Jump to content


Your Stories Await Telling

On the Scent | After lunch, Tuesday Dec. 28th- Xmas 1677

Charles Audley

Recommended Posts

Jno. B. Parsimmons & Co.

Pomanders and Scent to the Quality (perfumers)


Parsimmons & Company is one of the best known and prestigious perfumers in London having supplied pomanders to the Court since the rein of Elizabeth I. At five foot one inch tall and 18 stone the current proprietor, another John Parsimmons, is a corpulent man of circular proportions with a bulbous red nose who seems to be perpetually out of breath and harried. He is however a genius in pairing scents and is most effusive and obliging when dealing with his customers.


The shop is scarcely 10 feet wide with the front consisting solely shelves filled with various pomanders and crystal bottles of Eau de toilette sparkling in the daylight. The front room contains a counter behind which a helpful clerk stands waiting to assist customers as they enter. The walls are festooned with shelves upon which hundreds of various sized jars and containers in which aromatic ingredients are stored and in the corner is a small iron stove which is kept constantly lit to drive away the humidity and provide ‘clean air to inhale.’ A new customer or one that appears very wealthy will find Mr. Parsimmons himself squeezing through the back door to attend to the trade personally. He is quite passionate about scent and has designed a few personal fragrances for both male and female members of Court



Charles arched an eyebrow as he approached the shop. A parfumier was not exactly what he had expected. (Though now that he thought about it, he had not the faintest idea what business Arthur was in. It might make perfect sense for him to rent from a parfumier.)


Or perhaps Master Parsimmons simply had sufficient space in a good location at acceptable rates for Arthur's purposes. Nothing inherently noteworthy in that.


Charles smiled thinly and shook his head. A brief pause to make minute and entirely unnecessary adjustments to his appearance- today dove grey justacorps and navy cravat over cornflower blue waistcoat and breeches, with his hair worn down- and he entered the shop. (He had considered wearing his uniform, but that would have given entirely the wrong complexion to the visit.)


Face a pleasantly amiable mask, he glanced about and waited to be acknowledged.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The shelves were practically empty! Though to one who'd not been here before, there would seem to be ample stock still at this popular if pokey perfumery.


A plump woman with a broad basket shuffled her way past, exiting as he entered, behind her wafted the scents of gardenia, musk, cinnamon and clary, with perhaps a bit of lemon balm too. Apparently there was no limit to how many fragrances one person could sample.


"Good afternoon sir!" a cheerful voice of a chap behind the counter called out, "looking for that perfect last minute gift? I have the perfect thing for you, just in this morning. Pomanders made with cloves from Vauxhall, tied with ribbons from Basel, such a combination you shall not fine elsewhere."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles politely stood aside as the lady exited, discreetly appraising her more out of habit than intent. A trifle over plump for his tastes, and he was not at all fond of the combined scents wafting behind her.


Deplorable lack of restraint, thought he who was familiar with the concept only in terms of physical bondage.


But that was not the sort of scouting he had come here to do. Charles nodded to the man behind the counter, giving him a broad, friendly smile.


"And to you, my good man. I do indeed have friends I have yet to purchase gifts for, and those pomanders do sound interesting, but I fear I have other business to attend to first. I gather you let office space to a Master Arthur Cadogan?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The corpulent woman gave a nod and smile at his courtesy, never the less her basket bumped the doorframe as she passed. The clinking sound emitted was decidedly chain like... or perhaps the gentleman's' mind was playing tricks on him.


"Ah, Master Arthur Cadogan, you are one of his." the shopkeeper smiled convivially, "Let me show you on through." he gestured to the door that led through to the back.


"Yet mark my words, no friend would be disappointed with a pomander, be them male or female." he continued his sales pitch as he walked Chatham down one side of the next room, a room that was scattered about with boxes and crates, a table, stools and racks upon racks of yet to be filled bottles of varying sizes. A seated man working at his bookkeeping looked up with interest - then understanding dawned, and he uttered a "Good afternoon." and focussed back upon his ledger.


"Aside from their known benefits of warding off the plague, the fresh scent is uplifting, and who does not smile at the attractive shape that feels so comfortable in the hand. Only two left with red ribbons, the rest are all green."


