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Charity Begins at Church (Dec. 26 Morn)- Xmas 1677


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Davina, Douglas, and Susan


“Thank ye. I’m pleased tae say I am verra weel, an’ aw the better fer seein’ ye.” Douglas smiled at Davina’s warm welcome, unaware of Susans thoughts regarding their relationship – or indeed that Davina herself had doubts about his intentions. Was it a character flaw that Douglas was a bit free with his gifts? He knew how good it felt to get a present, and so doled them out willy-nilly to his friends, with little regard for the consequences. “Hou is the season treatin’ ye?” He asked in turn.


His attention shifted as Davina introduced her companion. “A pleasure tae meet ye, Lairdy Susan.”** The tall Life Guard bowed again in the young lady’s direction. It was a name he knew vaguely; now he had a face to match it.


Davina was a masterful courtier, possessed of that subtle manner that persuaded where a direct request would dissuade. Had she asked him for money he might very well have refused; Douglas didn’t have a lot of disposable income and what he had he was saving for his future. Yet by asking him whether he knew anyone else who might donate, she suggested that she knew he would not be thus inclined, prompting him to wish to prove her wrong. Douglas was nothing if not contrary and she played him well.


He didn’t like the Queen much, his previous attempts to even get to know her had been met with cold formality, so his initial inclination was to want nothing to do with her charities. Yet, a little voice suggested, such a contribution might be just the thing to break the ice, to show her that he was more than the run-of-the-mill, self-absorbed nobleman. Or at least, to encourage her to think that.


And perhaps it was also an opportunity, for how could any gentleman refuse such a request from two fine young ladies? “Permit me tae assist ye in both wa’s, Lairdies.” He said with a broad smile. “I weel purchase a candle m’sel, fer 'tis the season of givin'.”*** He declared. Let the Ice Queen ignore him then.


As to others they might petition? “I wuid suggest ye make yer request tae Laird Kingston as weel; I’m certain he wuid be mos’ pleased tae support the Quin’s noble cause.”+ He added with a reassuring smile. Kingston was well known and popular, he would likely have a hard time finding an excuse.



* “Thank you. I’m pleased to say I’m very well, and all the better for seeing you. How is the season treating you?”

** “A pleasure to meet you, Lady Susan.”

*** “Permit me to assist you in both ways, Ladies. I will purchase a candle myself, for it is the season of giving.”

+ “I would suggest you make your request to Lord Kingstong as well; I’m certain he would be most pleased to support the Queen’s noble cause.”

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When was the last time I was in a church? Rome, I think. Do the Catholic ones even count?


The thought ghosted through Charles's mind as he made his way to the chapel. In truth, he had almost forgotten that Sunday services were a thing. Only Turnbull's note had reminded him. Even then, he had strongly considered crying off. He had been tormented by migraine that morning, which had threatened to confine him to his bed, but Wodehouse, with damnable efficiency, had dosed him with laudanum, queued his hair, dressed him in his uniform and forced him to eat some dry toast.


He was right to force me out, damn him. Almost everyone shall be here and, even leaving that aside, it would not do to be thought a Catholic.


Some of his suffering was still visible in his face, which was pale and drawn. The laudanum had dilated his pupil as well, leaving it obvious on close examination that he was out of sorts. The cold morning air was livening him up, though, and his carriage remained as briskly graceful as ever.


Charles paused directly outside the chapel, idly surveying the gathering crowd. He was not looking for anyone in particular, merely taking a moment to gird himself before entering.


Oh, come now. We've never burst into flames before. Why should now be any different?

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Davina Douglas and Susan


Pleased that he seemed glad to see her as well she nevertheless let Susan have the lead but it appeared that her Prayer had gone unheard as he made it plain that HE intended to purchase a candle! Now, she knew, he would think she had set him up a purpose and she was in no place to explain but she had to at least try.


"I must thank you truly for your offer - tis kindness indeed - but I hope you did not take my words as some indication that there was any pressure behind our asking?"


Softly said as not to be overheard and her eyes that met his were filled with worry that there had been a mis-understanding.


"Ah. Lord Kingston yes what a good pick! And thru him Susan mayhap we can edge towards the Duke Himself!"


Her gaze traveled about looking for the man in question and so twas how she spied Charles dressed in his uniform. Watched as he seemed to look at her but then stayed his advance as if he was waiting. Might she risk it and go to him leaving Susan with the Baron? The other would get the credit if he did indeed purchase a candle but she didn't care.


The chance to have some 'private' speech in Public View was too tempting.


"Susan, I shall search for Lord Kingston this minute and so I beg of you to reamin with the Baron, will you?"


She leaned in to whisper "And you may have the credit for him if he buys" before she smiled up at the Gentleman. She would wait a beat or two for the other to reply then be off.

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Maldon, Turnbull, and Somerset


I’ve already started today. John had gotten up at the crack of dawn and then fed and clothed the homeless. But he said nothing. She could have the last word. Perhaps he would invite her along next time.


