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Friday 24, After Luncheon, A Lady Waits {open}- Xmas 1677

Cordelia Lucas

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Like so many of the past days now all run together which did little to ease the sore heart of the woman that resided in room two sixteen of this Respectable Establishment - now quite full as Courtiers and Gentry hastily changed plans and returned to London for a Christmas Court at Whitehall.


Noises in the hall, bumps and thuds against the walls, loud voice some raised in anger others' in pursuits of another 'nature' had disturbed her slumbers but she had not complained. No point as the landlord was well content with a heavy purse so not like to listen to her.


Now however she was determined. To brave the cold and drafty hallways even to be jostled and looked upon by others to escape the confines of her living space. She had hoped that absent son John might have shown his face for twas Christmas after all but when he failed to appear she knew it would indeed be a "Miracle' not made to happen.


Setting her maid to dress her in her chocolate brown velvet with its touches of cranberry metallic trim and ribbons she made ready to venture forth like a Ship in Full Sail.




Seated in a tall backed wooden chair just slightly to the right of the great hearth and in plain view of the comings and gongs Lady Lucas was well pleased with her efforts! Age did after all have its advantages as well as her own Manner and Bearing so it was only natural that the best place be assigned to Her. The warmth from the fire was appreciated and the pewter goblet filled with mulled wine that sat before her on the smaller round table restored her Spirits.




'Let's see who comes to Court me' she thinks arranging her features curious as to who would approach her.


That she was of Import was obvious but few might know her by name and so her heart beat just a bit quicker in anticipation ....

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Having presented himself in the Kings Presence room, to little avail (in as much as he did not see a glimpse of the King), John Lucas took lunch in the banquet hall, and after loosening his belt headed towards the hall of his Mothers residence; Saint Marks.


He expected to visit her in her chambers, but the steward advised her she was in the reception room. Had she been sitting there long, he could only guess? With a sigh he strode through the doors, there to see her sitting alone. He approached.


"Good afternoon my Lady Mother." he made light bow, eyes serious, his instincts told him something was up.

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If the Lord Himself had stood before her she would have been just as Shocked.


The goblet stalled half way to her lips as she heard his voice and it was with much effort that she controlled the sudden trembling of her hand and was able to set it back down using that time to compose herself outwardly.




One word simply said but lacking in emotion. Her eyes lifted and traveled up his person coming to rest at last on his face where they searched momentarily then moved away unwilling to linger.


"How like the Prodigal you are and so perfectly timed as well. A Christmas Miracle."


She did not oblige him by offering him a chair for he would sit anyway and she wanted to retain the upper hand - at least in so Public a place.


"Well? Am I to play a guessing-game then - what is it you want and I shall refuse?"


Such Confidence! Such Control!


Yet if that were true why did she tremble inside and feel the need to bite hard on the inner skin of her mouth to keep her focus?


Why indeed

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Moving a chair, John then sat, "I take it you did not receive my communication, wherein I had advised you that I would be attending the December Court season." he did not appreciate being called a prodigal son, as if he'd been remiss in his duty. He took duty very seriously, and she knew that.


"I am not here to beg any favors from you." he sighed, did it always have to be like this. "I had hoped to say it was nice to see you, that you are looking well, that the excitement of the city seems to suit you... that is I had hoped to see these things for myself. You must know I do not want you to think yourself neglected, any more than made reckless demands of."

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he was the same


She thinks as he sat himself and offered her his rendition for his arrival in London. She was not fooled by this display.


"Tis a convince enjoyed by many - letters that go astray never reaching a destination, all manner of things to aid. Yet what was the prompt that brought you here after so long a silence I wonder?"


His absence both physical and by communication had made her worry. Had made her think all kinds of scenes wherein he was in some way ill or hurt or worse. He had always been thus ever a care for his person firstly then others' follow.


"Neglect? Me?" She raised an eyebrow in amusement as she turned her cool gaze on him. "I am far too occupied to feel anything but tiredness and as for the demands that you make ..."


A slight shrug of one should and a small spreading of her hands might be answer enough for him but she added "I have grown accustomed to it these past years. You traveled alone or in Company?"


She would play polite allowing him time to mount his own rebuttal. He needed something from her or why else come to London. He was no more an addict of Court now than he had been before unless there was something HERE that he desired.


She knew it could be anything and his desire to be 'accepted' with those Peers above his own Rank was a needy Drug that might prove to be one answer or mayhap he had come in hunt for a Wife - a subject he had rejected for years now.


She knew that they attracted little attention for the room was more than half full and he would make no distraction that might give cause for any talk to circulate especially with an overflowing Christmas Court.

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"How grateful you must be that you have no greater expectation of me then." he replied in a plain tone, though he was decidedly sarcastic with his comment, "in your frailty your heart might not survive it." While in fact he held no concern for her passing she was what some called, 'tough as an old boot'.


