Jump to content

Francis Kirke

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Francis Kirke

  • Rank
    Lord Kingston

Character Information

  • Circles
  • Title
    The sea, foreign places, novelty, the sea, water, swordplay, the baton, battle, ship design, the sea, his yacht, foreign produce, sex, the sea, having a good time..........
    Gentleman of the Bedchamber

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. Francis, being all man despite pretty appearances, did not immediately follow Nicci's train of thought. He thought she was still talking about his mother whenever she asked to pen a note first. Being a woman, she easily found where the lady kept her writing implements. "To my lady mother? Now?" He blinked, a small confused look of puzzle then appearing in a ridge between his eyebrows. Of course, when it seemed she meant to leave the note, he understood what her meaning had been! "You shall need a cloak to pull up so that you aren't seen. A page should be waiting in the anteroom with one, and then I shall spirit you away by coach. We can pretend that it is not all about assassinations," he added, with a wink. "All of court should be at chapel anyhow, and they have been keeping this hallway clear on His Majesty's orders our of abundance of precaution." Once she was wearing the more concealing cloak to secret her identity, he held out an arm to her. Once in the coach, Buckingham's was only a hop of a ride away, being just in Pall Mall.
  2. "I still have my yacht," Francis replied, with a wink. "I can tool down the Thames or along the coast when I feel the calling of the horizon." True, it was not the same, but he was not the sort to dwell to long in the sad things, the things lost. He had gained other things, other excitements, as it were. "Perhaps I can secret you away in the cabin and then take His Majesty for a secret rendezvous," he mused. It kept his thoughts from assassination attempts and looking to a future time when things were less...tense. "She would like you," he postulated. "And especially your agreement over war. You should all be significantly chuffed that His Majesty has chosen a position for me which does not allow me to stray too far!" For his lady mother, he could stay put for a few years without complaint. He had been gone for enough years. And the Duke had far too much to impart for him to be jaunting off; he was already far behind the curve and that meant he was extraordinarily behind by Buckingham's measurements, even if fondly so and not in a way that made Francis feel belittled. Still, he knew the thought had occurred to his uncle. Speaking off..."We can probably secret you off to His Grace's significantly more comfortable home now, but do not worry, I am to stay with you until he arrives. You should try to eat after such a shock. It will help you to feel less light in the head. The Duke will have made certain to leave orders for your every need, and the house will want to impress." For even servants thought grand thoughts that perhaps word of their meal might travel by the King's mistress to the King's ear.
  3. Francis Kirke

    Away & Here Notices

    I hope everyone is feeling better! I got overwhelmed with too many things going on at once both RL and here. Once I have the farm planted, my mind should be in a better place. Until then I'm just going to squeak out what posts I can. I will catch up on everything I owe and need to start as soon as I can stop thinking about a laundry list of things to do...including laundry...with a dryer that will only run on low... 💜
  4. "But you know how we sailors are known for our ballyhooing," he added with a grin. Life at sea did not have the most opportunity for stealth! There was room for strategy or planning, but the open sea was not the most stealthy of environments. Francis chuckled at Lord Mountjoy's unwillingness to be nondescript. Indeed, Francis' hair and height made him far from non-descript as well, whether he liked the attention or not. "His Grace would be mortified to think his taste in clothing nondescript," he said between the amusement. "I think the darker and shorter far more likely to hit the category of nondescript than I! And you are far too fashionable for that." The more serious words on the minds of princes had Francis' reflection as Lord Mountjoy expounded on his thoughts of their mission. The minds of princes were quite a dangerous place, for to know any of it was something of a precarious position. Francis did not particularly think himself adept knowing his King's mind, but he was also not the most boastful of men, either. "In honesty, my lord, I think it must seem so, but it is not from any skill at knowing the royal mind myself," Francis replied. "Or any ability to read particularly more." Kingston was clearly not skilled at the court ability of assuming any advantage another thought you might have! "It is history. His Majesty will say many things which carry forward to other situations." And, as he had said previously, he had the benefit of Buckingham, who did know the King in such ways to say he knew the King's mind. "In this case, keeping things calm is also of paramount importance to our impending royal prince. Clandestine apprehensions might help His Majesty know the plotters, but my master can hardly wish that knowledge at potential cost to his heir. Thus, my knowledge is only that the King has said so before." That was no special ability at knowing the royal mind; the royal mind had said so previously! "Though there are some times when I know His Majesty's thought on something or humor and catch him saying the opposite, and sometimes it can be quite difficult to keep a straight face, depending on the situation," Francis said with a grin. Their King was not known for constantly being the most serious of men. In fact, now that Francis thought of it, that was more the challenge. It was knowing which of the King's moods dictated which set of guidelines and behavior. When Lord Mountjoy went back to the defense of Oxford and asked what graduate of Cambridge would have something worth stealing, Francis wagged a finger at him. "Oh no, my lord, you will find I am more sly than that! If I know who is working on something of great value, I shall hardly name him so that you lot might try to steal into his quarters in the dead of night. No, rest assured, such persons remain unnamed." Though if one had gone to any of the Gresham lectures to see who Francis kept company with, one might have quite a good idea who those unnamed individuals might be! "Court teaches one many odd skills and vices, and here I already had quite the collection before arriving," he added with a laugh. "I spent a few years at Trinity before I ran off to fight at sea in the second Dutch war, so I assure you my record beats the previous Chancellor," he replied, making a running motion with his fingers. The previous occupant of his position had been Monmouth, who had taken no interest in it whatsoever (and had never attended either).
