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A Rendezvous | Friday, Early afternoon- Xmas 1677

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Portrait Gallery

The long hallway connecting the Banqueting House and the Great Hall is decked out in portraits, landscapes and sculptures from all the past masters. Stools dot the hallway, as well as a fireplace or two, to warm it in the winter months. Also scattered about are small nooks that lend an air of privacy in the open corridor, especially at night.


Dressed in costume of midnight blue, a marvellously understated tone that served fine contract for the silver grey satin lining of turned back cuffs and lapels. Cuffs and Lapels that were heavily worked with navy needlework in celtic patterns, set about with silver buttons and piping.


The tall Earl looked down the gallery, a not-unpleasant tension in his breast; anticipation touched with nerves. He was to meet Frances this afternoon.


It felt an age since he last saw her. Much progress, but then again, so very very far from accomplishment yet. She had professed she had the patience for it, but, she was so young. Could she endure, was her Father already pressing some other suitor, had she been banned from seeing him? She was a most desirable match, even without taking into account her fine intellect, vision and yes compassion.


With his book in hand he moved to take the chair near the portrait Frances had been studying when they had met. Meeting the forever-gaze of the The Great Bess of Hardwick, would be chaperone, he prepared for a patient wait.





OOC: as planned here

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  • 4 weeks later...

She knew all would be lost and she was to Blame!


The fact that they had arranged to meet had truly slipped from her mind and its resurfacing had come in the Company of the Spanish Ambassador's Wife and Lord Dundrag - she turning at once pale then quickly followed by pink as she hastily made some excuse and quite their presance.


Hurrying back the way she had come without actually running took all her patience for the last thing she wanted was to create any talk and the sight of a Duke's daughter in flight would be just the sort of thing to set tongues wagging and stories to be created!


Just two more turnes and then she'd be there but before that happened she slowed her pace and then stopped altogether a hand to her side where a 'stitch' was making itself felt and her hair was starting to come undone ..... taking advantage of the dim lighting of a nearby alcove she quickly untied her cloak and then made an effort to restore herself to some presentability ..... a tug here and a pull there then gathering up the stray trendils of her hair and repining best she could without her maid, a quick brushing of her skirts and a few deep breaths and she was as ready as she'd ever be.


Her cloak she carried and when she at last came into the Portrait Gallery her eyes found Him with ease. There he sat book in hand without a care in the World or so it appeared beneath the great portrait of Bess at his ease. She smiled at the picture he made - he in his finery -comitting it to memory as she slowly walked to stand before him.


"Lord Chichester. I am sorry for my lateness ..."


Her eyes were downcast and she was the picture of contrition expecting him to do as her Father might and chastise taking little notice of her excuse or explanation.

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In a hall such as this, it was impossible not to see her studied elegant approach, George smiled of it and stood. Was her hair a little less than perfect? Was there a dilation to her eyes of prior rush? Again he smiled of it, and extended his hand to relieve her of her impediment, the cloak. "I have been savouring my wait, let it trouble you not. Lady Frances, your seat." he made a bowlike gesture as he assisted her (needlessly!) to sit.


The bundled cloak was set on the place on the other side of himself.


"You have been well? You look well." he said, discovering a queer sort of embarrassment at the statement. "It is lovely to see you again."

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She raised her eyes in surprise at his tone having expected to hear something different and automatically handed over her cloak then to be assisted to sit followed by his greeting.


"You speak nothing of my lateness? You are not wanting in patience or in irritation?"


He would think her simple minded she assumes by such questions but her upbringing had not been filled with kind words at least by her father so it was natural for her to think men in general acted the same. Lord Chichester might be able to read between the lines.


"I was with Lady Toledo and Baron Dundrag - I happened upon the Lady lying upon the floor in the Banqueting Hall staring up at the ceilings - and so thought her in some Distress. I had no idea that she was there a purpose! Yet she acted as if it were a thing most natural and then the Baron appeared and thus conversation ensued."


"In Truth our meeting had escaped my mind until I head the clocks all start to chime and then, well, I remembered. So I near flew back but then tempered my steps and took time to be presentable - yet even there I did little save to try to fix my hair - so you see me as I am."


"We spoke of War. Then the Ball and then of Travel's and what one 'collects'. The Baroness has offered to show me some of what she has. She has your acquaintance so she said as does the Baron? She is very pretty."


Frances at last paused for a breath.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"When one has had no one to wait for, for so long, that change alone is a blessing to be grateful of. Yet of either, I would say I waited in patience, tempered by hopefulness." he replied.


He deemed her question to be one of an innocence of outlook to possessing suitors - though perhaps shadowed by an impatience of the existing man in his her life, namely her father. Impatience in Fathers was somewhat allowable, theirs was a test of patience to see their family right and settled.


