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Your Stories Await Telling

Under the Light of a Thousand Stars | Late Evening- Xmas 1677

Guest John Bramston

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“I m-m-miss all of them.” John admitted, looking back. His eyes locked on hers and he was suddenly afraid he was boring her. I missed you too though. He blushed. He’d spent the months between seasons making a book for her and practicing poetry in the hopes of impressing her.


It was all a little silly for a lady that had only held his hand. But…


Her sister interrupted that train of thought. “Hmm? Oh, oh no.” It was only then his eyes left Henrietta’s, “We need to wait until the sun is c-c-completely down.” John said to Elizabeth. “Otherwise you’ll… hurt your eyes.”


There was a reason John had brought things to do in the meantime. “I have some food and cards. And we c-c-can watch the last rays of… the fading day.” John enjoyed watching sunrise and sunset just for the natural beauty of it. There were also the stories.

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Henrietta wasn't sure what he meant by missing all of 'them.' Was he talking about all the places he had visited or the relatives and friends he had left behind? Perhaps it was a bit of both. She wanted to reach for his hand, but she knew Lady Blackburn would reprimand her if she touched him.


He wasn't boring her at all. She was interested in his home and his travels. When John blushed, so did she, and she reluctantly pulled her eyes from his when Lizzie asked if she could look through the telescope now. Why did her sister have to be so impatient?


“Do I still have to keep holding the blanket?” Elizabeth asked. “My arm is getting tired.”


“Perhaps we should go to the tent,” Lady Blackburn suggested. “We will be sheltered from the snow while we watch the sunset.”

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Henrietta correctly guessed what John meant.


John watched the interplay. He was secretly pleased that Henrietta appeared annoyed by her little sister. Bringing along another lady was a subtle way of signaling disinterest. But it was apparent that Henrietta would’ve preferred to be alone too.


John nodded, “Capital idea.” He covered the telescope to keep it safe and rolled the blanket up.


He smiled and went down the hill (still using the pike for balance). With a whistle his two dogs followed him, standing one on each side. He stuck the pike in the ground next to his second one and gestured for the ladies to get in first.


It was large enough they could have all slept in it if they needed to, but not much bigger than that. There was a large blanket inside, plus the one John had. They would have to pair up. Or, he supposed, the three ladies could squeeze tightly under one blanket and John could have the other.

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The three ladies did huddle together under the largest blanket, but they sat close enough to John that they could see his book. “So tell us about your travels, my lord,” Lady Blackburn said.


“Yes, please do,” Henrietta echoed, blushing yet again.


Elizabeth was more interested in the telescope than in his stories, and she sat quietly between her sister and chaperone.

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John smiled, “Let’s see.” He flipped through the book. The landscapes and portraits of people were interesting or beautiful but most didn’t make for good storytelling.


“Aha,” John settled on a picture. “The engagement… celebrations for Princess Mary in Amsterdam. I was there, yes.” The picture was a riot of a scene. People drinking and dancing and a band in the background all set against a hastily assembled noble hall. Through a carefully placed window a view of the street showed commoners dancing and drinking.


But even inside, there was a sense of glee and abandon. Even the servants seemed ecstatic. Many were forgetting themselves. Bottles were piling up in random places and many of the seats and couches were occupied by exhausted revelers, some of rank too low to properly make use of them.


John was sitting at the front of the hall next to their uncle, the Lord Nassau, and a few other noblemen. John’s chair had the flag of England on it, theirs the flag of the Netherlands. John was by far the youngest but he looked surprisingly merry, considering how reserved he often was.


Nassau was trying to get John’s attention to introduce him to a lady. John was trying to get his translator’s attention to speak to her. His translator’s attention was completely taken up by a flirtatious looking woman. Meanwhile the seat to John’s left was empty and a bit before it stood a lady with four men straining to get her attention for a dance. A few others watched the spectacle bemused but the lady was absolutely glowing.


“It was a g-g-good time to be English. My sister and I were… very p-p-popular.” While they’d not been there in an official capacity, they’d benefitted from the goodwill the English earned by the marriage. "At the end of the night the Dutch t-t-tried picking me up to p-p-parade me. They were so drunk they dropped me. Your aunt had to t-t-tend to the bruises and cuts for a week." John puffed his amusement, white breath in the freezing air.

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