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James O`Neill

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    St. Marks' Hall

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  1. “You have my most sincere thanks,” James said, usual smirk fading in favor of a more gracious bob of his head. “In all sincerity, my lady, it is most pleasant to find another of our craft who isn’t so damnably set in their ways.” The playwright, Grayson, had immediately found the Irish poet appalling, while Rochester may have given advice on the matter of witticism, but something proud within him bristled at the notion of conceding anything to the established literary set. Something told him Lady Cambray might have found that sentiment agreeable, but that would be a conversation for a different time. James let out another laugh and shot back with a jest and metaphor, “I’ve danced enough in roses to know the thorns, I have.” The wave had begun to sweep him up again, visions of poesy and dancing becoming quite grandiose. “A field of wildflowers sounds vastly more preferable. Although…” He paused when she described her vision, answering with sarcasm, “I hesitate to provide you an example of me prancing. Heaven above, preserve my poor masculine pride!” His green eyes rolled back, emphasizing the disdain he had for those traditionalist ideas. It was a subject that truly befitted a rant, but then the countess looked skyward once more and announced that she ought to have departed. “And I,” the poet said with a deliberately-melodramatic sigh, “ought to return to the offices of His Grace my master, before he takes note of my absence.” Ormonde was a rare figure that James had true respect for – not to mention a fear of irritating the temperamental duke. His position, after all, was all that stood between his lord father recalling him to Greyabbey and his future at court. “Until we meet again, Lady Cambray,” James bid her farewell with a sincere bow. “Whether it be words or wildflowers, I truly look forward to what trouble we might stir up.” (fin for me! Thank you for a great thread)
  2. James could not help but approve of the young countess more and more; despite his initial skepticism of her literary talent, her elaboration that she oft preferred villains marked her even more deeply as a kindred spirit. “Gift upon gift, yet you and they shall never meet,” James observed, upon the matter of the stars, drawling, “A rather old-fashioned sentiment for such a modern woman, if we accept the analogy.” Barking a laugh, he nodded in gracious acquiescence as she consented to let him use the line – plagiarism among the artistic set was a common enough practice, but he was not one to do anything save with his own merit. “Oh, grand." Always grand. "You shall hear of my progress forthwith, once I have dispensed with the day’s sonnet to move onto this newest idea.” He grinned. “I suspect that the subject of both pieces would not care for a third work, were they to know of it.” And he will, one day. Of that James had no doubt. Lady Cambray did not, in fact, seem to perceive him as imbalanced, nor did she seem to have difficulty following his rather erratic, rapid-fire description of poetry’s personal meaning. “Dancing in the flowers, hm?” James asked in jest, glancing around towards the roses of the garden, smirk still sharp. “That sounds like a story – one befitting a comedienne in particular, even those whose erstwhile muses run a shade darker in temperament.” The poet’s eyes glimmered at his own self-deprecation, quite intrigued at the idea of being an inspiration. “You are quite transgressive, it appears. I’m unused to being the inspiration, rather than the inspired.” Voice lowering slightly, "I should like to see where that vision of yours leads."
