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New Market Races 1670


George Hardwick III
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7 years ago...

 

The grandstand that overlooked the start&finish point had been gaily decorated with ribbons, flowers and fabric - it's wood joins now groaned protest as early arrivals scaled it's seats.

 

"It says here first race is at one." A plump cheeked George held the entry form, then looked questioningly at the elder man with him, "says here late entries is accepted." But his Father gave a stuffy shake of his head in the negative. "If you take a fall and break your neck." and the father figure screwed up the paper and pitched it aloft...

 

... George's eyes widened as he watched the missile, his hand reaching out, though too late to prevent it from landing (and lodging) on a woman's oversize hat.

 

The hat in question bore remarkable decorations, set among st undulating green satin a a dozen miniatures of ponies raced around the brim. George's broadsheet came to be lodged neatly between a representation of the King and England and the Duke of York. He could not take his eyes off it.

 

The young rebel contemplated entering the race to spite his father...

 

There was just the little matter of retrieving the form.

 

"Excuse me Father."

 

George moved away toward the hatted woman, there to make small talk while eyeing up her hat. Naturally the woman was pleased, George was not bad looking, the hat seemed to be achieving her desired result. However she was less pleased when the outcome of the youths agitation (for he shifted from foot to foot, obviously building up to saying something) resulted in his snatch in the proximity of her hat, before he dashed off!

 

George bounded down the stand and darted around the corner.

 

Under the Grandstand.

 

Puffing a little, and with a pleased glow on his cheeks he unfurled the balled application, and with a goofy grin looked up as he realised he was not the only one skiving off down here.

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Under the Grandstand

 

Mother had said Ilia wasn’t allowed in the stands, so John had left. That was probably for the best. His mother got to sit with her healthy children and pretend she had the family she wanted, and John got to be away from his mother. He knew she thought of him as an embarrassment. She had said as much, and worse, many times.

 

Ilia, at least, wanted him, and as he picked up the now old dog carefully her tail wagged and she nuzzled into his chest. John held her up to the stands where some gentlemen were sitting, and so there was a good view. Ladies skirts were too voluminous to look through, and the idea of looking through a lady’s skirt made John very nervous anyway.

 

He looked at the races with childlike fascination, which on his twitching shaking face could easily be mistaken for stupidity.

 

He did not notice George at first, but he would have been something of a sight. A hunched, twitching, shaking boy, dressed in fine clothing and holding an overly happy dog. His attention was held rapt by the field, where various fine men were shaping up and doing tricks to try and get the audience's attention. For once, separated from his mother’s barbs, he was able to enjoy it.

 

But then Ilia did notice George, and yapped at him. John gently made soothing sounds until Ilia stopped, before looking over at George. Surprise crossed his face. He hadn’t been aware the man was even there. Some older youth holding a lady’s hat. Had he stumbled onto some lover’s affair? Should he leave? He held Ilia tightly for comfort, an arrangement the dog was used to and comfortable with.

 

OOC: John is fourteen in October 1670, and still the Lord Maldon

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(OOC - I'm totally AUing since Francis would have been at sea 7 years before our reality, so I'll let his father live which means no sea-going Francis, how unique!)

 

Young Francis Villiers was a tall but delicate youth, looking no more than fifteen in the face, but his height suggesting perhaps a bit older. There was not a hint of facial hair on him.

 

"George? George?" He called as he sneaked under the grandstand. Little did he know there was more than one George in attendance, or more accurately that the George he was looking for had yet to arrive.

 

The pretty heir to Kingston, younger brother of the Duke of Buckingham, was cut in a fine baby blue, decked with silver embroidery and an abundance of lace at his cuffs and the tops of his boots.

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OOC: Totally! George was not in the country at this time either, in his official history. He's 21 here btw

IC:

 

Georges eyes relaxed as he realized it was just kid. "You keep hold of that dog." he pointed at the yapping dog with the paper he held, and in an offhand manner passed the lad the hat as he reached to his pocket for his pipe, "I'll need my limbs un-bitten if I'm to win the New..." a voice was saying his name.

