Jump to content


Your Stories Await Telling

Pond Ponderings | early afternoon, 27th December- Xmas 1677

James Winchester

Recommended Posts

Duck Pond


A little deeper into St. James' Park was a quiet stretch of water, surrounded by trees with small patches of grass between them. Reeds blew softly in the wind. In spring a great dart of little tadpoles would hide in the muddy low waters,to give rise to great orchestra's of frogs filling the evening air in summer. A great collection of ducks, both local and foreign, had made this their home. There was the occasional visit of wild geese which made it a good haunting place in autumn.


This was one of the favourite haunts of the King during his morningwalks, especially since the other courtiers did not seem to frequent it so much as it was a little out of the way and difficult to reach by coach. It was a blissfully quiet place.


It was a quiet place, ideal for contemplation and requiring a reasonable walk to get to it. James had become accustomed to walking long distances through the forest of their estate in Wales, enjoying the quietitude of the deep forest, the meditative nature of nature. The Duck Pond wasn't quite the same, but given the circumstances the long walk and quiet location were one of the better options.


There weren't even any ducks to throw bread to, having all flown south for the winter. James leaned on the railing and regarded the still, frosty pond. He'd once caught Heather swimming in it. He and Gwen had fed the ducks, no here but at the stream that ran through the Greys Inn Fields in Chelsea. He and Heather used to have breakfast at the Inn once a week. He wondered how both women were faring. He'd proposed to Heather once, and considered proposing to Gwen. Both had become mistresses to powerful men. Not that he would change his beloved Noni for anyone, but at times he missed his friends. More innocent days.


He missed other friends too, he'd been disappointed to learn that Lord Chichester wasn't at court his season; George was one of James's closes friends and have given him and Noni their land in Chelsea as a wedding present. He'd seemed a bit more distance since his sister married, and had now failed to attend London. He could only hope his friend, indeed all his absent friends, were alright.


His family was, and for that he was grateful. Noni had positively bloomed since their wedding, and clearly doted on their daughter Marie Rachelle, now eight months old. Hopefully they would have the joy of seeing her grow to adulthood, and one day have a wedding of her own. It was perhaps time to pay more attention to getting a son. Noni was well recovered from their daughter's birth, and it would be good to have the next Baron Wentwood in the world.


In the meantime he would do everything he could for his little family. Yesterday he'd sent a letter to Baptiste May, hoping to meet with the man with a view to making Noni and Rachelle's future a little more secure. He couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to them, so on the outward risk that something might happen to them, he would ensure that there would be the least impact on them.


Still, he really had everything to be thankful for. His own little family, their comfortable house in Chelsea, their lovely estate in Wales, his comfortable additional income and his service to the Queen. Truly, the more he came to know Karoline the more he admired her. For all that he loved his wife, Noni would have been a far worse choice. Karoline was eminently sensible and compassionate, and he was proud to serve her.


Always he had things to do, and always he strove to make things a little better for those he served, but really life was pretty perfect. James smiled faintly to himself as he watched the snowflakes fall, huddled in his coat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

The day found another in a pensive mood, a certain Lifeguard struggling to find a way to fit in to this new life. Ambrose had chosen to take a walk after visiting Ellen, he had time on his hands and, things to digest. Personal misgivings. Sociable by nature, but discovering his society outcast at every quarter. Ambrose discovered himself to be a type that people in London did not like.


What were his options? He had work still, he might simply put his head down and attend with diligence, make some new goal, perhaps aspire to become a Major one day. At that thought Ambrose discovered his heart was still with the navy, if career was all his life was, then it would be to Captain he aspired. Yet what of his family? Gah, what of them indeed. There was no satisfaction to be found from that quarter, the plainest fact of the matter was that he might as well have stayed at sea.


Cutting through the park he was pleased, in a way, to see a figure he recognised.


He did not know so many in London, though most he had met, might not want to talk to him a second time. So it was that the Lieutenant was not sure if he ought say hello or not, if he ought take the path that led the opposite side round the pond rather than pass by the at ease gentlemen?


He'd met Winchester at the Red Lion, and he now racked his brain trying to remember if he'd said anything that had offended the man. Would he be welcomed, or not? He did recall being called away upon a duty... perhaps that had been his saving grace.


So Ambrose chose the path that passed by James, and when he got close enough touched his hat to greet. "Sir James, top of the day to you." his step paused discreetly, that it be Winchesters choice whether to delay passage or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Somewhat surprised by a voice in the snowy park, and a vaguely familiar one at that, James turned to see the figure of the Life Guard he’d ended up having lunch with at the Red Lion. Quite the fortuitous little error there, though alas the man had been called away before he’d really had a chance to know him.