  5. Francis was not shy in helping himself to the generous offerings. He had been going hither and thither all day without much of a pause for drink! "I am not surprised an Oxfordian failed to come up with a better quip than that," Francis teased. "Perhaps I should dress down to my sleeves to put you at better ease, but who knows what any ladies happening by might think then," he added, as Mountjoy mentioned his discomfort again. With a smile, he continued, "Then you call feel assured I have nowhere to hide the cards either." He paused, "And freer movement with which to stop any evildoers too." He was, after all, the (former) captain of a ship. They did not oft fight dressed from toe to chin, though he could fight in any state. "Your lady wife is, indeed, an enviable woman," Francis complimented, for what else was a gentleman to say. One had to be both polite but no so complimentary as to see too...interested. That could be a slippery slope, for some were quick to offense in regard to their women. Francis raised an eyebrow as Lord Mountjoy asked him about the method of their duty. "I should think we do what is normal for two gentlemen playing cards, my lord," he said. "We are not supposed to do anything odd, and if our presence deters any attacks, I think we would have served our purpose to His Majesty in protecting the Queen." Then he chuckled and said, "You Oxfordians like lurking about in the dark hiding rather than meeting your foes head on?" In truth, Francis had not considered benefitting himself by catching any assassins. It was not his way. That was likely why all though him a neophyte at this intrigue business. "Is that how you lot steal other's academic work too? Hiding about in the dark alcove before sneaking in and reading all the secrets?" He smiled to reinforce that he was speaking only in jest. He found Lord Mountjoy to be exceedingly upright, youthful exploits aside.
  6. "I more meant Lord Ranelagh's cousins," Francis replied. "I do not know very much about the duke, but I had not been thinking of him since he is not here..." He considered this. "I do not know how much His Majesty would stomach the idea..." Monmouth was indeed amongst the Dutch, but he had not heard a word of suspicion against him; though that would make sense, for the King had a soft spot for his eldest son, legitimate or not. "I would not feel silly about that. There are so many personages to keep track of, after all." He was not sharp enough about intrigue to ask what else she had been speaking about, and he was not gathering information from her either. As to chapel, Francis speculated with a large laugh, "It shall be the one time the Duke of Buckingham is awake in chapel!!!" He did eventually nod that there were far more people there to protect His Majesty at chapel than Albemarle. "I never said she did not have good reason! I surely do not blame her for it. Though she has had the last laugh for she has extracted a promise from His Majesty to keep my feet on land...and without much difficulty either." As Nicci mentioned he was an exile of exile, his eyebrow raised in appreciation of the turn of phrase for it was exactly what he had been. He had also been an exile of the restored court once that had happened. "I think it likely those very difficulties which had the King say that he would keep me occupied here, and he does have quite the soft spot for the ladies." He chuckled when Nicci praised him for telling her. "Well, it would have been difficult not to, for we needed my grandfather's permission as we weren't of age, and she was living there too. So......" He shrugged with a boyish grin. "She listened at the door, actually." His mother had never been shy or one to stand around. "I would not have left without saying goodbye though."