Then she explained where she had been. George was admittedly surprised, if not a little disappointed that it had not been a broken axle or some greater drama. Her lateness was due to having been otherwise entertained - though initially concerned. "Ah, I well understand your fret, to be laid on the floor..." George gave a puzzled smile, "is very strange indeed, a position one does not usually take up voluntarily."


He wondered if Toledo knew of his wife’s oddness.


"And, were you convinced by her claim that doing such a thing was acceptable?" he asked, having previously thought that Frances was a sensible girl. He hoped her answer would prove his prior impression of her as correct.


Then she completed her story, of her flight down the halls to not miss their rendezvous. Any disappointment he'd felt at the cause of her lateness, was thus removed by her urgency to arrive. He smiled as she fretted of mussed hair, having already told her he thought she looked pretty, he now added his own little anecdote.


"When I was little, my Mama would at times let me brush her hair, I would like the sound it made when the bristles reached the end and burred against her dress. Now had we a brush, I might ask to brush your hair now. Yet that would be even less appropriate than laying upon the ground." his words were spoken quietly with an undertone of humour. "Perhaps we all may be forgiven a little indulgence now and then."


She had arrived with so much energy following her rush, it might take a bit of time for her to queieten down - yet he supposed that at length she would. Perhaps it was her age too, so young. Too young? She looked awfully young, all breathless like that.


"Yes I am good friends with her Husband." he said of Sophia, who seemed to have won Francis admiration, "did she mention that she has asked me to teach her to paint. I went on to consider that I might hold classes in some parlour in the palace, for others who would be interested. It would be a perfect excuse for us to... see each other."

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That he did not chastise pleased and her manner made all the more gentle as she looked at him as he talked adding that he had been grateful for the wait.


"Acceptable? How can you think that - why I would no more think of such a thing - and in truth my first thoughts were that she must be in some rehersal for whatever spectacle she planned next! Then perhaps, as I said, she was in distress."


"When she made the offer to join her I was quite clear in my answer to decline and then Lord Dundrag was asked the same. I think twas why she at last accepted his help in standing. Do you think she does such things in her residence? I can not think there is approval."


"I know you would not approve Lord Chichester and that too was in my head in refusal."


"Would you indeed? Brush my hair - that is, well, such an intimate thing yet one I would welcome and of course I would forgive you the indulgence."


Here she blushed a little for this was indeed something that married partners might undertake - what a husband would offer his wife - and they still in the uncertain state regarding themselves.


She was at last breathing normally and so she made a firm resolve to not appear as if she were such a child still to be unable to control herself!


"Indeed! She spoke of it and made an invitation for me to join but I did not then understand that you approved of the Baroness. I was going to ask if you thought it not of a good thing to seek her acquaintance - I do not wish to draw unwanted attention nor give you cause to think ill of me."


Her speech was made in her quiet voice but he would be able to hear the seriousness of what she had said.


"Are you? Truly? I am not very skilled with a brush but if you promise me to give me an 'advantage' I shall readliy agree to join!"


Her eyes danced in amusement at the 'picture' that painted

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  • 3 weeks later...

Frances was quick to confirm that she'd thought Lady Toledo's eccentricity far from acceptable, posing a question to whether she might behave that way at home also? "Well, one is usually better behaved when in public." Which was an answer enough. An answer he'd already illustrated with suggestion that he might brush her hair in different setting & circumstance.


But frowning upon a foolish girls behaviour was not what George wished to focus upon today, "While I must confess pleasure that you consider me in your own deeds," he smiled with the admission, "I would prefer us to speak of matters that uplift... tell me did you bring the book you are currently reading?'


His excuse for their meeting had been to share that very thing, but he'd hardly judge her if amongst it all she'd forgot.


On the topic of tuition, he was pleased now that he mentioned the lessons, for Sophia had already spilt those beans. "May I hope that for a moment you were jealous?" rhetocially asked with a restrained smile, "but yes, please do attend the class also. We shall begin with making colour samplers and such, you might be pleased at discovering the art of creating different shades is no great mystery but is as simple as learning recipes. And, yes I shall give you special favour, though that must be our secret."

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She was put into another sadness as he asked her what book she had brought.


"I must confess none. Oh tis not that I did not want to but rather one of no opportunity as my Lord Father has made some talk of spenditures towards Ogle's tutor and I surmise there to be some over-indulgences in that department which meant that for me to ask to either buy new or even to borrow from his Library might incur his wrath."


"I took the cowards way My Lord and now I add another dissapointment to the list you must be drawing up against me."


She looked down at her clasped hands one corner of her pink tinged lip held between her teeth and she was a bit scared to look up at him sure to read in his countance what her words had just told.


