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Privy Council
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  1. Ormonde returned the salute of the whiskey, pleased, at the very least, that this gentleman would rise the occasion without objection. There were plenty of prissy lordlings out there who thought themselves above such things, who thought overly well of themselves and their prospects. Chatham had more to his credentials than they for he had actually done something with his life. What remained to be seen was what the man could do with court life and royal favor. "Then until we meet again, Chatham," he said with a nod.
  2. "Ah, yes, the highborn German ladies. We all know too well," Charles Rex said, chuckling despite the gravitas of Lord Mountjoy's wife. There was an aspect of this that was pleasing, for it was true that the tendering of such a resignation was traditionally expected for any failing, but Charles had never aspired to be like his father (or his mother) in that way. After his own life, Charles did not wish to be the inflictor of harsh realities on others, and he wished to be a King who was loved. It seemed a better way to keep one's head on one's shoulders. But there must always be respect for his Kingship, even if he preferred the more light-hearted of affairs. "Lady Mountjoy's reasoning might hold some truth if the lady had chosen to go to someone else right away," the King replied, simply. "Elsewise, Mountjoy, I do not see how Mistress Wellsley's behavior can be attributed just to a mistrust of your lady wife, her superior, and not to a general lack of some kind. For to be sure, there are none who understand the girl's actions as being sense. This is not your dear lady's fault. There has been no failing in her service to the Queen by anyone's mouth." Then the king did something strange for him, for his words were quite cross, "And if the ladies and maids to Her Majesty do not like that your lady wife holds them to the standard Her Majesty wishes, then there are plenty of young ladies who would replace them and do their duties with light hearts. The whole lot of them could be replaced, methinks, before Her Majesty would think to remove your lady wife and in that we are in agreement." The firmness of that statement was in contrast to the King's usual disposition. He had raged when George had told him, one of the few people he raged either to or at, and he was not a King predisposed to such strength of negative emotion. THere was a nod to himself and then an afterthought, "And Lady Mountjoy can even call the gentlemen to heel." He chuckled more. "Which is quite the feat here at court frequently." When he sent gentlemen to do anything with the Queen's household, he sent those with the disposition for it, as he had Kingston, rather than someone not well suited (like Rochester or Sedley), but that did not save any of the ladies from dealing with the courtiers at large and many of them were raucous (and worse). That Lady Mountjoy could keep the Queen happy with such a dichotomously opposed situation at large was something or a miracle to Charles, sacreligious or not!
  3. Defiance

    Away & Here Notices

    Yay for moving home! I hope things settle for you!
  4. "It would also be exceedingly odd for an Englishman to fund a foreign lady's venture, Lady Toledo," Buckingham said, kindly. "That opens itself up to its own political implications, as I am sure Lord Toledo would know." In terms of foreign powers, Spain was far down his list allies; although Don Juan changed some of those calculations, Buckingham preferred the French flair and enjoyed the Dutch Egalitarianism (if not their stodginess and certainly not whatever faction murdered someone in the King's gardens). Not to mention they did not know yet who was behind the latest Papist plot, the Davina Wellsley business, but he was certain it was not Le Roi, so that yet let Spain suspect in his mind. Buckingham was too intelligent a politician to involve himself with anyone or anything that might later make him vulnerable to be swooped in some other intrigue unawares. Many a peer had met their downfall because of mischosen allies and friends. He had not survived a handful (or more) of trips to the Tower without some knowledge of protecting himself in such times. He chuckled at her analogy of birth. "Well, yes, but a lady has little choice over that happening, rather left to nature and God, but one surely has a choice over their business ventures." He rather enjoyed a young girl trying to out-smart him or out-reason him. It was quite cute in its way. "But, I shall give you an opportunity," Buckingham began as a preamble. He could almost sense Francis' groan next to him although no noise came forth from the cub. "If you find 4 other English peers or gentlemen who are willing to invest an equal portion in the project, I will agree to be the principle investor, but there must be no foreign involvement and entanglements." Which meant that they could not profit from the project; it would have to be an entirely English venture. Buckingham would see how much the lady truly just wanted Opera in London versus some sort of profit from it. Francis' eyes went large, blond brows up. "And," the Duke added with a raise of a regal finger, "One of them cannot be Kingston and you cannot use my name. You can say you have a principle investor, but not who. And it shall be up to you to make certain you don't include those that I would not involve myself with." Which was to say that none of them could be his political or personal enemies. Such information was not difficult to come by. Most peers made their friends and dislikes very clear. "What do you say to the challenge, my lady? Hmm?"