As for the story, John presumed Turnbull had been in an inn. He was no more knowledgeable about such things than Lucy. And as for where they were, the location of the place had gotten a bit confused but it hardly mattered. He’d never heard of pide either and wondered what it was like. He remained quiet so as to not break suspension of disbelief but if pressed he wouldn’t have any idea how to answer.


John was slightly miffed the garden got removed, John liked gardens, but made so sign of it. He smiled as Lucy excitedly guessed what Ambrose implied. “Yes, it was he, for they’d torn up the garden and destroyed it searching for him, turning it into an artillery ground.” This seemed to hold just a bit more weight of evil in it than was warranted. Then again, John was returning from the Palatinate where the palace gardens had been used to shell the capital by invading forces.


“A noble, handsome youth, innocent in his face and showing all the virtues nature has allowed the Turkish race.” Which John neglected to mention, not knowing them, “And in the dead of night, six men c-c-came to kill him, seen only by the… gleam of their swords in the moonlight. But you see, they were to… k-k-kill all of us that night, so there would be… no witnesses. Including the t-t-two Turkish guards. After they cut down one, the other freed us to fuh-follow the prince.”


“So it was we were freed, and unarmed, into a fight f-f-four against six. A p-p-prince raised in a garden, a Turkish… guard of maybe fifteen, and us against the b-b-best assassins in Asia. This wasn’t how I l-l-lost my leg, though, so I’ll let… the Lieutenant tell how the fuh-fight went.” John said, with a grin, “Have to save… something for the c-c-climax.”

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Davina, Douglas, and Susan


No, they didn't fancy each other. Davina seemed a bit tense in the tall Lifeguard's company, and Susan thought it a bit odd that after he agreed to buy a candle, she asked him if he thought they were pressuring him into it. Or was that expected when you were soliciting donations? To give them a chance to back out? Five hundred pounds was a lot of money just to light a candle.


Lord Dundarg suggested that Lord Kingston might donate, and Susan, too, looked around the lawn for him. She didn't see him but Davina seemed eager to search for him anyway. Perhaps she just wanted to put some distance between herself and the handsome Scot?


She even agreed to give Susan the credit for his donation. “An excellent idea,” the young blonde agreed. “It would be my pleasure to stay here with the Baron.” She smiled up at him. “If he doesn't mind, of course.” Maybe she could find out what was going on between the two of them with some carefully worded questions.

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Charles approaching Nicolette


The cool air (and the laudanum) had soothed the fiery agony pulsing through his skull to the point where Charles felt he could probably manage entering the chapel.


And if, during the service, I do vomit or collapse or both, I shall liven up proceedings immeasurably. Why, I would practically be providing a public service!


And, if he needed additional incentive, his little rest had allowed Charles to pick up on what the Queen's ladies were up to- soliciting donations. In principle, Charles had no problem with charity but he did resent being ambushed like this. As discreetly as was possible for him, he slipped into the chapel, doffing his hat.


The bulk of the crowd yet remained outside, and Charles's attention was immediately drawn to the front, where sat a beautiful brunette he vaguely recalled seeing at the ball. Interestingly, she was still clad in the dress she had worn to the previous night's festivities. That, to the earl's mind, hinted at an adventurous spirit. He himself would not have changed if not for Wodehouse.


Unconsciously, Charles adjusted the fit of his red uniform coat, brushed imaginary specks of dust from his breeches and fiddled with his cravat knot. Restraining the impious impulse to whistle, Charles made his approach and slid (perhaps slightly less smoothly than usual) into the pew next to the potential adventuress. Mindful of how severe his features looked normally, nevermind with his hair queued and the strain of migraine on his face, he took care to smile brightly.


"Your pardon for the intrusion, my lady. I noticed that the gentlemen of court have been terribly remiss in their duties to the gentle sex and left you deplorably unaccompanied. Perhaps you will allow me to rectify their failing?" A seated bow, or an approximation thereof. "Charles Audley, Earl of Chatham, at your service."

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Sophia moving toward Davina


As she traversed the lawn, Sophia heard snippets of conversation about purchasing the privilege to light a candle at the altar by donating to charity. Five hundred pounds didn't seem like a large sum to the young Baroness, and she knew that she wanted one of those candles. Not only would it possibly bring her to the attention of the Queen, but it would help to atone for her sins at the opera. She could represent the Spanish with her donation and Esteban would be pleased.


The Queen's ladies-in-waiting seemed to be soliciting the donations. If they got credit for each donation they received, Sophia wanted Mistress Wellsley to take her own pledge. She was her friend, and as she was also Catholic, she might want to see other Catholics among those who lit the candles. Although Sophia herself was a Protestant, the family into which she had married was Catholic and she was irrevocably linked to them now.


She veered toward Davina's group, waving to catch her attention and beckon her over.

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Davina's Group with Additions


It would seem that her plan was not to take flight.


Having caught the eye of Lady Toledo she could hardly pretend not to have seen her and so she gave an answering smile and a nod - an indication that she might join them.


"We seem to be very popular at the moment ..." She smiled as she continued. "Lady Toledo is about to descend upon Us so I can hardly run off! Mayhap Lord Kingston shall find me? Or even Lord Langdon - he is just there."