  3. “My Boudicca could be quite cruel as well…albeit justifiably,” James retorted, slyly. “The Britons took no prisoners – as a woman ought not, I should think. If nothing else, it would leave me with precious little to write about. “As for her defeat…” He was no scholar, and lessons on history – save where his work or lineage was concerned – had a tendency to enter one ear and exit through the other, and so his thoughts were characteristically one-sided. “A victor may make history, but are they truly remembered?” Once more, his head cocked just slightly enough to make it evident that he was not simply speaking rhetorically. “Octavian built the empire, but it is Cleopatra and her lovers that captivate us. Paris slew Achilles, but of whom did the poets speak?” The countess shored up her own libertine credentials, and James found himself continuing to approve of this one wholeheartedly. “I think, Lady Cambray, that I will return your missive with a previous piece of mine. We are of one mind here, and work might benefit from a feminine viewpoint.” His female friends had been receptive to The Pursuit of Diarmid and Gráinne, after all, and it could not hurt to curry favor in that department. By the time Lady Cambray had followed his rather circular train of thought, it had already shifted, driven ever-onwards by a mind engaged in a footrace with the beating of his heart. “Put that way, my lady, you make the stars sound almost chivalric – hm. ‘My love is close as the heavens above…’” His smirk furrowed into a frown, and his thought process vocalized into a slightly rambling Ulster brogue. “A dreadful internal rhyme. Pedestrian, but...workable. Might I steal it?” “As to the rest, ah – mine is the blood of the Gael. There is little else besides Hibernia and women with sharp tongues and soft arms.” His grin returned, lascivious – and then he abruptly turned away, rising to his feet to examine Urania a touch closer. “Truly, I haven’t the means to answer that question, I don’t. Poetry is…a broken heart,” he turned again, with a glance towards his notes from earlier. “A private jest at an unworthy rival. The stars. A pattern, as you said. The way to understand, well…everything.” Watching the lady from his new vantage point, he shook his head, dark curls bouncing, as if suddenly aware how quite mad he sounded.
  4. Lady Cambray had dressed as a man on occasion? Oh, but this was shaping up nicely: James broke into another dimpled grin, almost feeling that he should applaud the countess. “We have met too late for you to be my Boudicca, I fear, and you have said you are not cruel enough to be my Marcella…” His eyes wandered around the garden, ever restless. “Although I now see some similarities, to bethink myself.” For it was hard to forget the charming ‘Lady’ Lucy, with whom he had shared a kiss in a jest privately at the expense of that boorish Langdon. And what that had led to… No, no. Bask in the moment. Enjoy your newfound confederate. Find the fierceness in those eyes of hers. “Virtuous similarities, mind you,” he added in his best mischievous tones, gaze snapping back just as she leaned in. “Passion worn well, in beautiful, liberatory defiance…” His musing trailed off momentarily, and he played up the faux-secret with a stage whisper. “Mm. I suspect I needn’t tell a truly uninhibited woman – nor winsome man –“ for Lady Cambray was not the only one with libertine ideas on sex and gender in the conversation, “how those are truer virtues than that of the moralizers.” James’ eyes followed hers upwards, to the dimming sky of the late afternoon, contemplating aloud, “As here below, there is an art to the heavens.” He knew the Greek and Roman tales of the constellations, but had never paid them much heed, and his talents certainly did not lie in the field of anything remotely scientific, but Beauty he knew. “Is it not so that the untouchable is ever the more inspiring?” He leaned away from her slightly, playfully accentuating his point with a smirk. “But then we return again to the topic which began our little conversation.” (sorry this took so long, had to get my IRL act together!)
  5. "I oft consider the possibility you mention, but to have another instigating those wretched ambitions?" The rhetorical question was accompanied by a smirk. "That is what might lead to scandal.” Indeed, it already had, but there was no time for such an explanation. Not when his heart pounded a thunderous beat and the lightning strikes of inspiration, ambition, and grandiosity pressed him to segue rapidly, breezing along. “So it goes, though. One must be acquainted with the topic of their work – and I find that a woman untamed expresses…ah, what one might think of as true virtue in a way no other symbol could.” It was perhaps unconventional to approach the subject in this way, but James could find no fault in his logic. If the Bard could make Macbeth sympathetic, if Milton was allowed to induce one to cheer for the enemies of Christianity, then English audiences could meet the passionate women that the Irish tradition adored. The miniature lecture was concluded with yet another smile, the Irishman deliberately laying it on a bit thick by way of a half-jest. “I suspect that I needn’t tell you of the merits of defiance, ambition, and passion,” he added with a stage whisper. The topic of St. Marks roused another laugh in him, and he soon agreed with, “Let’s simply acknowledge that I am attempting to write here, and not at my ostensible lodgings, which have the general ambience of a Florentine house of ill repute.” Truly, he ought to have inquired with Ormonde about more permanent lodgings, but the man was mildly terrifying. James managed a respectful silence on the topic of the heavens, interrupted only by a subconscious impulse to push his own hair from his face as she shook her head. When she finished, he exhaled slowly, as if he had been holding his breath the entire time. “That is…you say you cannot be serious, my lady, but then you describe the essence of…” The striking countess was no longer a mere libertine in his perception, having finally been elevated to the level of truly worthy of curiosity. Too many thoughts bubbled up at once, sanguine and choleric humors suddenly at war, making his speech into a vague, manic musing as his green eyes darted between Urania and Lady Cambray. “Patterns…” he sighed. “I think it sounds truly wondrous, it does. Beauty that one might see and measure, but never touch...”