"I could have bought a heavy tomé that my Aunts had placed for me to read in preperation for my Marriage. Might you know of it "Domestical Duties written by a William Gouge. He was a Clergyman. It is from many years ago and most suited to their Times and I have been tasked to read passages that pertain to 'wives'.


"It argues that the wife although above the children is below the husband and the father figure "is a king in his owne house" and yet I have discovered that his Teachings on female submission I do not care for yet he also encouraged Love Matches so in that I quite like him!"


She now looked at him forgetting her fear of a moment ago.


Had she been? Jealous?


"Well if you mean did the thought of You and Lady Toldeo alone happen to cross my thoughts then yes, I suppose I was. I do not know the Baroness as you do only what I have heard or been told and I was there for that 'Opera' too. But I should like very much to have you teach me. In all Truth."


"If I am to learn then you must not favor me too greatly. But I will look kindly upon you and so shall allow it. Always a secret. Ours alone."


Here she placed her hand upon his arm as she had done before and her smile to him was soft and gentle much like her.


Some moments might pass in that manner and then she'd tell him another worry


"I think there will be an obstical put in your way Lord Chichester. One of my Aunts let slip that was it not fortutious that "Dorset had set his eye upon me" and then what ere was to come next was shushed as I came into the room fully."


"Will He make trouble then?"

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"Oh dear." Her revelation of budgeting concerns within her Fathers household was both surprising dismay and marvelousness all at once. It was a crack in what seemed previously to have been an impenetrable armour of perfection he'd never penetrate...


Chichester’s hand went to his chin, and he stroked it in pondering how he might use that information to advance his cause? For one thing, it must put the Fathers anticipation of paying out a dowry for Francis into question. Yet the dowry was not of any interest to the wealthy Earl.


"My dear Frances - you cannot realise what good new you have thus delivered me." he uttered, "Do you realise what this might mean?"


Yet on Gouge's Tome she had been assigned to reading, George discovered himself a little curious of it. "Do you feel at liberty to explain to me the facets of his doctrine that offends?" George after all could do with any tips of things that might be her triggers to upset - this the preliminary to courtship was a time of learning of the other person.


Was she jealous? It was hard to tell. "Ah yes, she spoke to me of the Opera. She was very upset that others did not view it as she did. I put it down to her being an artist, alas, that 'type' has a propensity for becoming blinded by their own emotions upon a subject - that their reality and the reality of everyone else’s is just as likely to be complete opposites!"


"The best way to be a friend to such ones, it to ever speak honestly with them. It is unkind to humour them in their blindness. Yet. I must admit that I promised to speak to Lord Toledo upon the very same subject for her. As much as she did not understand everyone else’s upset, she did not want to disappoint her husband." He gave a shrug. It was far deeper into someone else’s problems than he wanted to go, but, well sometimes these things just sucked you in.


But Frances agreed to attending, and that made him smile, happy to forget Lord and Lady Toledo’s problems. "Would you accept a small gift, of a watercolour set from me, to commence your art lessons with?" It was warm where her hand rested upon his arm, it felt like a fondness. "Frances, you are, quite warm." Which was not really what he meant at all. His cheeks flushed and he swallowed, he did not reciprocate of course, that would seem too great a breech of etiquette. But he was pleased that she made the gesture all the same.


The moment seemed to go on for ever. But then it was over, and then seemed a moment lost forever. Vanished upon her Dorset news.


The Earl paled.


"Dorset?" He'd known there would be challengers, the very fact that her father was so cool in his first reply, then to give none at all to the second. It had been a clue that there was someone other in the wings he was buying time for. "That would be Charles Sackville, one of the Kings merry favourites, and a man of many holdings, yet of which..." he bit his tongue before citing the man lacking morality. It would be unkind for him to poison her against a man she may have to marry. Though how could sweet and sincere France ever be happy as wife to that desolute.


"Yet also so recently relieved from a match." Hadn't Heather landed herself married to the man, and there had been a hush hush annulment of which no-one spoke.


"Well they say fore warned is fore armed." he paused, then asked "you have met him?"

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Her answers came in a reverse order


"Naturally. Everyone at Court knows of Him do they not? And of his recent 'predicament' and its conclusion. Why I can think of no worse a name to be put to offer for me than his!"


Her voice was quiet but the pitch rose a bit on the last words


"Why next might be Rochester and who knows after that! My Lord father but seeks to test the water I think and Dorset has made no overture to me at all. In fact I can say with a certainty I shall not be handing my virtue to Dorset or Rochester for that matter. On that Lord Chichester you may be certain."


Her temper had made her countenance go a pale plink and her brown eyes sparkled with it as she looked across to him.


He had spoke of Lady Toledo and so she made to agree in that


"I see your reasoning and I would never willingly be unkind to any. But I can hardly do as you and speak with open Honesty. Mayhap, if there is a friendship that might grow bewteen the Baroness and I, then there might be a time and a place for it. Yet I shall extend mine own hand first - we are not that much seperated in age after all - but she is a married woman and I, well, have yet to wed."


