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[CD] An ungodly hour [Dec 30th, 1 AM]- Xmas 1677

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Melville House

This older house used to be the residence of Sir Thomas More. It was a two-story building with numerous chimneys, a slate roof, and many windows mullioned with white limestone. The otherwise severe façade of white plaster and blackened half-beams was softened by carefully pruned rose bushes of many colours planted all around the house.


The house stood rather nearer to the King's Road than to the river. Between it and the way along the waterside were two large courtyards, and opposite was a quay. First was an outer court with a wide and straight graveled driveway flanked by carefully kept lawns, and then there was an inner green court with an oval-shaped driveway that reached the terrace in front of the house.

It was after midnight that the barge docked at the quay opposite from what used to be More’s Great House. The viscount had sent his manservant William in advance, so one of his liveried coaches plus a pair of carts were already waiting. Cuthbert Beale, the aging butler, had not known how much luggage the viscount would have with him, so he decided to err on the side of caution. The man’s precautions were proven correct, as the barge seemed to be loaded with packing crates of various sizes, plus his lord’s personal baggage.


The night was windy, and the chill seeped to the bones. Duncan wrapped himself closely in a thick American black bear skin, which covered most of his body. Fortunately, Cuthbert is as efficient as ever, and I won’t have to walk to the house, the Lowlander thought as he climbed onto his carriage and the door was closed after him. With a nod of gratitude, he addressed his butler. “See to it that everything gets downloaded carefully. Also see to the unpacking after sunrise. I hope nothing got broken during the trip, so please advise me if anything did”. The man bowed slightly, in acknowledgement.


The trip to London had been a hard one, and had taken longer than Duncan had anticipated. The weather had delayed them at least a week, if not more. The Northern Road was closed with snow, and the Borders were full of brigands. Thus, the Scot had decided to book passage by ship, from Edinburgh to London, and had then taken a barge to Melville House. His health had held, but he was exhausted.


Arriving late, with so much to do! Will there be time for everything? Probably not! Still, he would do his best to keep his days busy, and achieve as much as he could. At least his sister was already married, and that was one less worry in his mind, even if it left a gaping hole in his cash reserves. You are now a countess, dear Beatrice. Papa would have been so proud! Their father had been a well-respected man, who served his King faithfully. Too bad he had died before seeing his daughter get married.


I will have to speak with Dundarg, of course, but I hope he will understand. In the end, it was Beatrice’s decision, and he ought to respect that. The fact that Balcarres was an earl had weighed heavily in the decision, of course, but Beatrice’s wishes had sealed it. The Lowlander hoped his friend Cat, Dundarg's sister, would understand too. She is a practical lass, so I am sure she will. They had been friends since before she became the mistress to the King, and the viscount didn’t worry that his choice of husband for his sister Beatrice would change that.


As the carriage stopped in front of the house, George, the senior footman, opened the door for him, and the freezing wind immediately hit the lord's face. I was right to come by myself. The trip would have been hard on Ophelia, and could have been very dangerous for Ellen. Better to bring them in warmer weather. For now, they are safe in Melville Castle. The viscount alighted from the carriage and hurriedly entered the house. The rest of the staff was waiting for him inside the door, waiting for instructions, headed by the cook, Mrs. Gage. At her inquisitive look, the Scot replied, “I won’t be needing anything tonight, thank you. An early and hearty breakfast will be appreciated, though”. All he would need was a glass of brandy, but the Lowlander was sure that William, his personal manservant, had taken care of everything.


Now to bed, tomorrow, the good Lord willing, shall be a new and better day…

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