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Francis Kirke

The clang of rapier first thing in the morning | Wed 6th, Early AM

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The front courtyard of the Duke of Buckingham's house was large enough for many activities, and Francis wagered that it was because the Duke wished a view of everything going on in the Park and road. It could be quite the thoroughfare. 

 

Although, it could also be that when he wished, Buckingham wanted everyone passing to see him and his grandeur as well. That did not happen this early in the morning, for the Duke was no early riser.

 

As it was, the clang of swords could be heard to passersby and the gates were open. Lord Kingston could be seen crossing blades with his ginger-haired ward, Tommy, without even needing to cross the threshold. If Francis had wanted peace and quiet, the back gardens were like transporting oneself out of London, but he oft favored the activity of the front courtyard because it offered distractions. It made it more challenging for Tom. Clearly, they were not wary of visitors, for then the gates would be closed.

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A relaxed figure strolled in through Buck's gates.  Slung over one shoulder (and held there by a curled digit) was his coat, sans hat his glossy dark hair was well mussed. For a moment the late-returner to the mansion leaned against a pillar to watch the far-too-energetic sport, as he did he took a sip from nearly empty hip flask.  

This was a man known to Kingston, one of the men with artistic bent that the Duke had given patronage to, and who was currently resident here following a hiccup to his livelihood.  He was the actor Edward Kynaston, usually employed at the Royal Theatre.

"He's improving." the gently handsome man called, with a motion to the student of swords play, Tommy. It was a compliment meant for the tutor. 

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Kynaston would surely be used to the scene and thus an apt judge of any changes, for Francis spent most early mornings he was not attending the King at this very activity with Tom. And it was very sporting to watch, for Francis had the Villiers gift for swordsmanship, and Tommy had been sparring with him for many years now (and had fought at sea and land oft enough in that time too, for no one at sea was coddled). Francis had brought him on quite a few escapades since coming to court as well. 

 

Francis laughed at the comment, parrying a well-timed thrust by the ginger. "If he were not so short, he might have a far better chance!" Tom was average for a youth of his age, but Francis was trying to get under his skin. Most people were short compared to Francis!

 

Reach meant a great deal fighting with swords. If you were shorter, you had to be much faster and agile, and you had to risk more to hit your opponent in needing to be closer to achieve it. Francis could hit Tommy from much further away than Tom could reach him. 

 

"You do know you're supposed to sleep when the sun goes down and not the other way around?" Francis asked, dancing his way to the left and pivoting to whap Tom on the thigh with the flat of the sword. "I try to tell HIs Grace the same thing..."

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It was entertaining to watch, the swordplay was far more violent than that he'd play acted any number of times on the stage - Kynaston winced as young Tommy was on the receiving end of an undefended blow from Francis. There's be a bruise there tomorrow for certain, but hopefully a lesson learnt.

"...actually I did sleep, almost overslept!" the onlooker called cheerily, and with a waggle of eyebrows explained "just woke half an hour ago, in time to steal out of a certain house before the sun was up." 

He laughed as Tommy received an swat on his leg, though truth was he felt sorry for the poor lad. Apparently it just wasn’t his day! 

“But I wont be the only one sneaking back at this hour eh?  Given the propensity for plotting at court I’d hardly be surprised if you are on duty even now, and shall furnish a report to the Duke on who you see returning with his morning cup of coffee brandy.” He laughed, “do be sure to tell him that I spend the evening with the highest quality.”

 

 

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Francis snorted at the thought of the fellow jumping out a window before discovery.

 

This was why the blond preferred widows. No window to jump out and no discovery to fear. 

 

"Oh, I am fairly sure the house servants are far better tale-tellers than I am," Francis replied, blocking one of Tommy's thrusts, and adding, "That nearly hit," by way of encouragement. 

 

"But I shall be sure to tell him you plunged into the depths of high society enjoyment last night."

 

Tiring of holding a conversation whilst pausing for the clang of swords, Francis declared the sparring match over, on a high note for the boy. He gave his practice sword to Tom, and then pulled his shirt up to wipe his face on it. 

 

"Besides, the Duke prefers pontificating with me in the morning, rather than report-getting," Francis added, with a chuckle.

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Inwardly cheering on the underdog (for Tommy was plainly outclassed) Kynaston’s eyes flared with appreciation of the near hit.  

"Then remind me to buy one or two of them a drink later, I’m not averse to hearing a good spiel about myself – and I’d want to be sure they get all the facts correct!”

He chuckled as he appreciated the double ontondre, though his eyes were far more busy appreciating the gleaming muscular form of Francis torso as he pulled off his shirt. Just as well Francis was busy wiping his face, and did not see a half of the lasciviousness!  

“It would not do justice to society to take half measures,” came his reply, “where one sees a need, it is only gentlemanly to fill it, and with exuberance.”

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Francis was rather oblivious to all such lasciviousness. Greyson had once had similar thoughts in a similar instance, but Francis had never been the wiser. Nor was he one to judge. If such things were to be believed, his grandfather had been the King's grandfather's lover, so Francis kept himself far from any hypocrisy in such matters!

 

"Indeed, we musn't be stingy and we must give generously, the Lord reminds us," Francis said, with an irreverent crossing of himself. 

