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Early to the Lords Door - 28th December 6am- Xmas 1677


Hope

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Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach had eyes so wide as she rushed.

 

A dutiful and pious girl, she continued her custom of arising early and preparing for attendance at the morning service, the first of five services she would attended. But things were different here at Whitehall, quite different indeed. Here she did not have the company of aunts and cousins along the way. Here, the rest of the queens chambers (barring servants) were still sleeping.

 

But that would not deter the girl from piety.

 

She begun her walk to chapel uneventfully enough, sleepy eyed palace wards nodded as she passed. Nothing had been out of the usual at all...

 

 

Yet five minutes later the lass was rushing, fearfully looking behind, a-feared for her very life!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Lord Kingston was one of few whose life still revolved around nautical times simply it was what his body had become accustomed to after over a decade at sea. He almost always stirred just before nautical twilight which was why he oft was sparring in the early morning with Tommy. However, in such disappointing weather, any hint of a bright day gave him a sense of responsibility.

 

He had dressed in warmer velvets and skipped the expensive brocade, for his purpose was to be ready to accompany His Majesty for his frequent morning walks; being that he was one of few gentlemen of the bedchamber tall enough (and young enough) to keep pace he oft put himself up for the duty. After much snow and coldness this promised to be a finer day, so he found himself walking through the halls of Whitehall.

 

It was so quiet at this time Francis easily heard the rushing of footsteps coming toward him.

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A certain level of panic had developed in the girls mind, and she paid no heed to the relaying of that fright via her footsteps that beat out their signal so plainly. Dorothea nearly skidded around the corner, and oh the relief in her eye as she saw a nobleman courtier! Relief that was quickly schooled into a neutral expression.

 

Still, she did not linger at that corner, but moved decidedly fowards, "Good Morning milord." in a germanic accent she addressed Francis , while trying not to pant. This young lady, though likely enough only in her mid-teens, had a finely tuned sense of propriety. A quick look behind her, to check her pursuer did not dare keep up his chase*.

 

"Ah..." she did not want to be without her unknowing protector quite yet, and wondered how to stall him there in the hall?

 

 

 

* OOC: Francis keen ears no doubt could hear a further set of fast feet approached.

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Francis was soon rewarded with a short, quick stride sounding nearer until a young girl appeared from around the corner.

 

"Good morning, my lady," he replied, unsure if she was one or not, but after hearing the German accent he figured it was safer to be over-polite in case she was connected to the Queen or Duke of Cumberland.

 

"Is it truly though?" He raised a blond brow. It did not seem proper to tell a lady she seemed out of sorts; he had been raised by women and knew they were touchy of such things.

 

Now that there was the noise of speaking, it was harder to hear any footsteps, although in her pregnant pose after "ah" he might have caught something when she looked over her shoulder.

 

"Is there someone with you? Are you lost?" Either might explain the glance over her shoulder. "I hope I did not frighten you." Perhaps she would wish to escape him next.

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Her search for a way to waylay the gentlmen, prolong their would-be-fleeting passing in the hall, wa remedied by the Gentlemen himself. "Is not every day the Good Lord blesses us with another day upon his earth a good day?" she replied, though her expression had slipped back into concern as she again looked behind her.

 

And with due cause.

 

"No I am not lost..." she had begun to reply, when fairly skidding around the corner came a second figure. This one draped in black cloak, and grasping something beneath it at his side. But the hood was back on that cloak, and the smile of jubilance on the fellows face was not so daunting.

 

"Lady Dorothea!" he called, adjusting his pace to a walk he moved to draw out that menacing object.

 

The woman that had been in front of Francis, conversing, was now suddenly behind him, "Help me, that is not a man upon the lords business!"

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Dorothea, that is the name of the German girl the duchess wished me to find out about...

 

How bizarrely fortuitous.

 

However, thoughts were short-lived as a man in a cloak came around the corner with a pleasant demeanor. The girl, though, did not seem to find him so pleasant.

 

Francis might have the youthful look that led most to think he was young, but he stepped forward a step with a resolve that did not match his more feminine features.

 

"Hold there, sir," he said, putting his hand on the hilt of his sword, ready to draw if necessary. "What business have you with the lady that she takes refuge behind me?"