  6. ‘Perhaps in time we will become the most famous poets at court.’ James’ smile briefly grew sharp at this, and his eyes nigh-on twinkled as he replied. “Truly, you shouldn’t say such things.” In time? No, the Irishman was positive that he would be as Milton’s Lucifer, showing the heaven that was court’s idyllic literary nonsense as artistic nonsense. “Somewhere in the County Down, the Baron O’Neill of Iveagh has just felt a cold chill down his spine, and he hasn’t a clue as to why.” Would, to follow the Miltonian metaphor, his lord father silence him for seeking dominion over Paradise? It was yet another topic unworthy of consideration at the moment. Better still to breeze along with the banter, charm, and contention of literary styles. His smirk had not yet time to fade when Lady Cambray offered a retort on the matter of scandal, and it was at that moment that he decided this one had potential. “No idea, my lady?” They were each, in different but equal measure, possessed of a certain pride on this matter, one that was palpable as he sallied forth with, “Au contraire, I believe the French would say. My best works are positively glowing with the scandalous likes of you.” This was pronounced with an air of fatal confidence; again, the young woman could make of that what she would. Nonetheless, James found himself pleased that she would consider accepting his help - having engrossed himself in the Italian tradition, the idea of enabling a disruption of social and artistic mores was a delightful one. Almost as if Lucas were here, it is, he considered, biting back memories of soaring dreams and broken promises with more cheer. "Grand, positively grand! It is decided, then. Your missive will find me at either St. Mark's or the office of the Lord High Steward." "Assuming you do not mind overmuch my ignorance of the heavens." He exhaled slowly, an errant hand pushed back a dark curl. "I have never looked upon a star chart nor used a telescope - tell me, what drew you to gaze upon them?" A female writer was one thing, but one interested in natural philosophy was a fascinating novelty.
  7. Whatever momentary bout of moodiness provoked by the topic of humor subsided as quickly as it had begun; in these moods James’ mind was one prone to racing at such a speed that it would take a true crash to divert it from its course. Accordingly, he even grinned at Lady Cambray’s response, saying, “I daresay, my lady, that such a failing is not altogether unpleasant. In His Majesty’s court, it may even get you further than my own faults, despite my furtive attempts at merriment.” Comedy was not precisely his forte, and he certainly did not find it as meritorious to go along with the present zeitgeist, but it took a certain melancholy sensibility (or was it pretension? James did not wish to consider that possibility – and so he simply did not) to write heartfelt tragedy. It was not a thing he would wish on the charming Countess of Cambray. It was with rapt attention that he listened to her explanation of the play – unsurprisingly, it was a comedy, but more interestingly she did not shy away from admitting its bawdiness. “How scandalous for a young lady,” he observed, barking out a laugh. Male playwrights were allowed to get away with such things, but he did not know of any women who had done so without tarnishing their reputation. Surmising then that they ran in similar circles, the poet did not shy away from his thoughts on the matter. “I quite approve…done, overdone, and redone though it may be.” “After all, while we may yet end up rivals at the King’s little contest,” he went on, smirking. It seemed to follow that a comedienne such as her would be interested in a competition like that – memories of a strange little game between a Frenchwoman and one Mistress Wellsley, egged on by he and Kingston, attested to Charles Rex’s love of light-hearted entertainment. “But I should not wish to see such a provocative statement languish because of indecision.” “And as such I feel honor-bound to offer whatever small assistance I can, Lady Cambray. At your pleasure, of course.” There were worse ways to spend one’s time than discussing theater with a striking young woman whose work by virtue of its mere existence would shock critics. “As to the Lords Grey and Chichester, I believe that I know only of the latter.” James was reasonably certain that it was Chichester who had outbid him at the auction of that strange woman’s estate, much to the dismay of Lucas Cole. “But only just barely. Are they fellow astronomers?” He himself knew little of the stars, but there was an earnest curiosity there. The night sky over Loch Cuan had forever held a place in the young Irishman's heart, such was its inspirational power.