"She is personable yet I think too highly strung and had been allowed too many freedoms which would explain her manners and ideas. I hope that Lord Toledo will be patient yet he does not carry the look of such a thing."


"Am I? Warm I mean?"


Her eyes searched his face and in her heart she willed him to place his hand on her arm and she hid a smile as she watched his reaction to her words pleased that he felt emotions for her yet did not express them aloud. Time enough she knew yet some gestures of Affection she'd welcome!


"For me? In Truth? It shall make me most Happy indeed My Lord to have such a treasure made by You. What shall it be of? Will you tell me now or must I wait for it? Will it be small enough for me to place in my rooms say near to my bed ...."


She said what she felt so comfortable was she within his presence and had he not already spoke of brushing her hair ....


She gave a small sigh regarding that book in question but then was deternined to give him answer to all he asked.


"Tis written as I did say by a Clergyman so as expected tis full of Scriptured text and then makes to ally that within the confines of a marriage. Tis in sections the first relating to God and then to those made in His image as well as The Church. Next is the parts about Marriage and then what is the Duties of Husband and then of Wife - with the submission that such needs must follow."


"It is a very heavy thing and I think a hundred pages or more! I have skimmed thru so what I repeat is not in order of the pages"


She gave a small clearing of her throat and leaned in closer to him her voice clear but whispered as she began ...


"He writes that


'husband and wife were the first couple that were ever in the World. Adam and Eve were joined in marriage and made man and wife before they had children, or servants. So the first couple is ordinary husband and wife.


husband and wife shall know their Duty and how to practice it so that they may be an example to all the rest. if they fail in their Duty to one another, they give occassion to all the rest under them to be careless and negligent in theirs


dutiful children and the obidence that they needs must perform to their parents - doing such creates God's Favor


a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband - proverbs 12 verse 4 - thus creates a helpmate for marriage


regarding Love Matches He writes that rather than forced marriages yet the children should have parents consent and that ministers who perform marriages without that are committing a Sin


before a Marriage there must be a liking, a mutual affection between them, followed by a contract and then the public solemnization of that marriage


a good liking mutually and throughly settled in both hearts of one another, love is like to continue in them forever, as things are well glue'd and settled before they be shaken up and down with never be served asusnder. but if joined before glue or shaken while the glue is moist, they cannot remain firm. mutual love and good liking of each other is a glue.


She paused and drew a small breath its exhale to blow softly over to him like a passing breeze.


Her recital was one that did not sound like she spoke from rote but rather with her own thoughts in speech and mannerisms.


Frances had a fine mind and she had ever found the remembrance of things easy enough and she was amongst those fortunate to have had a Father who liked the idea of an educated female!

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  • 2 weeks later...

She was distressed of it, understandably, but what she meant by the comment of who she'd give her virtue to - he had no idea! Did she mean she'd be deflowered by another before she'd let such a thing happen?! If Frances was attentive, she might realise she'd shocked him by the comment - though he gave her scant chance to explain her words more, for his own reply was made.


"It shall not come to that, and that is not a position you shall have to negotiate."


"That his name has been mentioned, tells me that your Father looks for a match with royal favour more than anything else. Royal favour is the single drawcard that I can distinguish as being attached to Dorset."


"I wish that I could tell you that I too come with that recommendation, but alas, I do not. Yet. But if that is the benchmark set to gain your Fathers permission to court you, then I shall make gaining Royal favour my great aim." he hoped he sounded reassuring to the young lady. But Frances was no fool, and no doubt realised that every courtier in Whitehall had that aim also (furthermore she knew that he begun with a handicap.)


"Frances." he looked at her again, softly, "I need you to do all you may at home to stall any talks of others, to purchase me a chance to make achievements to become worthy of your hand."


Leaving the topic of Sophia behind, he desired to live within this moment. Perhaps it was all impossible really. But for now, there was a young lady who desired to pair with him, who felt an affinity with him, and he with her. Whatever happened in the future, right now was precious.


"Yes you are very warm." he smiled, deep brown eyes meeting hers. "To look at you eases my heart, and I can feel the coming of spring - yet even the cold of winter is made pleasant with you near."


"Ah! I mean a watercolour painting set. Cubes of compressed pigments, and a range of sable brushes." he explained. Though now she'd suggested a paintings, one she might place on her night stand, he resolved to put some small piece within the paint box set.


Of the onerous Tome, she spoke forming a summary of a sort, one that held her agreement (if he understood her tone rightly). It seemed very reasonable, and George found himself nodding before she reached the end.