Till they reached a door that led to a third room. Outside that room was a scattered collection of cleaning items. Items that may once have been kept on the other side of the door. "Well there you go." gesture was made to the door, "shall I reserve one of more of those pomanders for you then? Sixpence each."


A noise out front alerted him to another customer arriving, turned to Charles and flashed a quick smile before nipping back up to tend counter, leaving Charles to his own devices to knock on the door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"That would be most good of you," Charles said with matching conviviality, offering the other man another nod in thanks.


The parfumier kept up his patter as he led Charles through the shop. The earl gave every appearance of listening attentively while inwardly smiling in amusement at the man's enterprise. There was something inherently entertaining in the other's manner, enough that Charles decided that he would make a purchase on his way out.


His hidden amusement only grew as they finally reached their destination. No wonder Arthur wanted new premises. He turned to his guide and flicked him a shilling.


"I'll take two, one of each colour. Thank you for your time."


Adopting an expression of relaxed insouciance, Charles stepped forward and rapped smartly on the door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Initially the unanticipated 'chore' of having to escort Cardogan's callers through to him had seemed a bind, until Mr Parsimmons pointed out that more feet through the front door was more potential customers. And so it had become a private challenge to his assistant, to manage some little sale to each one.


As Charles agreed to a Pomander, his eyes lit with a jubilance. "I'll them individually gift wrapped ready for when you are done!" He left mentally working out how much change was owed.




The door rolled open as Charles knocked. "Hello. Just one moment please." the sounds of movement beyond. Then appeared the visage of a man in camel coat with sideburns sculpted into a jawline beard - his eyes flaring as he saw who it was. "You!" caught by surprise he spoke before thinking.


With a double take he pulled himself together.


"Young Chatham, I had not expected your visit." he looked beyond Charles briefly, before opening the door to admit him. "Wont you come on in, please excuse the cramped space, I am currently between offices. Renovations before I move in to the next. That sort of thing eh wot."


The room, was lit by three oil lamps, two on either wall, and one on the desk. The corners of the room were stacked with cardboard boxes, while along one side stood a row of filing cabinets. Atop the filing cabinets a large and plainly expensive painting of a harbour scene leaned against the wall; dutch style yachts racing thought the flags of the boats were all english.


"Good news perchance?" Arthur moved to sit behind his desk, and with a gesture offered. Unsaid was his dismay that Charles was here at all. How had he found him. There had been no note left at the Red lion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles was honest enough (and utter prick enough) to admit that Arthur's aghast expression was one of the most entertaining things he had ever seen.


God, I love petty gamesmanship.


"Hello Arthur," he said evenly, nodding his head in greeting and waving off Arthur's apologies. "Oh, I understand. Please do forgive me the lack of notice. I am being perforce a little hasty."


He stepped smoothly past Cadogan into the office, eye quickly raking over the room. He moved to admire the artwork.


"Oh, I do like the painting. You're right though- it deserves a better setting." He spent a few more moments appreciating it. "Where did you get it, if you don't mind my asking?"


Finally, Charles seated himself across from Cadogan, adopting a relaxed sprawl in his chair.


"Oh, good news indeed. The Dowager has replied to my missive, and intends to join us before the end of the week."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arthur's smile tensed somewhat at Chathams use of his christian name, it was a familiarity he'd not offered ever, although perhaps he'd started it with calling Chatham 'young'. A familiar feeling arose in the man. Who had really been the winner in round one of their game of one-upmanship? And who would be the winner of the next round? Ding ding.


"Haste becomes no man, a simple note may have sufficed." he moved his current paperwork to one side, and placed his hands on the desk as he looked across at the other man with an expression as neutral a he could fake.


As Charles took that seat, he might notice, that it's height was some two inches lower than his opponents. (Though there was the saving grace, perhaps, that the trimmed down legs were evenly, that there was no disconcerting wobble evident.)


"The painting was done by Peter Lely, you have heard of him no doubt. Highly acclaimed. Worth a fortune no doubt. A gift from one of my clients." he paused a moment on that thought, but then reconsidered saying anything further.


"Has she now?" the mask slipped away, his eyes brightened. "She is eager to visit then, I assume."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles felt his malicious pleasure at Cadogan's discomfiture increase with the other's tension at the familiar address. It had been too long since he had last enjoyed stinging another like this.