  7. "Lady Dorothea is ruthless at Latrones, so you need not concern over charm in mimicry of her," he chuckled. It was true. She was very skilled. "And never fear, I am not concerned over the beverage of choice in the very least. We can share our finest at a later date." He had to prevent a smile at Lord Mountjoy's comment of being unbalanced and in disrepair. "None shall hear it from me." Francis smiled but ducked his head for the further intimate exchange, allowing them what privacy he could allow for their close proximity and circumstance! Until he was addressed. Then, he chanced raising his gaze to reply, "I am not that sort of pretty, Lady Mountjoy," he teased. "Nor that sort of gentle." If she had truly been wondering, though, he had allayed any suspicions that he shared the first George Villiers' proclivities with a smile.
  8. "The former Northern Secretary?" Francis asked. "In truth I did not know him very well, although I believe when I lived in Piccadilly his house was next to mine." Francis had once chased some sort of assassin the man was involved with, but they had not had dealings since. It had not been long after that Williamson had been sent to the Tower. "Perhaps," he speculated, pursing his lips in thought. He was not the intriguer, so he was not very sure how possible her conjecture could be. "Although I know His Majesty also believes the relations of his offspring to be very loyal to him, for their interest being best served with himself as King. The Duke of York would not see to them as well as the child's own father, so in such circumstances such persons are desired at court." "And, yes, His Majesty is quite safe at chapel, and will return to his apartments afterward. All precautions are being taken." Which was clearly why precautions were also being taken for her. Francis' cheeks blushed some at her 'Cub' comment. He had a feeling it was what Buckingham and the King referred to him by all the time when he was not there (and sometimes when he was...). "I think my hair helped that particular moniker, and Buckingham could not conceit to have another lion around." He chuckled. "It was my christening plate, which is rather large and heavy and silver, so I am lucky it didn't crack my head open I think," he said, fingering the faded scar on his cheekbone from the incident. "It bled fiercely, as head wounds oft do." He might not have said that to another woman, but with her apothecary and interest in healing, he thought it apropos. "Charles Kirke was not an enviable man, let us say, and he died when I was young. I did not even know him. My mother fled him when I was a baby, back to her mother with me, and he only found us a handful of times. It is why we were not among the community of exiled English, to keep out of his knowledge. My grandfather spent much time back and forth between the continent and England during those years, so it was the only way to be safe without my grandfather there to protect us all."
  9. Francis chuckled. Many an evening with His Majesty involved people passed out in all sorts of positions! It was hardly surprising to hear such about Ranelagh and Sir George. "The King is very fond on Ashburnham." Francis did not want to comment on the possibility that His Majesty was the youth's father, but Francis thought it true. Jack was some form of a cousin, but the Duke had a plethora of cousins, and Francis was convinced the King had slept with a plethora of the female ones. Given his own secrets, he thought it rather uncouth to comment on a similar one of someone else's. "Hmm." He tried to think of any of the King's common companions who might steal off and stab someone to death and drown them in a fountain. Or whichever order. "I suppose one never knows, though nobody jumps to particular mind." He could soundly see the Duke doing such a thing for the King, but he was fairly sure Buckingham had not been with the King or murdering anyone, for at such early hours the elder blond was usually just going to sleep and had been asleep when Francis had left that morning. He had later learned Herbert had woken him shortly thereafter. "Oh, do not mistake me," he replied, with a smile. "I am not ungrateful in the least, for it is a very great honor for someone like me. It is simply that I am something of a man-youth to the King, I think. Perhaps I am wrong. You are quite right though, any attention from His Majesty is surely court cultivation. I a simply happy to be of some use." He skipped over her query of whether or not he had told Buckingham his childhood tale. He had attempted, in his own way, to acquaint his uncle with years he had missed, but the man's odd response had hurt Francis quite a bit. Perhaps it had been an odd mood, but Francis found he would rather not think about it. Or talk about it. Maybe ever again. Few Villiers were known for finding once stung agreeable, let alone twice stung. "I beg your pardon!" he said, of the size of his manhood at a more tender age, before he chuckled. "I'll have you know it was big enough to get down with the business of things. I had two elder brothers, do not forget; I could not be left behind the curve!" As to his other reasons for going to war, he said, "No women feature aside from my mother hitting me with a plate when I told her I wished to go. Serving the King at war and in all sorts of circumstances was simply something I was raised with. That was what one did." He certainly had not gone off to impress a woman. Such a notion would have been idiotic to him. It had not been impressive, at that time, for him personally, to think about what happened when a man left a woman behind to go to war. Even then, at that age, he had known that is what had killed his real father. He had just had no clue of the identity of his father at the time. There was no romanticism in that notion for him and never had been. "And my career was not meant to be at court. My grandfather raised me exceedingly well, but he had is own eldest son to advance at court, at least first."
