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Intrepid Adventurers | Westminster 2pm 30th- Xmas 1677


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Westminster Hall

Constructed in the 11th century, Westminster Hall was the Great Hall of the Palace of Westminster. In 1399, the roof was changed from pillar supports to a hammer-beam construction that allowed it to traverse the entire 69 feet span without the need for rows of pillars. The Royal Courts of Justice sat here, and all state trials took place here, including those of Sir William Wallace, Sir Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, the Earl of Strafford, and Charles I. An arch in the south-east corner of the Hall gave entry into the House of Commons. The rotting heads of Cromwell and his Generals were displayed outside the Hall.


On most days, however, the Hall served a different function as a shopping center of sorts. Many small shops were found here, open from dawn to dusk, and offering a variety of primarily English-made goods. Recently several shops have begun offering expensive specialty goods, taking advantage of the elite of society and court being nearby and often having business at Westminster. Some were little more than stalls with fold-down shutters that served as counter-tops while the shops were open but others were draped with silk as if advertising the desirability of their wares. They were most open front with counters and had interiors with shelves and places for fitting and perusing offering. The shops were as much social focal points as businesses; gathering points to exchange the latest gossip and people-watch. A discerning courtier might hear a bit of trade gossip or receive investment ideas from hearing the merchants talk about the procurement of their various wares. With new novelties showing up regularly based upon trade booms for English ships, one never knows when what they bought might become the next court fad and skyrocket in value.


The great hall was abuzz with activity, the busiest people paying little heed to a woman stood in deep blue cloak of the finest wool. She smiled watching a group of youngsters, a pair of dark haired boys and a girl playing a game of dice.


"Want to test your luck milady?" the eldest boy asked, cheeky grin on his face, hair dirty and lank. "I have excellent luck." Anne claimed, "I already know I shall win."

The young girl there, a lass of 12 or 13 smiled and moved round the ladies side to watch.

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Caroline had showed up just in time to hear the cheeky lass utter her brag. Really?


"Well, if you know you'll win it sounds less like luck and more like you may well be about ready to cheat then?" Caroline smirked.


She wasn't deadly serious about the accusation, honestly she didn't even know if there were any stakes riding on success or failure or what the game was, she'd just arrived. But she wanted to see the reaction of the woman and the others.


She also wasn't excatly sure if this was the meeting place and even who all she was to rendezvous with? But it had sounded like fun and besides, she was still a bit upset with Sophia's nonattendance at her party. An injured ankle and yet now she was going to go climbing? How stupid did Sophia think she was?

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Someone else arrived with cheeker still accusation. "Heavens!" Anne turned, voice pitched upon brink of laughter nearing dismay -- till she saw who it was.


It might have been about then that Caroline realised that the spectator to the dice game was none other than the Duchess Monmouth. Anne Scott who now broke into a full grin and chimed, "as long as one wins, it hardly matters 'how.'" The glint of her eyes might reveal she was not being serious.


Meanwhile the young girl who was near the Duchesses skirt seemed to be a clumsy sort, for she stumbled a little boldly against the lady, then quickly apologised and backed off. In fact she backed off as far as her boy friends.


"Tell us how to play, and Lady Kendishall and I shall have a turn." Anne said to the boys, then turning to beckon Caroline closer. In a lower voice she spoke, "I am so glad you could join us, I was not sure if you were the adventurous sort, but upon a hunch..."


Meanwhile the boys hesitated to the explanation of the game, with some sort of conversation of eyes going on between the young trio as the dice were collected up.

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The Duchess Monmouth! Caroline blinked but too late, she'd spoken and would have to brave

the possible consequences. Fortunately the other woman was not offended, in fact made light of it with a quip of her own.


"Well, some I suppose can get away with such things," Caroline smiled back, "Play on then, your Grace."


The scamp of a commoner lass bumped into the Duchess then backed off with a hasty apology. Caroline eyed the child instantly. Was that what she thought it was?


Anne appeared oblivious though as she urged the children to explain the rules so the ladies might take a turn. She then turned to Caroline for a quick word.


"I can be adventurous, yes," Caroline started in a normal tone of voice, as much as anything for their young audience not to get suspicious.


Caroline's guard was up though and leaned on in to whisper into Monmouth's ear.


"The girl may have pickpocketed you. You'd best check your possessions..."