As to what he wanted from her, she was certain he was here on the beg, and alledged as much again. Perhaps there was something she was holding out on? Like a magpie squawking on her nest she tried to ward him away from some precious thing.


The clue had been given twice, and so he bit. "Go ahead, and tell me what you think I want from you? I shall add it to my inventory, and be sure to ask you later, perhaps after you've had your evening sherry. Of course, that would be easier done if resident in the same house... I was surprised to see you staying at Saint Marks, it's rooms are notorious for being small. How have you managed to fit? It shall not do. The family must be seen to be well funded. I shall see to the purchase of a house forthwith, and shall take you into my custody. Dare anyone claim I've neglected you then, even you Mother, shall need recent your accusations. All shall see me to be the most devoted son."

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"I am hardly frail John and you're concern for my health warms my Heart."


The retort was equally given but she did not want to continue on with it. It was an endeavor in futility anyway. Her son had grown up with the idea that his inherited title was a great thing and carried many entitlements. Indulged as a Fatherless child and then the only living one had been her fault.


Yet he too must shoulder responsibilities. Once old enough to understand that it was nothing but a paper title in all the ways that mattered - he would be seen for what he was - the only son of a Baronet who himself was the son of the first creation. True he now ranked above all Knighthoods, except for the Garter, and although not noble he was still regarded as being a member of the Aristocracy.


With money enough he continued his quest to inch in closer to what he felt he had been cheated out of - essentially moving up into the Peerage. His Family had long served the Monarch's and so should be suitability rewarded - Sir John Lucas, Baron such and such - pleased the ear. It was a song sung for many years now.


"There is nothing I want from you John. In Truth. What can you give me that I do not already posses - save a daughter-in-law and grandchildren."


"I have employed an agent of mine own to look for a suitable place so do not take on that worry. I had thought to leave by now yet I find that the closeness of this place to the Palace suits me and it has afforded me the opportunities of many an introduction."


No need to drop names. Yet.


"Into your custody? Why John am I so into my dotage that all reason has left me that I need a keeper?"


She smiled across at him for the first time pleased that she had taken the course to not allow him any authority. But this small victory would be hard to maintain for he could very well bully her and try to assert what he saw as his 'right' as head of their Family.


"I can assure you our Relatives find me fit enough and if I were in need then the Duke himself would aid me. You will find them welcoming and there is one thing - five daughters John - cousins yes but not of the first - think you upon that item. There is another Relative of Cavendish that resides here as well. The Earl of Maldon. John Bramston he is called."


"Well enough yet there are impediments to his speech and person yet I found he manages exceedingly well despite them. He has one or perhaps two sisters he is trying to wed so there might be another avenue."


"Neglect?" She queried back. "Do I look that way John?"


"I have heard no talk of anyone making such a claim so tis more like your own thought. By all means find your own lodgings but you must know that London is expensive and the Circles you wish to play into require constant dedication. Mayhap I can put a word in with those of my acquaintance - would that please you?"


She was all bluff on that part yet twas possible that it might be accomplished. Getting her son a Position at Court would go along way into what she hoped might lead to a reform of his character. And to see him suitable married as well.


It was worth a try but just who to approach?

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Raised to believe that the title bestowed on him was a prized legacy, valuable, important, the greatest honor his father could have bestowed.... it was only when attending Oxford did he found out the truth of it was that his Baronetcy meant a big fat nothing*.


He sunk into his seat then, the habitual sparring in greeting all done, he gave a smallest of smiles to his mother. Who had won the latest contest then, he'd long ago stopped keeping a count. She did not provide a list of things he might ask for, but rather explained there was nothing she wanted from him. Nothing, save a grandchild, that was. John felt far to young to bother with any of that however, besides, his mother was the matchmaker. Let her busy herself with her charts and family trees, while he considered the more important duty to King and Country.


"Introductions, precisely the reason I have come to London this season. I secured an interview with the Recruiting Officer, I've intents to commence a career remarkable. I shall join the military as a Gentleman Volunteer - just in time for the great war with France. Fame, and recognition shall then be mine."


He paused for her reaction, which would be poor no doubt. It was little wonder he'd not detailed any of this in letters to her.


"Maldon, I met him earlier." he was unable to hide some surprise in his tone. "Bit he said nothing at the time, but then he was rather occupied playing with his kittens. Err... mother please stop that, I have no interest in marrying of a sudden. This fixation you have with matches is entirely disquieting. Ho, the nation is poised for war! The modern man's priorities are thus shifted."


Perhaps it as for the best then that she did not wish to stay with him. It had not been looking after her that he'd actually wanted, he'd just thought, to make a pretense at least of closeness, might be nice before he went away.


"Very well then." he replied.


But for all of her arms distance, she did offer to provide him with a connection or two. "Well... are you known to York or Cumberland?" who were of course the paramount military men of court.




* Re his bitterness of title. The char sheet does not actually state he learnt this at Oxford, but it seems an apt time to him to realise this, when he's in the company of many peers etc and realises he's a small fish in a big pond.