  5. The King chuckled when Mountjoy said that the only happening was that Kingston had left with his purse a little lighter. I would not put it above the cub to lose on purpose, the King thought, and then idly wondered whether he had or not. "Then, my lord, what is said to that is nothing other than how fortuitous it is that Kingston has lofty patronage!" He snorted with amusement. Whether he was referring to himself or Buckingham was anyone's best guess. In this case, it was Buckingham, as he was now looking forward to telling George to recompense the boy. There was still some sibling-like glee that could be found with such things, and divesting the duke of his coin was always fun. The King then listened to Mountjoy's true explanation for his requested audience. At first, His Majesty was not completely certain he was following what was being said. It was only after a moment that he realized Lord Mountjoy was talking about the second plot, not the murder that had started their vigil, which was another plot indeed, but the whole Davina Wellsley business. Buckingham had filled him in on the goings on with that, twice, and had referred her use to the Northern Secretary, who would hopefully soon be giving her instruction through an intermediary of how to behave if she was contacted by these Papist plotters again. They would have close watch of her, and they would find the truth out one way or another. The thought of an attempted poisoning of his Queen and child made him rumble with dissatisfaction even though it had been thwarted. He could not understand why the silly little girl had not told a soul, immediately. There were many what ifs that Davina Wellsley was lucky had not happened. Then Mountjoy's speech came to a head. His Majesty was about to protest that when Mountjoy's speech came to a second head. His Majesty blinked and then his dark eyebrows popped up, half of them now hidden by the styling of his periwig. The entire company of the room was so stunned that two pairs of eyes instantly looked sideways at the King, which they generally never needed to do, to see if the King actually wished them to hand him said letters. Charles truly had to fight more than a chuckle at the extravagant display, so he was silent as he collected his sovereign words and bearing, understanding how very serious Lord and Lady Mountjoy must be. With the slightest gesture of the hand, he waved off Captain Herbert and Jack. Then he said to Lord Mountjoy simply, "No, my lord, we shall not have it." He had to take a breath and disguise it as a sigh to not chuckle then, too. When he spoke again he said, "So that the fears of your lady wife might be assuaged, what precisely is her reasoning for this action? In what way does she feel she has failed us?"
  6. His Majesty had received Lord Mountjoy's request for a private audience, and it had finally been granted for late Thursday morning. Mountjoy's duties guarding the Queen interfered with it occurring on Tuesday, and His Majesty had other engagements on Wednesday and was secretly away. The Presence Chamber had been opened up again on Wednesday after being curiously (to most courtiers) closed Monday and Tuesday. Annoyed to the last end with being watched as if assassins were going to pour from windows, Charles had sent Arlington on something of a fool's errand just to be rid of him for the day. In fact, his only attendants in the Drawing Room were Captain Herbert and John Ashburnham. He had needed some younger blood around him. Unlike some of the older lords, who had known him when he was a youth, the younger ones never tried to schoolmaster him in such situations. They were far more likely to keep him in good cheer or stay in a companionable silence unless needed. Both were standing respectfully and handsomely at the ready to his side. And they were far more handsome and nice to look at than Old Plaster Nose (which was how Charles was - for that moment - referring to Arlington in his head). At the appointed time, that was how Lord Mountjoy would find his sovereign, sitting comfortably in an ensemble of navy blue brocade, his most expensive and fancy accoutrement was his shoes. Shoes were the King's favourite indulgence and the only thing about his own clothes he cared much about; his feet had not fared well in his younger years of flight and exile, and he had vowed never to allow them suffer any abuse again from too small and ill-fitting footwear! He was almost obsessive about shoes and preoccupied with choosing the most comfort for his tasks of the day. Charles was not a King who had brought several coats or sashes before allowing himself to be dressed, but he was known to refuse shoes and boots with regularity.