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Young Bradley Whitehurst's features crumpled into confused concern as the object of his affections (or was that ambition) hid behind the tall blond gentlmen. "I mean Lady Dorothea no harm."

 

He faltered, though sticking to his guns in claiming he'd done no wrong. "I... I just heard that she attends the early service, and so I was waiting there for her to pass."

 

"He spoke words vulgar to me!" The German miss whispered in accusatory tones filling in the missing blanks.

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Francis raised a brow at the cloaked man who turned out to be little more than a youth. Perhaps he had been hit by some puppy love, or so it seemed as the boy claimed to have waited for the lady. This early in the morning, that was a bit forward.

 

His other brow went up when the lady filled in that the youth had spoken to her in a "vulgar" way. Francis had to hold back any reaction on his face for there was some amusement in that.

 

"And the lady claims you have not conducted yourself in a gentlemanly fashion."

 

To the lady he whispered, "What is his name?"

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"Quite the opposite is the case." disappointed, Bradley halted his steps. "I've been learning german to impress her, to make the best impression I could. I told her how her eyes sparkle like stars in the night sky, and that since we met, I have been unable to think of anything but her."

 

Still behind Francis, the german girl gave a Pfft, a sound interpretable in any nationality. "His name is Master Bradley Whitehurst, and has the tongue of a serpent."

 

The gift he'd gotten her seemed rather pointless now, the long object slumped downwards, exaggerating his deflation beneath his cape. "My intents are pure, I only wanted to offer her a tour of London."

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"Whitehurst?" Francis whispered back to the girl.

 

Of all the damned things... Kingston knew Lord Langdon well, and he also knew the woes of teenaged wards, of both sexes.

 

"Are you sure that is what you said to the lady? Perhaps your teacher was less than fluent," Francis replied to the boy.

 

"And have you asked the lady's guardian for permission for such, or your lord brother either, Master Whitehurst?" Francis raised a brow. He had long since dropped his hand from the hilt his sword, although he still stayed in front of the girl. "Or do you think it appropriate to sneak about by chapels in wait to ask young ladies to behave in ways which could ruin them? I should think you more gentlemanly than that."

 

His tone was surely lecturing but not threatening. In fact, he seemed to find the boy foolish and probably caught in that strange lure of love that Francis did not understand. Exasperation was perhaps a better sentiment.

 

"That said, who is your guardian here in England. Are you on invitation of Her Majesty or the Duke of Cumberland?" He asked the girl. He could think of no other Germans in the immediate sense. He was not court creature enough to think about Lady Mountjoy being German as well.

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"No, I'm sure of it. It was Rowland Alston who taught me, and he said it was guaranteed to impress my ah.. err... sweetheart." it was dead embarrassing saying that while his would be sweetheart was whispering and carrying on behind the tall gentleman.

 

Then he had to shake his head of asking a guardian, and while he had talked to Charles about it, that conversation had not gone particularly well. "I wasn't sneaking. I was waiting." shoulders slumping, he was getting the point.

 

Straightening himself, he lifted his voice out it's sulk. "I am sorry Lady Dorothea for frightening you. It was not my intent at all. Will you please accept my gift, not as of affection, but instead in an apology. And, I wont bother you again." he tipped his head, hoping to see her. Then shrugged and offered the box to Francis instead.

 

"Queen Karoline." she answered Francis. Dorothea seemed somewhat abashed by now, although the young man had behaved inappropriately, he seemed to be suffering for it now. She was not insensitive to his penance, and gave a close-lipped smile. "You should not take lessons from this man Rowland, I do not think he is your friend."

 

Bradley seemed confused of that, and frowned towards Francis.

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Francis accepted the box, although he had little idea if the lady wished to receive it.

 

"I believe Lady Dorothea is right. Master Alston is no friend of yours, for I doubt she would lie of the meaning of what you said, so it stands to reason that he taught you something crude instead of sweet, making you insult the lady thereby. Your intentions were not met by your words or your actions, I see, so shall we chalk it up to youthful folly?" Francis was not about to try to parent the boy over what seemed like some cruel prank.