 

"What else have you been about these days? Perhaps I might ask what currency of knowledge you report to the Duke, Kynaston, for Buckingham does not just have anyone to stay." He raised a blond brow and gave an overdramatic, concerned look. Clearly joking. 

 

Though it was true that his uncle did not bring many under his own roof. Barn Elms, yes, and other houses too, but the Duke liked his own mystique!

 

"Are you writing something together?" he guessed. 

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It was the irreverent crossing that sealed the deal for Kynaston, and he gave a relaxed laugh at Francis jest.  He liked this fellow, he was just the right sort!  With push off from shoulder away from the pillar; he bent and scooped up a towel laying there, and with some theatre flipped it over his forearm with a bow in offering it to Francis.

"Dual currency I'd say, for nor does the Duke play a single game at once!  Further, I shall ever remain indebted to him for his generosity in my time of need - there are many enough others who are off begging work, scattered by the four winds to the provinces after the Killigrews theatre got burnt!  In fact I was one of those also. Windsor is where I was at." Which was hardly that far into the provinces, but to a city chap like himself seemed remote enough! 

"Ah, but it hardly a great intrigue, would it be poor of me to say that the diversion of my company has held some worth to His Grace, that, along with matters Thespian that I relate. You know what they say about power and playhouses.” He gave a wink.

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Francis had already made the bottom of his shirt all wet, but he accepted the towel anyway. There were some things, especially in the (relative) privacy of home, that betrayed Francis was not some coddled and well-trained lordling. He rarely stopped to remember the dignity of using fine cloths for mopping up sweat! One did not run about with fine cloth to mop sweat at sea. One had worn sun-bleached cotton swath of fabric around one's head for sweat, or a hat. Or both. And when that failed, one's shirt. 

 

"Ah Windsor. I spent much misspent time there during my youth." He had also passed most of the court recess there, but he generally did not mention it.

 

"I was there when the theater burned, getting people out," Francis mentioned, "So, you could say that my ducal benefactor is not the only theater-goer in the family. My own meager efforts do not stray much beyond arranging amusements for His Majesty, but I am quite proud of the little Poseidon ditty I put together with Master Greyson for such a purpose. I rather miss that chap! It was rather integral to receiving my position."

 

He chuckled, "Here and with His Majesty."

 

Francis thought his prime value mostly in being witty and amusing, for he was rather blind to his other virtues and values in this (still rather novel) court life.

 

"Artistry moves men. Hearts are not stirred by the boring and mundane. Not in this age!" Perhaps in Cromwell's time when dancing, theater, music, and Christmastide were pretty much outlawed!

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Kingstone was an odd mix of make-do and refine, the look of him seemed to suit the later, so that his ease with the former came as a surprise.  "Oh you don’t say! We were bloody fortunate that day that more was not lost."  A great many had been present, though far fewer had thought beyond saving their own skins.

"Ah Greyson, it has been too long since I hear his name. I loved his play To Every Lady's Satisfaction, but am not familiar with a collaborative Poseidon piece? Please enlighten!" he called for a recital from the joint author, what finer way to begin a day!  

"I could not agree more Lord Kingston." Francis spoke eloquently upon the subject of theatre, "it is the petri-dish of discovery of the very meaning of life, of love, of spirit - for the common man right though to the highest born,  and ah to the playwright the satisfaction of bringing both to laugh.  Is there quite anything else that is so unifying? Ah, well perhaps war."   

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"In all honesty, the writing was not so very collaborative," Francis confessed. "I had an idea to take His Majesty, His Grace, and some friends on my yacht for a swiving tour of the Thames and arranged for some mermaids to be picked up. I envisioned His Majesty with a very phallic trident of Poseidon commanding them to his service. So, wishing to spread the fortune of such an audience and knowing his skill, I asked Greyson to write something for our arrival to pick up our mermaids."

 

He chuckled at the memory and then said cheekily, "It went swimmingly."

 

Now Greyson was off in Italy, and other places, on the Duke's service. On the surface to write, but it was not truly to write.

 

"I would prefer the theater for unification purposes," Francis assured the man. He might be good at fighting and even at commanding salting sailors, definitely at wielding a sword, but that did not mean that he enjoyed bloodshed. It was instead an honorable necessity.

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"Well there is a party theme!" the actor grinned toothily, and chuckled at Francis pun. Who did not appreciate one of those!  

"That said, I'd always thought mermaids the most frustrating of legends, all that allure and beauty - but where is to poke!  And even mermen is a bit of a mystery, you never heard of a well hung one of those.  It's a situation where the theatre of it is sure to be more fun than any possible reality. A case of the fantasy of the fantasy even." 

Naturally he nodded on the preference for the stage, and then mused, “Have you ever stepped in front of the lime lights yourself?”   

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"Thankfully, our mermaids were more functional. The costuming allowed the 'tail' to split. The illusion only held together when they held together their legs." He paused and grinned, "That did not last very long!"

 

As to the mermen, Francis said, "I've never dedicated much thought to a well-hung merman! But yes, where do they stash that...Thankfully, our mermaids did not need to search for our cocks anywhere!"

 

Shaking his head, Francis said, "No, I cannot say that I have. The Duke has far more talent in such artistic realms than I do. I was not raised dancing in court productions or acting in them; whereas, our Duke has been doing so since he could walk." Francis had the dramatic flair and a way with words, but he had never put them to practice, for an utter lack of opportunity to do so. 

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