  8. “Mirth,” James echoed as he dipped his head in gratitude and made to join the countess on the bench. “Is a worthy enough goal,” he added, unconvinced and not entirely sure Lady Cambray had seen his point. “For me, it shall remain a means to an end. I haven’t the comedian’s spirit." Unceremoniously set aside his papers and clasped his hands in front of him, pale, slender fingers steepling. A long pause hung in the air, and he did not look at Anne-Elisabeth as he said, “Do not…take that the wrong way.” There was no hint of insincerity, no jest in the forthcoming explanation, despite the thin smile it came with. “It’s a moral failing of mine.” As were all sicknesses of the soul. Ulster’s finest physicians were keen on making that point. This unwittingly-grim admission was soon dismissed with Lady Cambray's mention of a poetry contest, which snapped the poet back to reality instantaneously. Initially, it had been his intention to publish his epic with the support of a grey eminence or two, but a contest - which he did not doubt he could win - would garner enough attention that the work would be able to stand on its own merits. Thus James' features were alight with optimism anew, the ebb and flow of the conversation pulling his mercurial mind in yet another direction. The question of theater was posed, and James turned his eyes onto hers, still trying to find the truth of her talent in those shrewd eyes. The lady seemed honest, if nothing else, which served to redeem her in the eyes of a more serious writer. "Oh, all art that accomplishes its purpose is worth the effort," he proclaimed, elaborating, "Whether that's catharsis or mirth, as well as the how...that is irrelevant." "Myself, I prefer the strictures of meter, the demands of prosody...order into chaos." He smiled again at this rumination. "I once squandered a chance to write a libretto, and have recently completed a long-form narrative done in the style of a tragedy, but never a true play." It was simply not his strong suit. "And yourself, my lady?" James was genuinely curious. "What is this play of yours?"
  9. James O`Neill

    Fleeting Focus, morning, 14th April

    Andraemon in tow, James did not lead Caroline far – just a few strides off the path, enough that not every lord and lady choosing to walk in one of Westminster’s most popular parks would have overhead the two of them befouling the reputation of one of England’s noted musical minds. Whatever had become of him, let alone of the lightning strike that had been their friendship, Lucas was deserved that much. Their eyes met, hers looking up at his, and James instinctively looked away as the lady went on to explain her perspective on the composer’s absence. “You seem to have quite the ear to the ground on the matter of court gossip,” he muttered, an observation born of gallows humor. A grim smirk played upon his lips briefly before fading almost instantly as Lady Kendishall then confessed her own problem with alcohol, a surprising gesture of trust that sent a single eyebrow upwards in query. “I…” Where did that come from? “I’m very sorry to hear that, my lady.” His brow furrowed slightly, unsure of how to proceed. “About the, ah, drink, I should say.” More gently, he added, “Neither…neither you nor Lucas are strangers to vices born of a lack of control.” Some of us play out our entire sordid lives on such terms. Impulse outweighed reason in the poet’s decision-making process by an exponential factor; thoughts of a wager’s thrill, of ill-considered trysts and the manic joy of a winning streak ran through his mind unbidden. A beat. “Laudanum.” The word came out as a curse. One turn deserved another, and so it was James’ turn to be unnecessarily honest, the words tumbling out in a quiet Ulster brogue as he confessed, “It was laudanum. I did see it,” and here he paused again, chancing another look at Caroline. “And I called him a coward for being unwilling to change that fact. Because it got in the way of our plans, you see.” Because he would not let himself love me. The poet barked another hoarse, bitter laugh, full of a self-recrimination that surprised even himself. Or at least it would have, had he possessed the self-awareness to realize he was foisting upon a rather new acquaintance months of unexamined loathing. “And nobody has seen him since.”
