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Sir Cedric Doolittle [Dec 31st, late afternoon]- Xmas 1677

Duncan Melville

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A letter written on pure white cotton rag paper, with purple-black oak gall ink, in a masculine script without adornments. It was delivered sealed with Duncan's signet to Sir Cedric’s house in St. James Square by a footman liveried in the scarlet and white of the Melville family.


Dear Sir Cedric,


Please forgive me for not visiting as soon as I returned to London, but weather was so foul that I had to arrive by barge, after traveling by ship. Roads north of Hadrian’s Wall are neither safe nor easy at this time of year. Ophelia and Ellen are in excellent health and send their love, along with a few gifts which I will present personally at your convenience. Perhaps a day or two after New Year’s? Ophelia thought it prudent to stay within the warmth and safety of Melville Castle. No need to risk baby Ellen’s health without motive.


Enough about family, there are a couple of matters I would like to raise.


The first is a lieutenant of the Life Guard, one you have recently met, namely Lieutenant Turnbull. I have met the man, and he is quite apologetic about his visit to your house for dinner. Perhaps he could be allowed to make amends? I believe he would make a fine acquaintance for both you and me. His eldest brother is an English baron and his other brother is a man of the cloth. But the reason I believe that we might want to cultivate his friendship is that he is a career naval officer, and would be a possible choice should war come, and should we sail The Golden Sun with the letter of marque that Lord Kingston obtained for us. Perhaps you would agree to meet with him at my home in Chelsea? It would be the three of us, and we could get to know the man and see if he would be a good candidate for a fighting command or, at the very least, a first lieutenancy.


The second is a totally different matter. I have a friend, also an officer in the Life Guard, a captain. He is a highlander. Although the circumstances of his birth are not the best, I have found him to be a man of his word. We fought together in Dumbarton’s for a few years, and found him to be one of the bravest men I have known. After his coming to London, he has been made a Scottish Baron, somewhat equivalent to an English Baronet, and Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeen. I am certain that his status has only begun to rise, and would not be surprised if he is elevated to the peerage of Scotland in but a few years. His name is Douglas FitzJames, Baron Dundarg. The man is single, and currently looking for a bride. He had expressed interest in my sister Beatrice, and I considered his bid seriously, though in the end I decided on another suitor. If you were to consider that meeting him is a good idea, perhaps we could both be invited to dinner at your home.


There is much more to talk about, but that I leave for when we meet in private. I remain,


Your humble and obedient servant,



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He'd naturally already read the letter but his annoyance at not being called upon made him set it aside. Ellen had chided him for that and so now he sat quill in hand to answer.


Duncan I am glad that your arrival has been a Safe one and that you suffer no ill effects as oft times happen this time of the year. We will be most happy to see you as you say the day after New Year's and your decision to leave behind my daughter and grandchild is a prudent one yet I can not hide the fact that I am disappointed as well.


The issues you put forth require answers. Turnbull is a sea-faring man and so perhaps unused to the ways of Families yet does he not come from one himself? Ellen seems to think him worthy and as you know her instincts can be trustworthy. Now as to his use your idea strikes an interest. War, I believe, will indeed come and with it the need for a man in possession of Knowledge but of more import Experience. Our Ship requires that above all else and I am curious as to what Turnbull is like when placed in an enviroment he is all too familiar with - will I see a difference? Perhaps. Very well arrange for a meeting and alert me as to time and I will go. But I shall withhold any comments until he is heard out. Kingston strikes me as an Observant so will not be easily swayed by false bravados. That Turnbull has choosen to make his Life thusly then I can see no reason to NOT imagine that he will be of use.


My efforts to secure Husbands did not go as I had thought and only succeeded in making Ellen uncomfortable. Natalie is too young and just out of the schoolroom yet there too must I now become watchful and look about for someone suitabe for her. Scottish? Hmmm. I am not overly fond of them yet they have a purpose and can be useful. You Praise this man for his abilities and offer the idea that he will be looked upon with favor - which is well enough. You must have had a reason for passing him over for your sister and that is your business but I will ask the reasons. You will I think understand that. You now have a daughter and will you take another man's 'word' without question if this were her?


I am not so well-placed and yet known enough in what I do and so this is a subject that I shall allow. I want my daughters to be Wed but I will not Force - Ellen in particular. She has become useful to me and takes her Lady Mother's Role in my House and has slipped quite naturally into the frame of our Company. Natalie is not the same. She has not the intelligence and so can be easily molded into the ways of a husband. Perhaps marriage to this Scot might well be the way to go yet I make no promise.


Come to sup this next week and bring your Scotsman. If I like the look of him and the impression and IF he holds an interest in my younger daughter then discourse might proceed in that direction to the mutal benefit of all.




He read it thru then nodded. Sanded then sealed and sat back in contemplation.


Interesting turn of Events. He'd not anticipated such. Time would tell if either subject discussed would bear fruit but he would listen and take measure - of both men.


The letter was sent at once delivered back by hand.

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