“Lieutenant Turnbull, and a good day to you.” James nodded politely to the other man. “I trust you’re well, and it was no dire emergency that stole you from us the other day?” He asked, always concerned for Their Majesty’s welfare, which was the Life Guards’ purview. Given the political situation, God only knew what might come of England should something happen to His Majesty.


The little doctor cast about for something to say. He hadn’t really got a grasp on the other man’s interests yet, though he recalled the interest in Astronomy. “A pleasant place for a peaceful perambulation.” He quipped, indicating the snowy sward, the trees and the pond, like a painting. He recalled that the Lieutenant was relatively new to London. Or newly returned, he couldn’t recall. “How are you settling in?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Gah, a flim flam with the rosters, a miscommunication really." Ambrose shrugged, yet relaxed some as his past company seemed amenable to chat. Settling in front of James Ambrose stood square shouldered with an easy smile, "I rued that I had to abandon my plate and company both, but pleased at least that you were left with company. As fine as Mrs Golightlys fare is, an empty chair opposite does little for the digestion."


"That it is." Ambrose seemed to be in no hurry to carry on his own walk, "although perambulation is not the parks only pleasure." he referred to James viewpoint of the vista, having come upon him quietly surveying the scene. Ambrose looked across the scene also, and noticed it was quite pretty really, though he'd claim a view of the sea beat it hands down.


"Your lady wife is shopping still?" There was faint tease with Ambrose question. When they had first met, James had been occupying himself while his lady wife emptied his purse.


"Yes thank you." He replied. The truth was far from that, but the politeness of the conversational question was never intended to prompt a spewing forth of woes. "The Barracks are full of cheer." he made as an innocuous comment, "and I am kept busy enough at my duties." Still, his expression was distant.


"Ah, but I fully appreciate the seeking of solutitute, of which I have so rudely interrupted." one foot stepped back, precursor to a bow of departure if was James wish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“And we were sorry to have lost you.” James assured the other man. “Perhaps we should try again at some point, and hope for no further roster upsets.” He suggested, making light of the situation. These things happened, it was hardly Turnbull’s fault, and his devotion to his duty did him credit.


Turnbull’s comment drew James’s attention to the quiet, snowy scene again. “Indeed it is; a pleasant place for a little quiet contemplation.” He said. “I got into the habit of waking a daily walk and pause to think whilst in Wales, I find it aids the constitution.” He added by way of explanation. The other man’s quip drew laughter from the little doctor. “No, not today, or not that she’s told me.” He amended, though in truth he knew that Noni was entirely unlikely to do things on the sly. “Setting the house to rights, I think. Such as women do.” Their house in Chelsea was her palace.


Nodding as Turnbull assured James that he was settling in well, the little man offered a polite smile. “I’m glad to hear it. London can be a lonely place for those new to it. A connection somewhere helps, and His Majesty’s finest are of course excellent men.” Sometimes a little too bawdy or robust in their humour for James, but he held a suspicion that they might suit Ambrose far better, and good for him if that was so. They all had their little niche.


Ambrose politely offered to leave him to his thoughts, but James held up a hand to stay him. “Actually, I was just about to head back. Would you care to join me for a walk? We can take the scenic route.” He suggested. He was still trying to get a handle on Ambrose, who seemed a man of strong if disparate parts. Still, the other man had expressed academic interests. “Will you be attending the meeting at Gresham College tomorrow evening?” He asked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"You are welcome to join me for lunch there any given day, it is my noon haunt, I dare say if I ever move out of the Barracks it shall be to take up residence in Mrs Golightly dining hall permanently." Ambrose humor peeked through again, and he managed to do it without expletives and/or blasphemy.


"His Majesty is also proponent of the morning constitutional." the Lieutenant appended, like a stamp of approval upon James habit.


"So you find yourself at your leisure." With his wife home doing what women did, James seemed to be upon the free and easy, in that quiet way that he owned.


"You have such connections I dare say." He must do, to have married a Princess. And yet here he was stood quietly alone. Of that the Lieutenant mused, "I suppose in that instance, being alone becomes a private indulgence. A treat even. Ever the grass is greener on the other side."


It seemed improbable to Ambrose that he'd ever come to yearn for a moment of peace, when all he currently craved was some purpose, some action.