But there was business to attend to as well as pleasure. Delicate business, too, requiring him to strike a very fine balance. The point was to rattle Arthur, not drive him to reckless folly. Hence the friendly manner Charles was affecting. Cadogan was intelligent enough to understand the threat his mere presence here represented. Amiability, therefore, would wrong-foot or annoy him, and either way Charles learned and profited.


In theory, at least.

Abandoning his admiration of the artwork, Charles poured himself into a seat, noting with amusement Arthur's customisation of the furniture. He'd never been entirely convinced of the efficacy of such tactics, but Arthur's use of them was instructive- it bespoke a man willing to grasp at any potential advantage he was offered.


"A genuine Lely? Congratulations old man, a trophy to be proud of!" Charles paused a moment before curiosity bade him continue. "While we're near the topic, what exactly is it that you do Arthur?"


The brightening in the older man's eyes at the mention of Mary Audley was interesting. Briefly, Charles let himself entertain the thought that Arthur had sentimental as well as practical reasons for suggesting the match.


"Oh yes, a very prompt reply indeed. She's overcome with motherly concern you see, and it all but drips from her letter. One could almost be forgiven for forgetting that she's a decade too young to be my mother." He smiled sharply. "She claims to know nothing of you, incidentally, and warns me against being taken in, so we shall have our work cut out for us on that front."


Frankly, Charles thought the best way for Arthur to win her over would be to demonstrate that he had a great deal of money and was willing to spend it, but it would be better if the other came to that conclusion on his own.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arthur meanwhile attempted to don the guise of an old dog unbothered by a playful puppies vigor. A manner of superiority that was initiated with a lift of nose, then relax back into creaking leather chair... yet his eyes pinched of Charles question.


"Yes. Genuine."


When asked of the exact nature of his business, Chatham's eyebrow rose just a smidgen. "Your Father never told you? Hmm, I bit of this, a bit of that. Now I wonder why he omitted giving you any detail. One might almost think he had secrets to keep." ah this was more like it.


A smile broadened his face.


"Well she has every right to feel concerned after you. You never know what sort of persons you might happen upon in London." He had to laugh of his joke about themselves. Yet his humor did not last long, put to bed by a long distance slight. His hand moved to his heart, "Ouch. But still, I can hope we may remedy that lapse in her memory. And I would assert, better no memory, than an ill one to over come. Yes, this is in fact good news you so kindly call to deliver."


He still wished Charles had not called.


A letter would have been sufficient.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arthur's pose might have worked had his mask not already cracked when he opened the door. Even now Charles could see the other man had not fully recovered his equilibrium. Were he fully self-possessed, Arthur would never have let Charles see how that innocent little question had stung him. Charles would credit him with that much.


Oh, this is glorious.


He was enjoying himself sufficiently to let Arthur's little jab pass, simply snorting with amusement.


"Oh, the old man had a host of secrets, the fact that he was an incompetent drunk foremost among them. But I imagine you know all about that, seeing as you profited from it." Charles had no idea whether that was true or not, but he expected Arthur's reaction to shed some light on it. "As for sharing them with me, we both discovered that our happiness was inversely proportional to the amount of time we spent in one another's company. In the last decade, we've exchanged at most a score of letters and spoken..." Charles waved his hand in a vague gesture. "Call it half a dozen times. We were not in that habit of sharing confidences. In light of that, I shall admit that I think it most inconsiderate of him to die with his affairs in such disarray. I strongly suspect he did it just to spite me."


He laughed at Arthur's little joke, and again at the man's mock hurt. He smirked across the desk, eye twinkling.


"Were you worried you might have left a bad impression? You are right, of course, that a clean page is preferable to a blotted one. If we are to leave a favourable mark on her mind, though, we must find you a new tailor. Brown is a sadly forgettable colour."


Charles yawned, only in part to illustrate the point- he was still feeling the effects of the previous night.


"Now, while I'm here, shall we start planning our campaign for when she arrives? Will we have a formal dinner together, or arrange a 'coincidental' meeting or..." he trailed off to allow Arthur to offer his own suggestions."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Driven to it no doubt." he found himself posed as defence for Chathams father, "I pity the man with derelict son, there is no truer definition of the word 'long-suffering'."


