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A Mewsly Morning | 28th 8ish- Xmas 1677

Ambrose Turnbull

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Kings Mews


Nobility staying at Saint Marks Hall at Whitehall might keep their horses at the Royal stables during their stay. It is a large building on the border of Saint James park where it nears Charing Cross, next to the Knightsbridge Barracks - a convenient and short walk from the Palace proper.


To the east end of the building is the Stable master's office, Mr Tyndale a man in his 50's, man who takes vanity in two things: the efficiency of his service to the King, and his still vigorous dark crop of hair.


Within, it's industry fluctuates, where sometimes a veritable hive of business, upon other times it appears near deserted - yet always present is the tickly dry fragrance of hay and that warm and sweet equestrian smell. Here enough stabling was provided for the horses of the officers and troopers of the regiments, as well as horses in training and those of any visiting dignitaries and nobles that needed special care. The well covered buildings were also used to provide shelter for coaches, wagons, and the draft animals that pulled them.


Ambrose led his new acquisition out onto the arena. "What shall I call you eh?" the chestnut horse was between 15 and 16 hands high (Ambrose did not know enough about horses to have thought to ask the man he brought him off), was nicely brushed, and had quite pretty eyes. "Arthur. There's a good dependable name. You shall be Arthur." he came to a stop and turned to look at the horse.


Seemed to be a good horse. Was not limping at least.


Now that he was trying to be a land lubber, he needed his own horse you see. With his own horse he could roam a bit further afield. He had a mind to visit his cousin. Though he was still thinking about that.


It was thankfully quiet in the mews this morning, as Ambrose moved to hitch himself up into the saddle. Intent to ride the horse, er, Arthur that was, around the arena a few times to get his hand in. It had been years since he'd ridden to any great degree. A walk for starters, getting his arse comfortable in the saddle, and then nuding the beast into a trot, muscle memory of a decade ago kicking back in.

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Half a dozen circuits of the covered arena later -- and Ambrose confidance had increased.


Arthur was responsive to the bit, and seemed to hold a restrained energy. The Lieutenant glanced towards the massive opening to the outdoors when next he passed, and got the feeling that his mount was also lusting towards the great outdoors.


Next time round. he told himself, which gave rise to the question of 'where to?'


He suspected Ellen might not reject a visitor, but then he was invited to dinner later in any case. Perhaps I shall hunt out Alise? He believed she was living in London still, her address long ago committed to his memory, even though their letters had dwindled in these later years.


He'd promised himself he'd visit her - was not entirely use why he'd been putting the visit off.


A vision of her smile warmed his mind, and he nudged Arthur into a trot. Incidentally passing the opening for another round at least. Next time. He told himself as he rose in the stirps, knees gripped, finding a complementary movement up and down to his mounts bumpy pace.

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Captain Herbert was on a special assignment that morning. An assignment of a pleasing variety. It was sunny that morning, though cold. He had recruited the elder Churchill to provide him some company, so the two young gentlemen entered the arena with chuckles on their lips.


"Ack! I see we are not the only ones to think to ride in the morning!" Churchill said.


Herbert craned his head to see if he knew the other gentleman.


(LOL I tried to get Francis caught up on his Tues PM threads thinking this was a Wed thread. I was going to have him join you, BUT the other sea-faring boys will have to do Alas! )

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It was upon the next circuit that a pair arrived; good manners had Ambrose nod his head with a smile towards the men. One of that pair then spoke in a cheerful manner. "Indoors need suffice for now. Hey ho gentlmen!" he greeted. "But if this weather holds up, perhaps we'll see a hunt yet!"


Talking about hunting was not a natural topic to Ambrose, given his many years at sea, but his recent fellowship with one Beverly had him know the subject fitting with recently met gentlmen.



OOC: thanks for joining, meanwhiles I shall keep an eye out for a thread with Francis I can join on Weds!

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John Churchill was leading a tall bay into the arena which complimented his sapphire blue ensemble well. The generous white plummage on his hat stood out as he walked next to the rich-toned mare.


Herbert led a snorting dark grey that craned its neck high. Two grooms scurried out after them.


Churchill waved his off, "Help Captain Herbert." He swung up easily into the saddle, having the sane mount.


The dark-haired young man called Herbert, who was tall and had a rider's long legs waited until one groom had the horse by the bridle and the other held his stirrup.


"If Herbert here lives to tell the tale," Churchill called back to Ambrose.


"You jealous, Churchill?" Herbert asked, with a snort of his own. No sooner had he swung into the saddle did the horse rear, taking the groom holding his bridle right off the ground.


"Hardly, it won't matter that its the King's horse if you break your neck," he replied, as Herbert pressed the horse forward into the bit to gain control and to avoid more acrobatics, pushed into a canter right away. It was far more hoppy than it should be.