She nodded her head in that general direction.


"Felicitations of the Season Lady Toledo!"


She called out her eyes appraising and trying to guess what conversation might be forthcoming. Was she going to ask if her Husband might buy a candle? The Queen had said nothing about ones' Religion yet he was Catholic but that kind of 'gesture' was sure to be all Politics and hardly Charitable.


Buttering up the young English Queen to feed the needs of Spain was not a thing out of the ordinary - for many an Ambassador had tried to feather the causes of their own Countries - with varying degress of success.

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Maldon, Turnbull, and Somerset


"Aha, you've excellent powers of deduction." he praised the womans mental grip of the story as she placed the chosen heir at the scene. "But please hold your questions for after the story is done." Ambrose winked at the little lady as she quizzed about the taste to turkish bread.


For now the focus needed remain on the ever growing story, it's complexity begun to challenge chances it could ever be resolved - somewhere in amongst it Maldon needed to heroically break his leg.


From Ambrose perspective it was time to conclude the story.


He frowned with Maldons 'angle' that the prince, rather than hiding in the last place anyone would look, had been captured and placed in the cells. The story was beginning to rupture (for why had the prince been hiding from sight if they already knew he was there?) There was only so long men, unknown to each other, could hold something like this together, and the Little Duchess had just proven she was sharp as a tack.


So officially the Heir was on death row, and 6 guards turned up to slay him...


Or was it that Maldon was also concerned about trying to end the story eventually, or suddenly.


For the tale was suddenly over (Ambrose hoped!) "Heh heh." he shifted his angles, turned to look at the man, and then the woman. "Heh heh, suffice to say a Turk is no match for an Englishman, with Lord Maldon at my side we vanquished the enemy." he left it at that, and turned back to Maldon to conclude the story.

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Whitehurst & Co


Dorothea Charlotte's english was not that good, which perhaps explained how Bradly managed to mishear her, though she was not to know that as she turned pretty brown eyes in his direction. "Ja, this is very good for the gentlemen with heart yes?"


Bradley's beamed. She was talking about hearts, he'd practically seduced her and he'd not even really tried! "Oh yes, I"m just wondering how many my House ought purchase." he puffed out his chest.


With a glance beyond the German lady's shoulder he spotted his brother arriving. Lifting his hand he waved. Then wished he'd not waved. Now Charles was likely to come over, and interfere. Rats


"You see apart from myself, I've another two brothers, so perhaps we'll get three." He did the 'thumbs up' gesture to Charles, so as Charles would know not to bother, so he'd know everything was under control.

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On pew Charles & Nicolette


Nicolette had regretted her impulse to sit, but now it was done, she could hardly get up and socialise now. Or could she? That is the trouble with having had such fastidious social training, even though she was currently in the business of undoing her proprietaries, in her mind the lecturers hovered.


The hymnbook was a feeble distraction, and felt far too devout for her recent spate of sinning. This reverent pose was quite the opposite of what she actually wished to project. How many Kings have been seduced by a womans knowledge of Psalms? None. She was certain of that, well nearly (for according to Heather's book, there were any number of terribly interesting perversions.)


Upon that thought Nicolette's mind drifted...


Suddenly someone slid into the pew alongside. Nicolette gave a gasp shut the book quickly, before loosing a grin upon her company. He was silver tongued, and entirely dangerous looking with his eyepatch - both points recommended him.


The french woman lifted her hand to his for un baiser d'introduction as he managed a seated bow, with voice rich with accent she crooned "Enchantee, Lord Chatham." An Earl, and a carefree one. No wife and children trailed in his wake, thank heaven.


"I am Nicolette Vauquelin. Though I am not long injured, the bruises of abuse might now be sweetly suffered." her eyes glittered as she assessed the man before her. He looked a little ravaged, in a most interesting way. She did not recall seeing him previously, but he did not seem like a man she would have overlooked. "...mmm, you escape the pick pockets too?" her eyes slid briefly past him to the nearest grouping tapped by one of the queens ladies, then slid back to the earl, finely shaped eyebrow raising.


However much she appreciated his sense in avoiding Karoline's prudes, she did hope that the gentleman did not suffer a tiny, purse.

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Charles and Nicolette


Charles took the offered hand and pressed his lips briefly to it, the courtly ritual requiring no conscious thought. Her accent was something of a surprise- for whatever reason, he had not thought to meet a French woman at church- but a pleasant one. Charles rather liked the French.


"Enchantèe mademoiselle." His eye sparked with mirth. "Though I will say that I hoped to heal your hurts, rather than merely allow you to bear them with stoic equanimity. The latter is a good look for stern Roman statues but I prefer happiness on beautiful women."


He laughed (quietly, in deference to their location) at her description of the Queen's ladies, his gaze following hers to the nearest band of extortionists. On a whim, he replied in French. He was vastly more practiced in it than in Italian and would like to remain so.


A gentleman should be multilingual, after all.


"We can give them a little credit, I think. They're closer to blackmailers than pickpockets." A fluid shrug. "But yes, I decided to evade them. I have an aversion to being ambushed like this. In any case, the whole thing is nothing more than a chance to show off the depth of one's pockets and the strength of one's charitable impulses. There are better ways of doing both."