  10. James O`Neill

    Fleeting Focus, morning, 14th April

    Cowardice was an interesting word. Of course, James could not have possibly known that Caroline’s soldierly father would have labeled him as such, but had he somehow been prescient enough to be aware of that label, the Irish poet would have scoffed with contempt. Cowardice was conformity to both social and internal norms, a sin practiced by both soldiers and society at large. It was a willingness to go along with the spirit of an age and the spirit that one ought not dare to transgress what lay within their heart to pursue something greater. Cowardice was Lucas Cole being a thrall to his addiction and his fear, unable to match the earnest desire of a twin soul, as James had accused the composer in their last folly of a conversation. The cellist explained herself, and at first he only half-heard what was offered by way of that, lost in his own mind and the fog of memories that had not yet had time to clear. The mention of court gossip shook him out of the swamp of dreary reverie long enough for a dark eyebrow to ouch, furrowing fair skin as he considered that bit of information. “My lady…” He began, thinking to protest that he did not require a dismissal of salacious rumor. One wonders what they might say about he and I… “Mm.” Pale fingers ruffled through his hair, pushing back a few curls. With his free hand, James gestured for Caroline to follow him somewhat off the path and away from the crowds, his eyes having wandered to the direction of Rosamond’s Pond. This was not a conversation for the public. Where it all began. “I…” His voice was low, Ulster brogue hoarse. “Said something of a goodbye to him, although I didn’t think it permanent. Lucas…” He tasted the man’s Christian name aloud for the first time in months, a small inner voice suggesting that it was curious that Lady Kendishall had used it. “Lucas battled – battles his own demons with the ferocity of St. Anthony. I-I don’t know if that is a gift or his curse.” Expression too curious to be sorrowful, but with wounds too raw to be unequivocally sympathetic, he glanced back at Caroline and admitted soberly, quietly, “Not the only one our composer left in the lurch, you.”
  11. Having been content to let Lady Cambray brush off his overt flattery, James barked a short laugh on the topic of Calliope and cruelty. “’Hopefully to never find out?’” He quoted with obvious amusement, eyes gleaming. “You do me little credit, my lady. Save where the Chief of All Muses is concerned, my work is at its most profound while languishing under cruelty.” Let her make of that what she would. It was not even dishonest: thoughts of his Bianca, of Lucas, and the demands of life’s mundane rigors had inspired his recent sonnet. Would that I were less ambitious, James contemplated, not serious in the slightest. I would by now be London’s most prolific – and its least inspired. For that was the problem with what the young Irishman had read of the court’s poetic set – satire lost its bite when it was de rigueur, comedies had little in the way of soul, and of the rest…well, he had already lambasted them in a previous work as a 'Desert, Dreary, and most Desol-ate.' In his mind, The Rising reigned supreme over sonnet and satire for it would, with Fortuna’s blessing and carefully-applied charm, become a blow against the established literary order. It therefore should have been unsurprising that James frowned at Lady Cambray’s explanation of her subject matter, the tonal shift a sudden tempest. “In truth,” he began, . “I’m unfamiliar with Hesiod myself, and while I’ve dipped my toes in the fountain of humor, I must contend that entertainment ought to supplement art. Become it, it should not.” He shook his head, nigh-black curls bouncing slightly as he followed her gaze to Urania, referencing Milton's verse from earlier, "'Up led by Thee...'" Now absent of any earlier mirth, James sought to meet the gaze of the Countess, to impress upon her advice that was not sought, that was as much to himself as to her. “Whether to the heavens, to my Boudicca’s Albion, to bloody Barbados…” He let out a sharp exhale that was somewhere between a laugh and a vocalized bit of exasperation, although the what and why of the latter was not something he himself recognized. “I entertained His Majesty, surely, as you might. But if you are led to climes different than those preferred by the court, and your work speaks for itself…” “Well,” and – again, of course – the impolitic choice of words to follow was not a consideration of the poet, “then damn them all.” A light smile returned, an uncertain thing to emphasize his own point.
