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A boy's return from exile

Francis Kirke

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(I felt the need for some happy things, so I wrote a little ficlet of Francis' experience of the restoration of the king. Just a little drabble.)



“We’re going…home?” the young George Legge, tall and thirteen, asked his father as the younger two stood blinking in shock at this foreign statement. “To…England?”


“For good, Father?” Will asked, a sturdy twelve-year old.


“All of us…together?” was Francis’ only question. He was of an age, eleven, where he understood things more than he had when he was younger. He knew that they all lived together because they were in exile and could not afford anything. He feared his mother would be forced to go back to his ‘father’ and him with her now that there was a ‘home’ again.


“Yes to England, and praise God, let us hope forever, yes,” the Colonel answered in a jovial manner that none of the boys were sure they had ever seen much before. “And together, Francis, all of us.” He ruffled the hair of the two youngest and gave George a pat on his cheek. “Kirke shan’t bother you,” he added, to his daughter.






None of the three boys had ever been very properly fitted for clothes, and it was quite the entertaining event.


“It hurts my eyes!” twelve-year-old Will complained of some yellow silk, not used to seeing such finery and bright colours.


“I feel like a fairy,” George whined.


Unhand me!” came Francis shrill cry during his measurement. He whacked the hand of the young man measuring him with his own hand, showing he at least had some hint of imperiousness. The other two turned around and gave him a sympathetic look.


The Colonel chuckled, thinking of his wife and daughter and the definite Villiers traits that surrounded him daily from their children. Some days dealing with it was not worth the grand dowry and connections! He was not sure he wouldn’t rather have war than this 5 against 1.


The ladies, though, were sitting in the room cooing over their visions for how their sons would finally look as they should, like little gentlemen. None of the boys seemed to wish to be tamed, though.


Sudden gifts of daggers for their belts afterward made them forget about the suits of clothes for which they had just been measured and the swath after swath of fabric they had endured.


It was paid for so dearly that in a rush of two days, three boys who had worn little that was not somehow misfit, darned too many times, or handed down stood before them in very fashionable little short jackets with elbow sleeves and skirted breeches. Lace rippled at necks and down their front and from their cuffs.


“I can’t breathe, Grandpapa,” Francis whined with a pout.


“My fingers are stuck in this lace,” Will said, pulling at it.


George’s face was a bit screwed up in petulance, but he was looking at himself in the mirror, seeming to grasp a bit easier that this was what he was supposed to look like and that it marked him as the eldest son to a very great man.


“How shall I play in this?” Francis asked, looking up at his mother with those wide blue eyes full of endearing, boyish supplication.


The Colonel chuckled, “You shall not have much time to play, boy. You are no child anymore. The three of you have many lessons to learn and catch up on in a very short time. I shall expect you all to be diligent, and if you are not, you will learn quickly to be. “








The boat had been the best part, but the subsequent carriage ride was boring. Will’s lace kept blowing in Francis’ face, Francis’ hair kept blowing in George’s mouth, and there was much kicking of shins and threats to behave from their mothers across from them. The Colonel was riding along on a tall bay, purposefully oblivious to it all.


“I cannot see!” Francis pushed at George, whose head was out the window.


“Share with Will. I’m the oldest, I don’t need to share.”


“But you’re smaller than Will, there’s more room!”


William, named for his father, was the only one of the three to have the appearance more of his father. He was thicker in build, with a natural bulk. George and Francis had more of the Villiers appearance: fair, tall, and rather dainty and lithe by comparison. Francis had yet to hit any sort of growth spurt, so he was much smaller than his brother-like uncles.


“George, share with Francis, or you will find yourself sitting in the middle,” his own mother said, with the voice that threatened a smack if he did not listen. A smack, when his father, the Colonel, was home would mean a beating later when the man saw the handprint on his face and asked how he had earned it.


Predictably he budged over and shared without another complaint. After another few hours, the boys finally sighted what would be their proper home, the home they should have had their entire lives, but they did not quite realize that was what they were looking at.


“Grandpapa, whose estate is that?” Francis called out the window. “It is very grand.”


“That is mine,” came the man’s reply, looking from atop his horse to George and Francis in the window nearest him in the carriage. “That is where you shall live, boys. That is your home.”


Three pairs of blue eyes were soon widely appraising the sweeping manor as they made their way inside. It was nothing the boys had ever lived in. Room after room was shown to them. It seemed a bit worse for wear and some spots on the wall that clearly used to house tapestries or paintings were barren. The look on the Colonel’s face was a flickering mixture of relief and consternation, likely noticing something missing from when he had last seen it many, many years ago.


“And you shall each have your own bedchambers and a servant,” the Colonel said to the boys.


“One of these big rooms, all to ourselves?” Will asked, awestruck, and perhaps a little confused.


“One of those big beds?” came George’s question. His face was one of excitement, as if he could not wait to get his brother’s limbs out of his face.


“All alone? Can I not go with Will?” Francis pouted. He figured George would protest if Francis suggested him; George always protested. Francis was the youngest and the smallest, and he admittedly had the most anxiety over being alone. Charles Kirke’s few visits had ensured that Francis would have some issues for part of his youth.


“You are not coming in my bed,” George said, “And you either,” he added to Will, clearly very pleased with this new development. Heirdom, here I come, the blond, eldest Legge thought.


“Francis and I can share,” Will offered, with a grin, pushing brown hair from his fuller face.


“No, Francis will have his own,” the Colonel clearly said. The boy could not be coddled by women his entire life. He pat his grandson on the head, “Nothing shall harm you here, boy. Kirke would be shot dead at the door.” They had a financial agreement, and the burly Colonel had made his sentiments very clear in his ultimatum. “You must learn to be a proper gentleman now; one who bathes alone, has servants to help him dress, and spends his days in lessons to better himself.”


It would take some time before Francis would truly understand the importance of all that, but for that moment, he was uncertain of all of these changes.

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