Charles shook his head, dismissing the Queen and her ladies.


"A change of topic, perhaps? Might you oblige me with the story of how you came to bless Whitehall with the light of your countenance?" A quick smile. "Was le Roi feeling particularly generous?"

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Davina, Douglas, Susan with Lady Toledo approaching.


Davina expressed the hope that he did not feel she had been targeting him, before stating an interest in hunting down Lord Kingston and other possible quarry. Had she not wanted Douglas to donate? Was she only interested in the popular folk at court? That only made him more determined to do so.


Turning his attention to Susan, Douglas offered her a warm smile. “Mind, m’Lairdy?” He echoed, mock-shocked. “Yer comp’ny is a delicht.” He assured her. “An’ I’m certain tha’ Mistress Davina was ainly bein’ polite. Acoorse I want tae support Her Majesty’s worthy causes.”* He assured the young woman.


She was young, but obviously not too young to be amongst the Queen’s Ladies. Perhaps it was even felt that her youthful innocence might appeal to those who would otherwise be too hard-hearted to donate? It might well work. “Lairdy Susan, please do tell me whit Her Majesty requests o’ her supporters this dae.” What exactly did the Queen have in mind? “An’ do ye happen tae ken whit causes she’s supportin’ wi’ these donations?”** He asked, all interested curiosity. Which way did the Queen’s heart swing right now?


Ah, but it seemed that Davina wasn’t to leave them after all, as instead Sophia joined the group. “Guid mornin’ Lairdy Toledo.”*** Douglas greeted her in turn, offering her a polite bow.



* “Mind my Lady? Your company is a delight. And I’m certain that Mistress Davina was only being polite. Of course I want to support Her Majesty’s worthy causes.”

** “Lady Susan, please do tell me what Her Majesty requests of her supporters this day. And do you happen to know what causes she’s supporting with these donations?”

*** “Good morning Lady Toledo.”

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Charles and Nicolette


His reply in french stylings told her a great deal of his disposition towards her, and her expression softened with that understanding. "Then it's my pleasure to tell you I lied, for I never bear anything stoically." her pearly-whites flashed as she smiled, "my penchant is more towards excesses, excess of joy, and laugher too, I even prefer a tantrum to brave sufferance."


He delved into knowledge of french to reply of the Queens ladies. Nicolette was pleased, not many bothered to do so, and of it made it a bit harder for anyone who might overhear them. Here we have barely met, and sharing secret words, what fun. "My Cousin told me not long ago Karoline was the one purchasing their favor, and now the English purchase favor from her. The shift of power changes everyone..." it was surprising really, that Lord Chatham was not so interested in Karoline's blessing. But then he alluded to other methods. "Such as?" asked she.


It was her turn to laugh then, his quip of Le Roi was amusing. She'd rarely if ever heard Louis XIV as the subject of any joke, and Nicolette was far away from Versailles now that she could dare laugh at such a thing. "Le Roi has always been generous, the question is can England afford his generosity?" her eyes sparkled, what did that say of her?


Ah, but to Chathams interest to her presence here. "I am guest of my cousin Lord Basildon. The Sun court does not miss a Huguenot, and I adore the court of the Moon King." Nicolette had little to no intention to return to France. "And you my gentleman friend? I did not see you here last season, are you fresh from your tour of Europe?" he had a savvy sort of polish that had her make this deduction.

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The Earl of Langdon was in something of a predicament. He needed to show little attention to Susan Herbert. Their meeting later was to be secret. Likewise, he was to pretend a lack of interest in Davina, which was especially difficult. She looked his way in speaking to Lady Toledo, but he was not sure he was supposed to meet her eyes. To look away quickly would be equally suspicious, so he offered a brief smile, a momentary look that was so pleasnat, and then he looked away towards his brother, who had found a lady of his own. Was Bradley to become a natural with ladies?


It was more out of a lack of targets that caused him to move towards his brother. He was trying to avoid too many ladies and found himself heading to meet the lady in his brother's company. The thumb up was a sign to not approach further, so Charles paused his advance just short of Bradley's company, waiting to see if his youngest brother needed assistance.

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Davina and Douglas, with Susan temporarily departing


Why was she so happy that he enjoyed her company? Lord Dundarg was every bit as handsome and charming as Lord Langdon. Maybe good looks and charm were requirements for becoming members of the Lifeguard. Or perhaps she was more attracted to gentlemen in uniforms than she thought. “I never doubted it,” she replied with a grin when he assured her that he would indeed donate to the Queen's causes.


“She simply requests a donation of five hundred pounds, and in return, you will get to light a candle at the altar. There are only twelve candles and they will probably go fast.” She grinned at him. “You have one of them, though.”


As for which charities the Queen supported, she wasn't quite sure. Susan glanced over at Lady Blount. She would know. “I will find out for you,” she promised. “I'll be right back, my lord.” With an apologetic smile, she darted off. She hoped that he would wait for her. If not, she knew how to find him. All she had to do was look up.