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Again he was full of ideas. Fully convinced that he was sure to win Acclamations and Honors.


"There will be no War John." She told him with a quiet conviction. "Think you that the People would stand for another such as with the Late King? That pitted brother against brother, family against family. Tore asunder everything. This 'Adventure' that you are in such haste to join will lead England into ruination and death."


"There has been no vote for it and now tis Winter - no Campaign will begin and then comes Spring and by then ... Something else shall occupy thoughts and feelings. You will no doubt disagree and that is your choice. A Volunteer? You? Do not be ridiculous John. Your Comforts and Wants are far too great to survive on a small pittance of a salary."


She could not help the surprise at his confession.


"Let us say that you follow thru yet how shall you occupy yourself until such a time a War is actually declared? If it ever comes. Barrack Life is not a picture I would paint you into but you are old enough and it matters not what I say or think. Yet it would pain me to see you suffer - you are my son still."


"You have meet the Earl - here then?" She asked him.


"You are long past a first marriage age and why should I cease this talk? Have you no desire to further Our House by a son of your own? Several to be sure. T'woud hardly be 'of a sudden' and you should take an interest. Or are you giving me a free hand in the choosing of the girl uncaring of it until at the Alter?"


A silent sigh of relief as he did not further pursue the subject of housing.


"Well the Duke's son Cavendish Junior is a Lt. In the King's Life Guard - might you not approach him? You are of an age but he is the younger at ten and eight but a kinship can be claimed nevertheless."


"I am not but I have the acquaintance of Arlington and mayhap something might be there and I could hardly be expected to approach The King, although he was most courteous to me when last we met ..."


It was no lie she thinks for both Gentlemen did have her acquaintance and her son was not to know the circumstances of that introduction. She was curious to see his reaction to her own name dropping.

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"Ah, so it is decided. Shall I inform the King, or will you?" As a woman she had no idea about war, her adamantcy that it was an empty threat was wishful thinking no doubt. Meanwhile Johns 'wishful thinking' was of the exact opposite.


"All the better if it is as dire as the civil war. That was stuff of legend. It was the making of houses, the iron-forge of men. Our King is a generous man, he rewards those who prove loyal. Ah, what I would give for the chance to show my metal, to earn a title that means more than Ulsters Red Hand on my crest."


On joining the military himself: "Mother, I am not taking a Vow of Poverty. I'm not talking about camp out in a tent, I shall keep a rooms at the Redlion as many other a fellow of means does." From what he heard, a soldiers pay was low, if they were paid at all. No, he was going to keep living of his income from the estate, no doubt that was what all the other Gentleman volunteers did.


And then there was Maldon. "Yes, here. Well, at Whitehall. I came upon him in the Portrait Gallery, while on my way to the Kings Presence room this morning. Dawn. An unusual hour to be in a drafty hall reading, I must admit. What did you make of the man?" he asked with interest.


Marriage, oh Marriage. But she had him at that! He loosed a sigh of resign, it was true, most men married once their majority was upon them, though some resisted till their late twenties (but those men did not have a mother like Cordelia!). Sinking back into his seat further he complained, "Mother, you know I am no ladies man, I've no interest in simpering around parlors chattering. Why, I dare even say that the eligible ladies of England are more blessed that I do not attempt any of that. Yes yes, do you darnedest. But, I warn you, it is not likely you shall find a woman that can tolerate me, any more than you can tolerate me yourself?" the look in his eyes at that moment was a strange blend of defensiveness and vulnerability.


Back to the Military discussion again. "Oh yes, I heard Ogle was a gentlman volunteer also." he perked up again, "It is all the rave mother, after all, the nation is preparing for battle." Though he was silenced with her speaking The Gentlman's name.




"Oh, so, you made an impression on him, you are saying?"


He was not sure he was pleased about that. No. Truth be told he was not. Arlington was old enough to be her... husband. John watched his mother closely as she then replied.

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"Do not make the mistake that I do not know what I speak of." She quietly warned him.


"It was a bad time and there was much suffering and loss on many sides. Tis naturally that you see only the side that possibly might bring you rewards. The King must weigh every possibility and outcome - think you that He would tax the population on a whim?"


"War is no 'Legend'. Many a House was pulled apart as well and never rebuilt. Tis folly to think it so and you strive to make yourself a name but John, what if, what if it does happen and you ship off to play Solider and die on some battlefield in a place that no one can pronounce hmm? And you have depleted the Estate to keep yourself in comfort along the way."


"And England prevails and the King awards those with Titles and Lands as his Blessed father did to Yours - only there is none to be singled out. You have no wife mayhap even no SON to inherit and so even more loss as I needs must watch as it goes over to Cavendish or perhaps even to some unknown 'cousin'? And what of ME in all of this?"


"I then must beg scraps off the Duke perhaps or hope that those that have a care for my person will see me not to suffer? Or mayhap I go into a nunnery - now there is a thought! I shall play match-maker for the nuns with God."