 

"I know Lord Langdon well, so I hope that by the time I see him, you have been honourable enough to tell him what has transpired here. You can tell him that it was Lord Kingston who found you in this bizarre situation. I will have your word on it." The meaning was clear that he would eventually check to make certain of it but wasn't going to treat the younger Whitehurst as a child.

 

"I will escort you back to Her Majesty's apartments then, my lady." He doubted that the queen would be up at that hour, but she would be safe.

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Bradley's expression shifted as he appreciated what was said. The meaning was also clear that Kingston would vouch that he'd been stymied by Alston, that it was not entirely his own fault (he had absolutely no desire for another lecture from his brother charles!) "I shall indeed." he nodded, and then to the Lady added, "Please know I had honorable intentions my lady."

 

But either Dorothea would not forgive, or simply wanted to be apart from him to think, for she did not reply. Yet thanked Francis for his offer, turning, she moved to place her hand on his arm. He might have caught her glance at the gift box. But she said naught of it.

 

"I might recommend that the Reverend attend the Queens apartments for the morning service, as it is the Whitehall Chapel is scarcely populated at this hour, to have a service there woudl be convenient and might even gain better numbers in attendance." her spoken thoughts were upon missing the service she had been upon her way to, though she now glanced behind them.

 

Bradley was gone. Dorothea sighed. Probably relieved, surely not disappointed, although possibly just confused.

 

"Thank you Lord Kingston. I am not usually easily alarmed, the hour, the unfamiliar passages, and the forthright of his approach just... well. But is now passed." she made a small smile.

 

.

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Francis watched the youth retreat.

 

"I truly do not think he meant you any offense or distress. Do you wish to see his gift or shall I give it back to Lord Langdon for the lad?" he asked her. Then he whispered, "I do not know who your lord father is, so I have no idea if the younger son of an earl is so very beneath you or not so very. Do you forgive me, my lady?"

 

Lord Kingston could probably little appreciate the impact of having been raised, nearly to puberty, by women; that was so uncommon in the upper classes that most men were rather clueless about the finer sensibilities and feelings of ladies. Then again Francis lived with Villiers women who could fly into a rage if you upset them or cling lovingly to you in rivers of tears, so he had learned young not to tempt the dragon. He still ended up with a scar for his trouble! The blond was left with a lingering gentleness for the fairer sex. Francis couldn't appreciate that the weakness might be somewhat in the blood; nobody had even told him his father was the same way.

 

"I could ask Doctor Sprat to attend on Her Majesty's household, but I would think she would have her own personal chaplain. He is His Majesty's." Francis had little idea how the day to day goings on the chapel were run. He barely went every Sunday, but he had noticed it was not the same gentleman giving the sermon each week, so he assumed there was some form of hierarchy he was unaware of with the more posh delivering the Sunday sermons where His Majesty attended publicly.

 

Thinking of it belatedly, Francis filled in, "I am one of His Majesty's Gentlemen of the Bedchamber." How he could just 'ask' Sprat for such a thing would not otherwise by obvious, so he felt a bit foolish. Francis never thought anyone knew who he was, and only vaguely realized that many courtiers did see him when he was attending the King, so it was not precisely as opaque as he thought.

 

"You need not thank me. It is any gentleman's duty, let alone one who represents the royal master of the kingdom," he added, his eyes crinkling some as he smiled. She was cute in a young, proper, and even pious way. It was almost a cliche but for the rarity of it at this court was far greater than that. "And Her Majesty has been very kind to me, so I could only hope to give further evidence of being worthy of that notice."

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"Perhaps you are right," she seemed agree, "and opening the gift might help clarify his intent." she considered slowly looking at the gift as Francis spoke of it. Who didn't want to open a gift! The mystery held an intense allure. "But to open it, then I shall be obliged to thank of it, and... yet. Yet its giving is already shadowed. I think he should not have left it. Besides we are barely met."

 

"Yes I forgive you." her serious expression gave way to a smile at his request, "more than that, I am greatful for your help. Our Master Whitehurst was not likely to see sense without some assistance."

 

She understood there to be a question in Francis mind to her origins, and so expanded, "My father is passed, while my brother John Frederick is now Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach. I was companion of Karoline von der Pfalz before her marriage, childhood friends, you see we are of an age, and I now visit." They made likely friends, Dorothea was of similar temperament to Karoline, being quite sober and lacking in effervescence.

