OK, I’ll admit that I’m one of those crazy people who plays alternative Roll Playing games. Savage Worlds is my favorite, and so is Rippers. We’re starting a game today, and this is my character background. It’s sort of literary-ish, so I thought I would post.
It was a vast sum of money; so vast that it seemed incomprehensible to Ginny that such an amount of money could really belong to one person. Although when she thought about it, she supposed that much money was in an account of father’s somewhere. She was opening letters at the breakfast table when she read the figure and sloshed hot tea across her hand, down her white dress. Her skin prickled. She picked up a napkin, scrubbing at the stain while staring at the spidery black figures still clutched in one hand. In the dark paneled hall all those months ago, Ginny had gazed down at grandmother’s waxy face in the mahogany coffin, listened to the girl paid to wail in sorrow, and this thought had never crossed her mind.
She was an heiress. The mansion in Chicago and all.
At that moment, two other thoughts crossed her mind. She would not have to marry poor, boring Wesley like her mother wanted. In fact, she probably wouldn’t have to listen to mother about anything ever again. A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. Ginny set the teacup down with a porcelain clink, then flew up the stairs in a whirl of tea stained organdy. This letter needed answering immediately.
“An unmarried woman, living alone!” her mother said.
“Yes,” said Ginny. “Besides, I’ll have servants. It’s not like I’ll actually be alone.”
“This is what comes of letting you read suffragette trash. I should have known better. Your father warned me.”
“They’re just pamphlets,” Ginny sighed, “and they have nothing to do with this.”
“My foot they have nothing to do with this!” her mother shouted.
Still, she was only in Chicago a few weeks before she was horribly bored in a way shopping could not cure. She joined up with the suffragists in Chicago almost immediately, but that only occupied a few days of the week. It was not enough. Her first thought was to start a settlement house like they were doing in England, but grandmother’s mansion was most decidedly not in the slums. That stood on Grand Boulevard among a sea of other mansions. The living room had a view of the fountain in Washington Park. The drapes were velvet.
Ginny was standing in the middle of a rally in the Chicago sunshine, a pole in her hand with a banner proclaiming Give Mother The Vote! when she heard about Hull House.
“It’s a settlement house like in those articles,” said the lady next to her. The feathers on the woman’s wide hat bobbed in the breeze as she talked.
“Right here in Chicago?” asked Ginny
“Right here in Chicago. They do classes and health care, and help the poor immigrants with just about anything you can think of. If I had time, I’d go help out in a heartbeat. Six children at home, though, and a husband none too pleased that I’m out here with a banner and not in the kitchen cooking dinner…”
“I have plenty of time to spare,” Ginny said. “I think I’ll see if they need anything.”
“I envy you young ones sometimes,” the woman said.
Ginny went in person. As she walked up to the front door, three ladies clutching a black bag rushed from the house, hands on their hats. Ginny watched them fly up the walk and into the slums, skirts swirling about their legs. People on the sidewalks parted to let them past. She smoothed her dress and stepped into the large entry way.
“Hello, can I help you with anything?” a slight, well-dressed woman asked Ginny from a desk at the end of the hall.
“Yes, I’m Geneva Allerton, and I’m here to volunteer. I don’t have many skills, but I’m willing to learn anything, and I’d like to help.”
“Oh,” the woman said. “Miss Addams isn’t here right now. Octavia Vicino is having her baby and no one else will go because she isn’t married. It could be hours before she’s back. I’ll tell you confidentially, though, they don’t need a lot of help right now. Not unless you can do something about the ghosts.”
Ginny laughed. “The ghosts?”
“We’ve had to shut down the whole west wing of the house. It’s getting impossible.”
“Well, I did say I’m willing to learn, didn’t I?” said Ginny. “What do I need to do?”
“Come back tomorrow and speak to Miss Addams. She’ll let you know what’s next from there.”
What was next was a series of magic classes, and a permanent position with Hull House removing anything that wasn’t supposed to be there, including drunk husbands.
Sometimes, as she pulled the power into her fingertips, she thought of the sprawling, staggering amount of money on the letter all those months ago. It was really remarkable how quickly things change.