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There were so many people at Westminster Hall that Sophia was not certain that she would be able to find the Duchess of Monmouth and the mysterious lady she had invited to join them in their tower-climbing adventure. Perhaps it had been fortuitous that another had been included, for the petite Baroness was not certain that she would be able to climb several flights of stairs. Although she could now put weight upon her injured ankle, she still walked with a slight limp and the assistance of her ribbon-covered cane. As usual, Anna and Karl trailed behind her at a discreet distance.


She was wearing the same gown that she had worn this morning when she had met Lord Chatham in the gardens. Of heavy dove gray silk liberally embroidered with small pink roses, it was trimmed with pink ruching and white lace at the neckline of the bodice, and at the hems of the puffy long sleeves. The skirt was pulled back and fastened with pink fabric roses to reveal the pink silk underskirt with its rows of white lace ruching.


Her jewelry consisted of pearls and the cameo that Don Juan had given her hung from the center of her necklace. Over her gown, she wore a silver fox fur cloak. There was a matching hat atop her silver-gilt curls adorned with a pearl brooch and pink feathers. The lock-pick Lady Monmouth had included in her letter was tucked into her petticoat pocket, in case they needed it.


Ahh, there the Duchess was, surrounded by a group of children. And was that Lady Kendishall with her? She did seem to be the adventurous type. Sophia felt guilty about being unable to attend her party the night before, but even if she had not twisted her ankle, Esteban had forbidden her to go. She wondered if Lady Monmouth had been there.


Caroline was leaning toward the Duchess as Sophia approached them. Not wanting to interrupt, she waited to greet them until they were finished whispering together. If they were talking about her, she hoped they were saying nice things.

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He had shopped the day before along the Strand and now he was shopping in Westminster. A beauty like Sophia would stick out to the lord that wore his regimental coat with the Colonel rank. He preferred it to the Life Guard tunic when he was mingling in the city with the commoners.


Approaching to get a better look, Charles noted Anne Scott easily. He knew her well. As for Caroline, she looked familiar though he did not recall being introduced.


There were children about and it made Langdon search their faces for evidence of Frances or any of her friends, not that he would really know the latter. Nevertheless, he approached in his scarlet tunic and doffed his hat to the ladies.

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Anne took no offense, but laughed in daredevil spirit as Caroline joined her, and encourged the dice game. "It must be some sort of gambling." Her Grace whispered in conspirational tones, "Probably a con, I've always wondered how they do that. If both of us watch, we might catch them out."


Ladies raised in sheltered circumstances coudl find adventure in any number of things.


Indeed, it was already an adventure -- Caroline suspected she'd been pick pocketed!


Anne's eyes flared.


She patted at her pocket. "Heavens!"


The dice holding boys and their girl-accomplish made to dash.


Just then Sophia arrived, with the kids ran past her. Were they familiar? The boys Mark and Tony had once tried to sell her marbles.


Charles who cheerfully navigated his way through the crowds but a few steps behind Sophia, spotting his friend, perhaps to smile - had a boy dash past either side of him, the young girl who was also escaping looked up and eyes flared as she recognised her guardian. Then onwards she dashed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

ooc: Sorry for late reply.


IC: Caroline had been correct afterall as after being warned, the other woman now realized she had indeed been pickpocketed. The children knew they'd been caught too and did what children can do quite well, dash off as fast as they could. Caroline was tempted for just an instant to chase them but the reality was she would never catch them.


Also distracting Caroline was the arrival of none other than Sophia. So she could not make her party last night due to an ankle injury but here she was to climb a tower? Caroline glared at her friend, if indeed that was really true. She wasn't so sure now.

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Sophia nearly lost her balance when the children darted past. In order to stay upright, she had to put most of her weight on her injured ankle while leaning heavily on her ribbon-covered cane, and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. Pain lanced through her brain and for a moment, colorful jewels danced in front of her eyes.


When her vision cleared, she noticed that Caroline was glaring at her. Was she that upset that she had been unable to go to her party? Certainly, she could see that her foot was indeed wounded. Before she could ponder her friend's strange reaction, Lord Langdon approached and doffed his hat to them.


Had Lady Monmouth invited him to climb the tower with them too? Sophia hoped so, for perhaps he would offer to carry her up the stairs. After all, he had carried her once before, when she had fallen and hit her head on the floor of the candy shop after freeing the Duchess' panniers from a window.

