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Sunday Lunch | Continued From Church Thread- Xmas 1677

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"Angel's Wings? Now there is a curious choice made I wonder under what mind-set. I could ask for the meaning bu shall accept the version you have said. And that Lord Chichester is a thing you have ever been - Welcoming. I hope you never lose it."

She smiled as he said she may go glad for it.

"Lady Habisham? Now that is an interesting choice for a Sponsor and she is all those things and thus will be able to provide an 'audience' for which your Displays shall be made? I will look forward to seeing the Fruits of your companionship!"

"You did not know? Everyone knows. He has followed Norfolk intending to preserve what is HIS in much the same as the Duke did. And I think in some way the same is true for you. Ah. Dr Spratt." She gave a small sigh. "He is I suppose all you say but I have no need for personal intervention. Well I can hardly not agree with that thinking My Lord."

"She is ..." Davina leaned closer her words whispered for his ear alone. He would need to do the same.

"With child. No official announcement but many rumours and much talk. We, meaning her Ladies, had thought some news of it would have already been said and can not think what keeps His Majesty from doing such. Naturally I am not Privy but our Duty Times are much reduced and the things once done in earnest She does no more and there are times when I look at her I think she is many months gone ... but I am not well enough versed in such and so ..." Another shrug. "I shall indeed advise you which means that you needs must not travel far for I would think being here for that delivery takes Precedence."

She sat back and smiled raising her voice a small amount

"Well then by all means remain. How long since you were last there?"

She sipped her wine for all appearance wihout a care.

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"Well as I said, I was contemplating religion while in Italy.” George replied, failing to understand why she thought his choice of angels wings to be so out of character? Was she being snarky, alluding him less than godly-visioned? Was she judging him poorly for his conversion?  The Earl frown briefly, preferring to think better of Davina. 

The Queens lady then confirmed what he believed;  that Lady Habisham was well suited to his task.  “A date is not set yet, but invitations shall surely be sent out by the end of the first week of next season.” He promised. 

"You will recall I have not been much present.” He kindly reminded her.  George had spent a time in the tower, and not long after his release had gone to Italy. When would he have learnt of Baintrees conversion?  It was no subject she herself had revealed to him.  

The subject of religion was certainly putting her on edge, her replies defensive and edged with a grudging acceptance of facts she was powerless to shift.  (It went without saying that she would not rush away to purchase one of the many books Dr Spratt had writ!)  So it was George saw sense in leaving the subject be, heaven knew he did not want another argument with Davina! 

And a different subject suited her well.

Leaning in to mirror her movement, his ears burned as she broke the news.  Of course everyone in Whitehall was guessing at that, but here he heard it said from one of her ladies in waiting --  it was practically proof! 

"That is wonderous news.” He uttered, his joy only tempered by the fact that he himself remained without heir.  Leaning back to his seat he nodded further to himself with quiet words, “…the future of England will rest easy at last.”

So apparently, he was remaining in Dulwich.  Only a fool would miss the chance of being one of the courtly witnesses to the birth!   “I have not been to Chichester since May, what with my sisters wedding in the spring, and then we had the London Summer season.” Which was out of the usual timing, perhaps everyone years had been a bit messed up by it thereby?

Taking a sip of his tea he then mused, “I had hoped to visit Windsor before the new season, Prince Rupert has agreed to a tour of his foundry there. You will have heard of his remarkable war machine, the Rupertinoe – well the Princes Windsor forge was where it was produced!   My, but I would have loved to watch how they managed to then get the battery to the coast! In pieces, surely? Or perhaps, if cast, it was the casts that that were taken overland to forges near the ship yards to be poured?  I am most interest to learn the answers, so many questions I have.” stopping himself he straightened and apologised. “Forgive my tedious turn of subject, are those tears of boredom I see!”  

"What of yourself, when last were you at Matching?"  It was as he reached for a sweetmeat from the prettily arranged three tier tray, that it occured to him that there was something different about Davina. She forfeited tea and cake in favour of wine,  

Edited by George Hardwick III
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"Ah. Of course - all those paintings of Madonna and Child plus Statues would indeed make one think of such Divine Things. And there is no need to frown so either. My thoughts were  ... different ... in that the design was perhpas a way for you do still Celebrate Faith without censure."

