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An Auspicous Beginning [23rd of Dec, afternoon]- Xmas 1677

Heather O`Roarke

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The large entourage arrived with all the bluster that ladies of rank and station could manage, first through the Whitehall gates, then on to the Whale bone court. Several carriages, livried servants. There was one difference. The Countess was not in one of the carriages, but proudly rode in front of the caravan together with her personal bodyguard, on top of a stunning white Arabian stallion.


Jerkins' eyes darted everywhere, keeping his eyes out for rebel rousers out for Catholic blood as they moved through the streets of London. His lady was wearing a royal blue riding habit, set off with ermine white fur. The ample hood of the blue cloak only partly covered her golden red curls, which were donned in a rather loose hairdo. The lady's skin had grown even more pale than usual in the last months, though still dusted in rusty coloured freckles. Little puffs of white steam came from her full red lips. To Jerkins she was perfection, and one that would never be his, for ever out of reach.


If there were any unkind calls in the streets as they progressed to Whitehall, Heather pretended not to notice. Her back was straight, her chin up. She was back after her prolonged confinement and if any thought her mirred in scandal she was going to ignore them. Annulled marriages, accusations of laying with Catholics. All thruth, and it did not touch her. Not if she didn't let them.


The Countess, who in a bid for propriety to please York had ridden side sadle, allowed Jerkins to lift her down from the stallion named Rohan, son of Princeton. Her green eyes twinkled as she thanked him, before turning to the entrance of the palace, taking a deep breath for courage. She refused to think of the Duchess. Never, never, was she acknowledging the fact that lady took first place in his mind. Oblivious to the fact the household must have been aware several days of the imminent arrival of the Countess O'Roarke to her private appartment in the Ducal wing, Heather excitedly whispered to Jerkins "Do you think he will like my surprise?" Jerkins grunted something non-commital. She did not expect more of him, fairly ignoring his answer.


Whistfully Heather removed her gloves before attempting the stairs that led up to the Prince's lodgings on the first floor.

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