"I would enjoy the company." he said, a tight lipped smile given as he turned and clasped hands behind his back. "Ah yes, I saw the notice. I wonder what it is about, perhaps another fundraiser do you think. I was surprised of the Queens initiative at church the other morning, it did not seem very english did it." Any number of nobles had been offended by it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Get thee behind me, oh tempter of weak men’s stomachs.” James murmured, amused, as Ambrose invited him to lunch at the Red Lion any day he cared to mention. “I’m terribly partial to Mrs Golightly’s cooking, but I fear if I indulge too often I shan’t fit into my new breeches by the closing ball. I haven’t the active lifestyle you fellows do!” The whole thing seemed to amuse him greatly. “But I daresay I could manage the occasional temptation.”


The two of them ambled amiably through the wintery park, joined by an appreciation of walking and good food. “Yes, a daily perambulation is terribly beneficial for the constitution, particularly if you don’t have much other reason to get out in the fresh air.” He mused. Again, he didn’t imagine that Ambrose had much trouble in that department, soldiers were active sorts. “I got into the habit in Wales; Wentwood Forest is terribly pretty, and I took to having a daily amble therein. It’s become habit now.” And a beneficial one to his mind.


Did James have such connections? He supposed that he did. “I didn’t when I first came to court, nigh on two years ago now. Almost to the day, in fact.” He mused, though it had been Windsor that he had first come to. He chuckled at Ambrose’s observation. “Ah yes, a great truth that, I think. We all glorify what we do not have.” Although James didn’t think that he was as guilty of that sin as many. “But then surely your regiment gives you natural compatriots?” He suggested. Certainly the lads in red never seemed to go anywhere alone.


Another fundraiser? “I do hope not.” James admitted. “Though anything is possible.” He allowed. “It’s been some time since there was much of a gathering at the Royal Society; I imagine it’s time to try to get all the cats in one sack again.” He added dryly; there was likely to be the usual fighting, especially if Newton and Hooke were in the room together. “Do come along, I’ll introduce you to Newton if he’s there, and Flamsteed, and we’ll see about that tour of the Observatory.”


The question of the Queen’s money-gathering at Church was an interesting one, and James had oddly mixed feelings about it. “Not very English, no, but you have to admit that it was effective.” He observed. She’d certainly made her money. “And one supposes that the day belongs to those who seize it. Still, it would have been nice if she’d warned her Minister for Charity.” He added blandly, but he couldn’t really fault her cleverness.


“She has the German forthrightness, I think.” James had of course been amongst those who had donated. “And a great concern for her people. The money is going towards a public infirmary first.” He revealed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Then I shall look out for you." Ambrose replied smiling of the loosely arranged 'sometime lunch' date.


"So Wentwoood is in Wales, I'd not have guess, the name rather too pronounceable to us English. It is a bastardisation of the local name? Or perhaps holds some other history to go with it?" he asked, it being a fair enough subject. While of no dire importance, might proved a fair topic for his recently met associate.


"An eventful two years I'd wager." the Lieutenant said. Where would he be in two years time? It seemed unlikely he'd be married and with a new title and lands, but perhaps it was possible. "Ah yes, there is plenty of company amongst the men, yet you would know that company and friends are different things. And I am the 'new man' and unproven in my new role, those beneath me are wary, and those above, pending judgement is the unified sentiment there. And I fear I am not the best at making good first impressions." he gave a shrug and smiled again. What was done was done, there was no redoing now.


"Did you say tomorrow night? I would love to attend, to meet Newton would be a fine thing indeed. Though I hope it is not tomorrow, I have a dinner invitation tomorrow." His robust friend Mistress Ellen had invited him to dine with them tonight actually, but he was to meet one of his betters that evening. He did not want to cancel on her a second time, even though she was not his sweetheart or anything like that, he did not want to disappoint her. Lord knew he'd done that numerous times enough already. Really, her resilience was part of what he admired about her. Not that he'd tell her he admired her of course. "Or... what time is the meet?"


Upon the topic of the Queens hawking off candles at church, James replied conservatively. "I'd not heard of any purchased actually, so it was a success then?" He'd only heard men being affronted of the topic, and put in embarrassing situations as the various ladies pushiness. "So who is her Minister of Charity then?"


"Hmm." the lieutenant said naught upon German forthrightness.


