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A Wave, 30/12, late afternoon- Xmas 1677

James O`Neill

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The Red Lion Inn


The main entrance is situated at the eastern side of the building. A room of whitewashed walls and dark oak beams, a cheery fire burns in the fireplace on the west wall. A desk is located here, behind which sits a tall, thin blonde lad with merry eyes and a ready smile.


The tap room is located in the centre front of the ground floor. A great fireplace is set on the east wall; at the north end of the room is the serving counter. A door behind the counter gives access to the kitchen area; a door beside it give access to the guests' stair.


In order to pay his enormous bill, artist Isaac Fuller has decorated the walls of this room with paintings of lions. Behind the serving counter is a depiction of Hercules fighting the Nemean lion. On the east wall, around and over the fireplace Aesop's lion has the thorn removed from his paw. The south wall has a painting of Daniel in the lion's den: this painting incorporates the door to the street. The west wall has a depiction of the goddess Cybele in her lion-drawn chariot.


The taproom is furnished with an oak settle before the fireplace and tables and stools are scattered in congenial groups around the room. The floor is covered with the finest sand which is changed weekly.


To any who knew him, it would not have come as a great surprise that James was presently engaged in an uphill battle, at arms as he was with his own attention span.


The plan for the evening had been a relatively simple one: gather up his notes on The Rising of the Britons and attempt something resembling last-minute formatting, so that such an epic could at least be submitted to a courtly audience in something approaching a final form, and do so in the company of others, away from the prying eyes of his manservant (and, a rather paranoid thought went, his father's catspaw) Fergal. The obligatory comment on the exacting nature of his publisher wrote itself, of course, although he could hardly complain of the coin in his pocket – were it not for the good lady and his position with Ormonde, a meal at such a grand inn would have had to have been the result of good luck at cards, not a fleeting indulgence.


For the Red Lion certainly was grand, with its teeming multitudes and elegant paintings, the latter of which were sufficient to distract James -ale in hand, Mrs Golighty's oyster and carrot pie left at a table, untouched apart from a few noncommittal fork-pushings- from his work. Impulse control was never a quality the poet had possessed, of course, and he was exacting enough in the composition stage as to surely excuse any present errors.


Besides, he could have sworn that the westernmost wall was adorned a depiction of Cybele, which appealed to both the libertine and classicist sympathies of an artist on the make. Which James was certain he was, even if the...failure to bring to fruition a relationship, creative or otherwise, with his main supporter, Lucas Cole, or indeed with any such ties was a galling reminder of what he had yet to gain. An independent goddess...uncreated and unbound...associated with fertility. I would very much like to meet the painter responsible.


This day was remarkably more quiet than that of the opera, which already seemed a lifetime away. Without artistic obligations, he was unbound, and while a patron would certainly be preferable to the present's alternative arrangement, it left James with a definite sense of freedom. And what was the saying in Gaelic? Eiridh tonn air uisge balbh.1


Perhaps I ought begin the seeking, the thought went, however, James still examining the wall's artwork. Any potential interlopers were as overlooked as the table in front, their patrons ignored even as the young artist cradled his mug like a mother might a babe, their discomfort irrelevant to his own private thoughts. With Kingston, maybe? The blonde relation of Buckingham had always been a friend, and if nothing else, could be counted on for a bit of diversion...


And aloud, James muttered, “Whether I need more or less of that...that is the question,” before, rather abruptly, nearly colliding with an unacknowledged passers-by.


1: A wave will rise on quiet water.


(OOC: Open, of course!)

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