 

George swung around to see who was wandering in under the stands.

 

"to win the Newmarket cup. Er... you looking for me?" Looked like one of the Villier's line, by the height and the copious blonde locks. Real pretty. George's eyes dilated, his smile slid lopsided and he could not help but look Francis up and down.

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Ilia had calmed down rather easily, but didn’t look terribly happy about things being waved at her master. John just nodded, hoping the strange man might leave him alone. He took the hat cautiously out of the man’s hand, having no idea why either of them would need a lady’s hat.

 

Then a blond gentleman appeared under the stands and they both appeared to look at each other. John was somewhat relieved. He was used to being ignored, and there was comfort in the familiar, even the unpleasantly familiar. John held the hat before him, almost as a shield, and continued to grip his dog tightly.

 

So the other man was George? John didn’t notice the lusty look in George’s eye, and just looked at the two. He actually edged slightly farther away. He didn’t trust two strangers that he didn’t know.

 

Still, he was an earl, whatever else he was, and the two strangers were unknown to him. “Who-who-who…” John stopped, tried again, and only on the third try was able to say, “Who are you… t-t-two?”

 

OOC: John could’ve been at Newmarket i 1670, but meeting George or Francis creates all sorts of issues, so this definitely goes in the non-canon bucket.

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It took a moment for Francis' eyes to adjust and not far from him was a tall youth and a boy with a little dog. If it were not for the boy's clothes, he might have taken him for a more common boy sneaking to watch.

 

"Oh, terribly sorry!" Francis blushed, although without much light, it might not be so easy to see, unless one was staring at his face. Little did Francis know, the George he had found underneath there just might be doing so. "No, ha, a George a bit wider and a good deal shorter than you, sir," Francis replied to the other youth with a good-natured chuckle. What were the odds of such happenstance under the stands?

 

He regarded the boy with the dog, who had a bit of a twitch, it seemed. Perhaps he was lost? That might explain the nervousness, which was what Francis took the boy's issue to be.

 

"Lord Hartley at your service," the blond replied, with a little, theatrical bow; they were under a grandstand after all. "I think you were looking through my grandpapa's legs," Francis joked, gesturing toward a nearby spot where the races could be seen through the gentlemen's legs.

 

(LOL, it threw me for a loop what Francis might be called if his father was alive since it can't be Kingston, so it took forever to settle on a different title!)

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Francis was a pretty one, though for the most part George was not the predator sort, it was more that visually he enjoyed beautiful company, rather than any ideas of reaming the lad.

 

"Your George is not a sportsman like myself then." the heir to Chichester claimed after hearing about this other George. Fat riders wouldn't be winning many races - George had that much in his favor at least.

 

Mention of Francis Grandfathers legs prompted a look through the grand stand steps in that direction - and with an eyebrow raising he looked back at the blond youth. There was probably some witty reply that could be made to that, but George blanked on it.

 

"George Hardwick." he supplied his own name as the group did the rounds, his eyes turning with relative interest at the youngest.

 

"I'm planning on entering the race this afternoon, but my father is dead against it. Not literally, unfortunately." like so many heirs he fashionably joked about his fathers demise to his own benefit.

 

 

 

OOC: sorry, missed it was my turn - mad busy at work atm, though after today I shall be clear - whoop!

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John’s accent (if it could be heard beneath his stutter) was also highly aristocratic. While fearful, he did possess all the markers of noble status. Even Ilia was well bred and groomed, not like a dog that would sleep out in a peasant’s yard.

 

As Hartley introduced himself, John looked over at some rather sausage like legs. John calmed down as neither man seemed much of a threat. “N-n-no lord, surely I nuh-never looked through those.” John tried making a joke, “They have no g-g-gaps to… let me… see.”

 

After both had introduced themselves, John supplied, “The L-l-lord Maldon.” John did not know the title of Hartley but he supposed himself the highest ranked of the three.

 

John had a look of disbelief as Hardwick jokingly wished death on his father. Such a thing was nearly incomprehensible to him. Fashionable or not, wishing death on a family member seemed almost treasonous to him.