He'd been abroad when the King chose his new bride, he had not seen she was the best of a bad bunch. He still had fond memories of Queen Catherine, who'd been an elegant and gentle soul, demure and considerate, the sort of woman that sat well on a mental pedestal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

"A translation of the local name, which is Coed Gwent." James explained amiably. "It's in the south, and quite close to the border, so most everyone speaks English; something of a relief as I'm sure you'll appreciate." Though he supposed he should try to learn some Welsh. A pity that Gwen was not about court at the moment, he might have asked her for some lessons.


A faint smile pulled at Jame's moustache. "Most eventful, yes." He agreed evenly. "In ways that I completely failed to anticipate, nor frankly would ever have dreamed possible." Which was completely honest. He'd come to make a place as a gentleman physician, and look what had happened. Grey eyes regarded the other made side-long as he bemoaned a lack of true friends amongst the Life Guards. "If I were to offer advice, I would say 'be kind, friendly, and true to your principles'." The little man gave a shrug. "It's worked for me." But that's who James was. Who Ambrose was he didn't yet know; did the man himself know?


"Ah, do enjoy your dinner invitation then; one would not wish to offend. I don't doubt there'll be busyness about the College through the season. Let me see what I can find out." Perhaps there'd be some other event he could drag Ambrose along to.


Ambrose hadn't heard the Candle Auction was a success? Then he wasn't at Church. That could only mean he was a Catholic, for surely no Life Guard would risk the reputation of a Godless man? Interesting. His reply to Ambrose's query about the identity of the beleaguered Minister for Charity was demure and self-deprecating. "I am." He said with a chuckle. "And Her Majesty has handed my a nice little logistical headache, since the sale was a resounding success. But it is for Royalty to make the grand designs and the rest of us to facilitate." Which he would do to the best of his ability.


"You have the look of a man of experience; where did you serve prior to donning the scarlet?" James asked, mildly curious. He didn't know much about the military but he thought he could pick the experienced soldiers from the noble sons, and Ambrose was surely of an age with himself. He'd have to have been doing something with his life before now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Ha, now that is more like it, there is no way I'd get my tongue around saying that!" Ambrose laughed with hearing the original Welsh name.


He gave a nod to the others advice. James blue eyes taking in an accurate reading of the sailor that did not really know who he was. He was trying, or was that had tried. Was not really trying so much any more.


Ambrose had been at church, sitting with the merry gang, perhaps he was simply the oblivious sort to not have learnt the outcome of the queens Ladies petitions. He himself had not been approached, but perhaps they knew he's have nothing to spend?


"Ah, good good." he replied as James confirmed it had been a success, "I dare say it shall be spent wisely."


"I joined the navy as a gentleman volunteer just before the 2nd Dutch war, where i served under Cumberland. Was aboard The Valiant during the Four day Battle, then after the Saint James Day battle came back to London during the fleets rebuilding. I was then posted aboard the then-new third rate ship HMS Royal Oak, on which one of the great guns the Ruperinoe was positioned. We were allied with the French at the time, going into the Battle of Schooneveld...


"Ack, but I am no doubt boring you. Suffice to say I have served extensively under Cumberlands command, and feel honoured to have done so. It was a favour begged of His Grace that I gained this position in the Lifeguard now." in a quieter voice he explained, "While my family manages some personal matters, I wished to be close at hand."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

If Ambrose had been sitting with the Merry Gang it was perhaps unsurprising that he'd missed the announcement of the twelve donors as each had come up to light their candles, James amongst them. Then again, he hadn't spotted the other man amongst the crowds either, but as church broke up his attention had been claimed by the elder Cavendish.


Ambrose's comment about the money being spent wisely might have been a throw-away line, but James nodded seriously. "I believe so." He replied. "Her Majesty has a great care for the welfare of her subjects. The first project is to be a Royal Infirmary, to care for their health." He revealed. "Which makes economic sense as well, given that the ill cannot work, and may leave their families destitute." He added, since Turnbull seemed a very practical man. The doctor didn't down there'd be those who would ridicule the idea if they deemed it purely charitable, though he didn't know whether Ambrose was amongst them.


Despite his minimal military knowledge, James listened with interest to Ambrose's reply. "Ah, the Rupertinoes!" He recognised at lease something that Ambrose mentioned. "Quite astounding. We saw some demonstrated at Brighton. Tell me, are they as revolutionary as they promise, on the high seas?" He asked, curious.