"Then I find myself complying with the Reverend, affection must certainly be a harbinger of a happy marriage. There are no doubt many challenges that husbands and wives together need face, disagreements perhaps, that might otherwise divide. Yet if there is affection, then one shall listen gently to the others perspective, I should think, and perhaps reach a conclusion together that is a compromise of sorts.


"I would hope that if we disagree, that we might speak our points, and reasonably settle a matter. I would hope that thereby we would benefit each others existence, and complete each day with contentment."


"Ah. But that is what I might say to the Reverend if I was to meet him. But to you, may I say more simply, that I held the credential of affection for you within moments of meeting you." Which was true, they had both felt it, a strong and mutual attraction.


“And so, was there anything within his book that you did not agree with?” His eyes glinted, and he grinned a little at the (playful) question.

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As had become her habit, at least with Him, she made her replies in the same manner as before.


"Well he has been dead some twenty year or more so a meeting as you ask would be not too pleasing I should think!" She teased back. "I much prefer that it remain between us and I know that I am held in Affection - just as You are."


"But as to his 'teachings' I cannot find agreement when he spoke that Wives or Mistresses are are bad if either should use spare time to lie abed or attire themselves or even to gossip - for what Blessing can they look for from the Lord by such actions?"


"I quite like to lie abed on an occassional morn and more so when I am, well, indisposed."


(she had been about to say when her moon cycle came but then realized that was perhaps too much information to have him hear)


"And I also wish to be well attired and attractive and as for the last well how can one escape from it? I do not seek it out so mayhap that twas his meaning? That I should not listen or comment is not how being at Court is. As a Clergyman I think He was seldom far from his pulpit and knew little beyond his own House!"


"And as for our own disagreements I shall hold those words to You and so shall expect a reasonable display on your part. But I think me that our Affections for each other shall not allow for many - or that is what I shall Pray for."


She hid her dissapointment about not receiving his gift


"That is a fine thing and I have nothing like it, well, some old brushes missing parts and as to paints there too many are now dried beyond reviving. I am not good at that and so I think I shall dissapoint but I shall attend if to be near unto you."


She blushed a little as his reference to her 'warmth' but she held his gaze her eyes smiling back into his.


"I must confess that those words give me great pleasure and I would hear them often! I so long for Spring! When the air is warm and the sky blue and filled with clouds that are so white in it! Think how much better we shall be for that and yet I shall be sad to lose these moments inside sitting as we are as if in a private space yet so Public."


She wanted suddenly to press her hand to his face or to be even more bold and kiss his cheek but all she could do was to place her hand as she had before upon his arm and hope he would feel the warmth and know that twas from her heart.


"You must be assured that I shall do what ever is required to see us wed. The Duke will search out what he thinks will suit but I will never be forced into a marriage. And do not think that You Lack in anything My Lord! Having the King's Ear does not guarentee a thing and a man would be foolish to assume it."


"Everyone has Ambitions to rise high at Court and I or You are no different. Yet you, Lord Chichester, have managed to rise well enough without the King's 'favor' and sit in Parliament. And done so on your own Merit."


"Your decision to leave your Church can not have been easy and I know must cause torment still no matter how you would say otherwise."


"That is how you were Born after all so tis natural that your conscience will trouble you. Yet I am by your side as now and will offer up my own Strengths so do not fall to discouragement or I shall feel lost as well."


She hoped her words said quietly but with firm resolution would help him.


"You have I think misunderstood my meaning. When I said regarding my 'virtue' that it would never go to Dorset or Rochester - I meant that it was for You alone, No other. I promise you that. George."


The saying of his name for the first time in this meeting was right. And the placement of it as well. She wanted him to fully understand that she was HIS.


And His alone.

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The Earl had to laugh at her somewhat macabre jest - it was both unexpected and entertaining! He was chuckling of it still as she voiced the more serious thought after, and with an equally unexpected familiarity at that moment he reached and gave her hand a squeeze. "That you are."


Yes, he could really see himself forming a life with this young lady, who's company was fresh and sincere.


So she found fault at critique for sleeping in or gossiping, the former George could agree with, while the latter was one of those things enjoyed by many though rarely admitted to. "Have you heard of Aristotle’s golden mean?" George said by way of reply, "Where the moral mean is positioned between two extremes. If at one extreme is excess - say one who gossips day in and out. And at the other extreme is absence, one who cannot abide talk of anyone else's business. Then the moral point is the position between them. The moderate, and in his view, moral position."


Was her frankness with her opinion a thing that he ought feel concerned over? But then she was a Cavendish, that family renown for women with intellect. It was likely intellect that prompted Frances strong words.


"Hmm... perhaps too his views were shaded by his era, I might guess that the book was published during Cromwell’s time."


"And I shall pray for that also." well it was a bit girlish really, so he'd might not actually, but it was a sweet thought that she voice.