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Sophia approaching Davina and Douglas


Sophia had hoped to speak to Davina privately, but she beckoned her over instead. She certainly had no qualms about conversing with the dashing Lord Dundarg now that Esteban was not present. Hopefully, her husband would not distrust him so much as time went on. She couldn't deny that she was still attracted to him, but as soon as she had married, he had been lost to her forever. Now she considered him one of her dearest friends.


The other lady who had been with them left before she joined them, and Sophia gave her no further thought. She smiled as she approached. “Happy Christmas to the two of you as well, Mistress Wellsley, Lord Dundarg.” The tall Scot bowed to her and she playfully held up a delicate hand for him to kiss.


Her attention turned to Davina. “I couldn't help overhearing something about pledging five hundred pounds for the privilege of lighting a candle at the altar. I would like to make a donation on behalf of my lord husband. I am trying to get involved in charity work myself and this is a wonderful opportunity.” Her gaze moved between Davina and Douglas. “Tomorrow I will be visiting the injured soldiers at the hospital in Chelsea with Lady Alyth. She has agreed to help me become more involved with the charities here in London.”

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Maldon, Turnbull, and Somerset


Lucy nodded when Lieutenant Turnbull asked her to hold her questions until the story was done. Now she wondered if pide was an actual Turkish dish or if he had made that up too. If he didn't speak of it again, she would ask her brother. Louis would know. The young Duchess was insatiably curious about almost everything and Turkish food must be wonderfully exotic.


She beamed when they both praised her powers of deduction, even though she had been given an obvious clue. Lucy listened intently as Lord Maldon continued the tale, revealing an evil plan to kill both the young Prince and all the prisoners. Was that how he had injured his leg? No, he said it wasn't and asked the Lieutenant to describe the fight. He was probably better at describing battles since he was in the military himself.


Yet he didn't describe it at all, and only disclosed that they had won. As she had been told not to ask questions, Lucy remained silent, turning her gaze back to the Earl, wondering what had happened next. She knew they were making the story up and passing it back and forth, but it was engrossing, nonetheless.

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Charles and Nicolette


"In that we are in agreement. I'm about as Stoic as Epicurus." Charles was not much for philosophy (especially when sober) but he had learned early that life was a fragile thing, far too fragile to simply meekly accept whatever befell one.


Take your pleasure where you can, rage against every obstacle until your fury overcomes it, never stop moving and, when the time comes, see that the audience applauds. Simple rules for a simple man.


It was surprisingly pleasant to converse in French again. Charles could not help but nod along as Nicolette reflected on the shifting nature of power.


"Such is the nature of the world. Power and influence are treacherous waters, and we are but storm tossed ships." He smiled thinly. "And those candles will make for poor lighthouses. Any favour gained is shared with eleven other worthies and five hundred pounds is not a large enough sum to establish a reputation as a grand patron of charity or as the next Croesus. What little prestige there is will be ephemeral. Ask me in a week who lit those candles and I doubt I shall remember. Why, I imagine any graduate of Versailles could easily cast those candle bearers as grasping misers, eager to acquire a reputation for charity on the cheap, or as lickspittles to the Queen. A few whispered rumours, a cutting remark or two in the right ears..."


Charles leaned back in the pew, idly toying with the idea of doing so himself.


I need a hobby I can discuss in polite company, after all.


He suppressed a snort of amusement and continued.


"No, if I wanted to become known for my philanthropy" -as opposed to for my philandering- "I would make a dramatically large donation to some establishment or other in return for having a ward or some such dedicated in my name. I would be generous to the servants and take great care to have my frequent gifts to beggars and such discovered by one of the court gossips. And if I wanted royal favour..." He shrugged. "I would seek it from the King, for my nature and talents are such that I would find more success in that direction. As is my history come to that- I may have been involved in burning down large parts of the Palatinate."


Her laughter was a wonderful sound and her sparkling eyes a wonderful sight, but she raised a relevant point- could England afford French generosity any more? No, in his opinion, but that was politics and as such had no place here.


"When its fruits are so exquisite, I'm sure we'll manage somehow. Worst comes to worst, we can always mortgage London. I'm sure the Fuggers would give us a decent rate."


An Hugenot with English cousins? In her place, Charles would probably have sought refuge with family as well. The name Basildon was vaguely familiar as well. Had Wodehouse mentioned the name in his list of notables? This was a useful acquaintance to have made, if so. A sharp one, too, to have guessed at his background.


"You have gauged me correctly, mademoiselle. I am but late returned from Paris, as it happens. Before that, the colonies, Spain, Savoy, Italy, Austria, Constantinople..." He smiled. "I had quite the wanderlust in my youth, you see."

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Davina, Douglas with Susan departing (temp) and Sophia Joining


Susan took a hasty departure which gave her a few seconds to smile up at Douglas


"I hope you do not think I was abandoning You for I was not. Tis just that Our Mistress has set us a task by way of putting all of us aganist the other to see how many Gentlemen can be rounded up and given a promise of sending the money thus gaining the 'Prestige' of lighting a candle."


"Lady Susan is new to Court still so I was merely giving her the oportunity to use her Talents on You. That is what I whispered in her ear."


