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To Mlle Vauquelin | By hand, Tuesday Jan 4th.- Xmas 1677

Charles Audley

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The letter was written in fine black ink, with a strong, elegantly sloping hand, and sealed in blue wax. Accompanying it was a parcel, which, somewhat incongruously, contained a lady's garter, a candle, and a book — Maximes, by La Rochefoucauld.



My dear Mademoiselle Vauquelin,

I write in apology. I have failed you utterly in the matter of Roos, and can offer no excuse to mitigate my failure. If no opportunity presented itself, I cannot claim to have attempted to engineer one. You may name my forfeit, if it pleases you, and I shall abide by your decision. In the interim, I recall from our conversation at chapel that you, like me, are an observer and a student of human nature, and so have enclosed a book I think you might find both entertaining and enlightening. The author is a countryman of yours, and he writes with a wonderfully elegant, pithy style. It is small recompense, but I beg that you accept it in the spirit in which it is offered.

I have not tasted full success in the matter of our wager either. I have the candle and the garter, as you can see, and I have a key, too, though that I cannot entrust to the post. The handkerchief, however, eludes me. Have you had better luck? I was tempted to procure one at pistol point at the shooting event, but that struck me as contrary to the spirit of our game, even leaving aside the fact that armed robbery is considerably more difficult when all one's prospective victims are themselves armed.

Finally, I must offer my congratulations. I cannot speak for the rest of court but for my part, the misrule and mischief you have sprinkled my season with have brightened it considerably.

Your servant,




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Nicolette was delighted to receive a letter, an apology from the irresistible rogue Lord Chatham.  Happily she settled down to read it fully, and  forgiveness was instantly given  (along with a mental retraction of all the pouty/sulky comments she'd made about him to her friends.)  He'd not forgotten about her afterall, he'd been paying her dare diligence of mind, Roos had just not been very forthcoming. (Which was probably very 'Roos' of him!

But there was even more in his letter, and the pleased-as-punch smile blinked away as she realised...   

With all her focus upon His doing the dare, she'd mostly forgot to do any daring herself.  Well, she had tried, a little bit, at least, with the candle, but that spoil-sport Lord Langdon had completely put her off her game. 

"Quel desatre!" she cried even as she was laughing of his imagery of stealing a handkerchief at the shooting event! 

She was happiest though, to divine, that he wanted to see her again personally - for that much was certain from his communication.  But what of this book, it was even in French, she was certain from his recomendations of it that she would love it! And she was not to be disapointed, it might even be quite timly for her to get a firmer grasp upon reality.  It was a humous, yet thought provoking collection. 




Dear Lord Chatham,

Bravo Lord Chatham, so much success.  Yet to what is lacking -- you might hardly believe it (though I would never claim the fates to be conspiring)  but it is a good fortune that Roos remained unvanquished.  I am recently Enlighted you see, in more way than is even decent to admit, and discover that that I wish to give the fist mouthed fellow a second chance.  It's entirely possible that he's rather more charming than his first impression suggests.  Why really, we ought both be quite darling towards him instead. Most especially because his is one of Duke Buckingham’s friends, and is to be invited to a party thrown by said Duke, that you and I both may attend. 

But I have a confession to make - yet, like a key it is best not sent though correspondence, but presented personally.   Might I suggest a rendezvous, even upon the first of the next season?  Perhaps at the archery shoot that we deferred till warmer weather - yet if you wish to bring your preferred pistols too, you must show me how to fire one.  At the match yesterday I had hoped I might have an opportunity, but alas, the gentlemen were too busy defending their handkerchiefs from you to even notice. 

It is my sincere hope to continue mischief into your life Lord Chatham, you’d be a bargain at twenty pounds. Good luck with your house hunting in the recess. May I just suggest you consider a fine mansion adjacent to the Chelsea Physic. 

And thank you for the Book!  I am certain to enjoy it over the recess, and cannot wait to discover for myself it's contents. In like spirit, I have found this from my cousins library, with hopes that you might likely enjoy.*  




As ladies are prone to doing, Nicci sprayed the envalope with her perfume; lavender and roses before giving it to her maid to deliver with the book.  With this settled, she went back to the letter to re-read it some more times, letting herself day dream...one day she fancied kissing Lord Chatham, though that was just as likly to be years away rather than months. Probably. 

* The book is the most recent edtion of the Poor Robbin

Edited by Nicolette Vauquelin
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