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Mercy for the Fox | 4th late monday afternoon


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#41  Townhouse of Lady Cambray

The geometric lines of the House stand stark against a neatly cropped lawn - it's gardens comprised of neatly trimmed hedges in the shapes of various mythological beasts. Beneath the Echidna tree is a marble bench from which the garden's design is optimally viewed - where upon in the dusk and a gentle breeze granting susurration to the leaves, the garden seems to come alive with excitement and adventure.

A sweeping arched driveway enters from one gateway and exeunt through the other, that carriages might drive right up to the steps that lead up to the house.

 

Anne Elizabeth's housekeeper came to the front room to find her mistress.  "My Lady, there is a Mr Fox arrived by the deliveries entrance who says he needs to speak with you urgently and in person.  Says he met you at the Mews." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Her play didn't have to be written in verse. A lot of them weren't. It would be easier to write prose, but it would be more impressive if it rhymed. As a child, Anne-Elisabeth had started a list of rhyming words and still added onto it when she came across a new word or phrase. The trick was coming up with rhymes that told the story and actually made sense.

 

What she had written of the play so far was part verse and part prose. Eventually, she would have to choose one or the other. Maybe I will write it both ways and let an established playwright read them and tell me which one is best. She had already met one at the tennis match and there was at least one in the Merry Gang as well. But what if they steal my work and claim that it's theirs? Before she showed it to anyone, she would have to make certain that she trusted them.

 

Her housekeeper interrupted her contemplation, announcing that someone called Mr Fox was at the deliveries entrance and needed to speak to her. Someone wanting a job perhaps? Unfortunately, she couldn't afford another servant at this time. No, he was that charlatan from the Mews who had offered her dressage lessons but had backed out when she had given him a task to perform.

 

I never gave him my name. How did he find out where I live? Anne-Elisabeth supposed that Mr Tyndale could have told him. She had not instructed him to keep her identity secret because she had assumed that he would. Now she wished she had made that clear.

 

Why did he come here? For revenge? The Countess was not a paranoid person but she did have a strong sense of self-preservation. The man who served as her gardener and carriage driver was tall and muscular. He would offer her extra protection. She instructed her housekeeper to call him and have him check Mr Fox for weapons and remove any that he had, and then she would speak to him.

 

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He had not known what to expect, but just waited outside the back door.  He waited as patiently as he could, figuring that the fact he’d not been sent packing already was possibly good news.  

 

 

 

OOC: feel free to write your staff with any inquiries etc. 

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A tall, strapping man in his early thirties with dark brown hair and eyes approached from the stable. By his broad chest and muscular arms, it was easy to tell that he was accustomed to hard work and heavy lifting. Matthew Gibbons had not been working for Lady Cambray long, but he was already devoted to her. She gave him free rein with the gardens and the stables, unlike his last employer, who wanted to know every little detail of everything he did. The Countess was also pretty and flirted with him occasionally.

 

He didn't smile as he strode up to the stable hand standing at the deliveries entrance. Nor did he introduce himself. “If you have any weapons, you must surrender them to me,” he said. “Only then will my mistress consent to speak with you.”

 

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Fox was surprised in a bemused sort of way, and lifting up his hands to show his innocence spoke "I wish Lady Cambray no harm, I am utterly unarmed unless you count the sharp of my tongue that I regret, wounded her yesterday.  Good man I have come to apologise, and to seek her forgiveness, nothing other."  

He supposed a woman living on her own needed to take such measures, but still it came as a surprise to be searched like this.

 

ooc: no weapons to be found on him, but he is carrying a set of keys, and a coin purse. 

 

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Matthew insisted on searching the man, and when he found nothing that could harm his mistress, he nodded to the housekeeper, who had followed him. The woman went back inside and found the Countess still in the parlor, poring over her writing.

 

“He was not carrying any weapons, milady,” she said.  "He says he wants to apologize to you."

 

Anne-Elisabeth sighed and stood up. “Then I suppose I will speak to him.” She rarely went into the servants' part of the house, but she followed Mrs Tatum to the back entrance. When the door opened, she stood just inside the threshold. Mr Gibbons moved between his mistress and the stranger, ready to protect her if the need arose. I will have to reward him later for his loyalty.

 

Mr Fox was, indeed, the same man she had seen at the King's Mew's yesterday. One dark eyebrow quirked upward as she appraised him. She still thought that he was a charlatan who prayed on unsuspecting ladies.  “So, Mr Fox, to what to I owe the displeasure?”

 

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It was to the point of ridiculousness (in Fox's opinion) the way Gibbons positioned himself like a human shield.  The whole household seemed to think him a villain of murderous proportions, and not just a chap that had tried to hit on a pretty lady way above his station.

Swallowing what remained of his pride he bowed to the woman and spoke, "Lady Cambray, I wanted to apologise for upsetting you at the Mews the other day.  It was just a misunderstanding really. Nothing malicious meant. My boss has fired me over it, he's not listening to any of my arguments against it.  You might not want to listen either, but I need the job, and to be fired from it will ruin me. I wont be able to get another job in a decent stables after a dismissal.  So please milady, accept my humble apology, and can you please ask Mr Tyndale to reinstate me."  

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Anne-Elisabeth had expected Mr Tyndale to reprimand the stable hand, but not to fire him. Then again, she had painted him in a very bad light, so it could be her fault that he had been dismissed. She understood that he would not be able to get another job after being fired from the King's own stables. Most nobles, herself included, screened prospective servants carefully before hiring them. Past mistakes could only rarely be overcome.

 

His apology seemed rehearsed to her. Was he only trying to fool her again? “You should have thought of the potential for dismissal before you deceived me. Or did you think I was too stupid to complain?” She shook her head. “No, don't answer that. You say I misunderstood you. What exactly did I misinterpret? You offered to give me dressage lessons and then fled when I tried to test your abilities. Why did you offer if you knew you were unqualified?”