 

"This Doctor Sprat is a Reverend?" The young woman asked, "what a curious mix. Though I suppose a man who is studied in Gods wonders might extend his studies into the marvel of life and the lords blessing of health itself." she supposed, turning questioning eyes to the gentleman for his confirmation. His credential as gentleman of the Bedchamber furthered her opinion that he'd know the answer.

 

"Then I shall provide your name to Her Majesty, and she shall find her past confidance in you affirmed." Dorothea replied. There was a short pause, before she added, "Pray, decline from reply if my question inappropriate, but you have me now curious to what kindness was shown to you by the Queen? We have time, I think, before we reach the apartments."

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Francis nodded. Her contemplations were very proper. That alone spoke to rank, as did her fear of a rather innocuous boy lurking by the chapel. There was a certain way of thinking and acting that went along with one's place in society. Kingston had endured enough of Buckingham's pontificating and torturous tutoring (Over And Over And Over Again) to know that fact. Being Sophia's guardian had given him a further understanding of appreciating propriety with specimens of the feminine persuasion.

 

"Well then, far too grand for the younger son of an earl," he said, smiling at her. From her words she knew it, and now he knew it too; it was the responsible and polite thing to do to not make her choose to be unkind in refusing. "I shall give it back to Lord Langdon a few days hence when I go to make certain Master Whitehurst keeps his word."

 

Lowering his voice to a whisper, he said, "I am sure a familiar and comfortable face is very pleasing to Her Majesty at this time." Pregnancy was something of a mystery for most men, Francis included, but with such intimate changes one would think an old friend a superior companion.

 

"Yes, a clergyman of a sort. I believe he is a doctor of divinity, a university distinction. He was chaplain and secretary to my lord cousin, the Duke of Buckingham before the King." They wrote together as Francis understood it.

 

"Nothing concerning Her Majesty could be inappropriate," he said, smiling, lest she construed anything beyond the tame truth. "She has twice favoured me with a true smile, and that is such a rarity to be kindness enough for a gentleman such as myself, but Her Majesty was also similarly kind to my lady mother and there are few kindnesses I value more than that."

 

He was, uncommonly for a masculine man of the time, a mummy's boy and not even covert about it.

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"Thank you Lord Kingstone." she was appreciative that he would take care of the matter, even if a part of her wished she could have known what was in the package. But then, giving into temptation was how the devil worked. Instead, she counted her blessings that the gentleman at her side was sensible to the situation, further, was nobly inclined to assist.

 

"Yes, 'at this time'." she repeated the phrase. He was a Kings gentleman, so likely had known for some time already, "I brought with me the game of latrones we would play as girls, and she loves to play it still, says it relaxes her." She was modest that it might be her own company that Karoline enjoyed.

 

"Doctor Sprat sounds a very interesting gentleman. I myself enjoy to read religious and philosophical works, most particularly the studies of Philipp Spener, you are familiar with him? He is no proponent of your Thomas Hobbes I am afraid, perhaps more aligned with Locke?" she paused and gave a small smile. "If you can ask him to give services in the Queens Apartments, I am sure we shall all be delighted." (She was speaking for herself at least)

 

Dorothea's smile because fulsome as he spoke of his gratitude of Karolines warmth to his mother. "I can only imagine that your Lady Mother is worthy of it, you are a fine gentleman to her credit." these words said almost recklessly, such was her pleasure of hearing a man speak so tenderly of his mother. It was rare indeed. "Pray, what is the name of your Mother, for I would like to recognise her if our paths cross."

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"Then I am most pleased and thankful for your presence here, my lady. We heartily wish for Her Majesty's health and comfort in the safe conduct of an heir to the kingdom," he whispered to her with a grin. Gentlemen of the Bedchamber were privy to most things, for they attended in even the most intimate affairs. It was a position of trust and honour, and Francis was very serious about such duties.

 

"Perhaps sometime when I attend the King in his visits to the Queen, there might be opportunity for you to teach me this game?" he asked, with a hopeful raise of a blond brow. Grooms and other servants might not have such liberty, but the more noble attendants were oft at some ease in more private settings.

