Charles Audley Posted May 19, 2016 Share Posted May 19, 2016 Kemp's Coffee House Patronized by the cream of society, by actors and playwrights, Kemp's is one of the most modish meeting places in London. The main room of the house is hazy with tobacco smoke and rich with the scent of coffee and chocolate. Small windows allow little daylight to enter - most illumination is provided by candle sconces fixed to the walls. Comfortable chairs of well padded leather accompany a dozen or so small tables. Several booths along the walls provide comfort and a greater degree of privacy. At the rear of the room stands, an elaborately carved table of some antiquity. Rumour has it that this table once belonged to King Hal and came from his palace of Nonsuch. Be that as it may, it is now the coffee house's serving counter, presided over by the buxom blonde Mistress Kemp. The comely widow is assisted in running the house by her pretty teenaged daughters Rose and Valerie. A door beside the counter leads to the kitchen. At Kemp's you can partake of coffee, tea, chocolate or milk punch. Light refreshments such as cakes and Welsh rabbit are also available. Several copies of the latest London Gazette are always available at Kemp's. After finally returning to his rooms, breaking his fast and (most importantly) changing his clothes, Charles had decided to venture forth into London and get the lie of the land. 'Know your ground' was perhaps the third most important rule, after all. He had opted to wear his uniform. It was fortunate, he reflected, that the uniform of the First Foot Guards was most becoming on him- red coat faced with light blue and decorated with gold lace, blue breeches and stockings, white waist sash fringed with blue, white cravat, calf-high black leather boots and a low-crowned black hat. (He was still going to change for the ball, of course. What sort of cretin wore his uniform to a ball?) He bore a heavy broadsword at his left hip in lieu of his usual small sword. As a nod to military discipline, he had queued his hair back in a single tail at the nape of his neck with a length of red ribbon. It gave the already sharp lines of his face a harsh, almost cruel aspect. A flurry of snow had driven Charles to seek shelter in Kemps, where a minor expenditure and some harmless flirting with one of Mistress Kemp's daughters (who had a most fetching blush) had obtained a pot of coffee and a copy of the Gazette. He seated himself near a window and idly leafed through the paper, listening with half an ear to the buzz of conversation permeating through the thronged coffee shop. One never knew when one might hear something interesting or useful. It was in the main either humdrum gossip or the sort of thing Charles could guess at with a moment's thought- Buckingham taking advantage of Danby's fall, the Country Party seeking to have York sent from court, rumour and counter-rumour of the Queen's potential pregnancy. Nothing earth-shattering. Charles glanced at his pocket watch and then looked outside at the sky, wondering if he could risk venturing forth again. "Will there be more snow, d'you think?" He did not initially realise that he had spoken aloud. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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