 

“Yes, w-w-well, good luck.” John wished Harwick. John was not a sportsman either, though it was not sloth that kept him from the activity. While he might enjoy physical activity, actually competing when there was no chance of victory was rarely fun.

 

OOC: Freedom hurrah

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Hartley did not spend much time thinking about rank. If his uncle did not have a son, which it seemed he would not at this point, Hartley would eventually be the highest non-royal peer of the realm. Unlike most, though, he did not wish the acceleration of either his uncle or his father's death. He was happy enough with a courtesy title and a household of his own, although he spent little time in it since he was most often at court.

 

He was a merry and friendly youth, resplendent in his fine clothes and copious intricate lace.

 

"He is, sir, just a little well-fed at the Duke of York's table!" Hartley joked. George was a naval captain and in the Duke of York's household, a few years older than Hartley. George was helping him sneak in a horse and entry into the big race, which his uncle had very expressly forbid, and for one who was not very forbidding, Hartley like should have taken it a bit more seriously.

 

"And well met, Lord Maldon," he said, in a bright, soft tenor voice. "Are you escaping your relations as well? I am sure you have a better view from the grandstand than here!"

 

As to the joke, Francis chuckled and said, "My grandpapa is fairly merrily rotund these days." A wink followed.

 

"So Lord Chichester does not approve, eh? The big race tends to gain the disapproval of many fathers for their heirs! I am supposed to meet my partner in sneaking an entry in as well." Hartley knew most of the higher ranked families at court and their surnames. "The Duke does not approve, but I think it's more he fears the competition!" And there was a dose of the Villiers vanity coming out.

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Little Maldon seemed to be very nervous, as he agonizingly stuttered out his sentences. George was almost embarrassed for him. (It was very difficult having to the gasped effort at least.) But it was easier to downplay his presence, and hope the lady would manage to take charge of himself soon, rather than mention the problem directly.

 

Francis was a cheerful spirit, offsetting serious John. George chuckled too of that, "True that - he's got every intention of there one day being a George Hardwick the Fourth. Hmm... so what argument 'for' entry have you conjured up hmm?" Perhaps George could borrow the same excuse. "Though truth be known, I was just going to enter, and then I"d be committed. A gentlemen cannot retract his word."

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In addition to his shakes and stuttering, John’s head twitched, and he was shifting his weight mostly about one leg due to a limp, which caused him to hunch. He did not just stammer like a nervous man: sometimes he was obviously forcing out words that didn’t want to come.

 

He responded to Francis’ question by nodding, “My m-m-m-mother says Illia,” he hefted his dog slightly to show that was her name, “isn’t allowed. I f-f-f-f-figured… to c-c-come here so I wouldn’t… bother anyone.” John’s voice fell a little at the last part. That was the truth of it, but John didn’t like the feeling of being unwanted.

 

John smiled at Francis’ taking his little jest well. So racing was dangerous then? He’d not known that. He’d seen people fall but serious injuries seemed relatively rare to John. “So… uh… is anyone g-g-going to be entuh-entering… legitimately? Or is it j-j-just going to be a… b-b-bunch of men in m-m-masks?” John found the idea amusing, though not worth an actual laugh.

 

As to George asking for an excuse, “Why n-n-not say… you’ve fallen f-f-for some luh-lady and want to impress her?” John hefted the lady’s hat. “That m-m-makes your fourth more luh-likely… d-d-doesn’t it?” John was still at the stage where he was fairly sure children spontaneously generated from marriages. But surely a dashing cavalier had a better chance of having his suit accepted?

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Francis was a kind-hearted, gentle sort of soul, so the boy's continuing twitches did not earn his comment. He found it odd, of course, but he was generally more defender than heckler; he had a host of younger siblings.

 

Which begged the response, "Well, His Majesty has dogs about, so that would make little sense. Horses are used to dogs." Or...does his mother want rid of him? That pulled at his gentler sensibilities.

 

Having spent some great deal of time at court, Francis would not be surprised at such a startling thing. Many of the more strict of faith tended to think deformities and such issues to be ill-favor from God or a mark of evil, so he would not be surprised of families wishing to hide such issues.