"But I won't." Herbert chuckled, even as he had a look of concentration on his face. He found his stirrups but had his hands full.


Churchill on the other hand rode toward Ambrose and said with a grin, "Best give a wide berth, first ride since the horse has been laid up. You might have thought the poor bastard got gelded he's so pissed off."

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Overhearing the calls, it quickly became plain that one Captain Herbert was tasked with working the Kings hotblooded horse.


"Ho!" Turnbull exclaimed as it seemed that Churchill would be pitched before he even found his seat. Eyes bright and wide of the unexpected show, he drew his horse to the side. Intuitively not wanting to get in the way.


"It's barely broken." Ambrose commented, his eyebrows pitching up and down as the horse tried bounce it's rider free. "But spirited is how the King likes em!" he gave a puff of a laugh, moving his horse to fall in alongside John.


"Ambrose Turnbull, Lieutenant in the 2nd." he introduced himself, "Nice hat you've got there Churchill." Now that looked how a man should dress at court, not the prissy bows he'd seen elsewhere.


"So you are working the hijinks out of this royal mount today?" he watched Herbert again, "Your friend has a look of determination. The battle of man over so many pounds of horseflesh is quite a sight to behold!" it was good viewing, though Ambrose felt very pleased with his own horses placid stance in compare.

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"Oh he's broke very finely, but coop any horse up on an injury for that long and there's bound to be something explosive," Churchill said. "But His Majesty does like them spirited." He laughed some. They ALL knew the King liked to mount the spirited.


"Life Guard then?" Churchill said with an eyebrow raise. "Lord Langdon, an interesting man. Nobody fancies arresting people more than he!" John laughed a bit more. "The fine ladies like him, though, strangest behavior for a peer if you ask me, but he is quite skilled with military matters."


Langdon was young but so was Churchill and Herbert. Both of them had been in command before.


"You're in the right company then. Herbert had a captaincy," Churchill revealed, but then he leaned closer to Turnbull and whispered. "One of those that stayed close to have guard over the ports." Which was to say that it had not been all that dangerous. "He's the heir presumptive to Pembroke & Montgomery." Although there were other reasons why the king would not risk Herbert's life too. At least John thought so though he would never say.


"I last had command of am English regiment that fought with the French, as Colonel, but if there is to be war once more, I will happily take up arms again on land or sea." He was experienced in the both the Navy and foot regiments.


"Where were you serving before?" A man of the lieutenant's age would not be giving his first service, nor likely to have an officer's position in the Life Guard without that and some noble blood.


"And you've guessed the day's purpose," Churchill said, nodding at Herbert still cantering around a circle. There was a bit more forward motion rather than the hopping.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Don't we all." Ambrose replied to that. Again he thought to Ellen; of fiery little temper, and smiled.


"I've not spent much time with the Major yet." Naturally talk of the 2nd' prompted talk of it's ranking officer. Ambrose was pleased to find someone who'd express a real opinion, for his previous quizzing had come up rather dry. "For a Peer?" Ambrose noticed the comment, "so you'd expect, err, discreeter behavior from a peer?" he asked.


From the distance behavior at Court seemed simple: it was broadcast to be bawdy. Arriving, Ambrose had learnt it was not so blatant. And now, he was starting to discover subtitles of expected behavior. It occurred to him just now, that perhaps he did not need to prude himself up entirely, since he was not a peer. The Lieutenant was finding it hard trying to be what people wanted him to be, especially for he was not sure what it was they wanted him to be in the first place. Clues like this helped.


"Captain eh?" Turnbull looked across at the cavorting young horseman, a twinge of envy. Though Churchill then explained more. "I see..." so it was one of those honorary roles. "Then I shall stay on prepare to throw myself to the ground to cushion his fall if he's tossed." Ambrose made jest, "And perhaps be promoted for service to the crown eh wot."


Herbert was happy to talk work-talk. "I was last serving in the patrols around the Carib, before this. But yes, would take to the seas again in a heart beat. Have you heard how talks of war goes? Those bloody Frogs, every day of silence from them puts me more and more upon edge. You just know they aren't sitting around idle polishing their buttons..."

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"Not discreet, no," Churchill replied. "It is not that Lord Langdon does not have discretion or that he is overly merry, for he is not." He hmmed as he thought how to explain it. "He is a fine gentleman, but if you get to know him, you might notice what I mean. He is very gung-ho but even that does not describe it." After a few strides, he added, "His men like him very much."


Perhaps it was just that one did generally see earls wandering about in uniform or engaging in the day to day of arrests. To Churchill, the higher officers were meant to be delegators, somewhat hands off unless it came to war and directing matters.