  7. Not getting thrown out was a strong indicator of Ormonde's disposition toward Chatham, for Ormonde was known for his (Irish) temper. Perhaps had he fewer daughters and relations, he would have been more dismissive of a man like Chatham. "Well, Chatham. Here is what I say to your desire for my daughter. You have not disproven yourself in our conversation." Which was a good thing. "But." Of course there would be a but, because surely Chatham did not think a duke's daughter was an easy prize won in a simple conversation. "I do not know you...or even of you, much. I am not so old that I will be rid of any son-in-law by my death any time soon, and so I require more proof that it is a worthy match as we too shall be married after a fashion. I wish to see what you can make of the King's attention and at the end of next season, if you have proven yourself as a courtier equal to the military man and libertine, then I will give my permission. Until then, you can continue your attentions to her, and I will be happy to extend you invitations." Which was to say that the Irish duke would accept him into his circle. And Ormonde fully intended to find out if Chatham could make it through a family dinner in that time as well. Or more than one.
  8. (This is like 90% Buckingham trying to make sense of Davina, except the very beginning, which is Francis, so I'm just posting it as Defiance ) Having kept overnight vigils at the Queen's on Monday and Tuesday and then following it up with an evening at Rochester's, Francis had not slept in a considerably long time. Sure, he had closed his eyes in that time, but not slept. Not truly. So when he returned from a Merry evening of comparing the fucks of Chatham and Dorset, late enough to nearly be considered morning, Francis collapsed into his bed at the Duke's for the first time since the previous Friday. There was no need to bother getting his head on the pillows. He was asleep diagonally across the bed before his valet could even pull off his boots, and he didn't wake when half of his clothes were tugged off. He didn't stir when his door was opened just some two or three hours later and the announcement, "His Grace wishes to see you, Lord Kingston," was made. When it was repeated, louder, with a shake to his shoulder, Francis grunted in barely more than a whisper, "Mmm, tell His Grace to fuck off, then." He then exhaled and groaned, feeling as if his stomach was weighted down into the bed in such tiredness that he couldn't lift himself. "Why is this the one morning of the year he wakes early?" he grumbled. "Well, you've just told him yourself!" Buckingham himself said. There was a snort of amusement. It was something the duke himself might have said. In fact, he was fairly certain he had said the very same thing to Herbert about His Majesty just a few days earlier! There was some Villiers vanity buried in the cub. It apparently came out unadulterated when exhausted. The entire exercise, even waking early himself, was completely worth it by the look of abject horror on the younger man's smushed, crusty sleep-face. And that mane of hair! Bloody male Medusa! Buckingham could not maintain any air of seriousness for that moment. He peeled with laughter, putting a hand to his chest. Laughter that began to hurt as Francis, startled and trying to get up and observe decorum, fell on the floor wrapped up in a heap of linens, pillows....and half the bed curtain with an undignified and hilarious "SHIT!" The curtain, like a tent, collapsed over the top of him, and it rustled and shook as Francis tried to find his way out from under it. He is probably blushing beet red! The terrified valet had no idea whether he was to continue to stand aside as Buckingham had ordered earlier or to help his hapless master, so Buckingham got an early morning comedy show as Francis battled the brocade curtain himself. Once the battle had been won, Medusa emerged and stood (beet-faced). "Well, Bravo," he said to the cub. "You've made a serious conversation start comically." He chuckled himself back to steady breathing, finally. "So, do you know Davina Wellsley?" He had planned the early morning conversation to catch Francis unguarded; he wasn't truly worried for he kept a close watch on Kingston, not for lack of trust but for lack of experience, but he did have a concern that the cub had taken his advice of 'making friends' too liberally. Francis looked utterly confused. "Is this about her not taking my hand Monday morning at the audience with the King? Should I not have offered, was that presumptuous? Or was it terribly improper of her to ignore it? It was embarrassing..." Buckingham blinked hard in confusion and shook his head. "No, you idiot." It slipped out, he could not help it considering the circumstances he had dealt with in Francis' absence. They did talk about the sorts of things Francis mentioned frequently, but certainly he, George Villiers, was not getting dressed before noon over who offered or took whomever's hand in whatever situation! "She sent you a letter." The Duke was being purposefully vague to a degree. "What?" Pause. "To apologize?" Buckingham took a breath and rolled his eyes with dramatic flair. "Bring coffee, I can't work with this," he directed, as he usually did, to nobody in particular, because there was always some servant or underling standing by to obey him. "I suppose it's thankful you are a sleepy idiot in this circumstance..." he let out a breathy laugh of affection and pat Francis on the shoulder. "No...I will never get up this early to talk about gallantry." He chuckled more to himself than out loud and revealed, "She wished to confess treasonous actions and a treasonous plot to you." There was a long silence played out in utter confusion on the still-smushed-with-sleep-lined face. "What?"