 

"You should sit with my younger brothers if you like," he offered.

 

"As to the race, well, I think I would still be legitimately entering. I would just not have permission to do so, but it's well worth a slap," he added, with a rakish grin.

 

"My attempt at an excuse was simply that we've far more than one horse capable of winning, and that increases our odds at the betting and the honour of it," Francis explained, holding in a chuckle. "His Grace was not impressed with it." Young Hartley shrugged, though his teeth tugged one corner of his lips. He was, admittedly, a bit nervous of his family's reaction.

 

"I do not understand the objection." He pouted. "I am not the only son by far." His mother was always pregnant it seemed.

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Yet as Francis drew out the lad with further questions, George' curiosity emerged. "Illia is an odd name for a dog, is it out of some fable perhaps?"

 

"Ha, great idea." he had to laugh with impress at the idea that the youngster had. "That is just the sort of thing he'd like to hear."

 

But the short of long of it was easy enough, George was going to enter in any case, though he'd not said anything about putting on a disguise. "There must be something else to it then?" George supposed as Francis expressed bafflement to why he'd been told not to enter.

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“She…. w-w-was the mother of… Ruh-romulus and R-r-remus.” John shared. It was normal for nursery dogs to be named after parental figures of great men and women. Though the fact John still had a nursery dog at his age was odd, like a teenaged girl clinging to a doll.

 

John agreed with Francis, but he wouldn’t accuse his mother of lying, especially not to someone he just met. So he just nodded slightly, seeming confused. He felt conflicted about sitting with them. On the one hand, he didn’t want to deal any insult to his family. On the other, he didn’t like being alone, and Francis seemed like a nice sort of stranger.

 

Ultimately rank carried the day. In John’s mind, nothing that had him sitting with a ducal family could meet with too much disapproval. At least, so long as he didn’t do anything too embarrassing. He nodded to Francis’ offer.

 

“Well,” John said, not sure what to make of the wider family dynamics, “At any rate, you m-m-m-must… make sure you win.” John seemed certain about this point. “Otherwise it… won’t be w-w-worth it.” He nodded and let Ilia down. The dog almost immediately curled up at his feet and John put the hat off a loose nail of the stands.

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"A fitting name for a gentle companion, no?" Hartley, who was affectionately called Hart by his family, in a way that he sometimes bemoaned, was very attached to his big poodle. He was not going to find a small dog strange either, for the King was surrounded by them much of the time. Hart was a professional small dog poop dodger.

 

They even left a wake in Buckingham's house if the King visited, a very smelly one.

 

As to the race, he puffed up his chest a bit, though he was not a bulky and muscularly built man. He appeared more like a dancer, like he might make a fine, twirling golden star or ray of sunshine in a ballet at court in France.

 

"Perhaps if they'd have given it to me, I'd not have wished to enter, but since nothing was given," he trailed off and shrugged just slightly. It was an inelegant sort of action that did not truly fit his delicacy and composure.

 

"Oh, my dear, young, Lord Maldon, it shall even be worth it just for the ladies to clap at the grand gallantry of it." At this the blond pulled out a pretty little ribbon. He had a favour, and that was a very good reason for joining any manly contest.

 

"Well, shall you walk with us Lord Hardwick, and then you can help provide my escape again. I shan't be able to say I'm moving off for a piss twice in a row!" That had been his excuse the first time. "Then we can enter, eh? Or perhaps I will see you mounted in the staging area?" Either way it seemed Hartley was a friendly youth, because he clearly expected to see more of George and awaited what the lanky, dark-haired youth had to say about it all.

 

He turned to lead them back toward their box.

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George too had seen a number of dogs swarming around the Kings feet at times, though His Royally Restoredship did not cling a-hold to any of them -- in that action Maldon did seem overly childish. "And do her legs still work?" George tactfully suggested the lad put the dog back on the ground. (it would not do any of the youths 'image' good to maintain that look when back in public).