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Langdon had not been invited to this society of female adventurers. Climbing a tower was hardly an exciting opportunity for the young officer. Nevertheless, he would have gladly joined and been of assistance if asked. He was ever at the service of ladies he liked.


It was the appearance of Frances that made him forget all else. He had asked Bradley to find her and now -- here she was, and there she went. There was but the briefest worry that Frances and the boys had done something delinquent with the ladies. Their flight suggested that they had done something wrong.


It seemed as though his adventure for the day was to be chasing a 12 year old girl through London streets, rather than climb a tower. An adult could rarely catch a child on a crowded London street, unless another adult helped apprehend them. Children had a skill at slipping through crowds without causing outrage and alarm. As such, Charles knew he would need to use guile instead.


The trio of ladies was forgotten temporarily as the Earl sprang into action. He did not have skirts to hinder his running and he was in good physical shape. His uniform might allow him greater penetration into a crowd. He ran after her with whatever skill he could muster in guessing her route of escape.


"Frances!" he shouted as he gave chase. "Don't you dare run from me young lady. I need to speak at once with you about your mother! Stop!" He was going to use the appearance of an alleged uncle to prove his words trustworthy. He did not wish to be false with Frances after all. How could one expect honesty when one did not employ it? Ambecrombie was a threat to her mother, so it seemed a valid basis for urgency.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Those Still:

Sophia narrowly missed going for a tumble, meanwhile Anne's eyes turned with Caroline's to watch after the fleeing children. Was that? Yes it was Charles.


"Fiddlesticks." Anne pouted as Charles about faced and raced after the children.


The little duchess pouted quite prettily, though no gents were about to appreciate it. With a sigh she supposed "They probably needed it more than me." brining a smile back to her face and asked her company, "Well ladies, are you ready." She did not seem terribly perturbed of having been robbed.


Those Running:

Charles yelled threat failed to accomplish anything.


Frances ran through the crowds darting in and about after Tony. Where was Mark gone? The younger youngsters height gave them an advantage of being able to avoid being seen so easily - though Charles might be able to tell by yelps in though the crowd ahead that he was on the right track. Headed for the main doors that went outside.


But then there was a lad that blocked his way. "Just leave her alone, she’s done with you, can't you see." it was Mark, though Charles had never actually met Mark before, he might have heard Frances talk about him often enough over the years. He was the second oldest of the Trio of boys she'd kicked around with, elder brother of Tony (who was Frances favorite). He was somewhat chunky of build 14 yrs of age. Lifting his chin, Mark stood to his tallest height and shifted to block Charles progress.

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OOC~ Rather than create a separate thread, i will continue on separately within this thread because i expect to rejoin the ladies eventually.


Angry that Frances did not obey him, Charles gave chase. The sins of his ward were building up in the Earl's mind and he was already imagining the punishment he would mete out to the girl.


It was then that his path was blocked by a male accomplice. This one looked to be on the short side of puberty. The boy blocked the chase and Charles knew that his pursuit was likely to be fruitless as a result. Yet, Mark provided an opportunity for Langdon to succeed.


Attempting to grab the youth by the collar, Charles declared "and who do we have here? What is your name boy?" Once he felt he had his target well in hand, Charles ordered the passerby to fetch a soldier to him at once. The Langdon Regiment patrolled the Strand and the upscale areas like Westminster Hall, so Charles was certain that some of his soldiers were not far away.


A plan had formed in his mind and it would be one that would make Frances sorry. How dare she disobey him? Worse, he feared that she had become a thief.

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As the children distanced themselves rapidly from the women, it seemed a nearby gentleman was going to at least make a gallant attempt to catch hold of the scamps. Caroline noted that Anne was not too upset about it all. Mayhaps she had not lost anything too precious? Rather she seemed most intent on getting on with their little adventure. An adventure Caroline was still not quite certain what all it entailed. It could not be much of a climb if Sophia was here to attempt it with her supposed ankle injury. An injury Caroline was now a bit dubious about.


"We can hope the gentleman succeeds in his pursuit, your Grace. But if you wish to commence I am certainly willing," she first addressed Anne.


