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Thomas Easton

Apples to Oranges | late afternoon, April 3rd

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The Orangery

The great glass windows supported in their metal frames let in the weak winter sun whilst keeping out the brisk breezes, lending a luxurious warmth to the outdoor-indoor space that was the orangery. The air was moist as well as warm, the great orange trees in their large pots carefully tended so that they would produce their treasure-trove of exotic fruit in the summer, unhindered by lack of water or blight of frost. A few orange flowers lent an exotic citrus scent to the air.

Between the great pots, stone benches were set so that courtiers might come and enjoy the sunshine without the need to brave the outdoors, and in the centre was a statue of a nymph and two sets of wrought iron tables, painted white, with matching chairs, that one might sit and take tea and enjoy the ambiance of the orangery.

 

The weather had turned, and so Thomas escaped indoors after church. He had yet to explore much, if anything, of the Palace proper, and so wished to find all the hidden nooks and crannies. The Orangery was grand, albeit a bit humid -- Thomas extracted a handkerchief from his sleeve to dab at his temples before tucking it away. He had never seen such a plethora of exotic trees, and wandered between the pots to examine the trees one by one. 

Thomas was not an overly proficient artist, but if he had been, he would have considered the scene before him as one worth putting to paper: the way the rain streaked down the glass windowpanes, casting the orange trees in faint gloom. Hopefully this was just a spring shower that was quick to come and go, and the sunshine would return again. 

Reaching up to rub an orange blossom petal between his fingers, Thomas brought his fingers to his nose to smell. Bright and citrusy, exotic -- feminine, the sort of flower that a lady might weave into her hair. It seemed like the sort of things his twin sisters might do: both were considered fashionable, but then again, Malham Hall was a very rural area: society was not, as a rule, all that diverse. Perhaps he might inquire about ladies fashion and send something home to them -- maybe perfume, if Father wouldn't think it too frivolous. 

He had just resolved to look into perfume for the twins when he heard footsteps approaching from the hall. Drawing himself up to his full height, Thomas tugged on his waistcoat to straighten it. A button popped right off and fell to the floor with a loud tink! Swearing quietly under his breath, Thomas bent to see where it had rolled to, looking this way and that, heedless of the person approaching who might see him in such a state. 

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With the weather outside, Beverley decided to take a walk with his wife where it was nice and warm, and smelled exceedingly well with blossoms. Little did he know that he was not the only one with such an idea. Since the other man was not easily visible at first, he would overhear some of the conversation of the Beverleys.

 

"We should go tonight to see my family. I am sure my lord father will be most pleased and my lady mother will desire to give me much advise," Mary said to her husband, hand on his arm, giggling at the last bit. 

 

"I hardly think my parents could object since we told them first. Sundays cannot just be for, erm, my side of the family. We are very much so joined now!" he replied. "No Brooke or Worcester could possibly complain of doing our duties." And for him, he felt like that was a rarity. Unlike many things, Beverley knew how very important it was for them to have a child. Mary's mother's success in child-bearing had been a prime factor in Beverley's choice, and her family had actively sought the match, unlike others. 

 

He was in quite a good mood and little could alter that today!

 

 

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A glimmer of silver caught Thomas's eye, and he spied the offending button tucked behind the farthest leg of a wrought-iron bench. Of course it's the furthest away, he mused grumpily, and he tried to surreptitiously reach for it with the toe of his black leather court shoes. No such luck, and Thomas scowled darkly -- of course this wasn't going to be easy!  He glanced around, and thinking that he was alone, got to his knees so that he could better retrieve the button.

Naturally, that was when he heard the voices.

Thomas startled, fingers having closed tightly around the button, and hit his head on the edge of the bench as he scrambled to get to his feet while simultaneously dusting off his knees. He had just shoved the button into his pocket when he caught sight of the pair, and although Thomas was not fervently religious, he couldn't help but pray that they hadn't heard the resounding crack of his head hitting the bench. His head ached, a knot already beginning to swell under his periwig, and he was slightly flushed with exertion. 

Despite this, he rallied and made a leg to the couple. "Lovely day, is it not?"

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Beverley was far too focused on his lady wife, who did everyone miraculous credit, to realize that the poor gentleman he was about to come upon had whapped his head. He had heard something, though, just had been too focused elsewhere to place it.

 

Fortuitously, coming upon said gentleman explained it all well-enough. Rather than ruffians (who one would not expect in an orangery!), he found a man who was flushed. 

 

I wonder if he was just with a woman! came the instant thought to the viscount's mind. How else did one get such a flush? Surely not alone in an orangery.

 

Beverley gave a congenial nod to the other man, with a keen sense of entitlement; he assumed since the other bowed so readily he must know Beverley's name and thus be somewhere lower in rank to offer such. 

 

"Yes, lovely for London. Far better than this last winter," Beverley agreed, for any Englishman could discuss the weather with a myriad of words which meant separate kinds of rain. "Rather hot in here, though." He might have had something of a knowing grin on his face, not knowing that he knew nothing in this case. 

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They were a lovely couple, young and full of life, Thomas noted absently. Lovers, surely -- married couples were not that happy, in his experience. "Yes, last winter was dreadful." The weather was a safe topic, but one easily exhausted; Thomas decided to ride it for as long as he could. "Ah, yes. Rather humid, I'm afraid," he said, returning Beverley's grin with one of his own.

It was easy, falling into a role, playing the deferential role. The bump on his head was nearly forgotten as he trying to suss out the implications of that knowing grin. "A good escape from the rain, though. I am new to court, and want to explore all the areas of the palace." Belatedly Thomas added, "Pardon my manners, I have been in the country too long. Cornet Thomas Easton of the Oxford Blues, at your service, my lord."

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Beverley's face was rather expressive in comparison to many courtiers, especially  in the more social situations. His eyebrows both rose when the other said he was part of the Earl of Oxford's group. So he was a man of soldiering. That boded quite well for conversation, for Beverley had little trouble discussing those sorts of things.

 

The name Easton sounded something familiar, and Beverley wondered (with the wheels visibly turning in his head reflecting right onto his face in the quirk of his lips this way and that) if this was a younger son of someone. 

 

"Viscount Beverley," he returned with a nod of acknowledgement and a smile. "I am His Highness, the Duke of Cumberland's aide." He turned to Mary and then said to the other man, "And my dear wife." Who was, of course, called Lady Beverley, so he needn't explain that! 

 

"How are you finding it thus far?" he asked, of court, not the orangery or the Blues, but he hadn't specified. 

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