Which begged a question, almost as an aside. "What reformed you from a merry life on the continent? I shall admit that your sobriety of character since we met, surprises me." How Chatham the elder had talked, Charles here was a wastrel. Yet Arthur found him to be something of a snappy wit, and rather fun to spar with (though of that he'd not admit.)


"Oh he definitely did it to spite you." Arthur gave a bemused snort, "I dare say if you dig deeper you shall discover any number of other posthumous cabals. Cunning of him really, to avoid repercussion by hiding behind Saint Peter...


Jest aside, he then spoke seriously. "Then let me reveal that which you may not know, for I was your Fathers friend as much as I was factor to various endeavours of his, he would stay with me when in London even - though not so much after his second marriage. In any case, he got sick the year before, bilious fever. He'd seem to recover, but not properly. It was a London Physician that diagnosed him with Nephrosis*, told him that he best set his affairs in order. It was after that, that I saw him again, first time in a few years. Not long after that he returned to Chatham. I heard later that his death had been mercilessly slow, poor sod."


"Lady Chatham is no daft teenager to be deceived with frills and lace, substance is the quality I wish to exude, not that courtly nonsense." still, the man looked down at his brown coat and frowned, as he looked up again, "Do you think?"


"Perhaps a chance meeting then, somewhere suitably impressive."




* ie old disease names for: initially hepatitis which caused kidney disease

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles smiled thinly.


"What foul villain has been slandering me so, suggesting that I have reformed? Sheer calumny." He shook his head. "Your impression of my character came from my father, yes? His assessment was accurate, up to a point, but he never understood that while I am a committed hedonist, a hardened voluptuary, a sinner of the blackest sort, that is not all that I am. I have wits and charm and uncommon nerve and many gifts besides. But no, I was not a conventional heir, and so I must be useless." He sneered.


Charles was not being fair. The breach between them had not been entirely, or even mostly, his father's work. Charles had never been able to resist needling him and had never forgiven him for remarrying. And Oxford and all that had followed on from it had put immense strain on the old man. But Charles had never been interested in fairness.


It was something of a revelation to learn that Arthur had been a friend to the late Lord Chatham. It was strange, to think of his father as an ordinary man rather than an endless font of vitriol and disapproval. He shook his head, faintly irritated by the notion.


"And, being contrary and cantankerous, he resolved to do the exact opposite." Charles smiled darkly. "Can there be any doubt he sired me?" He laughed at that, amusing on so many levels.


He dove into topic of Arthur's seduction of the Dowager with nigh-unseemly relish.


"Arthur, style is substance, at least for the matter at hand. I am not suggesting that we bury you in frills, merely that a little variance in cut and colour would be to the good." He cocked his head, considering. "The current fashion is for martial cuts, which would suit you I think. Something in plum, perhaps, though a tailor will judge that better than I."


Then there was the question of where the two should meet. Charles hummed thoughtfully.


"Well, the New Year's Ball springs immediately to mind, if you can manage it. You could even escort her back afterwards. I'll be... occupied. Failing that, there's church on Sunday."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"No, he never mentioned charm." Arthur's mouth shifted on that, till unable to resist it he loosed a deep chuckle. "I must be the last man you'd expect to say your father wronged you, but you are not the man I had anticipated at all."


Which made it a bit harder really. Still, life was but a game. Not one where the winner takes it all, but in an ongoing series of rounds you won some, you lost others.


On Charles opinion of his father: "Ah. Now I see it, the family likeness." Neither had anything good to say of the other. The operative question remained in Charles mind at least, whether the hatred was nature or nurture, to which certain documents revealed all.


"Lud, you'd not have me in ribbons and bows at least." Cardogan did not even raise to being addressed by his Christian name this time, such was the depth of his frown at this talk of frocking up for a woman. Ah. But what a woman. "But this suit is barely a year old, and its not so much brown. My Taylor called it camel. Said to me it was far more fashionable than my previous choice of seafoam, which I do still wear none the less. But really, most of my tailors fabrics come in that range of browns to charcoal. He's a man of business you see. And I, a man of business.... where on earth would I get a red suit made?!" It was apparent that Cadogan needed some assistance in this regard.