  12. James O`Neill

    Fleeting Focus, morning, 14th April

    The poet had no great talent at censoring himself, and therefore on the topic of his horse’s name and the lady’s Irish manservant he had to fight a great inner battle, biting back explanations of the reference to the poet Martial and rejoinders on the stereotype of Irish savagery. His feelings – or, strictly speaking, those of the Baron O’Neill of Iveagh – on the matter were a confused thing, Irish pride subordinated to English leadership in the name of survival. Agreeing inasmuch as he was not by any standards a political creature, it was only on matters literary that James would truly vocalize that plight, and today he was avoiding those. Fortunately, Lady Kendishall continued to speak, saving his tongue from the decline of the Gaelic aristocracy. “Since The O’Neill left Ireland, much of my family has served abroad in a similar fashion,” he stated, much more matter-of-fact than he was on most other subjects. “Others returned briefly, only for Cromwell to chase them out.” Or kill them. Or for the Royalists like my father to do likewise. The recent history of the O’Neills was a complicated affair. Another dimpled smirk crossed his face as he mock-confessed, “I prefer to bandy words instead of swords.” And then his smile faded instantly, as Caroline posed the one question that could have forced the budding tension within him to morph, the ill humors to cloud his mind. “I…” James began. Only a moment would pass before he would continue, but in that moment, a wave of memories crashed into him. Lonely hands mingling with one another, fumbling for understanding. ’Siúil go ciúin, a rún,’* the desperate plea that had been his last words to Lucas. Promises to set the world on fire, broken. The sickly, alcoholic smell of laudanum. Odi et amo, James had warned another man once. I hate and I love. In the present moment, his green eyes looked uncertainly at Lady Kendishall before glancing away and towards the ground. There was a tensing of his jaw, and a patch of dirt soon fell victim to the scuffing of his riding boot. “Have not, my lady. Not since the debut of his opera.” James inhaled through his nose as he replied, tone clipped. Still not chancing a look towards the lady, he tugged slightly, unthinkingly on Andraemon’s lead, prompting a whinny. Curiosity took over, and he managed a subdued question. “Why do you ask?” *Go peacefully, my darling/my secret.
  13. James O`Neill

    Fleeting Focus, morning, 14th April

    “I assure you, my lady, that Andraemon differs from me not just in anatomy,” James sallied forth with a laugh. “He is a perfect gentleman, and would apologize without hesitation.” At least Lady Kendishall was being sporting about the whole affair – the Irish poet was more than capable of making an ass out of himself in a much more spectacular fashion, as most candles that burned at both ends were wont to do. “I, however-“ “Well,” a beat, as his laughter eased itself down. A slight tensing of his jaw could have been noted by an observer, an old tic brought on by attempts to steer his mood. What may have seemed a bit of banter, he was painfully aware, could soon become a manic flight of fancy steering him too close to the sun. Without even a servant that could be trusted not to report to the Baron O’Neill of Iveagh, James had to struggle for control or risk banishment back to the shores of Loch Cuan. And so James settled for feigning an obviously-insincere meekness in his Ulster brogue, the lie made evident by the smirk upon his lips. “Well, I am ashamed by his exemplary behavior – and for the fact that I have made an oath to write not a single word or form a single rhyme today.” He grew more playful almost immediately, however, adding: “Would you accept my most contrite of apologies?” Her earlier remark, of course, had to be noted as well, and he ended the apology with a quip. “After all, such an infringement upon your person might be construed as an offense that requires satisfaction, and I dare not risk offending a markswoman such as yourself.” How curious, to be trying to think of anything besides his poetry and then run into a woman who knew her way around a weapon! Calliope haunts me yet. “A nasty thing, the pistol,” he remarked suddenly, seeking to avoid pestering yet another soul with his incessant thoughts on Boudicca. There’ll be time enough. Soon. “Brusque I might be, but in truth, I am a rather poor example of a soldier of the Uí Néill. You have me outmatched, Lady Kendishall.”