..."Treason"..."To me?" Shocked pause. "Why?" He shook his head and tried to reason, finally adding, "I'm so confused. Is she involved with this Dutch plot against their Majesties?" "No, another plot entirely. A Papist plot. Apparently more than one power of the world thought their odds better off if His Majesty did not sire legitimate children." "Another plot?" Francis' eye went wide as if it was difficult for him to fathom multiple simultaneous unrelated plots...court neophyte that he was... Thankfully, the coffee arrived. "Sit." Buckingham pointed at the chair. "And not like a sack of potatoes. You have used up all your license in your manner of rising from bed," he added, holding in most of his chuckle. Medusa sat prettily and blinked up at him. "Now what do you know of the lady?" Then he pointedly turned to the cub's valet and said with a flourish of the hand as if gesturing to a painting rather than at Francis, "Do something about his hair. I cannot look at this ridiculousness." "Know of her? I know nothing about her other than she does not wish my help after playing on the floor with a puppy, Your Grace." He shrugged, "And that she stood up Herbert twice, but everyone in His Majesty's household knows that..." "You are speaking of Monday morning? That is what you were alluding to earlier about taking your hand?" Buckingham could not help but wonder why a woman that blatantly refused Francis' help in the presence of the King would then write the cub for his help about treason. The lady had struck him as quite odd, and Francis was not aiding the resolution of that impression but rather solidifying it. And who would stand Herbert up but a nutter. Buckingham had half forgotten about that story. If she was trying to get close to those near the King for any nefariousness, she was doing far too piss poor a job of it for it to be purposeful, surely. Brief mental sojourn over, Buckingham turned his attention back to Francis to hear his answer. "Yes, Monday morning at the audience." Was the response between sips of coffee and pulls of hair in the plaiting process going on behind the other blond's head. "Perhaps she wished His Majesty to see her bosoms from even greater than His Majesty's height." Buckingham chuckled, "The King doesn't prefer such tactics. Every King has ladies throwing themselves at his feet...And you know of his vow about the Queen's ladies..." Which was to say that if Davina had been attempting to also get close to the King, she was very ill-informed on how to go about it. He did not like a conquest to be so easy. The King was of a mind that it was whores or actresses who best filled the time when he wished it to be easy. Less entanglements. Ladies of court were reserved fare for more sophisticated games and flirtations. "As you say," Francis agreed. "I think His Majesty would also think it could be Her Majesty testing him at his promise...so, yes, her flirtations would be for naught." Buckinhgam nodded in agreement. "Think back, tired though you are. Do you remember anything on her person? Or anything about her out of place on Monday?" "She was there before I was, Your Grace, but everyone was so..." His brow furrowed, "She was wearing furs." He sighed, "Perhaps looking a bit tired. It was far earlier than most ladies are known to be about after all." Buckingham heaved a sigh. "Furs could have held or hid anything." He paced a few steps. "What did she say? What was her manner?" "Well, Sir...She wished me to tell them what the summons was about. Of course, I could not and did not, though I knew it was about the puppies. She complained of the mud and rebuffed my aid as much with that as to get off the floor later, but I do not remember much else. Much has happened since then." There was nothing Francis told him which would give him a better idea of whether or not the lady was telling the truth. He had given her a redeeming opportunity either way, because an agent could be turned double and be useful, but he would prefer to know for certain whether the lady had been traitorous or innocent at the start. More than just her word. For now, though, his concern was in Francis pulling up his guard. "I know I have instructed you to make friends and garner a congenial and gentlemanly reputation to counter...that other man's ungenerous legacy your mother strapped you with..." He could not bring himself to mention Charles Kirke by name, but when Francis had arrived at court, keeping himself from any association with that useless wastrel had been paramount. "You have done so. Now you need be more guarded. Not simply with His Majesty's affairs or my affairs but with your own affairs." He looked down at Francis sitting there and said, "I presume her choosing of you to send this letter is because you have a gentle look about you and a kind, friendly nature. If she needed help from a servant of the King, perhaps you seemed safe, or perhaps you seemed naïve if the lady truly had traitorous intentions." The