 

"Ladies, and... our peers too." George added upon the thought of cheering and ovations. There was a certain someone he was quite keen on, not that he'd dared to say anything to that person. "Might get to tell the tale of victory, like how the old timers talk their warstories."

 

"Count me in." he gave a nod to Francis, and then turned to the younger lad (who outranked them in in title if naught else). "You can be our squire, share in our fame and glory - sound alright to you Hartley?" Belatedly George remembered to check with his fellow racer.

 

Then in further addendum to Maldons 'look' George added "But, best you loose the ladies hat first." pulling it from John's hand he tossed it deeper under the stadium seating.

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“Unf-f-fortunately… I’m nuh-not Romulus. Or f-f-fortunately for… my brother.” John was already putting Ilia down and placing the hat to the side, so he cooperated easily enough with George’s demands. The hat flew off into nowhere and Ilia followed along at John’s heels quietly.

 

John didn’t really know much about gallantry. He knew a lot about how ladies ought to be treated, and they were not mysterious in their persons as they were to some boys his age, but romance and gallantry was an alternatively confusing and depressing thing for John. Still, he did know what the ribbon meant. “Suh-see?” He said to George, “Just walk back with a f-f-few ladies on your arm and your fuh-father won’t complain.”

 

As to war stories, John didn't like those. They ended with his relative's death far more often than he'd like.

 

As to the offer to squire, John nodded eagerly. “Sure.” John did know how to deal with horses, though he had no idea what he’d be doing. “You I shall… c-c-call Sir Kay.” John dubbed George, “And you shuh-shuh-shall be Sir Bedivere.” John dubbed Francis. And thus John, as their squire, was King Arthur.

 

John followed along.

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"Oh, so you do not wish to sit with my brothers then?" Francis asked, clearly perplexed as George told the boy to come with them instead after the young lord had agreed to sit with his family.

 

Truth be told he had no idea what to do with the boy in the staging area, and he still needed to find his own George there too.

 

Yet, he was not one to argue much and headed back out into the light of day.

 

"Hartley!" Came a bright baritone very familiar to the lithe, young blond. He stopped totally short, which likely put a kink in their little queue.

 

The Duke of Buckingham had yet to tie back his blond ringlets, so similar to Francis' own, so they bounced as he glided up with long-legged grace. He was clearly ready to ride and sported a swath of blue brocade on his bicep already.

 

"Err-Your Grace!" His blue eyes widened, and he covered his surprise with a bow. He looked left. He looked right.

 

Am I found out? He barely resisted the impulse to look at the other two.

 

"It is fortuitous you ordered the bay to be brought as a back-up, for the grey mare has turned up lame." There was some manner of theatrical drama as he flippantly tossed up one gloved hand in front of him.

 

Francis blinked. Back up? But he had not ordered anything as a ba----Oh, yes, a back-up!

 

The surprise likely showed on his face, but he said, "Oh, that is very well then."

 

"I am not sure what it is to do with George, but he said it was so." The Duke raised an interrogating brow.

 

Francis completely missed it. Oh thank GOD for George's quick thinking! He thought he was in the clear.

 

If he had mounted up on that horse and his uncle could not ride because of a lame horse...I would not live to tell of it!

 

The paleness of his face was likely enough of a guilty plea to Buckingham, who chose to ignore it for the time being.

 

"And who are your friends?" the Duke asked, giving nods to the oddly matched pair with his nephew. The boy was kind-hearted just like his brother, who had the heart to play with James as a child.

 

"Lord Maldon and Lord Hardwick, Your Grace." He gave a look with his eyes which communicated he knew neither very well, but it was for the duke alone.

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  • 3 weeks later...

John shrugged to Francis. He was just going with whatever seemed good to him just then. He followed along and waited in the back as the conversation happened, peaking out from behind George. Then George slipped off to look after his own affairs.* John was left in front of Buckingham.

 

“Your g-g-grace,” John made an awkward sort of bow. George acknowledged likewise and went about his business elsewhere.* He looked over at Francis for a moment. There was something going on here, but he couldn’t make out what.