Yet talk of the ball was encouraging. "You gould get me in?" Not just anyone could attend. The man licked his lips, and leaned forwards. "So this plum suit, how much would a thing like that cost do you think? Err... not that cost is any consideration, just for my budgeting purposes, you understand."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Of course not," Charles said of this talk of bows and ribbons, frowning thoughtfully. "You couldn't carry them off."


He barely hid his wince as Arthur continued.


My work may be cut out for me here.


"Yes, and camel is a shade of brown, and doubtless it serves when attending to business, but we are speaking of courting a lady of gentle birth. There are different standards to live up to, even in this rather unusual case. We need to distinguish you out from the crowd."


How did my life come to this? Coaching my blackmailer to seduce my stepmother?


"It need not necessarily be red," Charles tried again, suppressing a sigh. "In fact..." He cocked his head to the side, considering. "...Yes. Charcoal might well suffice, paired with bright, bold cravat and stockings, and in a more... current cut. Yes. Sober, restrained, elegant, fashion conscious but too sensible to compete with court's peacocks. We could even sprinkle some flour at your temples to further the impression."


Charles shrugged carelessly. "As to the ball, perhaps. The right clothes and a confident attitude can get you anywhere and everywhere. And as for cost, that will depend on the material, the tailor, how swiftly you want it done and a hundred other things. But think of it as an investment. Speculate to accumulate."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One eyebrow raised and the other lowered upon Charles comment. Couln't I just?


"Well now you are talking, yes Charcoal." paired with a bright cravat and stockings? "Yes I want to be a step apart from the rest." he agreed to it, "In for a penny in for a pound as they say."


He understood he'd need to 'invest' in these clothings as the younger man said, but he still felt that the handsome step mother would have her head turned for other atributes. "Enough so as to warrant her initial interest. You shall attend with her might I asume, and be ready to make our introductions when she inquires?"


He said when, for 'if' was not an option, in either of their interests. This agreemnt they had come to was of a mutual benefit, his word as a gentlman was good, and he'd not misuse any information he had if the young Earl managed to help him pull this off.


"Should I purchase her a gift do you think. What advice can you give me of her current interests - what manner of topic would she enjoy, what topics are taboo?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Yes, the charcoal will look very well. And perhaps something in russet as well, if you feel up to it."


Charles was cutting his cloth (ha!). He could not make Arthur stylish in one stroke, so he must proceed piecemeal. He agreed with the other, in fact, that new clothes alone would not suffice for their purposes, but he very much doubted that Mary Audley would have much to do with Arthur as he was now. The principles of advertising applied to people fully as much as they applied to businesses after all.


"I'll escort her to the ball, and make introductions after you 'chance' upon us." He smiled slyly. "And, as soon as is polite after the pleasantries, I shall make myself scarce. Assuming all goes well, some time after that I'll pop back to ask you to escort her back to St. Marks, claim I'll be detained on some thin pretext. She'll assume that I'm off to some assignation, which to be perfectly honest I likely will be."


He paused to consider Arthur's question for a moment.


"A gift can wait until after you've met. I'd suggest a nice fur, hard to go wrong with that. As for topics of conversation..." Charles shrugged. "Taking an interest in little Francis and the girls would not go amiss, and some sympathy for her current position having to look after them and deal with me would doubtless be appreciated. A subtle intimation that the ball offers you a rare, welcome respite from the travails of business would arouse her interest, I think."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was apparent to Arthur that Charles underestimated his intelligence - while true his suit of camel was forgettable in a crowd, the business man had done very well in the past with an outward downplay of his presence. Why one might even say that Charles treatment of him just now was proof of the effectiveness of his... disguise, shall we say?


At least these were the thoughts of a man who was uncomfortable taking good advice from another.


But it was Charles arena he was preparing to step into. It was only prudent then to hear out his advice, even if was somewhat patronising at times. It was but the early stages of a game that, if played right, might continue for years. Cardogan intended to pull out all the stops in his pursuit of the widow.


"Thin pretexts - my favourite kind." He uttered,


As a result of a deal gone bad, he was in this tight spot right now, but he'd not remain there long.


"Then she is not fond of you?" again one eyebrow rose while the other fell. "That you suggest we bond over sympathy of association is either very big of you, or... or something else. Would you not prefer I surprised her with a glowing report?'


He was yet to be convinced that lying of his own background was a prudent start.