Anything further would have to wait as Lady Toledo joined them


"You have heard right Madam yet I am not sure if that may be done. The Queen expressely said we are to seek out "Gentlemen" in the endeavor as both Lady Susan and Myself were telling Lord Dundarg. Is the Ambassador here with You? "


She asked casting a quick look about the immediate area


"Are You?"


One brow rose a bit at this revelation from the other. One had to wonder if this was being arranged by her Husband to ensure that his Wife had no troubles ingraitining herself into Court Society after the Opera Performance. As the unwed Sophia she had had not one but two Guardians to watch over her yet still managed to cause gossip. And Davina had thought her unwed actions might have been cooled yet she could now see they had not.


"Her Majesty is careful in what she lends Her Name to Lady Toledo yet tis an admirable thing you attempt and with the Lady Alyth as Guide what could go wrong?"


She ment it naturally but if the two had been alone she might have cautioned her about becoming to involved with Lady Alyth or being seen to often in her Company. The Queen was not prone to favor those who had populated her Husband's bed - even less so to those that bore a child.


"I shall have to seek out Lady Blount and ask if what you request is permissible - but I pray you to not think tis a done thing - and even if tis allowed The Ambassador must light the candle as must any of the other Gentlemen that pledge the five hundred pound to the Queen's Charity."


"The lighting of that candle is Symbolic after all and as this is so Public all here will take the meaning and I fear me will no doubt clamour for twenty more candles! If you will pardon me I shall go to Lady Blount and then return ......"


She excused herself and went to where that Lady stood and with a curtsey whispered in her ear the question at hand with a nod towards the two she had just left.**


**(ooc: pm me please the correct answer Lady Blount)

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Maldon, Somerset, and Turnbull


Turnbull quite suddenly passed on his turn rather than making a battle scene, earning an annoyed, “Oh fie, that’s n-n-no fun.” John had been enjoying himself despite the complexity. Besides, it wasn’t as if the story had been consistent from the start. He turned to Lucy with a smile, “He’s just sour because he lost his true love in… C-c-constantinople.”


John had been thrown out of his rhythm, “How about we suh-save this for the Red Lion then?” He said, “Maybe you c-c-could find a way to get some of that pide?” John was personally hoping it was some sort of candy. And to Lucy, “And you c-c-can… think up some stories of your own.” Surely given some time she could come up with something.

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Davina, Douglas, Susan and Sophia


Douglas listened as Susan explained what was to happen during church; it sounded basic enough. “Elegantly simple an’ un’erstated.” He observed. “Like her Majesty.” He added with a grin. “Weel, ye hae my promise.”* He assured her with a warm smile.


His question had been meant to express interest, but he was rather surprised when Susan suddenly dashed off to find an answer; a simple ‘I don’t know’ would have sufficed. Had it been accompanied by the promise to find out and tell him later, so much the better. Ah, but she was young and no doubt concerned with the importance of her duties. It was sweet in a way. He turned his attention more fully to Davina and Sophia whilst he waited for Susan to come back.


He was a little surprised when Davina revealed quietly that the Queen had set her ladies competing against each other to see whom could attract the most donations. Still, it showed a certain craft, for no doubt the ladies would now vie with enthusiasm amongst each other. It was another little fact about The Queen.


So Sophia wished to buy a candle, and was interested in other charities? “Ah, Cat is mos’ fond o’ her work at th’Chelsea Hospital.” Douglas noted as Sophia commented that she would be going there on Tuesday with his sister. “As is Lairdy O’Roarke. Tis quite the popular charity.” Although interestingly it was fashionable amongst the Libertine set, but then Douglas knew that Sophia was naturally of that leaning anyway.


But there was a sticking point to Sophia’s request. It was to be men buying the candle and lighting them, and wasn’t her husband a Catholic, being Spanish? Davina also departed to find out, and suddenly he was left in Sophia’s company again. “Yer’ll fergi’ my suspicious mind, but I imagine Her Majesty weel insist that Laird Toledo needs tae attend this mass.” He said quietly, knowing that the man would be most unlikely to attend an Anglican mass. “Kin I suggest that the Duke o’ York micht be a more logical Royal fer a Catholic man tae ingratiate hissel’ wi?”


His voice was little more than a murmur, and the Scot raised his dark brows. He could commiserate, sometimes it was hard to find a way to make an impact at court. In his case both the King and York were civil but distant, the Queen wouldn’t give him the time of day and though he got on well with Rupert he hardly saw him. The idea that Douglas should know his place and never aspire to such high company did not, of course, occur to him.



* “Elegantly simple and understated. Like Her Majesty. Well, you have my promise.”

** “Ah, Cat is most fond of her work at the Chelsea Hospital. As is Lady O’Roarke. It’s quite the popular charity.”

*** “You’ll forgive my suspicious mind, but I imagine Her Majesty will insist that Lord Toledo needs to attend this mass. Can I suggest that the Duke of York might be a more logical Royal for a Catholic man to ingratiate himself with?”

