheeled lock, but she thrust herself into it and the door swung ajar.
Thick oak bookshelves lined one wall, and a large credenza of thin map drawers stood in the center of the room. Harrington thrust his hands in his pockets and looked concerned. “It's coming along remarkably, but if I may say, Miss. Collingsworth, while I of course have limited knowledge of these things, it seems rather dry in this vault. Isn’t it true that a vault should be more…damp?”
“The humidity, sir?” Cordelia blushed.
“Oh yes, that’s the precise word." he retorted. "The humidity. It is a fair question, however?"
"Such things are generally quite well regulated, so as to deter decay or mold. I believe your vault is kept at 40% humidity, but I will be sure to confirm that for you."
Mrs. Collingsworth lamented, “I think I’ve had quite enough of this tomb for your insipid maps and papers. It’s terribly dreary down here. Shall we please leave now, Ambrose?”
“Dreary, my dear? Not a bit! Why, I think I should bring a chair and ottoman and set up a nice reading area for myself. There in the corner, a perfect fit! Why I may consider it my office...what do you think, Edward?”
Edward chuckled. “Running business from a basement. A novel idea there, Ambrose! I trust that my decisions above ground will rest well with you, then?" The two gentlemen laughed, and Mrs Collingsworth sighed her displeasure with the entire situation.
“I might return tomorrow, then," Harrington continued, turning to Cordelia, "to check the conditions of the vault? The…humidity…of it? My belongings are far too precious to be cavalier about these details.”
Collingsworth nodded and suppressed a smile. “At your leisure, sir.”
They returned to the front desk where Cordelia returned the vault key to safekeeping.
With a tip of his hat and a “Good day to you then” he took his leave of Cordelia, and escorted his wife and business partner outside. Cordelia turned to go about her business when the front door to the library swung open and Mr. Harrington swiftly returned, leaning far over the desk.
“A token, for you...” he hushed, pressing a cold object into her hand while fixing his gaze on her eyes. He raised an eyebrow, and took a pen from his vest pocket, raising it between them. “Ah, Edward!” he called out through the slightly ajar door behind him “Indeed I had left my stylus on the front desk! A tragedy averted!” He winked at Cordelia, turned away and left with his wife and partner.
Once the door latched behind him, she opened her hand to find what appeared to be a brass timepiece, heavy and ornately engraved, attached to a brass chain. Unlatching it, she found it to be a compass, the rose exquisitely drawn, the needle still seeking out its station. The inside cover was engraved in loose script:
My True North