  10. Francis looked appropriately schooled on the matter...for ingénu as he was, he would have surely tasted it at the very least! If not eaten it altogether at some juncture. Then again perhaps it was his lack of court schooling and time in exile and at sea that rendered all edible things edible regardless of beauty. "I confess, Lady Mountjoy, you would know far better than I would what is best for Her Majesty, but I am not sure that eating it would be the only problem. There are substances which contaminate through the skin. If one knows many Italians, one hears many such stories." He cast his eyes to Lord Mountjoy to see if he had any thoughts on the matter. "Surely a few hours to have someone say that it is safe would also be safe for the rest of us and should not be too problematic?" He looked back to Lady Mountjoy. As to the matters of the Duchess of Richmond, Francis noted Lord Mountjoy's abrupt stoppage. He was about to ask if his lordship was quite all right, but the man came out of it and offered a strange excuse. Francis could not help but blink once, not quite so sure that explained the very odd look he was being given, but he had better sense than to let on that he did not believe the explanation. "I am yet very new to the game, and Lady Dorothea can very easily trounce me, so I doubt I would provide any good competition," he replied, with a smile. Meanwhile, his own mind was whirling a bit wondering what about the Duchess of Richmond had Lord Mountjoy staring at him so... Surely it was not surprising that he would voice no objection? What gentleman of any sense spoke against a female relation? Let alone a Villiers one! She might challenge him to a duel! That thought almost amused him. It did not occur to him that acknowledging that the named lady was quite fine with him would evoke such a reaction. It was not as if it was a secret that he was a relation, for he lived with the Duke, and he took it all as just typical talk. Thankfully it did not occur to him that one or both could think that the Duchess was actually his mother and her Clovis his father, for being raised as the son of a cousin would then not be strange at all! Francis did not have an inventive imagination about potential court gossip. He also did not fathom that someone might suspect the actual truth from his secret aunt's poems full of pseudonyms. "And I never turn down food or coffee, my lady, many thanks." "And I dare you to tell Her Grace the Duchess that, Lord Mountjoy!" And never had a more daring dare been given in his recent memory. That was saying something considering he also kept company with libertines. "You may need a defense more skilled than words in that case," he added, little rumbles of chuckles he tried to hold in escaping, for he was imagining the named lady's reaction! If the Queen was in danger, Francis was rock-solid positive the last thing the Duchess of Richmond would do would be to call for any man before taking action!
  11. When Nicci asked him who the King had been with the night before, Francis blinked, a bit surprised that she would think he would know such things! It was something of a compliment, really. "No, though I can say I was not amongst them, nor do I believe was His Grace," he replied, with a congenial shake of the head in the negative. "His Majesty has his entertainments with friends frequently." She was oft one of them, so it should not be particularly surprising. "I suppose Lord Ranelagh and Sir George were two of them, for there is little other reason to be here and awake so early." Sir George did not attend the King's person, particularly; he had an extraordinary position to the household (something common to His Majesty's most favourite writers and dramatists). Lord Ranelagh, like Francis, did as one of the King's Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, but he would not have been in the gardens in the morning then. Thus, it was not difficult for Francis to figure out that neither of the two had been attending so must have been part of the circle of friends Nicci spoke about. "You give me much credit," he added, with a chuckle. "I do not know so very much of my master the King's doings. The Duke is the one you can suspect to know such things. His Majesty might not see me as a boy, but he surely sees me as quite young and inexperienced in some aspects of court life. It is not surprising he feels such. As barely more than babes and small children, the Duke and his siblings were taken into the royal family proper, and the late King let very few near his murdered friend's children, even the Duke's very large family, for fear that they would try to grow influence with a boy-duke or the prince. My