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His reply was certainly rehearsed, he'd been going over and over it in his mind since he'd been shown the stables door. 

"I was caught in the moment my lady, it was not a premeditated thing. I was just raking out, and heard you wanting to learn dressage.  I’ve worked at the stables five years now, and thought to offer you my help... though not with the other woman watching on." he frowned then.  By her tone it was pretty plain that she had no intentions of forgiving, and certainly not to give him a letter to ask Tyndale to give his job back. 

Rubbing calloused hand against his cheek he thought to just say it all then. "You are pretty, and I fancied the idea of spending some time with you." there, it was out now. 

"I am sorry for upsetting you. Err. I’ll show myself out."  it was over. Fox bunched one cheek and gave a shrug to Mathew as he turned to leave. 

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Anne-Elisabeth listened to the stable hand's explanation, now even more confused than ever. She couldn't blame him for fancying her … she was quite beguiling, if she said so herself. Mr Fox was not her type, but other ladies might find him appealing and there was certainly nothing wrong with testing the waters to see if they were interested. That was no reason to be fired.

 

Offering fake lessons was not the way to go about it. She chuckled to herself as she considered the notion that she, as young and female as she was,  possibly knew more about seducing women than he did. She felt a bit sorry for him. “Wait, Mr Fox,” she called. “I may be able to help you after all.”

 

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Her directness on that brought a puff of amuse.  "I'd not be the first chap you've met who'd fancy that." Which was a yes. (Though surely not the thing she thought to help him with!)  

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“Nor the first one that I turned down,” she retorted. Before she agreed to talk to Mr Tyndale about rehiring him, Anne-Elisabeth wanted to know more about his motivations. If she gave him a recommendation and he tried the same thing again, she would be the one blamed for it. “Did you really think that I would let you seduce me when I found out that you lied to me about being qualified to teach dressage? Did you not consider that I would be angry instead and complain about you?”

 

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"I'd anticipated, that by then, youd be do entranced by my captivating conversation that youd no longer care, if by entranced I mean smitten, and by conversation I mean mske prowess." He rose an eyebrow at her on looking staff, this conversation in front of them being extra ordinary. 

"Ah but not even that actually. " His tone again apologetic.  "I'd not thought it through at all. It was like I said earlier, it was not premeditated, I was just caught in the moment." He cleared throat. "Are you going to help or not?"

Or was she just toying.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lady Cambray's staff was still becoming accustomed to their mistress' idiosyncrasies. She was definitely not a proper young lady and it was shocking to hear her curse as if she saw nothing wrong with it. She also talked frankly about subjects that were generally considered taboo and didn't want candles lit in the parlor at night because she said interfered with the view from that strange tube of hers. But she paid them well and let them do their jobs without interference, so why should they complain?

 

So Mr Fox had found Anne-Elisabeth so alluring that he had forgotten his good sense? If servants were regularly fired for that, she thought, then a lot of noble houses would have no hired help and countless men who thought with their cocks instead of their brains would be out of work.

 

“Yes, I think I will,” she said. “But you have to do two more things for me, and the first is to answer this question: have you propositioned other highborn ladies and have any of them said yes? Be honest. Your answer will not change my decision to help you.”

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His future was hanging in the balance; she'd dashed his hopes, but then held him there was a promise that she might help him after all - but meanwhile she strunging him out. And he was mighty aware that she was loving her power trip, which only made it worse for him (a chap who'd thought his powers of charm might take control over her.) 

"You have made your point M'am." he was finding his real hard at this point to keep calm.  "No you weren’t the first one, but I promise you shall be the last." By hell would he go through this again!

She planned to hold this over his head and blackmail him in some way, but how?  This drawn out protraction to her 'sentance' was excrutiating.  Or, perhaps she didn’t know what she wanted from him, and was waiting for her pretty head to form an idea?  “Tell you what.” He spoke up, recovering some of his pride as he took charge.  “You give me that letter you have promised, and I’ll find you a dressage teacher, and then we’ll call it square.”

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

“And I was the only one who complained about you. Would you like to know why? I wouldn't have taken offense if you tried to seduce me. What angered me was your lies. All I ask for my assistance is that you promise not to lie to anyone again while you are working. What you do on your own time is your business. Lie your arse off for all I care. The reason I demand this is that if I recommend that you be rehired, it's my honor on the line, not yours. If you fuck up, then I will be blamed. Do you understand?”

 

Anne-Elisabeth ignored his bribe and didn't fault him for it. Everyone bribed each other at court, from the lowest servant to the highest noble.

 

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Fox listened to her lecture, on and on it went. While her swearing surprised him a bit, her ignoring his offer was the actual blow. Aw fuck

"Think what you want then." He shrugged, his tolerance for her noble arrogance lost. Turning the young man he headed off. 

~Fin

 

 

 

 

Ooc: hah, well it was an idea I'd thought youd like the swap! never mind ha. 

 

 

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If he isn't willing to promise not to lie, then his bribe was probably one too, Anne-Elisabeth thought as she walked into the house and back to her study. He probably doesn't know anyone who is qualified to give dressage lessons. Even if he did, how could I ever trust him?

 

Sitting back down at the table, her eyes roamed over the pages of her play. Maybe she would add a comical stable boy to her list of characters, one who humorously tried to seduce ladies with lies. Perhaps Mr Fox would recognize the parody of himself if he watched it. With a sly little smile, she pulled a fresh sheet of paper from the drawer, picked up her quill, and began to write.

 

Never anger an artist. Your folly may one day come back to haunt you.

 

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux
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