"Think HARD on this adventure you seek so much John. Your Life is a large price to pay for the Dream of a Maybe and I am left with another memory that offers me no comfort on cold nights."


This was perhaps the first real conversation that the two had ever had and so she spoke with absolute sincerity her words spoke quietly across to him.


She looked away to compose herself unwilling to show him any more of herself. Glad of the topic change.


"Maldon?" She mused aloud.


"He seems educated well enough despite his impairments. His display of thought for his siblings to mate afore himself is foolish yet they are his thoughts. He should provide for his own nest before feathering the others' and even in talk he seems reluctant to consider that."


"I have no idea as to his closeness with Cavendish. He can hold his own - I have seen that in some action for that day in the gardens at Whitehall - and the King seemed inclined to favor him as well yet he is too new to Court. He shall make his way the best he can as must we all."


"Not a 'Ladies Man?" She almost laughed back. "So the Tales I have heard are all false then? So you have a 'preference' that is your own business is all well and good but you must Marry and get sons."


The idea that her son might a Libertine was a real possibility but she had not though he might favor the Eastern Way as well. Her eyes searched his features looking for what exactly she did not know.


"Your face is not that know amongst those of a suitable Family John for you are too new to Court! I dare say Cavendish will know you and mayhap his eldest daughter Frances for she is now ten and seven might have some remembrances. Then there are the other Cavendish's to figure in too."


"Indeed you may trust that I shall be very careful in my search for your wife John. After all She will carry on the Lucas Name and so must fit that place correctly. I do not think it is amiss to match you with a cousin twice or thrice removed."


"Yet I must also look amongst those from different families. Naturally it goes without saying than an heiress would suit the best .... I wonder if there are any about Court now? I shall have to look further so do not think to wed by weeks end."


She gave him freedoms that she knew he would want. Time enough for the trap to be sprung.


"You would be wise to seek Ogle out - the connection alone will lead to others' - but you must warm him up first John - do not expect him to take to you at once and offer you a place at his side!"


"On Arlington?"


She gave a small smile in memory of that afternoon. It had indeed been one of her best days and so she could not help but let that show.


"I would like to think it so. He and I are of an age yet our converse centered around Court as we strolled and then were joined by another recently risen and kin to Buckingham before there was some 'play' that centered upon the King and two Ladies ....."


She let her words trail off.


She had not meant to give away all her holdings in this one meeting. He must now work to get any more.

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He'd been trying to attend to her point of view, until she turned it to be about her. "You are set up very nicely with My Fathers Royal pension," he replied, the pension that should have been mine! So it was he tried harden his heart to her wiles, he knew his mother well enough to know how manipulative she was. She was in no way suffering here. Further, he was in no doubt that the Cavandish family was keeping an eye on her.


Her threats grew even more outlandish, and he had to repress a laugh as she claimed that she'd end up in a nunnery! "Mother, does this work on anybody?" he asked her, putting a hand over his mouth to conceal his grin.


On the topic of the handicapped relative, she was surprised Maldon deferred marriage. "Well, it's not that surprising really." John considered, "there wont be many families that wish to risk that sort of impediment into their bloodlines. It shall be difficult enough for him to marry off his siblings." Though at least the man had a title, perhaps if he appeared to be near death a woman would marry him for the title? He'd heard of girls that stalked aged men with titles for the same purpose.


As far as his renown in favorite brothels went, that was not a topic he planned to discuss with his mother. "We were not talking about 'Tarts' Mother." he pointed out, "we were talking about matches. There are some you bed and some you wed, it is my eligibility with the latter that I am dubious of. Why would any creature of court consider me, a man of the 6th tier. Hmm... why in fact joining the military might improve my chances, they say all ladies love a man in uniform. You ought be my advocate for service to the Crown then mother, for it shall make your job all the easier. "


He was less excited about her suggestion that he take up with Ogle. Ogle was a boy still, and as son of a Duke he was likely to be watched like a hawk. He was hardly likely to be an apt companion to take to the gambling houses.


She was becoming happier now, he could tell, now she had this task of finding him a marriage. Talking to herself she begun to think through her plans, and then apologised that it would take her more than a week to find a result. "Do not anguish upon my account, I shall be patient." he replied, keeping his face dead pan.


On Arlington however, he was still not sure of her agenda. His mother always had an agenda. Perhaps it was not about her in that instance? "Err... has he daughters?" perhaps he was wrong to fret she was lining up a step-daddy. Perhaps she was plotting something else? Perplexed, he was not sure what to hope for in this instance. His mother, marrying again? It just did not sit right. What sort of son would he be if he was not concerned.

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"Stop it. At Once." She snapped. "Heed what I am saying and do not dismiss that what I have just said could not happen."


She was annoyed that he had fallen true to form and saw only his own shinning future filled with no obstacles and the Accolades that would surely follow.


"Death follows War like a plague. Think you that I wish to receive news that my only child has died? Think you that I will take some pleasure in it? You needs must face the Reality of how Life truly is and leave behind that which you created."


