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Purple in the Orangery (Christmas Early Morning)- Xmas 1677


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The Orangery


The great glass windows supported in their metal frames let in the weak winter sun whilst keeping out the brisk breezes, lending a luxurious warmth to the outdoor-indoor space that was the orangery. The air was moist as well as warm, the great orange trees in their large pots carefully tended so that they would produce their treasure-trove of exotic fruit in the summer, unhindered by lack of water or blight of frost. A few orange flowers lent an exotic citrus scent to the air.


Between the great pots, stone benches were set so that courtiers might come and enjoy the sunshine without the need to brave the outdoors, and in the centre was a statue of a nymph and two sets of wrought iron tables, painted white, with matching chairs, that one might sit and take tea and enjoy the ambiance of the orangery.


The first rays of sunlight caused the two men to rouse. It was not a proper sleep for the pair, as they were still attired as they had been the night before. Their bed was made of grass, highlighted with empty wine bottles. The King's servants had dared not approach them, knowing their identities. The discreet coughs had not roused the men previously. The sun had achieved what the servants could not.


With a groan, Charles Sedley sat up, turning to the bewildered Earl of Rochester beside him. "I'm getting too old for this rubbish Johnny." Each word weighed heavily on the swollen tongue of the Baronet.


"Is it Christmas yet?" Rochester managed to whisper while still lying in the fetal position.


"I think that sunlight is proof enough," Sedley managed in reply, though too wearied to say more.


The two men had been drinking heavily. Their memories were foggy of what had transpired the night before. As they took in their surroundings, fragments of memory seeped into their consciousness.


"Happy Christmas Rochester," Sedley declared, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hand.


"Kiss my arse. Kiss my arse" came the inhuman reply. It was just the sort of thing that Rochester would utter; but, in this case, he had not. It was a bird. Both men were too fatigued to manage a grin as they turned to look towards their avian companion.


There, in the branches of a pear tree, was a colorful parrot, using just as colorful language. It dawned on Sedley in that moment that they had stolen the King's parrot the night before. It was a parrot gifted the King by the Earl of Langdon two years before. It was a favorite of the Merry Gang because it spoke swear words almost exclusively. The King had to hide it away from the ladies of court, sending it to the Tower; but, Rochester and he had liberated it the night before. Rochester had insisted that parrots ate fruit and belonged in the jungle. The closest approximation to the jungle was the King's orangery. It had made perfect sense last night that the parrot needed to be moved to the Orangery. Now, in the light of day, with a trampled mind trying to recover its sobriety, it made less sense.


Kiss my arse, the bird called again. Rochester started chuckling quietly as he continued to lay prone upon the soft grass. To him, it was a job well done. He was a man for whom consequences had little meaning.


"Shit," Sedley proclaimed inartfully. Now what?


"Shit" repeated the bird, well acquainted with the word in the past.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Who uttered that profanity!"


Ambrose was in his uniform, though not currently on duty. Hearing a ruckus of a sort he'd approached the orangery, where he found the convalescents under the dubious care of feathery friend.


But if they thought it was the swearing he was objecting to, the grin upon his cheerful face put matters straight. "Too-old - my foot!" he winked at fetal Rochester, "Here, you might just need a little hair of the dog."


Hipflask was offered. That the men were upon the ground compelled the giving of it into a gesture similar to a bow, and so Ambrose ran with that with a generous, "Lieutenant Turbull, at your service... hard night out eh boys?"


Turning with a show of interest to the parrot he declared, "Your guardian-demon here has an impressive dictionary, you rarely find such oration outside of the House of Lords, but is precisely what I should have expected of Whitehall." the naval-come-lifeguard peered at the bird more closely then. "Cunt. Can you say cunt? Cunt. Cunt." A common curse, surely the bird knew it all ready.

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"Has he come to arrest us?" Rochester asked quietly amid a laugh. Sedley feared as much. Why else would a redcoat be visiting the Orangery so early in the morning. The playwright silently composed a story in his mind, if needed. Might he convince the soldier that it was a colorful partridge instead?