It was perhaps something that she might have done if she were a man - placing such objects clear in their representation in full view calling them ART.

"Tis clever of you My Lord and I shall look with much appreciation upon them."

She teased. Easing back into the informality they once had shared and thought was gone came unbidden yet her eyes held caution as well. She was still unsure enough of this NEW George and was unwilling to jeopardize.

"Well I have given you my thoughts on the subject and remember too I am no expert yet I would wager it is Truth. It is indeed a Joyance occurance and I will be relieved when it is at last made Public. It will relieve tensions and will be clar that The Queen has done her job now ALL must Pray for a Prince."

"And how is she? Your sister. I have not seen her for a long time. So they are well and truly wed then? Do you think she will come back? I hope that her married life will be content and there will be children."

She  sipped her wine as he began another Tale this time he was quite animated.

"Who has not! I swear evey Man talks of it and some even pledge coin to aid the Prince. Now weather tis for that or some personal gain who can say. This is after all Court."

"And I can read clearly that You Lord Chichecter shall be of the former - you will aid The Prince and in the process have all questions answered!"

"I suppose there will be some Grand Show and this Rupertino will be fired off - do you think so? I would like to see that."

She did not eat. She had no appetite after her time with the Countess and wine suited her mood much more anyway. 

"Over the Summer past. Some weeks spent there as I have said. Now I am restless and can not think of why. I have been entertained and had conversations with many over this Christmas Court. Watched as a woman became Misrule been forced into a sleigh and then dumped out bearing the weight of one odious 'Gentleman' and even spoken with His Majesty. What is there NOT to find favor with?"

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"Art has celebrated faith throughout the centuries. One begets the other - in similar way that natural science celebrates creation, and philosophy hails the divine – there are any number of fields in which ones belief in the Our Father is recognised in the day to day.”  So she thought that The gates were his version of a Catholic Madonna.  George could only hope that was due to her Catholic perspective, it certainly had never occurred to him. 

Uncomfortable that she called him clever, as though he was artfully deceiving persons in his newly converted religion, he decided,  “I shall not have them hung at all if that is peoples estimation. Trickery is far from my heart. I shall ask Dr Sprat for him opinion... and perhaps Lady Habersham too.”  If those stout Anglicans did not think the gates Catholic, then he would go ahead with hanging them after all.

Yet for all the rankle that kept rearing between then, they, like all others of England, agreed upon the prayerful hopes of male heir.  “Amen.” He uttered to her reply

"My sister made it quite clear she will never return.” George replied of Mirtel. He tried to keep any emotion out of his voice. “Her lot is thrown in with husband, and sentimentality is not within her interests.” He added, for all he knew Davina might behave similarly once she married.  He was not about to complain, it had been a good enough match made, and  he no longer needed to fret for Mirtel’s future.

“Yes, it was fired from ship at Brighton.” Sensitive to her femininity, George pressed the topic on away from talk of iron and cannon.  “And yes, I believe I shall.”

George, who too often forgot to organise meals for himself, contentedly helped himself to this cake, and then that.

“Aha, after such an eventful season as that I well understand that Matching will be too dull for you.” He amused, then taking a sip of his tea.  “Have you considered getting a pet dog? My sister found hers a good companion.”  The lion hound had been the most successful gift he’d ever given Mirtel, they had become inseparable.  

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"Your point is made clearly and I expressed my thoughts only not what any other's might perceive. The desire to 'prove' that one has indeed left the Old behind and now embraces the New I understand. It is no easy thing no matter the reasons behind it. And I implied no trickery as you seem to think and if you have take it as such then I offer my apologies." For that was not her intent at all and she thinks that his so called conversion - for all his Bravado - bothers him. But then they were differnt in many ways and so how she felt could not be assumed for him as well.

"Do not be so over-sensitive for the remark about 'cleverness' is a true one." She teased. "You are. I can hold a brush the same as you yet what I paint resembles nothing beside what you do! You have Skills many only wish for. Do not be uncomfortable with that. Had I been born a Man I too would excel in all manner of Things!"