  14. James did not feel the eyes on him mirroring his own examination, nor did he for a second stop to consider that his intentions might have been misconstrued as improper – welcome or not. The only certainty he knew was the integrity of the artist, and from the minute Lady Cambray professed to being a writer herself, the scales were to be weighed against the veracity of that statement, and that alone. The spirit of the libertine age was all well and good, but poetry was the incandescence of his psyche, illuminating the dark recesses of the world. At the very mention, he became warm, incisive, incendiary, glowing in what Lord Maldon once termed his very own Irish fire. “I beg your pardon, my lady,” the poet began, looking back up to the palace whose shadow they stood in. “But if you truly find unwarranted flattery a repulsive notion, there’s fairer climes than Whitehall, there are.” Wit and willingness to entertain had been his only reliable allies since arriving in London, and superficial charm was an easy enough habit to lapse into when provided a sparring partner. Politics were more difficult, and James ought to have been grateful that the lady had the sense not to delve into the topic, being nothing of a statesman himself. In truth, Milton’s views had already slipped away into the nether, chased away by meter, verse, and banter with a curious specimen of a countess. “Are there forms of revenge that aren’t petty, then?” He asked, returning her pretty grin with a dimpled one of his own. “Or do you simply possess a greater capacity for cruelty than a daughter of Zeus?” Before receiving an answer, James breezed forward in both conversation and towards their newfound destination with an emphatic, “Hm. That too could make a serviceable line…” The train of thought ended as soon as it began, however, he made to offer an arm before realizing the impracticality of doing so and finally managing some silent gratitude. “As to what I have written, my conceit is to write as a Gael would in an English manner. Tales of tragedy, rebellion in blank verse…” He prattled on, eyes roaming around their environs. “A lyric poem about these very gardens, once.” Finally turning back to Lady Cambray, James did not even make an effort to mask his own cockiness as he mock-confessed sotto voce, “His Majesty rather liked what he heard of that one, I believe. It is my hope that what the sisters Hibernia and Britannia have conspired to steal from Calliope with my aid will soon be even more well-received.” Which was, in all, a rather convoluted way to say ‘I have been writing an epic that will either make or destroy me, and I have the pretension to think it concerns the whole of the British Isles’. Rather than say that, however, he asked in turn, “And you, Lady Cambray? Have you outdone Hesiod’s Astronomia?”
  15. James O`Neill

    Fleeting Focus, morning, 14th April

    Andraemon was an even-tempered beast, and like many others who had known James for a reasonable amount of time, had learned to ignore his master’s contrarian tendencies when it came to matters of self-preservation. The horse – being, after all, a horse and therefore none-too-partial towards colliding with things – had seen fit to allow an incoming lady as much of a berth as it could, balking somewhat as its rider tightened the reins, rather belatedly informing the horse that it was time to get out of the way. Accordingly, as the cantering creature side-swiped the unfortunate lady, it whinnied at James in irritation – again, having done the equine thing and already attempted to avoid the present state of affairs. It was not alone in this feeling, evidently: an outburst of French profanity shook the metaphorical sleep off of the poet, his attention finally going from horsemanship to the state of the passersby upon receiving a justifiably accusatory “Could you not wait for the upcoming war to launch your charge, sir!” “Easy, lad – easy,” James implored of his mount, one hand stroking the horse in an attempt to soothe it, and without thinking he addressed his other detractor, “And to you, madame–“. The two fell into a slow, circling amble, and he chanced a glance back to the voice’s origin. Why do you appear so familiar…? Wait! It was Lady…no, not Cambray, that was a woman he had met the day before…Kensington, was that a title? Kendishall! The…cellist. Of Lucas Cole's. Bloody naturally. “...ah. Well.” James brought Andraemon to a stop, patting his pintado coat before dismounting. He had the grace to try to sound somewhat abashed, although the futile battle playing out on his lips ended with him smirking. “I may appear to be no soldier, Lady Kendishall, but I do not recall the Oxford Blues taking into their regiment virtuosas, either.” Leading the horse forward, he bent to pick up the journal and offered it with a flourished bow. “So perhaps, unbeknownst to you, I might merely be an especially brusque vanguard…?"