Churchill chuckled at the lieutenant's humor. He seemed an agreeable fellow. It took most some weeks to acclimate to court. Stories were wild and oft not the whole truth. There was a finery and grace to it, and it was less scripted than Versailles, but it was not bawdy as bawdy could be unless the more private of settings and parties thrown for such entertainment. No king wished his court to be a laughing stock or a smirch to their sovereignty, control, or royalty, no matter how merry the king. There were still social rules and standards. One merely was not required to scratch on a doorframe a certain way like France.


"You just might! Herbert is made of strong stuff, all kidding aside. He is good leader of men and can call maneuvers for a ship superbly, but they would never send him out passed the channel, so it is good ports require ships to guard them as well." That was the difference. Heirs to peerages in any manner were not expendable unless there were boys to come after them. Herbert did not have that happy circumstance so he found himself in a sort of limbo.


"His Majesty has his favourites, that is for sure. The younger of his gentlemen are treated with a certain fondness, but then the King is called the father of his people." For more than one reason, even. He was father of quite a few of his subjects. Whether Churchill was alluding to something more was for Ambrose to judge himself. John had never raised the matter, but he had his own thoughts. Most Villiers were blond. Not all, but most.


"As for war, Cumberland has been preparing for it since summer. Perhaps even since Monsieur left," John added with a snort. "The mob always likes the idea of war with France, but it is also wary of calling up an army without war settled upon. My bet is that the prince hopes to have Naval matters settled and then focus upon foot troops and cavalry. We have plenty of capable officers and the Life Guard is supposed to ready a gentleman to lead commoners in war, so those are my meager thoughts. There are surely others who would know far more. Lord Feversham, Lord Gerard, Cumberland's Aide, Beverley. Don't ask Albemarle a thing, he is quite clueless."

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In the end the only thing that really mattered wat that Charles was liked by his men. Turnbull smiled of that, for it told that he was not one of those men that dished out unreasonable comands, the sort that put their lifes are risk. Though lives might never be risked at Whitehall, if he gave that further thoughts, it was so insulated and safe here. The Lieutenant was used to a rather different setting, the ocean and battles upon her. Would the Major be liked under those circumstances still?


"Lud, I am excited of it now, hold my jacket, where is a stone, and I shall throw it!" he was joking really, he'd not risk the Kings horse for one thing, and the Kings favourites neither. His jacket remained neatly on.


So the Herberts Captaincy was not really honorary at all.


Ambrose appreciated that thee men he'd just now met, were of the magnificent sort that books would be writ about. He silently nodded as Churchill expanded on his friends achievements. How old was Herbert? He tried to guess.


War talk. "We say war with France, though it is hardly likely wed attack their shores or navy directly, more likely we'd ally against France with other country against." he commended of the simplistic views of th mob. "I suppose I should approach Duke Cumberland earlier than later, lest I find myself sent to a duty on land. You are already anticipating service on one of the ships?" he asked Churchill. Who was a captain, so perhaps Ambrose could come to serve beneath him.

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Ambrose might guess that Herbert was younger than Churchill, probably not much older than of age. Churchill seemed more in his late twenties. They knew each other from the time the royal brothers had spent together with the two each attending their respective master.


Churchill laughed at Turnbull's fine turn of phrase about the war and the mob's lack of understanding, "Yes, and thankfully for us all the mob cares for is inconveniencing the French one way or another. I think much of our turmoil over religion currently is over allying against Protestants previously, for the mob understands very little that politics is far more than religion or usurping popes and papists."


As to seeing Cumberland, Churchill nodded. "If you wish to sail rather than lead a troop of men on land, surely, but I hear the lifeguard ranks tend to translate up in regular service, being all gentlemen, so do not forget that." A lifeguard lieutenant could easily command an entire troop rather than serving on a ship. John would not pass up an opportunity to have a larger role and a command, even as a captain or a major!


"As for me, my last command was as a colonel commanding a troop with the French, so I am familiar with their land tactics and commanders. It is an advantage that they will want to use on land I suppose, but I will go where I am asked."


Herbert's voice called, "Are you lot riding or gossiping?" He trotted by, finally done with his hopping canter. The horse had worked up quite the sweat but seemed to be far more controlled.

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Not so different in age than himself then. They seemed younger in buoyancy, or perhaps it was just that they were comfortable where they were at. These were men raised in and around court.


"Fair enough, I too would prefer to leave protestants standing, the papists hold too great a sway in Europe, and their plots are of the most deceitful sort. Better an ally that does not answer to Rome."


"Hmm." the point that Churchill made of rank in service being advanced upon land was fairly made. "But I have no knowledge of land warfare, I would be more loved as 1st Lieutenant aboard a ship with experience under my belt, than Captain upon land and guessing. English lives are at stake, my vanity can wait another hour."


"Ho, then you are a living gold mine sir, I dare say the strategists shall want you close as they plot their attacks. Pray that you see some action at all, your use might be greatest in the war-room."


Then Herbert trotted past, calling them out on gossip. With a pitch of eyebrows to Churchill Ambrose lifted his reins, thinking the Kings horse settled enough now that they could join the ring.