word naïve had not seemed to sit well with Francis, even though he knew that he was in comparison to the duke himself, he was far less so than he had been. "Seemed, Your Grace. To her," was the reply, voice in that quiet tone persons used when they did not wish to rise to an improper retort. "Perhaps." Was added on, with a gentle narrowing of those blond brows. There was a long moment of collection. Buckingham was too interested to see what was being collected to interrupt the almost-too-long pause. "But I am not naïve to treason, nor my duties to the His Majesty, which existed long before I came to court, no matter what presuppositions anyone might have. Female or not. And if I seem naïve enough to elicit such information, then that can be very useful." There were poignant places of bristling as the words came out. A man like Buckingham could not help but smirk at this response. Even lion cubs had big, gnashy teeth, and they were bound to be bared sometimes, even privately - and minutely - at him. He would not wish it another way. "If you are the recipient of such correspondence in an odd manner, it is just as likely you could be swept up in the maleficence, no matter what you do with the information." "It is fortuitous, then, that I have you to read my correspondence." It was a sour response, almost a childish one. Buckingham sympathized, but not wholly. "In your lack of wakefulness, you seem to have forgotten yourself." He leveled his eyes down on the similar ones, "Do not pretend as if you did not understand how I would educate you in court life and nobility before you came to live in my household...because as you said, you are not that naïve." His response was Francis drinking more coffee, pointedly, as if acquiescing that he did have a lack of wakefulness that explained his saucy tone. Buckingham pushed forward, or rather backward, to the point he had been making, "You are of significant enough consequence and rank to hold even your acquaintanceship closer. You are unused to behaving with superiority, with consequence, but you must practice, Francis. You need not abandon gallantry, but you need be more careful in being giving of your kindness and other qualities." These were things best learned early, but Buckingham had not been given that luxury with Francis by his own relations. "And you must learn to be giving of your kindness at arm's length, even to those friends or acquaintances that deserve it." "The lady is not even my acquaintance, Sir." "I am not interested in your reasonings or protestations, Francis. What happened has happened because you left yourself open to it and that must not happen again. You must practice some hauteur. You are not what you once were, not even what you were when you arrived here, and your affable humility need be reserved for the royal family, myself, your aunt, and only the most grand personages." He paused and then added, "And your mother." Francis chuckled. Buckingham stared. "Well, you did just tell me I'd forgotten myself and two seconds later told me to practice my hauteur." "Yes, well, except for on the royal family, myself, your aunt, grand personages...or your mother," the duke said, rolling his eyes. "Which you very well knew. And if you were thirteen and not thirty, I'd be calling you a little shit right now, so there we are."
  9. Ormonde was contemplative for a few moments after listening to Chatham speak about the libertine circles and the outskirts of it. "You understand the risks, politically, of wishing to marry one of my daughters? My younger brothers and other extended family foolishly all remain Catholic and will constantly be the thorn by which the mob will prick anyone associated with a Butler." Why that was dangerous was rather obvious. Though the King's legitimate child eased the woes of a Catholic king in James in the future, there were still those who wished exclusionary policy and Papist 'sympathizers' were frequently labeled as secret Papists by the mob. Or attacked by being suspected of being included in their plots.
  10. "The dear Duchess can shed her skin to show herself in best light in any surroundings, and with the wit to back up the ability," Buckingham replied. "And I doubt Kingston's lady mother would stay in Brighton and not sample the waters. She and my sister share a few qualities..." The way that he said it suggested that it might be more than a few. Lady Kingston did not have the rank and privilege to be so bold as his sister, but she was a formidable and intelligent woman in her own right. And had just as much beauty. "When she hears of this, she might find reason to call round for tea," he mused. He was referring to Mall, but it could have been about either, really. "Then you should ask Francis to tell you the story. His ship had a prime view of the altercation, and it was he that apprehended Ruvigny's bastard son." Of course, many things had happened that evening, and many persons had done things to protect the royal family, but he had little interest in any of them. Not by comparison to his interest in Francis. "Indeed, and the number of persons one can truly trust is fewer than one generally likes to accept." The duke had a dark look for a moment as he added, "Betrayals make one more jaded over trust, and I have experienced my share." It was offered as if advice to someone who had yet to be hardened by a stab to the back.