Then she turned to her German friend(?), feigning surprise, "Why good day to you, Lady Toledo. Might we consider your appearance here a Christmas miracle? Given how your injury sadly prevented you from attending my party last night."

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Lord Langdon certainly took his duties as a Life Guard seriously. Sophia sighed as she watched him pursue the fleeing children. So much for being carried up the tower, she thought with a disappointed little sigh. There goes my ride. She wasn't certain whether she would be able to climb all the way on her own, but she would certainly give it a try.


Before she could answer the Duchess, Caroline spoke to her as if surprised to see her. Which she supposed she was, unless Lady Monmouth had told her that she would be joining them. She had not told Sophia that her friend was the other lady she had invited. “And to you as well, Lady Kendishall,” she answered with a warm smile.


Hobbling forward, she winced in pain each time her ankle hit the ground. “I wish this stupid ankle would miraculously heal itself. At least it is a lot better than it was yesterday. I am truly sorry I was not able to attend your party. My lord husband wanted me to rest my foot and would not let me go. As much as I wanted to, I knew he would be angry if I disobeyed him. I imagine I missed a wonderful event.”


Her gaze turned to Anne. “I am ready, although I do not know if I will be able to make it to the top. Perhaps I should not have come, but I could never turn down an opportunity for adventure.” She hoped they would get the chance to discuss Bedlam. Maybe Caroline would like to help them solve that perplexing mystery.

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The Ladies adventure - stymied


Anne had been warned, oh however many years ago, never to go to town with much money in ones pocket. Accounts worked marvellously, and was so much more pleasant to not need to discuss mundane things such as prices. So in her coin purse was possibly ten pennies and a few shillings. Enough for tips, and perhaps a treat from a street vendor. So no, she was hardly bothered of the loss, though terribly interested to watch the adventurous pursuit that developed around the theft.


The lifeguard disappeared through the crowd. "Oh my, isnt he daring." Charles held a special place in her heart, for reasons kept private to them. Henry was nearly two now.


"Yes well I am ready." Turning back to Caroline, Anne moved to link arms, free hand moving to her hip in a pose that felt just right. Yet then she noticed Sophia's hobbling along, and her expression dropped! Oh no!


"Look at you." she spoke bluntly, giving a sigh. Sophia was apologetic of it of course, and astutely commented that perhaps regrets should have been sent instead. There was no way she could climb to the top of the bell tower.


"You could wait in your carriage." Anne suggested, though even as she said it she knew it would not do. The outing was ruined. Giving another sigh she conceded, "Well perhaps we reschedule for next season." and tried to smile of it, though her disappointment could hardly be concealed.


Charles adventure - with Mark.


He'd not thought it through, but when did man ever think it through when it came to defending women.


Charles easily grabbed hold of Marks collar - but the lad did not cower of it. Instead he jutted chin and replied, "I am Mark, Frances true friend. I don’t need to ask who you are, I know just who you are. Why don’t you leave her alone see."


Across the way Charles might spot a man in the Langdon Regiment uniform, though at the moment the man's back was turned as he chatted up a flower lady. The passer by gave Charles a nod, and made their way towards the regimental man.


"If you arrest me, it just proves how little you care for Frances. I'm looking after her, if I am locked up, anything could happen to her. Do you want her dead, or worse huh? Let me go, and leave her alone."

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Annoyed, Charles replied. "You do not know who I am. I am Frances' guardian; appointed by the King to look after her. I saved her from the streets and saved her mother from the madhouse. I am the one that takes care of her, sees her fed well, and educated. I am the one that arranges her singing lessons and plays cards with her. I am the one who will kill any man that threatens her harm, will rescue her when she is in trouble, and will see that she becomes a fine young lady -- one to make her mother proud," he rattled off sternly.


"You, on the other hand, encourage her to live like a street rat in unsanitary conditions. You wish to keep her an uneducated child that will become a victim in the streets of London. And worse, master Mark, you have taught her to be a criminal. That is something that I cannot forgive. It is because you are a criminal that you shall be jailed. You shall stay in the hell hole of a prison until Frances comes to seek your pardon and promises to never associate with the likes of you again. Then you shall be free to work your wicked ways on other foolish girls who know no better, and have no guardian to rescue them from your evil deeds."


He signaled for the trooper to approach, fulling expecting Mark to try and escape by losing his jacket. Charles was ready to wrestle the boy to the ground if need be. The lad was not going to escape his grip if he could help it.