"And her feelings upon your late Father?" he asked, "would not mutual regard for the late Earl serve as a sturdier... er, footing to build upon. It is my experiance that deciption is rarely an ambitous mans friend, prudence with the truth serves far more substantially."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles might well have been underestimating Arthur, but the fact remained that downplaying one's presence was perhaps the worst thing one could do in a case like this. (As did the fact that Arthur apparently knew less of women Charles had at sixteen.)


He shook his head softly at Arthur's question.


"I'm not suggesting that you blacken my name, merely that you sympathise with her having to guide a quick-tempered, impetuous and somewhat headstrong young earl. She will suspect some scheme of mine is afoot if you begin by singing my praises."


Charles honestly did not know how his stepmother felt about him, but he strongly suspected she was far from fond of him. (Truth be told he was not entirely sure how he felt about her.)


He nodded in answer to Arthur's next query.


"Well, we can't be certain how deep those feelings ran, but she can't openly scorn you for the sentiment, can she? But now, where have I advised you to lie? At most, I have suggested that you frame the truth pleasingly."


Charles was in full agreement with Arthur on the value of deceit. Weaving one's deceptions from the truth was far more effective, and far more satisfying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Well I have not been abroad for some years now." His reply might reveal he'd misheard* Charles earlier, and had thought the young Earl was suggesting he weave a tale of foreign business travel to entertain. Travel, travail, the words were quite similar.


"Very well, I think our ground work is laid." he looked at Charles again. It was entirely wrong for a blackmailer to come to like the blackmailee, yet it was bloody hard to not enjoy this growing alliance. The walls he stacked against seemed to tumble back down far too easily.


He gave a sigh, and leaned across to open his lower draw.


Lifting from it a bottle. "There are some glasses in the box near your feet." he told Charles as he worked the bottles stopper free. "Once you reach my age, Chatham, you'll have accrued a fair share of regrets. And do you know, there comes a point when you say enough is enough. And so I'll just say it. I rue that we met under such circumstances, for you are a likeable chap, and I'd have liked us to be friends." he held the bottle ready to pour drinks.


But perhaps Charles disguise was equally effective in this instance. But despite having warmed to him, there was no offer of burning a certain folder, nor did he look towards the box it was stowed within as he lifted the bottle ready to pour them a drink.





* aka you mod misread

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(OOC: No worries. An easy mistake to make.)



"Abroad? What does that have to do wi- ah." Confusion cleared from his brow. "Travails, not travels. My apologies. My speech can grow rather swift."


Charles nodded along with Arthur's assessment.


"I would think so, yes. Foolish to plan any further ahead when events are so fluid."


Despite his words he made no move to leave. Charles had enjoyed himself, even beyond the petty malice of seeing Arthur discomfited. There was a pleasure in shared scheming like this, and Charles had almost forgotten it before this. And finally (and bizarrely) he could be more himself with Arthur than with almost anyone else. The other man knew most of what Charles was, and could make a shrewd guess at the rest, so why bother with pretence?


Arthur was having similar difficulties, it appeared, and Charles bent to fish out the glasses as instructed, pondering the matter.


"If I reach your age, I shall consider myself to be doing damn well," he offered with customary irreverence, before continuing more soberly. "But leave deciding whether you regret this or not until it has played out. The ending isn't written yet, and who knows what it shall be? Until then-" Charles raised his glass in salute. "- Cheers!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Aha..." brow cleared with the explanation, "then we are of an agreement then." Good to know.


A generous splash of amber liquid was splashed into each glass, upon a mutual cue lifted as the other placed a toast. It was well said, and Arthur felt his mutuality in this. "Then to unwritten futures." he reiterated with glasses salute, "cheers."


It was a well aged malt, smooth and warm, and barely any sharpness on the tongue at all.


"I got this bottle from another client." Arthur professed, "in default of their fiscal payment I might say, but still, it seems well drunk today." he leaned back to his chair. "You were asking what my business actually was. I am a conveyancer, though not so often of real-estate. I handle bulk products, you see, particularly for those new to the field. Who may have uncertainty to how to manage customs etc. It is a little niche I have carved out for myself. It can be rather lucrative, may I assure you, as I am no doubt sure you wonder to my ability to properly keep your step mother, should all go well. Yet this second winter in a row with abominable conditions, it has been, a strain I admit. Yet the hump is utterly temporary, and I am certain that my clients shall be swift to settle their debts the moment they are better able."