 

He guessed this was Buckingham. There were not so many dukes, and less he didn’t know. Once he was actually there, he wasn’t really sure what he was there to do. He’d just followed along and figured it would all work itself out. Frustratingly, to his young mind, it hadn’t.

 

Noticing the blond bouncing curls of both, John examined the dark curls of his periwig. Maybe he ought to try blond for a while.

 

Pulling back to the moment, “Is L-l-lord Hartley going to race as well?” John addressed the question to Buckingham.

 

*Since George is bowing out.

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Buckingham knew what his nephew was about. He had been just as brazen. Actually, if he was honest, his sister had been the most brazen. She was the best of them all at wrapping people around her little finger, no matter their rank.

 

He could not fault the boy. He had not had the best of childhoods. That was his excuse for why he spoiled his brother's eldest son.

 

"You know, Maldon, that was just a topic of conversation when Hart disappeared. Then my young cousin, George, tells me Hart had a spare brought for the race." The duke looked at the boy and said, "Of course, he had no intention of racing it."

 

Francis, of course, was a quick-thinker on his feet, "Only if you had no need of it and gave your permission, surely." He blushed some, though. He gave Maldon a look as if asking him not to disagree. Francis had just told the other boy he intended to race.

 

"I shall be more upset of you lying to me in front of someone, Hartley, so I shall believe you. Now come, you can hold my stirrup whilst I mount and then take up a good place to watch with your father and your new friend."

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John admired Buckingham’s rather smooth handling of the situation. His opinion of the man rose in that moment. Still, he made no comment to either, since by Francis’ look and Buckingham’s thrust it was obvious that Francis was thoroughly cowed.

 

So he remained quiet and watched as Francis went about his work.

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Buckingham rolled his eyes when the boys were not looking. The number of times he and Charlie had lied to Newcastle was monumental, and his brother had no good ground to stand on either. He looked far more angelic than the duke or the king, but he was only marginally more angelic in behaviour, mostly because he was afflicted with this thing called "love." Now and again it was something of the ruin of Villiers men, if one asked Buckingham.

 

He found his brother, amusingly, thus afflicted. To which his brother aptly accused, that the good uncle was thus afflicted with a horde of nephews to play patriarch. It was a particularly odd and sometimes inconvenient burden like Hartley in front of him now. There was some necessity to keep the Villiers idiocy in check, or it had an odd tendency to ripple exponentially down each boy at one time or another, even if he found it reminiscent and amusing.

 

For his part, Francis walked up to where the groom was holding the horse he had ordered bought and held the stirrup so the duke could mount easier.

 

As the elder blond took up the reins, he batted Francis' hat with his hand, saying, "You had best take care of what you say to your father," and then trotted off to warm up.

 

Licking his lips, Francis turned back to Maldon, still a bit of a blush on his face. He gave an inelegant shrug and said, "That was a poor climax, and I suppose I will not be racing. Do you want to sit with me with my family still, then? Perhaps my lord father will not think to yell at me for this...He obviously knows." Delaying the inevitable was a tactic of many children everywhere.

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John still remained quiet. He did notice what was said, but he wasn’t going to interfere in what he saw as affairs of the Villiers. Still, once Francis looked over blushing and shrugging John smiled in a childish way, as young boys do at the suffering of one of their number.

 

“W-w-would you pruh-prefer to… sit with mine?” John offered another delay. He picked up Ilia and held her out to the blond lord. She had been the reason John had had to leave, but perhaps if Hartley bore her then his mother wouldn’t object. And he was of quality enough to sit with a committal family.

 

For her part, Ilia languidly moved, still happy as ever but at fifteen now feeling her age. Still, she did her best to look cute for Francis, with wide eyes and a small whine.

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Francis considered the younger boy's offer and accepted the furry placating, petting Ilia with the sort of kindness that one either had or did not have. Animals were very good judges of characters, and Francis had his own dog; albeit a large poodle.

 

"After His Grace has said to sit by my lord father, I think I should not test whether or not that was absolute or a suggestion," Francis said. "But you are no less welcome, surely."

 

In fact, his father would not sat anything too very accusatory in front of company. None of them minded dogs. The King's box was next to theirs and there were plenty of dogs about.