"Shh, do not judge yourself deficient before you have had even one lesson. Success is grown from belief and effort - promise me you shall attend with an open mind. The only judgement I wish you to make is at the end of it, if the occupation makes you smile. If it does, then we shall practise together. If it does not, then I shall still wish you to attend, perhaps to sit as model for the other students. Perhaps to... read inspiring poetry to them. Perhaps to... well you get my gist, don't you?" he tipped head.


Was he being a cad?


The words Beverly had said kept haunting him, that he should not lead her along if the match was actually impossible. She was so... terribly sweet. Confessing how she'd enjoyed his reply, she was like a delicate poppy flower, with petals so fragile he could almost see her quiver.

What if he hurt her? George knew what a broken heart was like, he would hate himself if he broke hers.


I must convince her Father.


"You shall not be forced? I am relieved to hear it." the air whooshed from his lungs - relief.


"I intent to approach Baptist May at the ball, to speak to him of gaining an appointment. A further step toward building a portfolio of recommendations to present your Father." While Frances did not think having Royal favour was important, George was convinced by the talk of Dorset that is was. Why else could her family be contemplating that match.


Yet by her words he knew one thing for certain, Frances would support him wholly. He looked at her then, his eyes soft upon her... great deal felt, though not articulated.


Of her virtue however, she clarified, and it was precisely what the Gent had imagined - she was talking about her virginity. George flushed, he'd never talked about that before. "It is a gift I would be honoured to receive." he whispered (far less sure of how it might go). "When we are husband and wife." those titles though, he did feel more confidence with, and with that as his focus he smiled to her again.

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His touch so unexpected caused her heart to feel as if it had skipped a beat and even tho it was brief she knew she would rememeber it always - for it was in truth the first time he had done such a thing in direct respone to her initiation.


"Ah. So you think it wise for me to assume the mantle of this middle ground so that I might then be able to to find the balance in which I can become as the Reverand said? That in doing so I shall have God's Blessing as well as my Husband's?"


"I think you are correct in that - for his Teachings are atuned to those times past and they are better suited to my Aunt's then to me yet I needs must continue on with it for I am 'quizzed' you see on Sunday's by at least one if not both and I know too that the Duke is told of it."


"My Lady Mother has left this to Him and so she will not interfer. I have been taught already the sklls I will need to manage my husband's Estates and the running of his Household and Stillrooms and other such things - in that twas her teachings."


He would hear the Pride in her words of those accomplishments.


His chiding of her for saying that she was not good enough made her happy.


"Tis an odd thing to be told that I should not feel bad about not being good at something. I am not used to it you see and so I think you shall have the need to say it often!"


She smiled up at him her feelings clearly expressed in that gaze.


"But I shall make promise here that I will attend for I have said I will and I do so want to make you Proud of me and no doubt it will cause me to smile as you have said. Me? Model? I do not think ... I mean only once have I ever sat for at Painter and that was when I was younger ... yet if you think it shall be well rec'd ...."


It did not strike her that his request was one that she could do with any confidence and escpecially if Lady Toledo or others' were present!


"Of course I shall not be forced! You no doubt think that ALL Father's are that way and tis true that many are and justified but the Duke is not. I can not think I would be for I am his child and when my friend Alyce was contracted to a widower twice her age with two children on the pretex of them needing a mother and he a wife his opinion was quite strong of how twas not right."


"No. I intend to be your Countess Lord Chichester and together we two shall strive to see it so. By all means seek him out. Do not think I lack Ambition for I do not nor do I think it a bad thing. My Father sets store by it and rightly so. I too expect you to have Ambition and to seek it how ere you can. Gaining Favaor from the King or Queen in a man such as yourself is the way of it is it not?"


"My meaning of having the King's Ear was simply that those who assume it is a given thing is foolish. For a man in your Position why you needs must find it how ere you can! Family Connections are and will always be the bottom rung on the ladder and from which other rungs are built."


"Baptsit May is the first step on your own ladder and then the Duke my father the next step until the top is reached and there I shall be waiting to stand at your side."


"I have caused you some discomfort by such plain speech I think yet that was the only way I thought so you would understand my feelings. What I bring to our Marriage Bed is mine own gift as you say and tis my right to choose."


"Husband and Wife. What two words are better paired I ask! I fear I am over-eager now and so my patience will be much tested over the course of the many months ahead yet I will be content if we can share again such a time and place as now - will we manage to do so at the Ball I wonder? Will you dance with me?"


She asked in all seriousness yet she knew his answer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Precisely." George replied with a small smile, "No man nor woman has been judged harshly for moderation, but rather those ones become praised for their balanced and insightful views. I myself had sought the council of a moderate man many a time."