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Churchill was not entirely sure how to take the news that Turnbull would turn down a better land appointment for having more experience on a ship. Who turned down advancement?


Not that he could not appreciate the sentiment, but it was still not an everyday thing that one met such a person.


He had thought that the Life Guard was meant to train for command on land since they did not have a standing army. Or at least they didn't really have a standing army. There were actually a few standing regiments or regiments that could be called up easily. It was all quite curious to Churchill, who suspected there was something else going on. A patron perhaps or some other sort of influence among allies.


"Perhaps such will garner you a promotion as well," Churchill said, optimistically. He had, after all, seen much advancement thanks to both prowess and York.


"No matter experience, elder and better-placed men do not enjoy listening to simple gentlemen such as me. Many noblemen will quite outrank me if there is war." There was not yet much based upon experience and merit. Peers were expected to lead.


"Man-gossip," Churchill called back. "Talk of war and positions, of which, you shall have neither." He chuckled.


Herbert reined in the horse, which was sweating and breathing hard, joining their stately walk around the outside of the ring. "Oh, I shall have some position, but it just won't be one where I'll be getting shot at or killed." He pretended not to be sour about that.

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"Yet nothing can be ruled out." The lieutenant was simply aware of knowing little of land based attacks. Yet with war being so prominent on the horizon, he was likely learning such things in part with his daily duties with the Lifeguards. Perhaps he was learning more than he himself knew. A modest fellow when it came to ambition, he had never been the guy who put himself out there at the front.


"We can swap over to woman gossip now if you prefer." Ambrose laughed joining in with Churchills friendly teasing.


"The bullets are shinier on the other side of the fence." he butchered a saying or two without a care, and then upon a whim to cheer Herbert up suggested, "But that need not stop us from a bit of in-season fun. What do you say to a prank on the French ambassador? We could run the Dutch flag up his pole huh? All's fair in good fun." Another saying trashed.

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Churchill laughed loudly at the suggestion of woman gossip. How this new man could not know of Captain Herbert's situation!


"Egads no, no talk of women!" Herbert said quickly. "War talk is far superior."


Churchill could not help but say, "His Majesty teases him every time he is in attendance. Herbert thinks the King has conspired with his lady mother to get him married off! Our Herbert is a romantic and can afford to be as choosy as he wishes or marry for something silly like love, lucky sod!"


"Yes, there's fifty pounds in it for you if you run the Dutch flag up at the French Embassy!" Herbert added, eagerly, wanting to keep the subject off ladies and him.

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Ambrose preferred not to talk about women either, though for different reasons. With a laugh he teased a bit more, "If not women, then what about sewing or knitting, bloody oath what I'd do to thread a needle about now."


Churchills explanation to why Herbert was so alarmed of that topic produced further laugher. "He's just waiting for the right lady to come along and sweep him off his feet?" there was a level in which Ambrose was pleased to hear that Herbert was a romantic, that his sensibilities were of that gentler sort. It was something many men would not admit to, Ambrose for instance would never admit that he'd like to be loved utterly by a lady.


"Spend your fifty pounds on a disguise, it will take a team to pull off such a feat as this." The lonely man was not interested in a solo ventre, so he goaded the others to join in "Just imagine the Ambassadors face when he realises it. Hah! With a bit of luck he wont realise for days."

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"I'm in," Churchill said with a laugh. He had no allegiances with the French even though he was part of the returned regiments from French service. His bread was now buttered on war with France instead.


"Perhaps Cumberland will see if as an act to support the war," Herbert said, chuckling. "I'll save my fifty pounds then and spend it on dinner afterward."


"And to pay off some rabble to spread the word to commoners that protestants ran the flag of a protestant ally up France's arse," Churchill added, with a guffaw that made Herbert's horse lurch forward for a moment, shaking his head furiously as the younger man reigned the beast in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ambrose gave a cheer as Churchill joined in, "A finer O dark thirty* mission has never been launched," he laughed.


"Hah, whoever gets the blame for it, as long as it isn’t us." though really, if they did get pinned for the bit of fun what harm could come of it. It was all in patriotic good fun. "Shall we say Saturday night after the Ball, everyone will be too gone with it to pay much attention to a couple of lads mucking about with a pole."




* O dark thrity = Old nautical term for half past midnight

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"We shall have to make sure neither of us has to attend," Captain Herbert said. "Functions of State generally require of the household."


Churchill laughed, "I am not. Feversham and Sir George are attending the Duke of York. And were you not in attendance at the last one? It should be someone else's rotation."


Herbert replied, "True. And I could probably switch if need, to keep an eye on my brother and such." The King had an interest in his brother, in both of them really. Not many knew the secret that existed between the King and Pembroke.


"Where shall we meet after we slip away?"

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  • 3 weeks later...


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