"You crave Recognition like a mouth parched for wine and so are blinded by the real facts. So go and play at Soldiering, have little regard for your own person and if you are struck down the man beside you might win that which you seek. And how long afore the name of John Lucas is forgot do you think? A week? A month? Not all eyes will weep for you."


And there is was. Yet again spoke with the inflection of his Father which said everything.


"And even that you would see me lose if possible."


She could not keep the edge from her tone.


"And pray just what accomplishments did you perform that might warrant it hmm? How deserving of it are you really John? You have the Title and the rents from the Estate - they increase if Luck is had - whilst that Royal Gift remains the same even as I do not."


"You shall never alter your course." She gave a small sigh. "Indeed I was foolish to entertain the idea that age might be the making of you."


"Lord Maldon has his DUTY and as such is required to see himself well placed then to move to his family. You are wrong in thinking that none would have him. There is a quality about him that is surprising and he is well connected - better than Us in fact - you will have competition there I think!"


She added that dig knowing to place him within the same category as the crippled Lord would eat at his sense of Self worth and being above others'.


"You may people your bed with whomever you chose but do not mistake me in this - I WILL see it made happen. I can look outside of Court as well. There are many with Riches who have daughters that will bring Lands to unite with Ours or even those of some Trades."


"Yes by all means push your suit by declaring you seek to go off and fight - but I wonder how many Father's would be willing to partner a daughter to a man that might well indeed die afore his seed has sprouted?"


Her smile was not warmth. Her cool eyed look held little affection.


For no matter how she tried to convince herself that her son did indeed have a care for her it would always be thus - a mother who expected one thing and a son determined to do the opposite.


"Daughters?" Her brow furrowed. "Oh you speak of Arlington then? I do not know. But I can say that the Lord Chamberlain of the Council will hardly look Our way. You would have to do something truly astonishing for that to ever happen."

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Privately he was pleased to see her temper, it was better than the years of passivity. When he'd been little, he'd been 'her little prince'. What had happened to her belief in him? Her anger now at least showed she still cared.


But really she needed some reassurance, he could see that now. "The Kings own brother and Cousins go to war, is a Baronet to be treated with kid gloves more than Royalty? No I am intent to join, but dont put on your funeral garb yet. You shall be proud of me mother. True enough that nobody would grieve my loss right now, once I stet foot off my estate I am a nobody. But soon, yes, the name John Lucas shall mean something. My deeds shall be the stuff of fables, inspiring young men, and setting the maids hearts to quicken. I shall take to this occupation, no brother I have at home, but at war I shall have hundreds in arms. I am eager to begin."


It occurred to him that if she truly knew somehow that there would be no war with France, then she would not be so adamant that he did not sign up.


As she then quizzed him to whether he deserved, had earned, his title. He simply agreed with her. "Again, this is more reason for me to make myself remarkable in service to the king." He'd earn a title the hard won and diligent way. Or at least that was what he told himself now. No doubt the camaraderie of other soldiers would have it's on distraction too, every barracks had a card game and a well worn path to house of pleasure.


Her insult that age had not been the making of him, cut deeply, but the cut landed on an already scarred heart. His eyes grew more distant, and he kept his silence. Meanwhile she went on to speak glowingly of Maldon who stuttered and limped. Was she doing that on purpose, to hurt him? It was like she wished the Maldon was her son, because he, her flesh and blood, although able bodied was half the man and a sorry disappointment to her that she continued to regret.


All these dark thoughts came readily to the baronet, who'd known for a long time she was disillusioned with him. Just how much though? It had been an age since they had last spoken, and then, not as frankly as this. The verdict - she decided she'd set her sights for him lower still. She'd consider some commoner for him to wed. He supposed she was going to save the prime candidates for Maldon then.


Again, he held his tongue. It was not worth the argument. While he'd make a peace offering by assenting to her matchmaking, she would make no reciprocal offering, by accepting his desire to make a name for himself. At least, not in a way that was at all accepting. The words she flung at him about dieing before a child was born was hardly conciliatory.


John stood.


"I am sorry you feel this way mother." He'd an ache inside, that wished for her affection, but no. That was not to be. "And as far as Arlington goes, I you shall be very happy with him then. I hope he is not the great disappointment to you that I am. Fare well Mother." Yet he remained there, a moment longer. Even though now he realized the idea to keep a house together, while he settled into the military and she went about her social life, had been a ludicrous notion.

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"You misunderstand me."


Three words spoke so quietly that he just might not hear them.


"I am Proud that mine own son desires to defend his Country. That was never in doubt. This entire converse has been designed to make you think about what might lie ahead and so you needs must plan accordingly John."


"If some harm befalls you then what of your Title - you must put name to paper as the one next in line for it. Of your own choice as it should be. But I beg you to consider the Estate, those that work it even, to have a care, a thought for when you are dead and cannot aid or be the Voice that Protects. I will be of little use and legally have no right."