grandfather, though, was also in the King's household as a Groom and was very trusted, married to the boy-Buckingham's first cousin, and had children of around the same age, my mother and her brother. They were allowed to play together, learn dancing together, and such. So, you see, His Majesty will always see me as the son of a childhood playfellow of whom he was fond." And that was mostly the truth; though it was not truly his mother's influence on that perception, but rather his father, but both conveyed the same meaning. It might also explain why his mother had been given the title; or at least an explanation other than the King had slept with her. He chuckled at her estimation of skirts. "Oh, well, I started chasing skirts quite a bit earlier. By then I had my fill of jumping out windows to sneak to brothels," he tried to rein in his amusement but tittered a bit more before continuing. "I started when I was twelve, at Eton, and also did so at Trinity at Cambridge to escape curfew and the house master to indulge myself." He finally did calm his amusement down to a quirky smile, "And it is true neither prospect thrilled me. Much of my childhood in exile we had opportunity of seeing ships, and once His Majesty was restored to his throne, we had been taken out on the ships of a since-dead relation who was an admiral. The sea was quite a romantic notion to boys who had been able to do nothing in childhood. Once the war with the Dutch broke out, we three postulated to run away from Trinity ourselves, like the stories we had heard of the Duke and his brother doing so at thirteen and fourteen." He chuckled. "They ran off to the Duke of Cumberland knowing a prince who had fought battles at fourteen could hardly turn them away, and they knew the King would never have allowed it. So, we ran off from university and asked my grandfather's permission to go to war like the great Duke of Buckingham had when he was even younger than we were at the time." He tilted his head to the side as he shrugged some at her, "That is one of the reasons at least." Francis now postulated that if they had gone to Prince Rupert too, as George had suggested (in order to better copy the example), poor Cumberland would have experienced a serious case of deja-vu to have yet another George and another Francis appear intent on making battle, though it would have been at sea rather than at siege. His eyebrow then furrowed just a bit as his eyes looked upward in thought; if they had gone to Rupert, he realized just that moment, his life would have progressed quite differently. At his age of sixteen then, from what he now understood, he would have looked like the copy of his father, and he highly doubted with the reference of Buckingham and his father doing the same thing, it would have escaped Cumberland's notice that one Francis surely produced the other Francis! That had been why he had been kept away from court, after all, because there would have been no secret to keep if anyone who had known his father had seen him.
  12. "Perhaps having been among the Dutch, she did not fully realize what the rumors were here before making her return plans. I am sure talk of rogue Dutch factions was either quiet there or maybe even non-existent," Francis speculated, rather kindly. Most courtiers would be more like Nicci in making an assumption about the mistake that was the Dutch girl. He did not speak aloud that it might be inconvenient for Basildon if his wife was with child when bringing home the Dutch girl, for that might mean that Basildon might be the recipient of his own illegitimate Dutch girl! He was not sure when last the Lord and Lady had cohabitated last to be able to produce a legitimate pregnancy... It was a topic he avoided out of politeness and also out of his own questionable position. Instead he laughed brightly as she pinched him. "Guilty," he said, holding his hands up in surrender! As to the rest, well, it was far more somber. Perhaps he should have toned it down some more for her feminine sensibilities, but he did wish for her to know him, and to feel safe with him for more reasons than blind trust. Her question was a difficult one in some ways, but easy to answer in others. "No, of course not. Well, not then at the very least. I was only sixteen." He smiled down at her and took her hand toward where they might sit. It would be some time before he could secret her away. "Do you say that because you want to know why I would choose that sort of life when I might have had a simpler and happier one as a country gentleman?" he asked, a quirk to his lips. Even when he said it, it sounded ridiculously unlike him. Francis did not have the makings of a quiet, insignificant, country life.