He was not as stricken as it currently seemed. He had a pile of money owed to him, the problem was that those bills were so long over due. "That painting there forinstance..." he dawdled on the edge of telling Charles about it, meanwhile took another sip of his drink.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles dashed back his toast, eye widening in pleased surprise.


"Oh, I've missed good single malt. You can't get it for love or money on the Continent," he told Cadogan in appreciation.


He listened interestedly as Arthur unburdened himself, absently toying with his glass.


"Sounds like interesting work," he said. "I'll admit that I had expected you to be in a... less enterprising line, shall we say?" Charles paused for a moment, thinking. "So you handle bulk transport then? There may be considerable need for that soon, if we get our war. Powder in particular will need to be moved in large quantities by... trustworthy hauliers. Even quite a small siege uses tons of the stuff."


What on earth am I doing? I swear, if he's made me like him, I'll kill him.


He took another sip of his drink to disguise his momentary confusion, and nodded as Arthur indicated the painting.


"There's a story there, I'll wager," he said with a smile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chatham's appreciation warranted a top up of the glasses, "I suppose you've survived on wine primarily, although, the Europeans do some curious things with spirits.. I tried a schnapps once, ghastly stuff."


"You thought perhaps law?" he gave a chuckle of that. "Not so much the transport, but the transfer. Contracts, paperwork, negotiations with purchasers, the authorities and the like." Young Charles' mind, with his military background, went to thoughts of warring supplies.


"Have you gunpowder yourself? Ah, but the sale of that is scant trouble, there would be few men who look for an agent to assist with that sale for a percentage. More commonly I have foodstuffs, wool or finished cloth, coal etc on my books."


"Indeed there is." Arthur was pleased with the prompt, for the story was ready upon his tongue.


"Belongs to a fine gentleman, with an even finer father, were you to know his name you would be very impressed to my calibre of customer. His holdings produced a vast quantity of burnt lime - which is lime stone heated to high temperatures, and is used to make heavily cultivated soil less acidic. I arranged a sale of his product for him, it was expediently done, though no mean trick - a total of 32 purchasers, the lime going as far as cornwall. And he, grateful indeed, telling me of funds he required for a private venture. However, his gratitude was not so quickly translated into payment of my commission, why four months later I was still sending reminders there of. Till at length I went to visit him personally, at his very own house.


Here he looked at the painting again, "It is a placeholder of a kind, a promissory note of a fine enough sort I suppose, but I would far prefer the 200 pounds. Apprantly his business struck an obsacle you see."


He sighed of it, perhaps he was resigned. "I rather like the way the sunlight glints upon the water."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Brandy, mostly, but I have missed the smoky flavour of a good single malt." Charles laughed. "I've tried schnapps too. Not that bad, I found, but I was somewhat foxed beforehand."


He chuckled along with Cadogan.


"Something in that line," he agreed.


Charles shook his head and elaborated on his idea with the gunpowder.


"Oh, I'm not suggesting selling it. What I meant is that a man with the right connections could quite easily form a consortium with his friends in the shipping business. That consortium could then tender for the contract to transport the powder to the Low Countries. As I said, there'll be literal tonnes of the stuff needing to be moved. And a consortium formed early would have something of an advantage." He shrugged. "Just a thought."


He listened attentively to Arthur's story. Those were the risks of doing business with men of his class, Charles presumed. There was the inborn presumption that they did not have to concern themselves with debts to their social lessers. Honestly, Charles was surprised that Arthur had even managed to get the painting.


It is a lovely work.


Impulsively, he spoke.


"Sell me the debt. Or the painting, if you'd prefer."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By foxed Cardogan guessed he meant he'd been deep in the cups already, it was a term he'd not heard before, but discovered he liked it. "Better foxed than half assed!" he chuckled of that, though that did not change his opinion on schnapps. "But don’t say you also have tolerance for Genever?" Which was the absolute limit, he thought.


"Ah, I see, you propose a bid for a military contract." he rubbed chin at that, "If we may continue our proclivity for metaphor, I might now say 'once burnt twice shy'. Have our military that fine a record of payments?" While spoken as a question, it was conclusion really. "I have no room on my cabinets to stow a cannon or two in lieu of payment!" he laughed - yet still might be convinced if Charles had some facts that bolstered the viability of his idea.