 

"I am not, unfortunately. You will find among the Royalists here that Hobbes is regarded rather highly. Master Locke is a close associate of the Earl of Shaftesbury, for whom His Majesty bares little love," Francis replied. He chucked and added, "Master Hobbes was tutor to His Majesty and to my cousin the Duke of Buckingham...and his late brother; a more troublesome trio to be tutoring together I could scarce imagine!" His tenor laugh was rather bright. "What are Master Spener's great philosophies?"

 

Francis was adrift in the world of Christian religion. He had seen the dirty side of Catholicism from Italy. He had business dealings with muslims in trade. The far conservative sect of Protestants had caused such turmoil in their country that he could not feel fond of that either. Puritans had murder his father when he was barely more than a boy, not even of age yet. His own religious philosophies were more privately of classical gnosticism*.

 

He nodded that he would mention the matter to Sprat. At the very least someone would be provided.

 

"I do not deserve such lauding, but you are very kind. She is quite easily recognized in name, for she is Viscountess Kingston suo jure. His Majesty accelerated me to an accompanying barony by writ until I inherit the viscountcy by special remainder from my lady mother." It was generally the man who earned the title, but Francis was not shy or embarrassed of admitting his ennobling came from his mother. She had saved him and endured Hell for it. Francis had been raised with far larger doses of humility than most Villiers.

 

(OOC - this isn't the same as being gnostic or agnostic today. Privately, quite a number of scientists and learned people of the age were Christian gnostics or leaning toward it. Alchemists like Newton, for example, and Freemasons has some quality of gnostic philosophy.)

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It was undecided yet, whether she would remain in England to attend the royal birth. For now Dot's attention was upon keeping company with her friend who was going though the troublesome and at times perplexing changes that came with pregnancy.

 

"Both comfort and bravery may be found in the good book. I read to her daily of course. The book of Psalms is soothing to most everyone, but Queen Karoline is particularly fond of Psalm 127," the devout girl replied, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." and she smiled.

 

"Why I would enjoy that very much." she replied. However focused upon heavenly rewards, the appealing attributes of the Kings gentlemen were not lost upon her. "For Her Majesties sake at least." she added, hoping he did not glean some signal of interest from her (her eyes took in his response of that) "...so after I am returned, she might still have a play mate."

 

"Oh I see." her lashes fluttered as she took in this knowledge and mentally adjusted. "Why I was under the impression, errantly I now see, that Master Hobbes was slipped from favor, partially upon account of Lockes more modern outlook. But Shaftesbury, he is a dissenter, yes. I might think then, that publicly I discover support for Hobbes in that case, and... that perhaps I am better served not to reveal the points of my admiration for Locke nor Spener - lest I divert you from the valourous cause of support for the crown?" it was phrased as a question. A Kings Gentleman would know best.

 

"Rare circumstances." the young lady appreciated his explanation at face value, though back home the system was different again, she knew well enough that under any system chances did occur in exceptional circumstances. "and Lady Kingston attends upon Queen Karoline?" Though for some reason she was more curious now to when she'd see Francis in the Queens company.

 

Afterall, he seemed to truly want to learn the game of Latrones

 

 

 

OOC: I'd thought more towards rosicrucian in what I've read - but all is good in the multicolored palette of existence :)

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Francis was too gentle of nature to find the devout girl a target, though he felt her rather appealing. Since he was not looking for a wife, he did not assume any secret interests looming behind her words. She had stirred his protective instincts initially and those were yet the ones that were primed as they walked.

 

"I very much doubt I would be an acceptable replacement for you, my lady," he replied to her. "I shall endeavor to do my best."

 

If playing a game with Her Majesty on occasion would serve the interests of his King and country, he would learn it with gusto.

 

More gusto than dancing. At which he had improved some with multitudes of tutelage but still abhorred.

 

"I do not rightly know the story, but I think His Majesty would have rather the man let Shaftesbury die, such a thorn he is to my royal master." He chuckled some. "Locke is quite popular with the Country Party and their allies in the Lower House. They generally wish to restrict His Majesty, perhaps even to rule him instead of the other way around."