  13. Francis nodded and smiled and said, "I think my master the King knows far more about most things than he lets on." He then added, "Far more than he shares with the likes of Lord Kingston." In truth, it was somewhat relieving that His Majesty did not expect him to have much political acumen, and whatever arrangements existed between the King and the Duke concerning Francis included Buckingham's tutelage and oversight. That fact they had discussed right in front of his face at Brighton as if he truly were thirteen and they were discussing his court career. A different man might have found it utterly insulting, but Francis had simply found it bizarrely uncomfortable at the time. His thoughts on the matter had only been slightly included...as if he were thirteen or something...which had been an odd sensation. "The Duke knows far more than I do, which is why His Majesty wishes me to secret you away there whilst everyone is engrossed at chapel shortly. I can tell you some things there about what this all means, for there is strong reason why my master does not wish you to go home to Basildon's. The Duke has taken some pains to prove that your cousin was not involved in the Danby affair, but the King became somewhat suspicious again when Lady Basildon returned with a Dutch houseguest amidst rumors of Dutch plots...though it is likely nothing, it is better to have proof it is nothing rather than supposition." He forgot to explain that if the murdered or murderer were Dutch and the girl was involved in the plot, if Nicci was suspected of seeing something to do with the murder, one would not want anyone unknown and Dutch sharing the house with her. His Majesty knew too many female English spies, apparently, and their deadliness, to be comfortable with that. He listened to her feminine defense of his character. She looked at the world as ladies generally did...though a veil that was somewhat sunny and rose coloured. A light chuckle escaped him as she said that she could be a bitch. She knew his French was very good; in fact, it was much prettier than this English in many ways. His accent in English was not untouched by exile, travels, and spending very little time in England. His accent when speaking French would pass as very native, for his first decade of life in exile he heard far too many Frenchmen. "Comme toute femme," he parried. "...mais mieux que d'autres." (Like any woman...but better than the others.) "I wish I did make a habit of misrepresenting myself to my friends, Nicci..." he then said, quietly. "Very little of what I have done has been in the necessity of self-defense or because I was placed in circumstances I could not control. I did not have to go to sea or to war, any of the times. It was far from my only option in life either; I left university to go. I was not ignorant, at any point, of what I would find there or what I would have to do. It is not glamorous, or perhaps what you see as being me here, but the truth is that I am more killer than I am courtier." He licked his lips, "His Majesty did not choose me merely because I am your liaison; he has an intimate idea of my character and capabilities."
  14. He had seen his own grandfather dead, but that had not been the last dead man that he had seen. "I am certain whomever that is dead is embroiled in something that has brought the event about...in this case," he replied. His Majesty had said that he could tell her what was going on, or what he knew of it, after her part in the morning and the danger to her. If her life was at stake, it had not seemed fair to keep her ignorant of the why of it entirely. He was trusted with how much to impart. The King did not wish to distress her either. "One day there shall be someone who you can help," he said, by way of comfort. "It is not for us to choose the when and the how." He was not known for his religiosity or for being in any way devout, but he had his own relationship with God, as most who went to sea generally did. His chin on top of her head, he nodded to her first sentence, but as she continued it would be impossible for her not to notice that his breath did not come easily after that. Though he did not tense, per se, his chest heaved some with a heavy exhale. Many details of his own life, and the one that had cause his to be, had been pressing on his mind lately, and it lately seemed that many were saying things which pricked at his own trials. Things which now pricked about his childhood or about what had happened to his father. Her commentary could have been one lamenting the fate of Francis the Elder. His own life was the result of raising boys up for such things and of the cold reality of death. There was much honor, yes, but a lot of what had been left behind to suffer of the ones that had loved Francis Villiers, or had been created by him, was even colder indeed. "What you say is very true. I am the product of that in more ways than you can fathom. And your estimation of me would find many in agreement, I would hope are also true of me, but had you seen me in different circumstances for the first time or ever thereafter, you might not feel that it was so. My life has not been a coddled one. Not from the very beginning." Perhaps it was the understanding of everything harsh and having watched horrid things ladies suffered without much recourse or superior physical strength that gave Francis his enduring gentleness. If one had known his father, where such things had come from would have been obvious.
  15. Francis closed his arms around her readily, pulling her close in a familiar way, his usual scent of sage and citrus lingering. "I cannot imagine fine an appropriate description...You are incredibly lucky," he agreed, in a soft voice. "I confess, I do not know many details but that you came upon the person just after they were killed. If you had been but a bit earlier..." He took a breath, "His Majesty is quite disturbed...and not of the threat to himself, but he is most concerned for you...and pleased Lord Ranelagh took you away so quickly." Blinking once, Francis wondered about her ability to sympathize with a dead man when there was a killer running about. Her empathy knew no bounds. He was reminded that she was a lady and ladies had different ways of thinking about such things. They had different sensibilities than men. "There is nothing you could have done," he replied. He had not known if the man was dead dead when she arrived, but from what he had been told, the man was beyond help. "Healing only goes so far. No tincture from any apothecary would have saved a man from such a wound." Francis licked his lips. Few asked him questions about the death that he had seen or the death that he had caused, for many had met their end from a weapon of his either at war or at sea. Or a duel. "Yes, many times." The way he did not elaborate likely detailed that a considerable portion had been quite gruesome. It was not something most associated with his youthful, soft appearances. "The first time is most difficult, but boys such as myself grew up knowing they would see death in battle one day, and we are not kept from such conversation or images of such things as girls are, so I do imagine it is very different for a woman. I was raised on war stories and lived a third of my life in exile, not in a gentle way at all."