I obviously don't know Rita or ANY of my courtesans well - I will need to remedy that. The ship, on the other hand is forming itself nicely in my imagination!
The end of the day...
The hum of the coal burning engines was a muted accompaniment to the susurrus of the oars swishing steadily through the waves. Porters walked quietly in the dawn light along the promenade, dousing gas-lamps grown nearly molten from a long night of lighting the revels.
Rita moved gracefully through the salons, picking up discarded cigarette holders, spectacles. and watches: the debris of gentlemen moved by passion to disregard of personal property. One of the elements of customer service that burnished the reputation of the Palace was the fact that no personal item, no matter how small or inconsequential was lost upon her decks. Guests of the Palace were assured that they would leave the gangway with every item they had upon embarkation.
Guests also prized the fact that they would leave the ship with no foreign complaints. The courtesans – both the female and male varieties - were perfect specimens of youthful beauty and Rita’s strict policies on cleanliness kept them that way. Groups of scantily clad employees were already making their way to the steam baths for the daily ritual.
The baths ranged along the center beam of the ship below decks in a railroad format that made the daily ritual of cleanliness a journey where tired workers could release the stresses of the night. Although guests were welcome to use the baths during the day, evening and through the night, between 4:00 and 7:00 am the fragrant refuge was reserved for employee use only.
Connor Graves was not a man who believed in false modesty, so (at least among his employees) men and women disrobed together and entered tepid baths filled with charcoal filtered water and a 10% solution of hydrogen peroxide. Sloughing off the night’s activities in a stinging bath was not particularly pleasant, but the lack of infection on the ship spoke to the effectiveness of the routine. Following the bite of the peroxide bath, the men adjourned to a steam room while the women employed vinegar douches followed by chamomile oil to soothe stressed tissues before joining their fellows in the heated mist.
When their skin glowed under a coating of finely wrought sweat, the torpid employees rose and dove through a series of pools alternately cool and hot until they emerged at the far end of the gallery where porters stood by with enveloping robes of Turkish cotton.
As the sun broke over the horizon of the crystal sea, gilding the decks rose-gold, toweling clad paramours made their way to private quarters and well earned rest.
Certain that all personal items had been collected and routed via porter to the correct guests, Rita made her way to her office in order to tally the night’s income. Unlike surface bound houses of pleasure, the Palace did not deal in cash. Each guest held a unique key that was inserted into specially designed boxes mounted beside the entrances to each of the pleasure suites. Before entering, the guest simply presented the key, and then did so again upon exiting. An ingenious system of clockwork tallied the keyed time and credited the guest’s account appropriately. All Rita needed to do for the tally was pull the ticker-tape from the tally printer, run it through the reader, and record the results in her ledger. It was neat, effective and clean, just as Rita expected her employees to be.