"Was her time at Court so wasted then? I always thought she was well-placed and liked. Tis natural that she cleeves to her Husband is it not? As for sentiments, well, they are all well and good yet oft times interfer." 

"Why did I miss this? When was it? Well I suppose twas only a thing thought suitable for those of your sex then? How like men to assume that we Ladies would not appreciate a day out simply because it involves a cannon and a ship! Your interest seems to be great on this topic and so you should offer support to the Prince and He no doubt will be pleased with it. I wonder if Baintree has thought of this?"

She sipped her wine but now it tasted sour so she set it aside and if a servant passed she would ask for new.

He misunderstood her.

"Court My Lord is Dull at the moment - at least for me. I took pleasures naturally (my times stealed away with charles atested to that) and was glad to see old friends and others but there was a lacking of something. Perhaps tis caused by my growing old? My Natal Day is in January so that must be the reason I am out of sorts."

"A dog? No indeed I have not. Yet they are plentiful here as His Majesty favors them so. Hmmm .... might that be an addition I might find favor in? I wonder at your suggestion Lord Chichester. A dog ...."

A servant by chance and she was able to acquire another goblet sipping as she mulled over his suggestion.



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"Your voiced perceptions might echo others unspoken – I would be foolish not to seek out further opinions.”  Cautious is as cautious does.     

Any ‘bother’ about the conversion existed in hr own mind only, for Georg had not leapt into th decision. He’d angsted about it prior of course, but as hed finally come to his decision a sense of peace washed over him.

Unfortunately that same peace did not exist amidst Catholic friends who viewed him.  It may be months or even years until those ones would halt their integrations to his sincerity and motives.  The Duke had it worse with harsh judgement from his son and heir.  In grand contrast his Anglican friends were accepting.  George supposed it was evidence of the welcoming and more open manner of the Anglican Religion.

He let her comments on cleverness be.  While it bothered his socialist ideals that she implied that she was unable to shine because she was a woman, he accepted her view of her own life was it’s own truth.  He’d argued with her before that many things were possible.

“She was, and still is, well loved.  Yet remains in Europe with a new life made there.” He explained what little he knew, “I have not received any news from her, but can only imagine that in such instances no news is good news.”

“The naval display was one evening at Brighton, I cannot say the exact date.  Did you not attend then?” For that he was surprised, “for there were certainly many ladies present.  You judge my sex poorly to claim they were not invited, and that being some typical neglect ‘we’ are often guilty of.”   

“Yes, perhaps that is it.” She blamed the approach of her birthday for her poor mood.  George could hardly comment.  “You will know that I have laboured many a day under the weight of depression also.  It is hard, even in hindsight to identify what the turning point is, or in your case ‘will be’. But may I suggest more talk of possibility, and far less of the things you see yourself deprived of.   The world, and life itself is rife with possibility.  Look and dream, dare to believe and who knows what might be possible.” 

Of course that sort of talk was not her style, he did not expect it to make any impact on her. Never the less he felt better for giving the pep talk. 

Surprising him, Davina did stop to consider getting a dog. 

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"Brighton? Oh. Of course. I had forgot. Well your sex is guilty of abandonment in the thought that said employments are somehow unfit for Females. But that is a topic for another time."

"I do not understand. When did I say I was 'deprived' of anything? Saying I find Court Dull and Lacking can not be a surprise even to you. If my Humours are indeed out of line and you see me as full of Melancholy perhaps a good blood letting will cure it?"

"Shall I tell you what lies ahead for me? I am commanded to marry by this time next year. Said husband can be my choice but if I select a man that is somehow deemed 'unsuitable' then I will have no say. Instead, Her Majesty shall over see, and then no doubt I shall become attached to The German and swiftly depart for that Country where I shall be destined for obsecurity. I face the prospect of a marriage outside My Faith and any children born will be brought up that way too. I must therefore consider carefully and my own Ambitions as well. I do not want to leave England for some far off place."

She paused to take a long drink her cheeks a bit flushed and her blue eyes had darkened with her emotion. This was neither time nor place yet who if not George might she say this to?