"Not at all old chap, I did ask. I'm afraid I can't talk intelligently on the finer points of war, but Prince Rupert's genious in the field is without doubt. That's quite the privilege to have served with him." The last comment brought a faint moue of concern. "I trust your family are well." He replied solicitously. "I fear my own father is aging, and my baby sister yet unwed." Eleanore had been a surprise, a full ten years younger than James, but it was high time she was matched. He needed to write home and see what his elder brother David was doing about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually it had been a throwaway comment, but as James replied in full, Ambrose interest was gained. "A Royal Infirmary, will that be near the Chelsea Hospital perhaps?" as a solder he'd heard of the Soldiers hospice. "That's nice to hear that the Young Queen has such a big heart. I've not seen her myself yet, but had heard she's young, and very German." Which was saying he'd not really heard anything about her at all!


James animation of the Ruperinoe’s brought the ex-mariner to smile. "They are impressive things, though like most things that are new, takes some getting use to. But the Duke is a man with great vision, I am sure that they will be the making of the Navy."


A man never complained to a man outside of the profession about the niggles voiced within it. If he'd been talking to another within the navy, he'd have cited the well held view that it would be better to build more ships than to sink so much money into a weapon that was so heavy and cumbersome!


And so conversation progressed. Ambrose with his admission, provoking James into his own. "Family concerns are the hardest, they are nearer to the heart, more difficult to bear." he replied in a quieter voice. "My own father passed earlier this year, and my brother, the new Baron, is having difficulty with the transition. I pray that your own is more prepared come the day, god forbid it be soon."


Which gave the man pause to remember his father, though he'd been absent so much the past decade and more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

James chuckled as Ambrose described the Queen as 'very young and very German'. "She is that, and she can help neither." He replied amiably. "She is quite serious, and proper, which delights and appalls those you'd respectively expect." If James had a fault it was his honesty. "I find her wise beyond her years, and I think that she shall be very good for the country, both in her charitable nature and in her balancing His Majesty's humours." Charles Rex of course had a reputation for being anything but serious and proper, though James sometimes wondered how much was a front; their King was an intelligent and complex man with many layers.


Ambrose confirmed James's view of Prince Rupert as a martial master and, having little further to add on the subject, the doctor turned to the subject of family. "You have my sympathies, old chap; family tragedies are so very hard on the heart." He said quietly. "I'm glad that your brother has you by his side, even as I hope to support David when the time comes. And may it be a long time in coming." The loss of their father would be hard on their family.


At least David should be prepared. He was older and always the heir, a military Captain but it was always understood that such was simply biding time, and he'd been trained to manage the Moulsford estate. James was sure that David would be alright. As the pair turned a corner in the path, the Park gates came into sight. "If I can help at all Lieutenant, do let me know." He said, always seeking to help others. "I've enjoyed your company on the walk, I do hope that our path shall cross again soon."


The little man held out a hand to shake, with a smile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was a rare insight, to hear this honest appraisal of one so highly placed in society from someone who knew the woman as she was without her courtly masks. "It sounds as though His Majesty chose wisely." Ambrose quietly considered. Though he supposed the King had many persons giving him advice, in the end it was he who made the final choice.


"Thank you. When the time comes, there is naught to do but try adjust." his eyes were distant a moment, frankly he wished he'd known his father more, he's spent so many years away on the sea and about his career. Then he gave a smile and shrugged the moment off.


"I dare say everything shall be fine, given a little time." It was only then that he came to recall that Sir James was also a Doctor. Was his brothers condition something he could help with? Yet it was such a troubling subject he was reluctant to bring it up once more... especially as the gates were coming into view and the man making his farewell.


"It has been a pleasure." he grasped the others hand with a firm handshake, pausing for a moment, and then giving a nod. "I'll see you about." Perhaps he’d get to talk to James about it again at the Ball. Or, no maybe not the ball. Perhaps after that, over the weekend.



~ Fin!

OOC: &Thanks for getting to finish our thread!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

James nodded as Ambrose commented on His Majesty’s choice. “I believe that he did.” He said simply. Given that the other forerunners had been the over-dramatic French woman and his own darling Noni – whom whilst he adored her, he knew she would not be suitable as a Queen – James absolutely believed that Karoline was the only sensible choice he could have made.


As for the family situation, Turnbull assured him that things would come to rights, eventually. “I do hope so, old chap. Time is the great healer.” He observed. It was no easy situation, however inevitable, and depending on the state of the family might cause more or less disruption. It sounded as though unfortunately Turnbull’s family faced more rather than less.


As they reached the gates the two shook hands warmly before going their separate ways. James hoped that he would run across the man again; the Lieutenant seemed like a decent sort, if a little brusque in the way that military men were. A good egg.


OOC: Fin and thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...