"If you were to be receptive to a wife in the coming months, before any word of Wars are set, then that shall ease my mind. If you indeed take flight without that than I can see the Duke with his hand stretched out in 'protection' ready to claim. There will be no hesitation John I can assure you in that regard. Cavendish has a son to inherit and think you that HE will go?"


"Our Estate is large enough and so would benefit his and there is even the chance that the King would auction it off or give to to another as reward. Its happened afore and will again sure as I live and breath."


She had pushed too far. He was defensive and so sought to hurt back. Her remarks about Maldon had been unfair.


"Come John do not let us be thus."


She extended the Branch first but held little hope he would accept.


"Do not leave. Sit."


If he could but look past his own hurts, real or imagined, he might just see that his Lady Mother was, in her fashion, sorry for her part. That she would never say outright he would know as well.


"If nothing else eat and allow me to get you a room ..."


Her hand was half raised indicating his vacant chair

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He'd stood there, upon the brink of leaving, without knowledge if he'd actually see her again. If he left her now, well, there was a tone of finality over them. It seemed so fatal, and she seemed so... distant. She'd not always been this way, he remembered the sound of her laughter as he'd put on one-boy plays for her, marveled her with his horseriding, proudly recited the times tables for her. They had been close once.


He heard the words she spoke so quietly, so quietly that he could not be sure if she wanted them to be heard by himself, or even her own self? John's brow deepened, he did not want it to end like this. His brow deepened, and he lowered his head to better listen. His rage subsiding, sadness tinged with hope still, remained.


There were words she said that he needed to hear, and then others, that were perhaps warranted though less well received.


At length he took the seat, still digesting all she'd said. He thought carefully this time before he spoke. "Would you feel more comfortable if I delay my entrance to the military then, till after a marriage is settled?"


The ramifications of the offer then rolled in over him. His frown deepened further still. "Please understand that this is not my own desire at all, I am ready to turn a new leaf now. I was intent to sieze the moment, for in a months time the feeling might pass. May I be frank, there is exceedingly little to be a proud mother of me over. If you knew fully the life I have led - the one you'd send me back to rather than aspire to a life led in valor, then perhaps... It is not that I want to die, but, I would like to bury the man I have become. Though by-god, I will never be like your precious Maldon, a man who has no shame, fawning over kittens in public, inventing fairy tales about them. He is more woman than man. Pah. I do not like Maldon, even less so now I have learnt he stole my mother's affection from me."


He drew a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He was disappointed he'd not be entering a new life he might feel some pride in leading. He'd arrived, telling her he'd not marry and would enter the military, and here he was coerced to neither. All this because she'd said she was proud of him still. She should not be proud of him. But if he joined the war, and was a hero, then, he'd have earned her pride truly.


Looking into the palms of his hands, his jaw shifted. "I suppose I shall cancel my meeting with the recruiting officer, and head back to Oxford then." which for some men, meant returning to a studious life. For John Lucas however, it did not.

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He hesitated long enough for her to understand that in his way he had, like her, made a tentative gesture. Resuming his seat spoke volumes.


She heard him out but wished to say and ask of him more yet this present place was hardly conducive to 'private speech' and if she suggested would he agree to go to her rooms? Better to wait for a bit she thinks, gage his reactions and thoughts to what was yet to be said, then make the offer.


"I will be happy to see you wed afore the New Year ends. Your wife will hardly suddenly appear before either of us in all truth and I am only sorry that those plans that were first discussed between your Father and the Late Duke never saw conclusion. Yet even arranged matches do not always happen for whatever the reason."


His 'confession' of sorts was spoke just as her own words had been and she knew the truth in them. Perhaps, just perhaps, she had managed to mis-judge?


Goblets had been refilled and at a raised eyebrow her message had been taken and soon a wooden plate appeared with a still warm loaf of white Manchet bread*, of which she would be charge extra for, a half wedge of cheese she guessed was a leftover. He would be free to eat or not. She hoped he did.


"This redemption you speak of is of course of your own desire or are you changing yourself to benefit another? I am glad of it nevertheless. I am far from your Keeper John yet you must also see how your actions reflect back onto me. How you lead your Life is a worry for I fear that some malady might befall you or if you take to drink the estate will suffer or any manner of things. I am sure you yourself have born witness to such things amongst the Company you have kept?"


She paused to drink her gaze wandering taking note that few remained within a hearing space so whatever was now spoke of might stay between them.


"Leave off of Maldon." She stated clearly with some impatience.


"I have made his acquaintance and been in his company only a few times and as such that hardly warrants your thinking that he has replaced you. What he does is of no real concern to me except for his attachment to Cavendish. That will prove useful."


"I would like to ask about your Politics John. Will you follow the King or Another? You needs must declare it at some point if you are to gain any notice - but think very carefully. The Political Faction you chose to support will determine your Future. It will be presumed that you will align yourself with Cavendish for as Head of the Family we claim kinship to your 'Loyalty' is to him. His thoughts and views will become yours."