"I expect to Marry naturally. It is a business after all that merges Family to Family and Land to Land. Strengthing Alliances and Advancing my Family's Honor and Place. Duty is well bred into me Lord Chichester. I shall Hope that some 'like' will develope between the two of us over time and perhaps even 'Love' - one hardly marries for that."

"Learn to Dream? You speak nonsense. We live in a World ruled by Men and tis how it has been and always will be. And how much of the "World" do you imagine I shall be allowed to see hmm? I belong to Baintree in the absence of my Father and when I wed shall become my Lord's property. I needs must Obey and I should be grateful for any Freedoms that are sent my way. At Court there is such freedoms but no guarantee that once wed I shall remain here."

"And what of You then My Lord? The girl or woman you take to Wife will be the same as Me. Well hardly the daughter of a mere Viscount but at the very least a daughter of another Earl. Background and Family Paramount for your own Ambitions and the future Countess has the Right to a Palce at Court if one is offered. You have a gift of kindness and sensitivity and thus shall allow your Lady to do what you have just advised me to do. I shall Envy her that. I suspect many will. "

The servant had been replaced by one of the boys who acted as Palace Runners and she knew the face of this one so had to smile as she noted his palcement and that he held a jug. She nodded and held out her goblet for him to refill her eyes resting on the Gentleman across form her. 

She was curious as to what he might say or not say. He was after all the man she had thought to marry herself.

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After all that she admitted she’d forgotten viewing cannon display. George could have been snitty and returned, ‘that was so alike her sex’, but he did not.   It was the males lot to tolerate.  Perhaps, when she married, her Husband would soften her tongue.  

“The admission sounded despondent, just as your lament of never to travel, never to have achievements as a woman.” George replied, he should have guessed she’d become defensive as he empathised with her depression. 

Then in a gale she admitted what was so badly troubling!

He would have reached to pat her hand  (if it would not have been unseemly!)  “And so what solutions have you found?” he asked, letting her get it all off her chest. Again, he needed to ignore her insult to his advice, but she was not her self at the moment.  He would hope in happier times she’d be kinder to him.

Her question on the marriage subject was sharply done.  “I cannot apologise for my nature Davina, you more than most know what it is. I would hope that one day, when I do marry, that my wife will find the arrangement agreeable.  Love may not exist at the commencement, but affection may grow from a position of respect. That is what I hope for.” 

“You speak of being commanded to marry.  Pray, if you do not - what penalty have you been threatened with?” he asked quietly, "I wonder if your conform-ment is not worth the loss of all happiness.  For a certainty I have not seen you so troubled as you are now.”  Well perhaps when they had that last fight, but even then, she had not been without all hope.  She had believed in her future then, believed in her worth.  This woman sat opposite him now was near to broken, calling for another drink and speaking so desperate.

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She fixed him with a stare that was half resentment half amusement depending on how it was perceived.

"My achievements as a woman as you phrased it amount to less than a handful if measured. Shall I count them  ..... Firstly to Marry Well. Secondly produce a son or sons. Third Advance my Family. Fourth Secure my own Position. Then fifth  ..." She gave a small shrug. "There My Lord is my Value. I can not think to Travel without permission so the lament is of value and no matter how much tis desired Baintree will not approve and depending upon said 'Husband' that too is like as not to be denied unless he himself wishes. Perhaps, in the Circles that You move in, tis different? Foreign Ladies of my Rank are free to do such at leisure? I am not your sister Lord Chichester who was fortunate to have such a brother thus her achievements are seen."

 "Solutions? There are none. I have to do as all of my sex must and that is to OBEY. Baintree has said he will not force me into a Marriage and I believe him. Yet even he grows impatient yet can not fathom that he should look to his own House afore mine."

"You have misunderstood me. I seek no apology. Indeed I commended your Attitudes and the abality to allow your Wife to be unlike the rest of us. That is my envy. And yes affection grows and one can only Hope for more I suppose."

She looked away taking a long drink from the goblet closing her eyes for a moment thinking in what a strange direction this conversation was going.

"Shall I tell you then? Tis a 'secret' but you will I expect hold it safe. Her Majesty has said it must be so. By the end of this New Year I must be wedded and bedded. And to that end I am to subject myself to Gentlemen until I have found favor on both sides and all Parties are in Agreement."