  11. "And what would attract you to my daughter when there are surely young ladies who have more of a temperament for witty and pleasurable pursuits of a certain nature?" Then he clarified, "Not that you might wish one of the loose moraled ones for a wife, but there are young ladies who edge that circle in their wit and such whilst my daughter would seem much more at home in a library..." He added, "Do you think she would be happy on your arm at their raucous salons?" It was a valid question. Or questions. Was Henrietta aware enough of his reputation and what she might need contend with in marrying such a man? Ormonde was not certain that she was... But what girl ever knew much about that before entering the institution? Mostly, he wished to see what Chatham would think to say about it.
  12. Defiance

    The Night Before Christmas

    *claps* well done, Brian! 🤣
  13. "The mob wield their power, and sometimes we must exploit the mob's biases for wield our own and for His Majesty to be able to wield his as ruler of all." Ormonde shrugged, "Coin is a necessary evil, even for the King." "If His Majesty has noticed you, especially with something as beloved as his bloody dogs, then you are most fortunate indeed. And right to be cautious of seeming grasping and that. Much of what a king experiences in life is such and our king likes to be more merry than royal. Knowing one's opportunity is important." Ormonde had their drinks refilled. "And your libertine reputation. I assume you further your exposure to the king in such a way and that it is not for hedonistic pleasure alone?" There were many libertines, but there were differences in the quality of libertines. There were those who were outrageous and cared little for reputation or crossing the bounds of society, and then there were the wits, artists, and such of the libertine circles, which was more than sex and stupidity.
  14. "I daresay she could," Buckingham replied with a laugh and a roll of his eyes. His sister was as oft a collaborating writing partner as she was a critic and competitor in the literary realm. He sighed, "I have only known Kingston for a few years, perhaps two, though we were close with his mother as children. Circumstances of war and exile, and her misalliance of a husband, had us losing touch as adults until Brighton." That seemed a bothersome thought for him, for a crease crossed his brow momentarily. He paused and added, "I had made Kingston' acquaintance first when he presented himself on my doorstep prior to the King's wedding. Another poor relation, I feared, with little to recommend himself. If I recall he made quite a splash for his actions during that harrowing attack during the Flotilla. Not even the stink of the Thames prevented many important personages from learning the cub's name." He chuckled. "Ha! I had forgotten that as well. And we might yet make use of it one day. When he least expects it." Drinks were refilled, and Buckingham said, "It is my limited experience that more than one strong woman under one roof is unadvisable. You cannot be faulted for finding difficulty. More so if there are disagreements." And as he had said earlier, the Dutch girl's presence there was enough to have them concerned over Nicci, what with the Dutch plot. "Thankfully, His Majesty enjoys both activities," the duke gave a bright laugh. He nodded as she guessed when he wished to be the rock. "It is best one is not easily swayed, settled, or lifted by traitors and assassins, do you not agree?"
  15. Buckingham could not help a dignified snort of amusement at her description of Francis and question. "Dear Kingston was a gentleman in the rough after a third of his life in exile and half of it at sea, but he was born with a natural prettiness that merely needed attention and cultivation." He smiled and allowed, with a little sweep of his hand, "There was much tuition involved, as you saw with the tailor some time ago." He laughed. Kingston hated tailors and suffered them like a 6 year old prone to tantrum! "I am pleased to hear it, though, that he lives up to the gracefulness of the Villiers blood. He is of a naturally likeable disposition." As his younger brother had been. "Far longer? Have you some reason to be displeased with your cousin's house? Or perhaps it is the arrival of his lady wife and company?" Buckingham guessed. Having been the only lady in the house must have been far superior. "No matter, as I said, you are welcome. And I wager His Majesty shall wish to come here to see you ere long." Once the situation was more clear. "In such matters, I oft fifind it better to be a feather, though sometimes I am also predisposed to being the rock. The rock upon which other things are crushed."