"If you chose a different path then do not expect any help to come your way. Even from me John. How could it which means that by your own efforts alone you must succeed. And as a Baronet it will require even more - are you prepared for that?"


"Go and present yourself to Cavendish firstly. Do not speak of "Enlistment' as if you are a common foot solider for heavens sake! He will want to know your stance on the current matters at hand I guarantee that. Once satisfied he will more like than not see you placed somewhere - with him or someone else I cannot say. But you must not expect it to be a place of any real influence. You will be tested. You must endeavor to not show impatience even thou it burns in your heart."


"And do not make the mistake in thinking that I do not understand this subject. Life is Politics and if you are to survive here at Court best to learn it quickly."





*Manchet (man'-chett) - A very fine white bread made from wheat.

One bushel of flour produces 40 cast of manchet, of which every loaf weighs 8 ounces going into the oven and 6 coming out.


Cheat - A wheaten bread with the coarsest part of the bran removed.


Ravelled bread - A kind of cheat but with more bran left in. The ravelled cheat is generally so made that out of one bushel of meal, (after two and twenty pounds of bran be sifted and taken from it), they make thirty cast, every loaf weighing eighteen ounces into the oven, and sixteen ounces out. This makes a "brown household bread agreeable enough for laborers."

Note that bread is baked up by the cast, a batch of 2–3 loaves.


The gentle folk commonly eat wheat bread. Their poorer neighbors often use only rye or barley. In very hard times, beans, peas and (shudder) oats may be used.*)

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The plans between the Duke and his Father; yes, his life might have been completely different if his father had not dies premature, if he'd had a male hand shaping and guiding his views, plans.


But he had Cordelia as his mother, doing her level best, even if that had meant leaving him to his own devices, letting him spend out wayward youth and hoping greater years would be the making of him. Perhaps she'd be proved right. One day, if not yet. He gave a single nod, that she'd see him married by the end of '78. He was not happy about it. He felt duped, his affection for his mother used against him. It was not what he wanted.


Food arrived, he was not hungry having eaten lunch not long before, but he kept her company with a drink.


She seemed to explain that her affection for Maldon was less of the man, and more of his connection to the Duke. Or at least that was what John took from her words. "You own connection is no insignificant, aunt to the Duke is a position to be respected, indeed he might appreciate your council in the absence of mother. Oh, I know not blood, but Aunt Margret was mother enough to him when growing, and loved enough that he has named one of hsi daughters after her." he defended him mothers position without even thinking of what he was saying.


"My allegiance is to England is unbudging." he replied of politics. She of course referred to the fact that the Cavendish family's politics were not in the Kings pocket. They had deep enough pockets themselves that they could afford to make their own choices. He knew this. He knew that it would be reckless to strike out away from the family.


"Very well." with dull tone he accepted her instruction to meet the Duke before returning to Cambridge. "Shall I see you again before I leave?"

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She did not prod further in relation to his proposed marriage and she took his nod as his assent to it.


"Our connection is not as close as Maldon's." She corrected him. " Your father was her kin John but anything beyond that is too much. Margaret was the old Duke's second wife if you remember and Cavendish was already fifteen when that marriage occurred but yes I could agree that Margaret was Mother enough to him."


"So you see why I needs must 'cultivate' Maldon and so should you - he might well prove to be beneficial. He also has a seat in Parliament so is of some import."


So he stood with the King then!


"I am glad to hear that you support the King John but that might well pit you against Cavendish and others' but there is no help for that."


"Why would you leave?" She asked him surprised.


"Has this entire conversation not been an exercise in how best you should proceed now that you are here in London? Or has all this talk suddenly made you desire the quite confines of the Country?"

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"I stand with the Family mother." he explained when she misunderstood him. "When I said my side was with the Country, that is what I meant. You have heard the phrase The Country Party?" She may not have. "It is not a black and white line mother, there are times enough when the family has supported Royal endeavors. One cannot therefore say that to stand with Cavandish is to stand against the king, nor vice versa. Yet it is not a blind faith in the crown that other families might have."


"Hmm." he was unable to feel eager towards Maldon however. She'd not been in the hallway, had not seen nor heard the tone of the other man. "First impressions are already done. He's not interested in discussing politics with me, when I mentioned my experience limited to my estate, he had no further comment. He sees me as beneath him, and of no import." Johns tone was flat as he revealed that. It was no news to him, generally speaking everyone considered him liek that. There was a mighty big chip n this lads shoulder.


He became as confused as she then. "This conversation has been about my plans for the future." he stated what he had thought. "I wanted to join the military mother, commence a career. Now I shall not. What else have I to do in London."

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This was not a time to have a heated debate of the merits of his Political stance and so she wisely refrained from further comment upon that.


"Well you can hardly hold that against him - there are many a Gentleman that find such talk about Estates to be of a disinterest - and how did you find him? In what location did you converse? Ah yes First Impressions. Yet oft times they are not always the way of it."