 

Francis was very traditional. Exile and an old Cavalier of a grandfather had ensured his mind was firmly royalist. He would, honestly, rather have one man ruling them than scores of them thinking to rule. The mob had never done good things for his family after all.

 

"I do know Shaftesbury is not even permitted at court." The King would have tried to keep him from London completely, but he was under the protection of Parliament, whatever that meant. Francis had never truly met the man and tried to absorb as much of Buckingham's tutelage as possible.

 

"Either way, words and philosophies shan't sway my support for my King, never fear. I should still wish to hear them. Not all their philosophies are political I should think," he explained.

 

"My lady mother does not have that honour," Francis answered, plainly, with the same ease and gentle demeanor. "Surely you would have met already if she was one of the Queen's ladies."

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It was not even that she was secretly interested in anything other than company, but look at Bradley for instance; her kindness to him at Church had been misinterpreted. Still, she did discover a wish to find friendship with Francis of the platonic kind (which the only kind she had any desire for at this time in her life), and hoped that too was his incline.

 

"Goodness. His Majesty must be at great odds with him indeed - for I cannot imagine the man I have seen wishing anything but joy upon another being. King Charles is such a considerate man." she spoke from her perspective of having seen his interaction with Karoline. That CR's sentiment was so strongly against Shaftesbury had her judge that the other must be vile indeed!

 

"Mmm... so do you suspect Locke to arrange his treatises with specific people in mind, in bid for popularity rather than of true principle?" She found the conversation terribly interesting, given her own passion for philosophy.

 

"In that case." she smiled, pleased that he encouraged that she continue, "I might say in a nutshell he advocates the 'Heartfelt Desire for God-pleasing Reform', a term that he repeats often for it's importance. You are probably aware that attendance to churches in Germany has been in decline, much to the despair of many good men of the church, who have been caught up in theological disputes raged with ungodly methods and words. Yet just two years past, his seminal paper was well received. We are in the midst of a new uplifting spirit. It is utterly enthralling my lord."

 

With a warm joy of her topic she continued, "The likeness to your Locke, might be his wish to reduce the gap between laity and clergy, most particularly in reminder that the role of those that lead is in service to those that do not. That study, devotion, and love of the Heavenly Father be the hall marks of their own god fearing lives. He even admonishes for heartfelt love of the heretics and unbelievers. That yes, we abhor their beliefs, yet treat them with all the consideration of a neighbour, with the kindness of the good samaritan an example."

 

"I positively adore to read his papers, where every sentence is met with an swell of joy in my heart; with the feeling that 'this is good, this is right'. His is a vision of how things ought to be, an idealism that though difficultly achieved, is one so pure and good that is it a joy to aspire towards." she completed with a happy sigh. Tempted, to offer him her copy of Pious Desires to read. But that might be over bold.

 

"Perhaps she should?" the thought was innocently expressed, and Dorothea had little sway at bring such things to pass, but it was a thought spoken none the less.

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"I am not sure his motives, but serving a man like Shaftesbury who is quite political, one cannot help but wonder. I spoke to the man briefly once, but he seemed not much in the mood for debate on his ideas. Or perhaps he just did not anticipate it. At any rate, the writings seemed more interesting than the man," Francis replied to the rather sweet young lady.

 

Ships were a place where books were friends who helped pass the time and pamphlets from all over were just about as interesting. Being of a restless temperament and having had a strong education until his sea service, he was rather well-read, at least on the topics of interest to him.

 

"It sounds very positive, indeed, the works you speak of from your country. Hypocrisy of action was never one of my favorite attributes of any church, for if Christ was kind to all manner of people, why should we not be? There is a beauty to kindness and also to service to something greater. We are all servants in some way, playing a part on the stage of God's great design, each fighting against selfishness and seeking something to ease the pains of the world, a purpose perhaps." Francis had no issue of being philosophical and religion was a difficult issue for him. While he might be of Christian faith, his belief in God was found more in the world around him than in the Bible; simply put, the world as it was could not have come at random and did not behave randomly. Therefore, there must be some divine creator. It was not an odd belief for a man who was of masonic tendency, but they were things he most often kept hidden.