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Whitehurst, Whitehurst & Co


Charles' pause was just within earshot of his brothers bravado. Bradley gave him a wink in recognition that he did not just 'sail in and steal the girl'.


"Yes three."


"Ah. I am sorry, I did not get your name. I..." she turned and looked apart. Dorothea Charlotte had not expected to be so successful, so quickly, if everyone was purchasing in quantities, all the candles might be gone? Turning back she smiled, "This is very generous. Fifteen hundred pounds, this will make happiness for many people."


"Heh." Bradley blanched, "err... my name is Bradley Whitehurst. Ahh... how how much did you say?" the colour then rising to his cheeks, his voice lowered and he hissed "Why would anyone need that much money? Are they burning it!" Frankly the lad was a bit upset and feeling duped.

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Aylesford & Basildon


"Basildon." It was the genial tones of Heneage the younger who approached, and smiled to his cousin by marriage. "Busy night last night wasnt it."


While he did not have his pretty with him today, Hen walked a little taller with her effect upon him lingering. He was a far more happy man than when last they had spoken, when Heneage had floundered despite the wealth of love-advice he'd been given. Today the dark haired gent was smile, bursting at his seams, not just of his excess of girth, but excess of happiness.


And there was just one thing he wanted to talk about.


"Why I was so occupied at the ball I did not even get the chance to talk to you." Go on, ask me who I was with?! Better yet, he hoped that Louis has spotted him, even dancing, with Mistress Devine.

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Maldon, Somerset, and Turnbull


"I dont think Church is the place for descriptions of bloodshed." Turnbull explained to Maldons peeve. Though it was more than that, Ambrose had risked life and limb in real battles unheralded.


But perhaps the error was here that Ambrose had not realised that the Lady knew this was not true.


Meanwhile Maldon came up with a new one - that he'd lost his heart abroad. A strange sensation came over the Lifeguard at that, claim, or was it an accusation. He felt very uncomfortable, and said naught.


"Yes perhaps." but the tale was deferred to Lunch time which had been the original pretense upon which Ambrose had invited the Earl to lunch. "You are welcome to join us Your Grace." it would be rude not to invited her now that Maldon had talked about it - though it would change it from a bite to eat with the lads, to needing to put on airs and graces with ladies present. Ambrose hoped she already had plans.


"Stories, now what do you mean?" He pulled a face to Maldon. As he did think that Lucy knew it was a tall tale, he wondered why Maldon was letting the cat out of the bag?

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Charles and Nicolette


"I can see," She teased, feeling an affinity Nicolette leaned forwards to whisper, "your pasion is showing, you forgot to tuck it in." It was also an excuse to look at him a little more closely as she reached to his pocket and tucked an imaginary 'oversight' in. "There, it is our secret."


Lord Chatham had that causal aloofness, intensity too, things that she found attractive and pleasant to be near.


"It is a reckless thing to make enemies just because you can." Nicolette replied, still in french. "Some ways are better left in Versailles. The children of London have their own precious charm, that is not without it's own cunning. But yes, in a weeks time we shall see if anyone is remembered beyond the brief flare of a wick."


"But then, any show can have it's scene stolen..." she rose her eyebrow, in silent suggestion.


And now he was langor and nonchalance again, leaning back in the pew, and speaking on of the way to make a name for himself in charity, if he wished. It was a long and diabolical plan that likely could work. But. "La, I am bored already!" she sighed theatrically, "Thank heavens you are averse to a dreary course. What a life of tedium and duty. And all to be known as a man who gives his money away. I can think of far better, and fun things you can... mmm... invest in." she grinned and leaned back in the pew alongside him. Me for instance.


"So... what do you want to become known for? Your wit, your cunning, or perhaps your diabolical plans?" asked she, perhaps teasing again.


Meanwhile he flattered her on cue, which irked her somewhat for the cursoriness, so she focussed on his suggestion of mortgaging London. "Or perhaps retuning some gifts for credit, Lady Keroualle is surplus to needs..." she snickered then looked to the Earl again. There was a chance he'd object to Louise being spoken of thus? Or there was also a chance that... "Unless, you?" Dont dare say you have a purpose for her!


'In my youth.' Upon visual estimate he was similiar age to herself, though life had not treated him so kindly, she still gauged him as being within his third decade. He was only using the phrase for the sage sound it gave him, it was a self-mocking arrogance, that made her grin. "I knew it. You have the voice of a man who has seen many things, you have the words of a man who knows how to temper his thoughts to fall softly upon new ears. "

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Davina Returning


She, having already a clear idea, had gone to Lady Blount anyway and quietly interrupted that Lady to whisper the question then added an embellishment which was that the Ambassador was hardly likely to be present this morning .....


Now she made her way back and took note that Charles and joined his brother and another of the Queen's ladies in conversation. She hoped he had not 'pledged' for he was well enough known and besides he was but an Earl and so five hundred pound was a sum not easily available or so she surmised.


And in all truth it was unlikely that the money would be called for right away!


"Lady Toledo I have the reply from Lady Blount - if you will hear it?"


There was to be disappointment yet she knew that Sophia was not well versed enough in English Laws and so more like than not had no idea.