 

Still holding Maldon's dog, he walked back toward the boxes. "Besides we would not wish to miss the race and there are sweetmeats and all sorts of things."

 

If Maldon's family chased him away, Francis surely did not wish to test what sort of company they would be. He knew they'd at least have a very grand viewpoint to watch the race.

 

The scene they came upon was quite merry, and there were quite a number of Francis' younger siblings there as well as a few other relations. It would be a rather fun time but Hart would have to answer for his questionable antics later that night once they were back at their lodgings.

 

(Shall we summarize this up and wrap it?)

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OOC: gentlemen, sorry for the interruption, but Heather never could resist an occassion such as this, so I'm adding a tiny vignette, and have the little thrill that she was there. Heather is 17 and meets the love of her life.

 

In a nearby box on the Grandstand an elderly gentleman in traditional cavalier clothing about a decade out of fashion, fondly looked down at the lanky, not fully grown redheaded girl sitting next to him, dressed in a demure green chinz dress, her neckline covered with a gauze shawl. Goldenred tresses threatened to escape the conventional bun, defying order, and she pushed them back impatiently. Her green eyes sparkled as she looked over the crowd towards the start of the race, where the horses and their jocks were gathering. There was a slight pant to her breath. "He is magnificent," she whispered, before turning to Atherstone in pleading tones "My lord, tell me if I am wrong, is that not the most impressive stallion you have ever seen? I am undone."

 

The Earl offered his young wife a sweet meat as he allowed his dark eyes to follow her gaze back to the object of her fierce desire. For a moment old habit had him assume she was talking of Old Rowley. Naughty crownprince Charles had become a merry King after all, and while Lloyd could only see the boy of old, many ladies found themselves at the King's feet in adoration. Yet his unconventional young wife, whose wildness he continued to temper in fatherly manner, threw not one look of interest in the direction of the Royal Box. Instead her gaze was fixed upon a white Arabian stallion of the finest breeding while the sunlight danced upon her freckles, dusting her body all over as the earl well knew.

 

Lloyd swallowed, something about the excitement of the girl pumping his blood to unacceptable levels. Perhaps tonight... Heather was all that was proper. During their wedding night she had turned away from him afterwards and cried silently in her pillow, but not one complaint had come from her lips, and all he had been able to do the next morning was give her jewelry to restore some measure of marital bliss. He had not married her for those particular duties and it was only the burden of his lust that caused him to force himself upon her unwilling body. She was there to take care of him in his elder days, more a nurse than anything, and he guarded her, like her father no longer had the energy to do, so he had felt rather guilty about her shame and sadness, and still did on those ocassional nights that he did visit her, unable to stay away. Surely it was some form of abuse. Not that she ever resisted him, laying still till he was done and rolled off. putting back her nightgown down from her waist with akward movements. He had known taken her to Newmarket would tempt him beyond reason again, but... by Jove.. Perhaps tonight.. and tomorrow I will gift her that horse. She will be happy again.

 

"His name is Princeton," he whispered in Heather's ear "Quite the famous race champion. The wagers favour him for today's race. Do you like him?"

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John nodded. There was a wisdom in the safer route certainly. “Thuh-thank you.” John said as the youth said he was still welcome. He followed Francis. He had some difficulty with stairs though it lessened with each year. As his legs got longer he found it easier.

 

Once in the box he proved rather quiet and sat in the back. He was generally kept out of the limelight. Ilia curled up in his lap and he petted her idly as he watched. There was one exception. Upon seeing a rather exceptional white horse run past the others to victory he let out a rather surprised cry: “Invicta!” A heraldic symbol, and one of his in fact. But he quickly seemed embarrassed by his own little outburst.

 

He would afterward excuse himself and return to his family. And his mother would later come up to Buckingham and the others and politely probe if her son had been any trouble. And she would thank Francis for 'looking after' him. She had a rather low opinion of him and feared little Maldon would damage the family prestige. But, unless they complained about him to her, John would have little to answer for and they would depart back home without issue.

 

Thank you for the thread all!

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