Turner introduced himself as Sedley struggled to his feet. "A pleasure sir." He was happy to discuss anything except the purloined parrot. As the hip flask was offered, the Earl of Rochester came to life, sitting up to accept it. "I think I like this Lieutenant Turner," he exclaimed before taking an unhealthy swig.


The parrot watched developments quietly until Ambrose approached, soliciting the bird to utter a broader vocabulary of profanity. It cocked its orange head as if listening to the redcoat. "Cunt, Cunt," it uttered, happy to play such a game. Both Sedley and Rochester could not help chuckling. No matter how many times they heard the bird mimic obscenities, there was a comedic reaction that could be shaken less easily than a lingering cough.


Sedley reached out a hand to help Rochester to his feet. The Lieutenant had asked after their adventures of Christmas Eve. "Turner, are you trying to tell the bird what you experienced last night? I hope you received it aplenty."

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There was a difference of airs, the one who remained seated was of of the innocent sort (as much as a man in such a state could be), while the one getting to his feet appeared guilty. "Well that's because I'm a likable guy." Ambrose gave a muffled laugh to Rochester, eyebrow briefly raising to Sedley, to whom he next passed the hipflask. Perhaps he needed the pick me up most of them all?


He laughed along with the others as the Parrot came though and repeating the word. "Ah ha ha, oh ho ho..." he was laughing still, as Sedley turned the question back at him. "Oh how I wish, but I was on duty last night, when I got back the rest had already left. The only fuck I had was the one I cursed when I realized I don't have the directions to the famous Madame Derrieres."


"I've fallen in with similarly-ly cursed company I suppose, you two put a new spin on spending a night with a bird... your heads buried in a bush. Well, under a bush. What is this, an orange tree?" Ambrose plucked an intensely green leaf, his eyes turned towards Sedley. What had they been up to? Buggery perhaps.




OOC: Edited previous post because I wrote Turner instead of Turnbull! >.<

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Sedley took the hip flask gratefully. Not only could he use a swig, but it gave him an excuse to not speak.


"Madame Derriere is an expensive place, especially for a soldier," Rochester commented while trying to focus bleary eyes on this Turnbull fellow. "If you haven't been there before, don't take the first one she offers. She keeps the best hidden for the preferred customers," he advised, notwithstanding that he was not sure it was true. It sounded as though it should be true. Johnny never had a problem in a brothel. He was content with most any gal that had any form of wit.


Sedley finished the swig and thought to spin a story for their present circumstances. "We had a bit too much to drink, as one might imagine on Christmas Eve and we found ourselves here. It was warm and safe from the elements, and it had this delightful colorful partridge that had the most engaging personality. How could we leave?"


"Indeed," seconded Rochester. "I did not even know that partridges could speak until last night I suppose," he added with a sly humor directed at Sedley for saying something so outrageous. "There are orange trees aplenty in here Lieutenant; but, if I know my agriculture, I would swear that was a pear tree."


"A partridge in a pear tree. A nice bit of verse that," Sedley sought to declare, not so sure Johnny was correct about that being a pear tree. "I suppose that we best be off to our households to change clothes. We would not want any pretty ladies to see us with soiled clothing now would we Johnny?"


"It is only after I see a pretty lady that I soil my clothing," Rochester quipped with an easy smile.

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This un-named pair were in part helpful. Ambrose nodded, and then commented, "I've heard there are plenty enough woman at Whitehall who'd give it away for free, though cant say to have laid my eyes on any such bargains myself yet."


"Heh heh," he chuckled to the pairs exchange over a partridge in a pear tree other. It was a comfortable, familiar chatter, plainly enough they were old friends. "Most devout of you both, to be sure." he reached to accept his hip flask back as they declared themselves ready to leave. Their manner had him think they were probably highly ranked nobles, that would explain why they did not think providing their names was necessary.


"Merry Christmas to you, Gentlemen." he bade in farewell, with a nod of head and click of heels. "Oh, and dont forget your 'Partridge' ".


Some time or rather he might find out who the men were, but for now the Lifeguard continued on his route to the barracks.

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