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Charles and Nicolette


Charles smiled at her teasing, enjoying her easy casualness. Not the sort of thing one expected of the French, especially on short acquaintance.


"Damnation. I shall have to have words with my manservant, letting me leave in such a dishevelled state. What if the Queen had seen?"


It was an easy thing to converse with Nicolette. Too easy, perhaps, for Charles found himself speculating aloud on potential mischief in a manner he normally reserved for John. Her reaction was interesting, though. Had she been burned in the fires of Versailles? An intriguing possibility.


"Oh, I wasn't suggesting that we tear them down. No, that would be cruel as well as reckless. This will be probably be the highlight of the poor dears' court careers. I was merely observing that the potential for such exists, out of a sense of... academic rigour, let us say."


Perhaps not the most convincing denial he had ever spouted, but then it was not meant to be. It was merely a means of gracefully acquiescing to her unspoken request without either drawing attention to it or acknowledging any fault on his part.


Her next comment drew a long, considering look from him.


"Hmm. And how would you go about stealing the show?" He waggled his eyebrows. "I ask purely from intellectual curiosity, you understand."


Their plotting continued, as Charles expounded on how he would cast himself as a great patron of charity, a plan so unutterably boring he could feel his soul rebel at the thought, though that might have just been the vestiges of his migraine. He was not alone in his thoughts, Nicolette suggesting that there were far better things to do with his time and money. He smiled lazily, effortless languor being the order of the day. (Not least because he was probably incapable of being more demonstrative at the moment.)


"Oh doubtless there are. But come, share with me the fruits of your wisdom. What would you advise?" He gave a one shouldered shrug and spoke on, voice becoming wry. "As to your question, obviously my ravishing good looks." He laughed. "More seriously, I would like to be known for my wit and general good humour." He leaned in to whisper. "People always underestimate the jester, you see."


The topic moved to the generosity of French kings, the costs thereof and prospective methods of meeting the aforementioned costs. Charles proposed mortgaging London, while Nicolette suggested returning some of the gifts, starting with the Duchess of Portsmouth. His instinctive reaction, which he barely repressed, was to quip that it would be damnably rude to return a gift that had seen so much use. That would have been crass, however, and Nicolette's continuation would have cut him off anyway. The question was a compliment in its way, he supposed, even as an eyebrow shot up in unfeigned surprise.


"Portsmouth? I've never met the woman. Not much of a conversationalist from what I've heard, which strikes me as very unFrench." He nodded. "Yes, I'm sure that court will struggle on without her. A better idea than mine, I think. Mortgaging London is probably beneath the royal dignity."


And then they began to discuss Charles himself (and at this rate they would end up talking about the effects of the Marian reforms on politics in late-Republican Rome before long.) He couldn't help but laugh ruefully at Nicolette's description.


"Many things have been said of me, mademoiselle, but never has anyone suggested that I temper my thoughts. A great many would die laughing at the suggestion. Life has always seemed to me too short to try to be all things to all men." He shook his head.


"But yes, I have seen many things. My upbringing has left me with a deep appreciation for beauty and the exotic and interesting, along with the drive to seek them out."


That was about as subtle as Charles's compliments got, and he accompanied it with a frank look and a smile to ensure it was picked up on.

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Whitehurst, Whitehurst & Co


The elder brother kept a respectable distance but close enough to eavesdrop on Bradley. One needed to assess the social skills of one's siblings while not standing next to them.


He seemed to be discussing purchasing candles from the lady. Perhaps the idea was to sell some scented candles for charity and raise a few shillings for the poor. Three seemed to be a modest number.


Imagine the Earl's surprise when he thought he heard some mention of 1500 pounds. Blazing cannons! He could not make out what Bradley was saying thereafter, being too far away to hear quiet words.


All intentions to stay away from Bradley, so as to give him room to operate, flew out the window at that moment. Charles moved in to stand beside his brother. "Good morning and a happy Sunday to you," he announced cheerfully, looking for an introduction. "You have met my brother, who has a grand sense of humor." If the lady was serious, it would be Langdon's job to convince her that his brother was anything but serious.

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Maldon, Somerset, and Turnbull


Lord Maldon seemed as disappointed as Lucy that Lieutenant Turnbull didn't describe the mythical battle, and he added a new facet to the story … that Ambrose had his heart broken in Constantinople. The young Duchess loved tales of romance, and hoped he would elaborate. But it seemed that both gentlemen were tired of the ruse, and she rather doubted that they planned to discuss the story at the Red Lion. They would probably forget all about it.


She was surprised that they asked her to join them and make up some stories of their own. Lucy had lots of ideas running around in her head and she had thought many times of writing them down and showing them to her sister-in-law. She didn't think that she would ever be as brilliant a writer as Lisa, but she would never know unless she tried.


“I'm afraid I won't be able to join you,” Lucy said. She knew that her husband would not allow her to gallivant with single gentlemen in an inn. Nor would her brother approve. “You've piqued my interest, though, and I would like to hear the rest of the story at a later time. I do have one question for you.” She looked from one gentleman to the other. “Did you ever retrieve the stolen altar candles?”

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