"And so you must make yourself known to him again John." She quietly advised. "Establish a Family Connection firstly and use it. Find out what his views are and if you might have an ally in him with Cavendish. His connections might become yours as well. And from that others' will grow."


"What else have you to do?" She echoed taken aback.


"You foolish Boy!"


She all but hissed at him her eyes narrowed and filled with a dangerous light as she leaned in.


"Your plans for the future will fade as quick as the sun if you think thusly. You are an unknown Gentleman and as such must use every opportunity to make your name known to any and all that can be used to raise it up! This desire to go off and play at Soldiering was ill thought from the start."


"Did you think it was just a simple thing, a snap of a finger or two, and you would be announced to All and Sundry ready to claim all that you think is so justly deserved? Ha."


"You must work to further the cause of John Lucas for Fate has made it so. Forget about your Plans and think with Logic. You are not dumb yet your words make me think otherwise! I have offered you counsel and a Path to begin, set forth names and given you some direction on how best to move."


"I see before me now a man who has allowed Ambition to steer him wrong and so I will ask you here and now - tell me if this is far too much. Tell me that you would rather keep to the Company you now have, accepting hand outs when they come, yet nursing the private grievance that you are due more."


"Perhaps it is I that have erred in my thinking that you would wish to make your name known and by skill and connection Advance? Instead I should allow you go and traipse amongst the common solider - to make your own way sink or swim as the Tide moves. And to hope that Successes come easily for you in that Life. One where you have no one to call kin or that would come to your side."


She grew silent letting her words sink in.


Yet her heart was heavy despite her outward appearance and she feared she would indeed lose him back to that lifestyle he had favored and having no word of him for months or mayhap years.

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Maldon - maldon - maldon!" Does she have to keep harping on about Maldon? He bit back a retort as she pushed his buttons again. Who knew if Cordelia paid attention to what her words were doing to her son, as she continued to praise the Earl and berate the Baronet before her.


"Were you not listening to me, I already told you what happened, where he was, what he was doing, when we met." he drew the line at repeating himself, "Perhaps you are as bored of me as you say Maldon was."


But it was when she called him a fool that something snapped. It was the last straw. He had his pride.


John stood, his jaw shifting, his temper barely in check. Through clenched teeth he growled, "I am not a fool. I was a fool to give in to your demands though, and do now recant my offer to postpone my enlistment. I shall join the military. And yes and perhaps I shall die. I never said I expected the world to fall into my lap - if there is a fool in this room then it is you for assuming me to be an absolute idiot. Has it never occurred to you to give me some respect?"


"I am have no seat in the lords, nor a father to coach me into politics - there is no reason that I should attend court at all. I am just your place holder upon the estate till some progeny of my loins wins your favor, that is all I've ever been to you. And now you would have me here as your precious Maldon's sycophant? Yes I have have discovered ambition, and thought to channel it into the only avenue truly available to me. Military service. It is logic that his brought me to this conclusion Mother. Halt your tongue, do not deride my intellect on this yet again, I will not hear it. What kin has ever aided me mother? All my kin has done is call me a fool and treat me like an idiot - I would gladly go into the company of strangers to escape that."


Perhaps her intention had been to motivate him all along. If so, she'd certainly achieved that. As he stormed from the room he was more determined than he'd been ever, more determined to do something spectacular that would make his mother have to eat her words. He did not even bid her farewell, or say where he could be reached, although she might remember for he had told her earlier on.





OOC: geep, I don't know if it was a rift you'd wanted to work upon over the season, but that seems to be what we have! Hope the coming season sees it mended, but for now, 'aw bummer' is all I can say! o.<

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Any that had been witness to the sudden departure of the young man who had been seated with what must have been his Mother would now only see that Lady sitting very still her eyes fastened upon the departing figure that did not turn away even after long out of her sight


'Oh my son! How you do not understand at all! How you have made this into things not warranted and thus where there should be Peace between us there is War.


You imagine that I care for you so little that I would favor another over you? Put my plans and wants and cares upon them? You think that I do not see you and so have little time or energy to spare while all I crave is your good Fortune.


The Blame needs must rest with Me for I did not see the rough road ahead when you were but a small child and so did not think to the Future. Did not plan for your father to die and leave you alone in the company of women with no thought to it.


I can not take any of it back and now your hurts have been made worse by my impatience.


Yet did you not see that I suffer too? Did you not think that this body that bore you will forever feel the loss of that child once it finds its own way and and no longer needs the guiding hand or voice?


I watch as you moved with anger and so departed full of harsh words and things that speak of untruths, allowing you to have your own way and so when I did say that twas simply to test, to see if any of the blood of your father or Grandfather runs in you!


But you are too full of indignation and so I can but Pray that God will allow for your eyes to be opened and that He will grant you the Wisdom that you will now need if you are to survive not only the time here but wherever Fortune send you.'

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