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He'd tried to bargain, but Whitehurst was not a reasonable man. "You are Lord Langdon, the man who broke Frances heart, traipsing a marching a string of flooozies front of her, treating her like a child when she was managing your whole household. Yes I know exactly who you are, and why she flees you now." Mark retorted. "She could sing long before she met you, you've done nothing for her except make her hate everything nobility stands for."


Course Mark only knew Frances side of the story.


The regiment guard, looked in Charles direction as he was alerted, and eyes widening of who it was who needed him, he hurried towards the Major and his captive.


"You cant blame me for her education Frances is a clever girl and makes her own choices." Mark stubbornly stood his ground against the adults trumped up charges, though there was a look in his eyes that he understood that this was the end for him. Frances would not be able to get him out of jail, nor would his little brother Tony.


The regimental guard arrived, "Sir, this lad is a problem sir?" and moved to take the boy into custody. "She could have done a lot worse than have friends like me and Tony..." Mark's voice ebbed off.


"Shall I take him down to the Fleet sir?" the regimental guard asked. Mark was meanwhile frowning, as he started to worry about his little brother.

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Did the boy even know what a floosy was? In a different moment it might have been comical to test the lad's knowledge. Yet, Charles was in a mood to breathe fire, quick to anger when one of his ladies or the royals were threatened.


"I treat her as a child when she acts like a child. If you act as a young gentleman, you would be treated as one Master Mark. The same is true for her. I have treated her as a young lady even though she is too young for that designation. You see Master Mark, children run from trouble; Gentlemen and gentle ladies do not. When children do not get their way, they pout and claim to hate everything and everyone responsible, even when they do not. It pains me to see Frances act as a child. I would have rather her approach me to discuss concerns, like rational adults do. I have an important message for her and you have assisted in poisoning her mind against her responsibilities to her family."


The soldier arrived and Charles noted the man's identity. "Trooper, best go and get a mate to bring this one in. He will be slippery and seek to run away, as a child does. As such it may be best to tie a rope to him. I will hold you responsible for this one. Not only is he a pickpocket, but he has assisted in the disappearance of my ward. He will need to be questioned to find her whereabouts and I want her recovered immediately. She is in danger at this very moment and just ran from this building not a minute ago." Already, Charles was wondering whether he should join the escort to Fleet Prison. Perhaps he could loosen the lad's tongue about the hideaway for Frances.

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Caroline was indeed still perturbed that Sophia had not made her party due to this injury but had somehow managed to show up for this - something which was going to take much more physical effort. The German lady answered her greeting with a smile, seemingly not catching on to the barbed sarcasm Caroline had employed. Sophia put on quite a show of the discomfort she was in even now however Caroline was not buying it and also blamed her Spaniard husband. Now that part Caroline could believe however, well except for...


"Yet he allows you to go climbing with us today? Strange, this husband of yours," Caroline shrugged then added, "And yes, the party went well."


Sophia now declared that she was ready to begin this little affair.


"Such tolerance of pain you must have, my dear," Caroline commented dryly.


Anne meanwhile was quite impressed with the young man who had stormed off after the brazen thief remarking how daring the fellow was. Really?


"Yes, chasing a child....a true man of action," Caroline couldn't help herself, sarcasm was coming easily to her this day.


But at least Anne was ready for what they had come here for, linking her arm with Caroline. However there was now the issue of the hobbled member of their little trio. Anne first suggested Sophia might wait in her carriage but then changed that to doing it some other time. Next season? Caroline blinked. Indeed?


"How unfortunate for us all then. Wait...is that gentleman coming back? That is once he runs down that little cur? Mayhaps he would be willing to carry Sophia on his strong broad back?"


Caroline turned to glance at Sophia, "I rescued your monkey that time but I will be damned if I am going to heft you up a tower." Her smile had a bit of an edge to it.

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“My lord husband does not know I am here,” Sophia revealed. “I told him I was going shopping.” She wanted to say that all husbands were strange, but Karl was within hearing distance and would most likely report her disrespect to his master. And so she held her tongue.