"And if I somehow 'fail' to put myself up as Wife  .... I shall be sent from Court no doubt .... or shall I go to The Church .... Either way I suffer."

The wine had loosened her normally well held tongue and made her say things that she did not intend. Yet Truth had a way of coming out no natter how hard it was denied.

"Forgive me Lord Chichester for this display. I am not at my best. Now you have seen all sides and I wonder that you find me acceptable."

She smiled across at him her lower lip a bit pouty like a small girl who has done a wrong but knows she is still looked upon with fondness. 

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Resentful. That seemed to be the new Mistress Davina.  And strangely she seemed to blame him for the very brief list of goals she had set herself, blamed him that he'd encouraged his own sister to seek more. 

He asked what solution she could see, and her reply was simple, none. 

George realised at that moment that she was no longer the woman he'd known her to be, and perhaps never had been. She had seemed industrious before, even ambitious, she'd seemed to embrace the fullness of life. But now he saw her a little girl wailing that life was unfair, yet doing nothing to shift her situation. It was a surprising thing to see. He had nothing to say upon that, perhaps it was his artistic inclines that had him know that what you believe is true.  As long as she saw no hope for her life: there was not. 

He asked, and she revealed what the punishment for failing to marry in time would be.  "Hmm.'" His nasal sound revealed his opinion on that. "If you had said the Queen would dismiss you as one of her ladies I'd have understood that as her right.  But send you to a convent, well there is a punishment rather odd. What is it to anyone that you would prefer to be a spinster." 

"If you wish, since it seems your brothers good qualities do not extend into speaking up for his sister, I shall petition Her Majesty myself.  When she learns how much distress she has placed you under, I am certain that kindness will have her ease either the demands or punishments. Her Majesty is less a tyrant than that. In fact, I have thought her to be a gentle and agreeable addition to the royal household."

He pressed his lips together and gave a nod to her final question.  'Nuff said on that.

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She gave a shake of her dark head. How was it so impossible for him to understand all that she had said? 

perhaps I need to just say things simpler 

"I must not have been clear in my orginal words. Allow me to try again and then I shall be done."

"Here is how things are. I am Commanded to Marry within a years time. If I fail in doing that simple thing then what happens? I do not know but my guess is what I have said already - Her Majesty will send me from Court. Why would she keep me? How long do you imagine I can remain as a Maid of Honor hmmm? Shall I be the only one that does not Marry and thus move up if possible to Presence or even into Bedchamber- but that lofty place is reserved for Duchessess - but if I took to Husband Norfolks son with his new Duchess as has been suggested - then I could well step there easily. What do you say on that My Lord?"

That that bridge had already been burnt she did not add.

"My Pride and Ambition go hand in hand despite the present picture you see before you." She gave a ruefull smile. "As a female we EXPECT to Marry and have children that is what we are created for. If I had some impediment that prevents a marriage and it was a known thing then my remaining in an unwed state would arouse nothing but Pity. And I should Hate that! Well perhaps a Convent was extreme. I am not the type to that."

Ah! But in that you are wrong - Baintree and The Queen work in tandem so your petition, no matter how well intended, would come to nothing. I am being 'allowed' to make my choice and if I fail in that then it will be made for me either by The Queen of my Brother."

"As Queen Her Majesty has a Duty to find good husbands for her Ladies. That is why she has spoken of this matter to me in Private. You only see a side that is presented to You. There are many sides that go unseen save for those around Her. And if she is indeed with child and bears a Prince, well, I could take advantage of that and ask for more time? Could I not?"

"Heigh Ho. Let me cry off now Lord Chichester for I have held you prisoner and this topic knows no ending. I shall no doubt be most embarrassed when next we meet and I apologize for you witnessing this side of ME. You must be quite surprised by it."

She shook her head and went to drink but then set her goblet aside. It was turning sour much like the mood between them and she had no desire to create new troubles. 

At least she had been able to say what needed to be said regarding their shared Past and it was to be Hoped he would look past this interlude of words as too much drink.

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She repeated it all again, he did not understand why.  Perhaps just to explain that she’d never advance within the Queens circle, perhaps she was admitting that she was ambitious after all. That she did want to accept the roles she’d denied wanting. Did not want to remain a Maid in Waiting eternally.