While the odd brush with extremists (like the man from the Order of Saint Jude) had set the hairs of his neck on end. Even when his good friend Mr Boyle had talked with fervour of the plight of the Irish he'd become quite uncomfortable. "One need reserve ones passions for in private."


Those words were said before the double entendre to them was perceived. The Earl blushed, yet she would be unaware he hoped.


He would hear the Pride in Frances words of her accomplishments, her preparedness for the managing of a house. "A fine foundation for achievements beyond the hearth." he recalled the ambitious tone of her voice when they first met, and did not doubt that she would strike a path.


Amidst the uncertainty there was promise still, as the young lady declared that her father would not force a suit upon her. "The ethics of your family is a good model for all." George was able to praise the would be father-in-law, though he did not yet speak with confidence. He would keep himself in reserve. Keep a moderate view. For he'd stumbled in excessive optimism before, and did not want to make that mistake again.


But for all of that, it warmed his heart to hear her purity of belief. Smiling upon her he resisted an impulse to kiss her forehead, instead he uttered, "You are good for my heart Frances."


And so he laid out his plans for the ball, revealing his intent to press for a favour from Baptist May.


Back upon the subject of her pledged virginity, she realised he was uncomfortable of the topic but continued. So he tried to get over his own discomfort, "I appreciate your candidacy, and treasure the pledge given. I shall walk a taller man amidst my peers because of it. Yet until we are formally engaged I savour your promise it like a thief, yet this shall only make me more adamant to legally possess that honour you would give." his words were a little stilted as he got them out. Truth be told George was rather uncertain about that aspect of married life.


"My lady I think our spirits are dancing together already. But yes, at the Ball I want to dance with you, before all others." said he.

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She had understood his reasonings and he had been forthcomming in his own praise of it and so she was satisifed that she was holding her own. She was not so naive and realized that he had said those words perhaps not intending to so she just smiled up at him saying nothing.


Really he was better and better each time she saw him and so she could be forgiven when her own thoughts jumped ahead to those 'private times' he spoke of!


"I am glad that you find pleassure in me George for I want that above all else - save for the Pride you take for me as your Wife. And do not set such a high store upon my Family for we are as like the others with more advantages perhaps but still quite fallible."


"My father the Duke will not be an easy sway and I fear there will be trials that you must over-come. Also my brother and other men of the family - Uncles and Cousins - plus the Aunts and there in you will need coaching for I am expert in that! But our Love is strong and together it shall be done."


She made no further comments regarding her virtue for all had be said and the end result would be in their Marriage Bed and she hoped that she would have no fear and that he would be as gentle then as he was now - she had no experience of the morning after but had been privy to boasts and the displays of sheets hung in the Hall for all to see as witness of the Brides virgin state - and while her opinion did not matter Frances was not sure she wanted that and hoped that Lord Chichester would not feel the need to prove his manhood.


"And what shall you speak of with May? It can not be a thing of much merit for the place is not set for serious talk but that is why there are side rooms and dark corners I suppose for Men to do their Business?


"Yet I think you are set to create a display with May - to be partnered with him in Company will allow many 'eyes' to observe - and you wish to establish yourself so that the idea grows am I right? If so than I support it and you. Tell me what you would have me do?"


She gave a small chuckle then a smile of Victory at his answer.


"Then I shall wait for you. We must first hear out Misrule - and I hope that she will not be to outlandish but then their Majesties are present so boundaries will be kept - and I hope tis no country dance to start nor a pavane for that is not merry at all."


"Do you suppose she will issue a challenge Galliard where by the Gentlemen must try to touch the ribbon that dangles from the end of the pole and the one that kickes the highest will win a reward?"


Her eyes sparkled at the ideas of what might be on hand!

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  • 2 weeks later...

He fell silent at that, grateful for her comment though wondering the naturally romantic incline of her female mind had her see things differently than they really were.


It bothered him a great deal that her father had not replied to his second letter. It bothered him too that his good friend Beverly had reminded him how a true gentleman should not lead a lady on if there was no chance. George had agreed, and yet here he was. What if her family refused, her heart so warm and precious, might break.


He knew what heartbreak was like, he would not wish that on anyone, let alone be it's cause.


"With May, it is upon the advice of Lord Basildon that I wish to approach him. Indeed I had thought it a poor time to speak of anything serious, but Louis did not think so at all. I wish to speak to him about purchasing an office, as I believe that is the way it is done."*


"Oh now, yours is a fine idea, you would make a good Mistress of Misrule. Alas, I doubt we can expect anything so acceptable as a Galliard at the Ball. She if French, so I hear, and you know how the French are. We must brace ourselves for excessiveness at every turn if a Frenchwoman has anything to do with the evening." George shook his head and frowned.






* At the time that George is talking to her about this, he still thinks that is the case. though as the thread is now happening simultaneously he's been corrected on that score! I suggest that we don’t pursue the topic here also, as it's one of those things that might rip the fabric of our time continuum!