 

One could not be other than the State faith, and Francis happily napped in the proper service every Sunday and happily swore against the strange magical transformations of Catholicism and the tyrant in a funny hat who thought to rule rulers. He had seen many a thing change form, but transubstantiation was a bit too far for Francis. He had seen far too many bishops and archbishops in brothels or to be with Bianca to find a man who used religion to attempt to rule kings and countries by faith-fear and bribery something to pledge oneself to in the least. He begrudged nobody their religion, though.

 

"Perhaps," he agreed about his lady mother. "I am certain she would be honored by such a thing and happily serve as I do His Majesty, but His Majesty has already been so kind to us that I daresay she would not campaign for such an honour." He paused and smiled, "I see it as a service you accept if you are so asked, and I know my lady mother enough to know she feels much the same."

 

His family values were perhaps rather old, but he came from old royalist blood. Knowing your place in things and showing the proper reverence was a mark of breeding. It had earned him enough accolades from the King, Cumberland, and Buckingham, and even York who had commended him on his words following the discovery of his birth, that he was hardly going to quit the practice now. It was merely who he was, and his grandfather had at least done him the service of birching a good deal of humility into a Villiers-blooded male. No easy task indeed. His mother had likely received the exact same doses from her father.

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While it was hard to imagine King Charles to not tolerate someone, Francis further description of Shaftesbury explained it some. "He sounds disappointing indeed, what man of true intellect does not want to debate his own theories? The challenging of truth does not weaken, quite the opposite in fact. It would make one wonder if he does not want his philosophy examined too closely, perhaps the man himself has seen it's hairline cracks appear. One ought never become so attached to a concept that one neglects the possibility new and greater understanding."

 

It was lovely to talk of such things, and she held a quiet confidence that Lord Kingston was not one of those stubborn men that would remain obstinate in the dark rather than look at the light of a new day.

 

"Would the Royal library have one of his books, or would that be outlawed?" if the King hated the man so much, it might be, "for I must admit you've whet my interest, that I would rather like to examine his thinking for myself."

 

"Yes it is!" she almost gushed, though then took care to rein in her zeal. Still, it did her heart good to hear his commendation for the reforms she was in such high praise of.

 

"Yours is a fine Christian spirit my Lord." she beamed. "When our eyes are all surely fixed upon these high values, then surely the minor slips and errors of a days life falls into perspective. Less important is it to chastise, and more to assist others towards good works, while holding out the hand to those who have stumbled to also make their assent."

 

She paused for a moment, and then added, "...though I must admit, those that refuse to help themselves test me. I find I must draw upon all my best principles to not exercise my tongue upon them. Patience is a quality not mentioned near enough in the services, for it is patience I need most to learn of."

 

It perhaps said something of the conversation, that she was at ease enough to admit this her Achilles heel to him. The young woman had no idea that this sort of intelligence might be exactly what another Frances was seeking.

 

"A service, and an honour." she looked up at the man briefly, noting he seemed to weigh the thought and find it pleasing (hadn't he practically given his mothers acceptance!) She would mention it to Karoline, though likely enough the young Queen would politic over it, for that was what persons in positions of power did. It might suit Karoline to have a one of the Kings gentlman's mothers close.

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He had been speaking of Locke not wishing to debate; he had never truly met Shaftesbury. He knew that his uncle knew him but beyond that knew very little of the man personally.

 

"Perhaps it was that it was at a court event and such are more meant for pleasure, I suppose. I am certain that the library would have some of Locke's works." Shaftesbury's, although he'd wager none with the man's name, could likely be found in the nearest coffee house.

 

"You are far too kind, my lady. I am as good a sinner as the rest of my royal master's merry court. I simply would rather dwell upon what is good in man and allow God to judge. Man does a very poor job of judging if history weighs in. Existence is full of tales of wrongdoing and murder of others for one ideal of humanity or another. All is flawed as we, humanity, are all flawed. Such is my philosophy." Francis could not allow her to operate under a misguided assumption that he was a man of intensive piety or goodness, for he did not feel that he was.

 

Despite what his female name-sharer might wish, Francis found there was not much of any interest to gossip about Dorothea. Nor was he one to simply betray one woman to another for the sake of a giggle. He was not even thinking about it.

