Thursday, August 16, 2012

Introducing: Salome

As promised, here is a little character information from my work in progress. It is written in Salome's own words.

Introduce yourself, in great detail

My name is Salome Lisette Mercer. As of today’s date, March 1, 1811, I am twenty years old. My birthday is December 28, 1790. I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, at our family home. I am about five and a half feet tall, which is slightly taller than other women, but a little shorter than the average man, so they aren’t too intimidated by my height. (It’s been a problem.)
I have black hair and green eyes, both of which I inherited from my mother. I like to keep my hair long, usually pulled back into a simple braid to keep it out of the way, but it has a mind of its own sometimes. My eyes are an extremely light green, they have been called unsettling or even ghostly, but in some light, they look like a cat’s green eyes. I think they are my best feature. Another thing I inherited from my mother is her olive complexion, being as she was, from Spain. I tend to color in the sun very easily, which I don’t care about, but it isn’t exactly in fashion. I don’t mind that, because my mother was a wonderful person, and I miss her very much. To look like her isn’t the worst sin a person could commit.
I am slender but athletic, since I prefer working outdoors than boring myself to death indoors. I feel like my bosom and hips are too big, but men seem to appreciate them. To me, they just pose a problem finding clothing that fits. I’m not particularly good with a sewing needle, so that doesn’t help there either. When I’m working outside, I prefer to be in breeches, simply because it’s easier to move around in them. At home, I was usually on a horse, and have you actually ever tried to ride sidesaddle? On my ship, breeches just make more sense; if I were to accidentally fall overboard, heavy skirts would send me to the bottom of the ocean in a heartbeat. I have a job to do, either way, and if I don’t have to impress anyone, who cares what I’m wearing?
That is not to say that I don’t like wearing beautiful dresses and looking smart and elegant. I don’t like all the frills and flounces women like to add to their clothes, I’m pretty simple when it comes to my taste. As long as my dresses have clean lines, beautiful colors and fabrics, and are comfortable to wear, I can fit in just fine. However, I really do like nice boots, Hessians preferably.
I like things neat and orderly, and I’ve always been good with numbers. It’s helped me when it comes to taking over the plantation and my brother’s business. I like to read for pleasure when I have time; I even indulge in the silly romances that are so popular. I also love to ride horses, racing them is a huge joy for me. Feeling the wind through my hair and in my face, with the world going by, is one of the greatest experiences a person can have. Sailing on the ocean is like that too, but with a horse, you feel like you have become part of the animal itself, and there’s nothing quite like it.
I know I should probably be good at things like playing the piano, singing, or needlework, but I just can’t sit still for too long for me to appreciate them, so I don’t try. I do enjoy music, and I especially love dancing, though I haven’t had much opportunity for it lately. I don’t have many close friends, and the ones that I do have are mostly men. I have become especially close with the members of my sailing crew, since we have spent so much time together over the last few years. They know how to make me smile, and keep me from getting too serious when I start to think about depressing subjects. They even talked me into getting a tattoo of a mermaid when we were in China! It’s on my ribcage, easily hidden by clothing, and won’t that be difficult to explain should I ever become intimate with a man!
I have one female I am close to, and I trust her with my secrets, I consider her to be a friend, but she’s also my maid, and she always remembers the distinction between the two. It would be nice for a change to have someone to talk to, gossip with, all the normal things women my age do, but I just haven’t had the time. My maid has a son, whom I adore, and I wonder sometimes if I might ever have a child of my own. I do like children very much, but finding the right father for them is another matter.
Which brings me to my biggest problem at the moment. I’ve only recently discovered that my father’s will makes it clear that if neither my parents or my older brother were around when I turned twenty, I have only a year to find a husband, or my family’s plantation will be sold. I guess my father never expected me to run it by myself, though he taught me everything I know, but the profit from the sale will go to provide a house in town, I suppose, as well as funds to see to my needs until I either find a husband or make a career for myself.
Now, I know he was only trying to look out for me, making sure that I would never lack for anything, but it has really put me in a bind. Since my brother’s disappearance, I’ve been more concerned with looking out for his interests than my own. There hasn’t been much opportunity in the last two years to meet any eligible men, since I’ve been pretending to be a man named Hawke Sinclair. Sinclair only exists on paper, and I’ve been running both the plantation through overseers and my brother’s business from aboard ship or behind closed doors in our offices around the world.
Of course, no one thought to enlighten me on the terms of my father’s will before now, probably because there are any number of people in Charlottesville, especially a hideous man named Bertram Candel, who would love to get their hands on my plantation, or even worse, on me! So, I headed for London as quickly as I could so that I might beseech my father’s sister, Alexandra, to honor a promise she made my father when I was just a child.
Aunt Alex (my father used to call her that) promised that if I ever wanted, I could come to London, and she would sponsor me for a Season. It’s a big social thing for London high society, and a lot of young women do it in order to find a husband. I never dreamed that I would be one of them! But I am not going into this unarmed and unprepared. I plan to look into every passably handsome bachelor London has to offer this year, and find out what they are like before I even meet them.
People underestimate things like whether they take care of their properties, if they are financially solvent, if they have nasty or distasteful habits, and that sort of thing. It will also be a requirement for any suitor I agree to, that he allow me to keep my family’s plantation, as well as continue the search for my brother. If I absolutely have to get married, it is not going to be some ugly, old brute of a man, it will be one that I feel I have something genuinely in common with, so that even if I am not marrying for love, perhaps I might find a semblance of it somehow.
Who knows, left to my own devices, I might never have married, and after witnessing my own parents’ happy one, it has been something I have dreamed of. I just never imagined it might be something I would have to make a decision about so suddenly!

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