She didn't think she had a particularly high tolerance for pain. “It does not hurt as much as it did yesterday,” she said with a silky shrug. The diminutive blonde finally noticed Caroline's sarcasm when she subtly insulted Lord Langdon. Did the two of them not get along? She had no idea that her friend was angry with her for not attending her party. If Caroline had hurt herself and could not attend hers, she would understand. Even if she simply decided not to go or went to another party instead, Sophia would respect her decision.


The Duchess seemed disappointed and thought that their adventure was ruined. Maybe she should have stayed home. She had not intended to spoil the outing. Yet then Caroline suggested that if Lord Langdon returned, he could carry her, which was what Sophia had hoped when he had joined them.


“I would never ask such s thing of you,” she assured her friend. She looked over at Anne. “Perhaps we should wait a few minutes in case Lord Langdon returns? If you remember, he has carried me before. And if he does not come back, I can ask my bodyguard to carry me up.” If she was set on climbing the tower, she believed that Karl would rather carry her than risk her injuring herself again. She wondered if he had been blamed for her accident yesterday morning.


“We should not pass up this chance to go to the top. The view must be fantastic.”

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  • 2 weeks later...



If Anne was aware of the rather obvious tension between Caroline and Sophia, she did not let it show. She was old enough to have learnt that if you wanted to find a grudge it was easily done, like right now. What party was this they talked about? A party to which she had not been invited?


No. She was past petty grudges, she'd lived a miserable life counting crimes against her by her no good philandering husband. She was master of her own destiny now, and it was a adventuring destiny, one filled with fun. And laughter. To the devil with care.


"As fine as Lord Langdon is, he's no Lord Dundarg." She cheerfully declared. Douglas could scoop a lady up under each arm and vault to the top of the tower if he wanted. Charles was too proper for any of that.


"Besides, that would hardly be an adventure any more. He'd probably ask for permission before we went up, when I had intents of picking the lock." the Duchess produced a curious little tool and gave a pleased-with-herself smile of it. "If you've not seen one before, this is a lock pick. And this." she pulled a piece of paper out her poke, "is the instructions!" Really, the curiosity shop had a lot to answer for.


She had no time for ladies bickering, nor for loitering around waiting for Charles (he would probably tell them off for what they planned to do!)


"Lets go practise our lock picking then, we might not be able to climb the tower, but at least it's something."

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Perhaps it said something for the boy, in that he did listen to what Charles said. "Well I have stopped running to face you." he said, the wind gone from his sails. "And am man enough to accept what is coming to me. But you cant blame me for poisoning her mind, I've only listened to her when she came looking for us. When she said she had no home anymore."


Mark had made no move to escape Charles clutches, and was not sure why the lifeguard said he had been. It seemed to him that Lord Langdon was just trying to humiliate him by saying that. He stood there, took it, what else could he do?


He was upset though. And was not hardened off enough to keep the glint of moisture from his eyes as Charles spelled out the treatment he was to have delivered.


"Aye sir." The London regiment guard said, and looked about for a citizen with some rope. "We'll keep him under double watch don’t you worry."


"I'll not dob in my brother, nor Frances either." Mark spoke stubbornly as his hands were roughly tied.

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Though Mark had made no move, Charles did not trust him. Children that live on the streets and engaged in thievery kept themselves free by slipping away. They were like snakes and if one did not grab them carefully in hand they would use whatever ruse they might to be free.


As Mark was being tied, Charles attempted to paint a picture to make the lad see the hopelessness of his position. "Here are how things will progress Mark. You will be escorted to Fleet Prison, a place for hardened criminals. I apologize in advance for the unspeakable things that they might do to you while you are there. It is no place for a boy. But you have left me no choice." He paused to let Mark imagine what sort of unspeakable things might be done to him physically. "I will have you held under my personal orders so that Frances will not be able to purchase your freedom. Your freedom will come only from me. The Warden of the Prison knows me well and would not oppose my wishes."


"In short order Frances will learn what has happened to you. She will try to visit you and try to buy your freedom. When it fails, she will be left with the decision to let you rot for the rest of your life, which might be short, or come to see me to seek your freedom. I know her well enough that she will come, no matter had mad she might think she is with me. Each day she hesitates is another day that you might die, so she will not wait long. She will come to ask for your freedom. I will tell her that she can have it by agreeing to stay and never run away again. She will, in the end, relent, for it is her only choice. I will send orders for your release and we will all pray that you are not too badly injured or dead by then. With luck, you might be there for a few days; but, if she is stubborn, you could be there months or years." He hoped to paint a bleak situation.