“Norfolks son? Well that would be a lofty match.” He commented.  But not knowing the young man himself, had not much else to say upon him.  

As much as she unburdened her cares upon George, she did not want his help.  She was of belief that her brother and the Queen had both teamed up against her.  Privately he imagined that they had teamed up ‘for’ her, but her viewpoint was unaligned with theirs.   He too had been energetic in finding a match for his sister, George well knew how difficult it was for a brother.  It must be difficult for Baintree, when she was so upset.

“Then there is nothing I can do.” George spoke the plain truth.  She was correct to guess that he was embarrassed by it, that he was not going ot know where to look when next they met, that he did not enjoy this conversation revealing how unhappy she was, especially as she was set about it in a martyr-ly fashion, not seeking any alternatives yet so angry with her lot.

“Then perhaps it is best if I retire.  By meeting I seem to have brought a boil of discontent to the surface, and am without poultice to assist.”      

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"Indeed. Norfolk's son that ALL assume will inherit. I could not see the reaasonings to that and so that bridge is burnt. Tis part of the reason I hold no favor with Baintree. We are Kin to Norfolk after all and not many gainsay the Duke. Will he turn towards me? He has not till now but the Duchess will hold a slight for all Eternity I think."

She realized then that he, in his maleness, did not actually undertsand and to continue would only befuddle him more. They were too far different in composition.

She could not in all good consciene leave this the way it was. Something had to be salvaged from all of it if they were continue to meet.

She edged forward on her chair so that she was closer to him her mananer like one who might stand. She was holding herself away from the emotion that was so close to brimming over.

"But you have done just that. Who else might have sat so still and allowed me to unbend then? There are few Here that would do so without expecting something from me in return for it. I am far from Perfect. I transgress frequently and yet still remain troubled. I am angered at what little CHOICE I have and how I must temper my Ambitions to allow Others to gain."

"I have always found You Wise and Reasonable. Valued your thoughts and wished to be seen by You in a Good Light. Is that not funny - for I have shown you the opposite! The 'poultice' you think you do not have is already applied. The things you have said here will be remembered and thus I will have cause to think that I needs must find a different path than the one I am on. Yet the fear is Great that I shall not Marry and be sent down. It is not so easy to dissolve. And what if I choose wrong?'

"I do not want to cause you to turn away when ever we might meet. My thoughts tumbled out aided by wine and .... and now I think you will quit me all together. Yet how could I think to ask you to not do thus? This display was not worth the high price I must pay."

"Yet I would ask. Can it be this between us now? Despite my poor showing."

Her gaze rested firmly on him for she was no coward.


She held out her hand to him. Her feeliings easily read.


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He frowned with puzzlement.

Davina was a confusing woman, like the way she said of the Duke’s son ‘all assume he will inherit’.  He felt like saying that every heir ever born is assumed to inherit,  so why did that count againt this Duke’s son?   Unless she had the second sight, and had foreseen his death or some other such thing that would make him a poor match?  She had never mentioned premonitions to him before though, and he and Davina had spoken on so many topics over the years that surly she would have told him.  Though such things were scorned by the Catholic Church, so perhaps that was the reason for her silence.

George would continue to silently watch the Duke’s sons life, and one day learn if Davina had been right all along.

But then she moved forwards and explained merely listening had helped her.

He hardly agreed that it could be so easy, but she liked to say that, so he accepted hr words with a nod. “I shall continued to consider your interests in the days ahead, perchance I can place a word well upon your behalf.”  It was all he could think to do.

She was still very troubled. He supposed she’d already seen a matchmaker, the matrons of court could be very industrious he’d heard. But he was not going to be the one to suggest that, approaching a matchmaker did seem like an admission of failure. (The very reason he’d not approached a matchmaker himself!)

“Pray do not apologise for the troublings of your mind, if one cannot share such things with a friend, then what is friendships worth.” He said.  “One day I hope that we shall look back at this conversation from different perspectives, and you shall laugh that you had been so concerned, and I shall chuckle remembering small beginnings.”

Taking her extended hand, he rose from chair and bent to kiss with uttered echo of her wish. “Pax.”

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