 

"Indeed, and a personal one at that, personal to the personage seeking someone to serve them. It is a selfish thing to campaign for it oneself. For example, I think His Majesty asked me because I remind him of when he was younger, of times when he was simply a prince with my cousin His Grace as foster-brother. Happier times. That has little to do with me besides sharing the duke's blond hair, eyes, and stature. A resemblance between us. The duke's sister is already close with the Queen, so adding his cousin as well might not suit Her Majesty politically; one should spread one's favor, and as I said she has already been very kind to us." Which was to say he did not ask or anticipate much to come of it, but nor did he contemplate that his thoughtfulness of the matter might add weight to the opposite. Just to be sure he added, "And do not feel you need make mention because I have done you a kindness. Such is my duty and my pleasure, freely."

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The young woman gave a smile and nodded. Francis could be sure that within the next few days, if not sooner, she'd be making her way to talk to Mr Potts.

 

She supposed he was explaining that he was still one of the libertine set, even for all of his interest in philosophy. Yet such was the reformed teachings of Master Spener's, that she would not judge him the worse for that. "It is not I that is kind, Lord Kingston, but Our Heavenly Fathers kindness I wish to reflect in my own life. He sees the goodness in all men." she spoke softly. Yet to his point gave a pause, "I suppose we may only hope that whatever misperceptions we make our own footsteps, that the light of the future my understand that sincerity is upon soles of the shoes that we tread."

 

She could hardly see how her own beliefs could one day be considered unjust, but his point was well made enough that it could not truly be ruled out.

 

"I have sufficient measure of you, Lord Kingston to know that would never be the case." she replied as she came to a standstill at the door to the Queens apartments. Turning then to face him directly, she wore a smile of contentment upon her face.

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"Then you reflect it well," he replied, his eyes crinkling some in appreciation. One did not find such ladies often at court. If one was proper, many times it seemed one was lacking a brain or the desire to show it.

 

Perhaps it was something of German women. They were far more blunt. Although he did wish that Sophia was a bit more on the intelligent side for all her naive bluntness.

 

"And here you are, my lady, to a different safety than the chapel was able to be today," he joked ever so lightly.

 

"Give my best wishes to Her Majesty, for the season to be very peaceful and fulfilling." Kingston enjoyed speaking in double entendre. It was perhaps his favourite form of wit. Plus, one could not be speaking of the Queen's pregnancy too freely, especially so close to where other courtiers might be lingering.

 

"And for you to enjoy your friend's company and beautiful reflections of Christmastide." She had, of course, already spoken to wishing to be a reflection of God's kindness.

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Her smile was then challenged, as he gave her such a fine compliment. She almost grinned toothily, which would hardly be modest and christian at all! Pressing her lips together tight to resist, her eyes never the less closed with inward elation. It was her greatest most passionate goal to shape herself with godly attributes, and so his claim that she was succeeding was the grandest compliment he could have come up with.

 

And then here they were at the door. The gentleman was astute to not step further, with neither needing to speak the reasons for it.

 

"Such benedictions with be a joy to relay." said she.

 

Her efforts to keep the modest pose of a christian then slipped with his well wish for herself; a giggle spilled from lips and light glinted in her eyes. "Thank you, Lord Kingston." She needed something clever and artful to return, but how was she to match a seasoned courtier, a King's man no less. And so she settled for dropping into a curtsy, and holding it with a respect.

 

Before she arose to leave, unable to resist a last backward glance (not the sort of backward glance that Lots wife gave though), and with a final smile she dispersed beyond the doors.

 

 

 

 

~ Fin!

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  • 2 weeks later...

"No thanks necessary, my lady," he replied with a bow, waiting for her to enter the apartments safely before taking his own leave.

 

When she turned around his small smile was still on his face as he stood there holding Bradley Whitehurst's misplaced gift in one hand and his other resting on the hilt of his sword.

 

What blush would I have caused had she offered her hand to kiss... he wondered silently. He was yet somewhat mystified by proper ladies and court ladies in general. It was a sort of finery that put him on his best deportment.

 

Once she disappeared within, he continued to his intended destination to see if His Majesty planned on an early walk that day.

 

(Fin! Thanks for the fun thread Can you let me know once Bradley has his chance to talk to CW so that Francis can bring back the gift please?)

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