"There is an alternative, of course." He held out hope. "We could speak with her now and see if she was willing to free you. If she is, then you can be free now. It is simple as that." As he gave Mark time to react, his eyes searched for his wayward ward. Even now she might have crept back to see what happened to Mark. He certainly hoped so. She was a clever creature.


"Despite her childish anger that I would bring a woman home to meet her and Bradley, she knows, and you know, that she is safer with me and better off looking after her poor mother. She is jealous and makes life difficult for all of us because of it. Girls are like that. Trust me." With luck there would be a desire to help find her so that the confrontation could happen sooner rather than later.

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There was little need for Langdon to further crush Marks spirits, he knew he was done for, that this was it. But he held onto what dignity he could manage, kept back the tears that a boy would have let fall.


Yes Mark and Tony would find out what happened to him easily enough, there were crowds of people about, and gossip travelled fast.


While it angered him that he thought Francis would cave like that, sell herself to Langdon for Marks freedom. "You think that little of her do you?" he said, "seems to me you are talking about some spineless girl, not my friend Frances."


But then, finally, Charles offered an alternative.


"I could take you to where we stay. But, it would have to be her choice, and you cant bring your guards and tie her up and haul her away also." he paused, his own eyes flared a little as he recognised someone back in the crowd behind the lifeguard. "Tell you what, how about a gesture of good faith, send this guard away now, and..." and what would Mark then do? He was not entirely sure.



Meanwhile, Frances and Tony had indeed doubled back, and watched distantly in dismay as Mark was manhandled. What could they do to help?!




Yet before anyone could go off to pick any locks, the youngsters from before came rushing back to our group of valiant Adventuresses!


One of them a girl of about 13, in clothes quite fine though very grubbied. The other a boy a few years younger, with breeches that were at least 6 inches too short, his clothing various shades of brown (perhaps not originally, but they were all brown now).


"Ladies, Ladies!" Frances burst into Caroline, Sophia's and Anne's midst. "A grave injustice is taking place, we need your help!"

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"Ahhh, so you brought your bodyguard along too? I did not think to bring mine being I thought it was a ladies adventure," Caroline pointed out then shrugged, "Well given who you married, I suppose it is maybe necessary. I suppose he is some dour Spanish thug too, he will make fine company."


She was angry with Sophia but she had long shared her father's detestation of the Spanish, just another branch of the hateful Hapsburgs.


"I imagine the view is fantastic, once we manage to get up there," Caroline added, a bit snippily.


Anne then indicated she knew Lord Dundarg and that this Langdon was no Dundarg. Caroline smiled, remembering her acquaintance the the Scotsman, the horseback riding.


"I do agree, Lord Dundarg impressed me our first meeting," she was quick to reply.


Anne then showed them what she declared was a lockpick. Caroline knew what they were but this was the first one she had actually seen, Anne even had instructions. Now how had this noblewoman got her hands on this? Well, Caroline would not ask.


"Fascinating.....yes, I'd love to watch you show us how it's done. Someday Lady Toledo may need to know such things when her jealous husband locks her in a room," Caroline remarked.


But their plans and Caroline's verbal zings were interrupted by a sudden rush of children, street scamps really, all excited about some horrid abuse of justice. Wait! The girl was the very same one who had pickpocketed the Duchess? Caroline was pretty certain of it.


"Oh so you, of all people, now want our help? You robbed this fine noble lady here, did you not? And we are supposed to come to your aid?" Caroline was suspicious of what new plot these youngsters might be hatching.

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Anne might not have been invited to Caroline's party, but she had been invited to the banquet at the Spanish Embassy tonight. Sophia hoped that she would see both ladies there.


What was wrong with Lady Kendishall? Her spiteful attitude was more likely to ruin their adventure than Sophia's injury. And why did she insult both Esteban and Karl? “My lord husband cares about my safety.” she explained, “and my bodyguard is Austrian, not Spanish. If I am in trouble, we can communicate in German and no one will know what we are planning.”


At least they all seemed to agree about Lord Dundarg. The young Baroness nodded, but said nothing about the tall handsome Scot. It still hurt that Lord Kingston had refused to let them marry. She didn't care if he was a bastard. They would have been happy together and he would never have curtailed her freedom. Sophia still cared for him deeply and believed she always would.