"Sell you the debt?" the offer came as a surprise, and Cadogan blinked. The timing could not have been better, as there was a woman to impress. Yet this was something more than that also. A budding business relationship. After a moments consideration he offered what he thought was a fair offer, "I would take nine pence to the shilling for the debt."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I'll drink almost anything," Charles admitted candidly. A brief frown crossed his features. "Apart from Greek ouzo, which is the very Devil." (If he remembered correctly it somehow manages to taste better coming up than it did going down.)


He nodded along with Arthur's wariness of dealing with the army.


"There is that," he agreed. "It can be prohibitively difficult to extract what is owed from an institution that well-armed. Of course, no intelligent army would lightly antagonise those in charge of transporting their supplies either, and it should be possible to squeeze an advance out of them. And of course, there are the fringe benefits- improved contacts with the Dutch, for a start."


The offer to buy the debt, Charles retroactively decided, was not an altruistic one. He was simply ceasing an opportunity. It would be easy to frame this as Charles doing a favour for all concerned, and even a two hundred pound favour could be immeasurably useful, leveraged in the right way.


He performed some quick mental arithmetic as Arthur named his price.




"Done," Charles said, offering the other his hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Truly?" Arthur shook head with amuse, it apparent enough by his expression that his opine of Ouzo was rather higher on the scale. "To each their own vices." upon which note he took another sip of the exceptional whiskey.


"You have a point there, the supply chain might be well funded. I have just heard so many stories of out of pocket Soldiers that I..." he paused on that, his thoughts not upon those hard-done by patriots in any case. "I think I shall make a few inquiries."


Wasn't there some saying about war being an excellent time to profiteer? Someone was bound to benefit from it, why not him?


A price was given, and readily accepted. Arthur shook on it, "Might the painting remain here a time, till your your investment makes good and it can be returned to Lord Winchelsea, or I acquire premises with a window. It does cheer the spot dont you think? I've become rather partial to it I'll admit."


And so Charles discovered the identity of the debtor he'd just purchased.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles laughed freely.


"I had to draw the line somewhere, or there'd be no vices left for anyone else."


He mirrored Arthur and savoured another sip of the whiskey.


"Oh you hear of penniless soldiers for good reason. Most men would not enlist had they the capacity for any other trade. But it is one thing to cheat and shortchange common soldiers, and quite another to do so to a large merchant company." The latter happened of course, but it was a great deal more difficult. "But, yes, make inquiries. You'll have a few months yet."


A quick, firm handshake and the deal was done.


"I assume my note of hand will suffice? I can write it now, if you like, and if you have sealing wax on hand. And by all means let the painting remain here. It does brighten the atmosphere, and I cannot blame you for your partiality."


Charles swirled what remained of his whiskey as he pondered.


"That would be the Chancellor's son, yes?" he sought to confirm. He actually wasn't sure if he was going to collect the debt, or simply waive it in exchange for a favour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"And you would be interested in input to such a conglomerate, yourself?" Arthur asked.


The method for the exhange of a debt was ironed out between the men. What with being sat at his desk with the supplies all there, it was an expeciancy that saw our chap in camel coat dip his quill and write out words to the effect. His penmanship was as fine as any of the age, and carefully done. I's dotted. T's crossed. And a florid but under his signature added before red sealing wax, the colour of important business letters, was applied and stamped with his seal.


Meanwhiles they talked. "Yes, he's' a house on Picadilly St. Natrually discretion is required, but I judge you to be a man who shall not cut off his own nose." Likely enough Chatham was in a position to suffice with some manner of barter with Finch, while Cadogan was not. Sometimes coin made the greatst sense to a man.


As it was done, it seemed a natrual conclusion to the meeting was upon them. "Best of luck with that." Cadogan wished, "and so I shall see you at teh ball then. Ha! I am rather looking forward to that I'll admit! Seeing Lady Chatham, that is. You, well, enough said!" Though frankly he would not mind at all if he came to be a legal relation.




OOC: I am trying to find Daniels Finches house loc post incase you need it - it is lost! Will add it to the Guidebook as soon as I find it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


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

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...