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"Basildon?" She was a bit surprised.


"I thought you ment to seek out another more older Gentleman but then I do not understand much the workings that lead up to aquiring positions. You will naturally go to one that You think wisest."


She was in fact sure that for men as was for women getting a placement was much the same and if it were her she would approach a Senior who had the experience and even perhaps the 'power' to accomplish the Goal. But those thought she did not speak.


"If Basildon thinks to advise afore you go to May all the better for you George. He does after all hold his own Position. And you use his Christian name easily so I not need worry! But I shall be anxious all the same until you find me and we can speak together of what May has counseled."


"I should like to have that Title at least once yet I think me I am too quiet to be seen as capable. I am much in agreement there - her being "French" will play into what ere she has set out yet the boundries will be maintained."


"Do not frown so or it will leave marks there ...."


Her hand reached out and with gentle fingers she traced that spot where small lines had been made on his forehead.


"I shall have to make up a poultice at some point if you keep with this habit. So to avoid that less than pleasant fate I advise you to smile more - especially with me."


Her fingers on 'accident' brushed aganist his hair near that spot then she withdrew it to clasp them together once again and rest lightly in her lap.


"I must go soon and make myself ready for later. Do not forget I shall be in moss green with silver lace. And claim me for the fifth dance not before. I needs must make myself agreeable to others' and that will cast no suspecions for later. Did the Duke reply to you? I am told nothing by anyone."




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"Yes Basildon." George nodded, at the time taking no cue from her surprise. Later he'd recall her tone, and wonder of it's forebode. But for now the Earl laboured under a misguided belief - perhaps he should have talked to her more, likely she understood the system far better than he did. In due time they would talk again, and perhaps then, fresh from his mistakes, he'd learn.


For now the conversation took a gentler turn, with her care for a wrinkle that might form. His expression softened, and looking at her appreciated her attention to the moment, and smiling again of her care. "I think I've needed you Frances, I've been alone far far too long."


"Not before the fifth dance? Yet I may approach to talk sooner than that, cant I?" he asked, discovering some few nerves of the pending night. "But let us plan where we shall meet together next? Our chaperone Bess is doing an admirable job, but I fancy a spot with a little more life to it next. Or perhaps a locale where we might stroll and enjoy what views we pass by? I... I would very much like to attend one of the occupations of your days also, sharing that might be a taste of how it might one day be."


"Ah, the Duke, no he did not reply to the second letter, that was the one I sent following his return of my gift." he paused for a moment there, drew a breath and let it slowly go. Tried not to frown of it, cause she might scold the crease, but how did a man convince a father? He did not know.

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"And I think so as well! Why even now with your sister wed and gone there is none to see to these small things so that is further 'proof' that tis fitting that You have choosen Me and that I have choosen You."


She smiled at her intimate expression pleased that he did not think her forward in her actions as that would have caused her much hurt and made her think that perhaps this was impossible after all.


"Well you see by then there will have been enough wine consumed and I will have 'danced' enough .... but you needs must pay respects to the Duke afore that naturally. Simply be as all the rest and do reverance in passing. Nothing wrong in that. I do it frequently! In your case bow a bit as you continue walking in that way of Gentlemen."


"A new meeting place then? Hmmm .... that will take some thinking. Share in my own days?"


This did surprise Frances. She had not thought beyond being wed - to their times taken up in shared pastimes - and she blinked up at him. "Really? Well my days are rather uneventful and I will not bring you to the Aunts yet, I mean just us alone! I like the fresh air even in this cold so oft times I will walk in the Garden here or the Park out there."


"Might we meet there and do such? I should like to go in a sleigh - we had one once when I was a child and two work horses were attached and pulled us thru the snow! But there was an accident one winter and a stable boy was killed after that I was not allowed it again. Might you think of a way?"


At seventeen she was seen as a woman but still retained those girlish things that made her smile more than some other Courtly actions might.

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  • 3 months later...

Frances explained her choice of dance. He was intelligent enough to appreciate her logic of his being a later, thus less noticeable dance - it was her deference to her fathers wishes he supposed.

"Very well." with a nod he said.


His mundane request caught her by surprise. "Yes that is what I was thinking. There is so much drama about everywhere, that prospect of quiet times is agreeable to me." He failed to appreciate at the moment how the young lady might feel about that. She responded with suggestion of more of an adventure, sleigh riding.


"It is a bit chill." he voiced, having concern for her delicateness, and plus, "also a pair in a sled will set gossips tongues wagging." And he did not yet have permission to court. "What if I were to attend you while sewing in one of the parlours, or do you play an instrument, or..."



OOC: appologies for the delay, suggestign we wrap this thread to a close and focus on the ball now? Thanks.

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