The Duchess had another idea for their adventure that wouldn't put any strain on her ankle. Sophia had thought that the tower would be open, but now she knew why Anne had sent her a lock pick in her letter.


Yet another barbed remark flew from Caroline's lips. Why did she keep ridiculing Esteban? “Not all husbands are like yours,” she remarked with no trace of malice. Reaching into her petticoat pocket, she brought out her own lock pick. “But in case he changes, I'll be able to get out once Her Grace shows us how it's done.” She felt a bit superior to Caroline because apparently, Anne had not sent her one as well.


Before they could move toward the tower, two ragged children ran up to them, begging for their help. According to Lady Kendishall, they were the same ones who had ran away earlier after robbing the Duchess. Was that why Lord Langdon had gone after them?


Well, they wouldn't do it again. Perhaps the reason Sophia had no sympathy for them was because they were only a few years younger than she. They should know not to steal. Without a word, she swung her cane toward the back of the girl's knees, not hard enough to hurt but forceful enough to send her sprawling to the ground unless she was able to avoid being smacked by the ribbon-covered stick.


If she did fall, perhaps they could keep both of them there until Lord Langdon returned. Or either Caroline or Anne could go in search of him. Hampered by her twisted ankle, Sophia would be too slow.

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Anne likewise turned to see the girl and younger boy from earlier - now rushing back calling for their help!


"Yes mam!" Frances confessed, "we were just trying to feed ourselves, but now.. "


But now what? The injustice taking place yonder went unreported, as she cried out! Sophia's cane had whipped out and struck Frances behind her legs and sending her flying forwards! Clasping for something, anything, she snatched at Caroline’s skirts...


Tony rushed forwards, bending to help Frances, looking fearfully at the woman with her beating stick. "Don’t hit us!" he shouted, trying to help Frances back to her feet.


Anne stood stunned. She'd yearned for an adventure, but now one was right before her, she could but gasp!

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"A spineless girl would let you rot, not having the bravery to confront me," Charles corrected Mark. "A spoiled child would let you rot because she would be unwilling to sacrifice her fun for a friend. An obstinate child would let you rot because she was to stubborn to agree to anything that made it seem as if she was wrong in her decision-making. No, Master Mark, your only hope is that Frances is a kind girl who stands by her friends, and understands that true friendship means doing something unwelcome when a friend is in need. Only a humble girl can admit she is wrong. Only a worthy child will trade her freedom for that of a friend," he concluded, hoping the boy would see how wrong he had portrayed the situation.


"I know Frances well enough to believe she is a good girl who will come with me of her own free will in order to help you, and because she will know that she acted wrongly." That was his hope and expectation any way.


"I would not tie her," the Earl replied. One did not tie the hands of a young lady. "We shall see," he added as he saw his plan working. Mark was seizing on the alternative.


It was then that there was a commotion that attracted the gaze of Mark. Was it Frances. Charles did not doubt that Frances would come back to see what was happening. He had hoped that she would approach him of her own volition. The commotion was back with the ladies -- Anne, Sophia and Caroline. "I'm not sending away the guards until I know what is happening," Langdon mumbled. After all, he might need to come to the rescue of the ladies and would need the guard to hold on to Mark. Holding his ground, Charles hoped to see what was amiss.

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OOC: Mark had looked past Charles and saw Frances (ie she was distantly behind Charles), before Frances rushed back to the Ladies. Charles did not see Frances, but he might have guessed that was who Mark recognised. And neither Charles or Mark can see the ladies on the other side of the crowded trade hall, though Mark saw that Frances ran in that direction.




"So you think Frances has fine qualities do you? Then why don’t you trust her to make her own choices?" Mark returned.


So then they tried to bargain, that Mark would take Charles to Frances, his request being a gesture of good will, if Charles sent away a guard. But Charles refused.


Mark's expression shifted, so Langdon had been lying all along. "Then take me to Fleet then." he turned to the guard charged with his end. The guard waited for Charles nod, before hauling the youth away to prison.



It would then take Charles a few minutes to cross the trade hall back to the ladies...


OOC: CW, I ask that you let the girls all post what they do with Frances&Tony, before CW re-joins them.

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