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A Message Concealed Friday 31 am- Xmas 1677


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She'd come back to the Portrait Gallery once again alone and now stood before that same painting as a few days ago.


Her attire today was done for the coldness of the weather and the corridors of the Palace held no true warmth either. She had come to see friends but before that wanted to quickly slip away to do something.


She glanced about as seeing no sign of anyone walked to the right side of the large picture of her Ancestor the famous Bess of Hardiwck, reached into the pocket of her skirt withdrawing a slip of paper, then stepped back a sound from some place startling her.


Biting a corner of her lower lip Frances opened the paper and quickly read its contents



Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;

When little fears grow great, great love grows there.


It spoke of her thought and feeling over the past few days since they had met here. How her mind and begun to offer up all kinds of ways that their marriage would not be allowed, of how she'd be sent from Court by her father, or worse that the Gentleman had been toying with her and played her for a fool. Perhaps part of a wager ....


But her Heart however knew what was True and so she had searched out until she'd found this verse and would now place it as he'd suggested behind the portrait there to wait for him to discover.


Quickly before anyone came she slipped it behind holding her breath and taking a step or two away waiting to see if it fell out. It did not.


A smile graced her features and she looked up into the face of the Countess and she gave a reverence to that Lady - for Frances understood that if she were to succeed then she had to become Strong. Strong and Confident as well. For had not the Countess been such?


She turned away her steps echoing a bit as she left but at a doorway she turned back and her eye was caught by something - had the Countess smiled at her? No a trick of the light surely.



* (Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2, Line 181)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since talking to Beverly, George was aware it would be an unkindess to dally with Francis feelings if he was not given consent by the father to court her. A part of him imagined that it was already too late, that a manner of attachment had formed. He liked to think that even.


Yet this was not something that could be expedited at all, he was barely returned and just beginning to make repairs to his reputation. The timing was a little unfortunate. In perhaps a years time his letter to Lord Newcastle upon time might be received far more favourably.


It did not stop George from passing through the portrait gallery that morning, to pause at the painting of lady, grazing fingers around the edge of the frame. Her note came free to his hand, while he placed one of his own in an exchange.


It was some minutes later in the relative privacy of drafty passageway that that he looked at the note, smiling quietly of the sentiment. The words she’d plucked from the play expressed feeling perfectly. He knew that Beverly's warning had come too late. Yet he smiled of that. She was such a lovely girl, gentle, sincere, yet intelligent. She'd make a fine Countess...


The note that he'd left read:

Petition to the Lord delivered, have faith

my lady, an audience will soon be gained

Mark 9:23*


*KJV: 23:Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

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  • 2 weeks later...

She'd secrete'd the note away tucked inside her bodice and there it rested against the beating of her own girlish heart until she had a chance to read it.


Having discovered by accident that there were many unused rooms about the vast space called Whitehall Frances now quietly secluded herself inside one of them just off and to the left of the Gallery itself - with only a few tables and three tall wooden chairs none else occupied the space but the four diamond paned small windows could be cracked just enough to take away the staleness of the air.


She coughed and tumbled off several 'sheets' of long linen and now, with legs tucked beneath her in one of those large chairs, a Duke's daughter read the note from the man who held her heart.


He was so Eloguent!


Even this simple Bible verse struck exactly the right feeling and she wondrered if he had begun his Campagine of Conversion that he had spoke of. They both knew it would be the first step but not the hardest that needed to be faced on their road to Marriage.


She had not brought another note with her. She needed to think and besides Lord Chichester was the one that must make all the Plans. She would do as he'd said in the note - she'd have Faith.


She nested deeper into the chair and soon her eyes closed and she slept with his missive pressed to her chest.

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