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Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

The Marvels Of Science | 6th April, afternoon (Open)

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Sundial

Charles II was a well-known supporter of the sciences. Such was his fascination with astronomy and natural science that he commissioned Francis Hall (alias Line) to build this complicated device complete with crystals and turning elements. Often called the Pyramidical Sundial, it was made of stone, iron, brass, wood and glass with about 270 individual component dials, including a number of spherical glass dials and painted plane glass dials.

The crystals contained pictures of the royal family including Catherine of Braganza, the Duke of York, the Duchess of Portsmouth, Nell Gwyn, and all 14 children that the King had lovingly recognized even though they were bastards. The only conspicuously absent face was the Lady Castlemain, Duchess of Cleveland. The device was a sundial that only operated on sunny days, but when it did the whole mechanism started moving and was surprisingly accurate in not only telling the time but the exact date.

At all times one of the King’s Life Guard stood watch near the priceless object, which was located in a courtyard of the Privy Garden that connected the palace to St. James's Park. The King passed it everyday with a smile on his face.

During the September Season, the sundial was the source a particular scandal in which the Earl of Rochester urinated on the prized artifact. This ultimately led to his banishment from Court during the Christmas Season.

 

 

Anne-Elisabeth had heard about the sundial in the palace gardens last season and had planned to visit it when the weather became warmer. Despite the wind … was it always so windy in England? … it was a beautiful day and she hoped she would see it in action.

 

Dressed in a saffron gown trimmed with white braid and pearls under an amber cloak embroidered in gold, she strolled through the gardens toward the area where the sundial was displayed. When she reached it, she saw the soldier guarding it and stepped as close as she was allowed, interested more in the intricate way it worked than in the pictures adorning the crystals.

 

As she studied it, she thought about how far science had evolved in the last century or so. This beautiful object might have been considered an evil thing of magic in the not-no-distant past, as would her own telescope. It amused her that people once believed that the world was flat, as well as other silly notions that had long since been proved false.

 

How would science advance in the future, in her own lifetime and beyond? New things were constantly being invented and discovered.  One day far from now, her descendants might look back on the present century and think how primitive and quaint they were. Anne-Elisabeth could not even imagine what scientific wonders would exist then.

 

The present was exciting enough as it was, including the marvelous device she was studying now.

 

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

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(OOC:  The time has been changed so that this can take place at any time in the afternoon)

 

Lost in thought, Anne-Elisabeth didn't realize that her cloak was billowing behind her in the wind and her skirt was swirling swirling around her legs.  One of the pearl combs holding her coiffure in place fell to the ground at her feet, releasing a few dark curls to tumble down her back.

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Beverley had arrived at the palace early to perform his usual duties of organizing and reading correspondence, and he finally decided to get some fresh air. He was intent to see what the sentiment was about Tuesday's session of Lords. He was wearing a naval-inspired blue and gold ensemble, with a tan colored cavalier hat. He had thought to walk through the gardens to see if anyone was congregating and talking in the fresh air as opposed to the galleries or Presence Chamber. 

 

The viscount was rather lost in his own thoughts, but he did notice the lady with swirling skirts. It was alluring enough that he stared for a moment, long enough to see part of her hair fall down and her clip to fall to the ground. 

 

"Allow me to, erm, get that for you," he said, pausing by her, and bending to retrieve the item.

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Anne-Elisabeth didn't notice that her gown had risen high enough to briefly reveal her stocking-clad calves. A modest lady might have been aware of it, but the Countess was by no means a modest lady. Therefore she made no move to smooth down her skirt. Only a moment later, the wind did it for her.

 

Not even a long raven curl fluttering into her face interrupted her contemplation. She simply pushed it away and continued to study the sundial. When a male voice spoke beside her, she blinked and took a step back, startled. What does he want to get for me?  Another curl drifted over her shoulder. Oh. One of my combs must have fallen out.

 

“Thank you, my lord.” She smiled at him warmly. “I don't know why, but the wind seems to enjoy messing with my hair. Only two days ago, it blew a hat off my head, and now it has whipped off a comb. I don't remember it being so windy last winter. Is it always like this in the spring?”

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Beverley was not known for being the best conversationalist, but he was exceedingly well-bred. He held the comb out to her politely, head cocking to the side a bit as she spoke about the weather. It was one of his better topics.

 

"London tends to be a fair bit windy and wet, yes. Erm, especially in the Spring." It was not a country known for spectacular weather!

 

"Have you not been here many Springs?" he asked, awkward in the phrasing, because it would have been easier to simply ask if she was new to the court or country. Beverley rarely spoke eloquently in the face of a pretty, young lady. 

 

"I do  oft find a need to keep hold of my, erm, hat."

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Anne-Elisabeth took the comb and dropped into one of her petticoat pockets. There was no sense in trying to put it back and she couldn't ask this courteous gentleman, as smartly-dressed as he was, to do it for her. Securing curls with a decorative comb wasn't as easy as replacing a chapeau, as Lord Chatham had done for her when her hat had flown off. Most noblemen knew nothing at all about arranging a woman's coiffure. But no matter. Perhaps it looked creative this way and a woman walking by would notice it and copy it herself. Maybe it would become the latest fashion.

 

So she would have to deal with more windy days this season. It was hard not to notice how much it rained, and with the weather still chilly, downpours kept her inside as well. At least she now had a house of her own and not that tiny little room she had occupied when she had arrived at court.

 

The young man had a hesitant way of speaking, as if he was not accustomed to talking with ladies. She hoped she wasn't making him uncomfortable. She usually reveled in unsettling the more proper courtiers with her foul mouth and bawdy wit, but for some reason, she had no desire to unnerve this gentlemen. There was something about him that made her want to be on her best behavior, but she wasn't sure exactly what that was. Perhaps it was his quiet sincerity.

 

“This is my second. During spring of last year I was in the country mourning for my dear departed husband and didn't really notice the weather. I'm not even certain if I set a foot out of doors. London is still quite new to me, and I have yet to accustom myself to it. I grew up in Barbados where it is always warm and sunny. It rains frequently too, but only at certain times of the year. It isn't usually windy unless there's a storm and storms can be really fierce.”

 

She grinned. “And I forget my manners. My old governess would be shocked if she knew. I'm Lady Anne-Elisabeth Devereux, the Countess of Cambray. You look very familiar, my lord. I think I saw you at an event last winter. The sleigh race perhaps?”

 

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

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"Viscount Beverley," he replied to her introduction with a little bow and a tip of his hat. "Do I? Oh, yes, I was at the sleigh race with my lady wife. I am also the aide to the Duke of Cumberland in his position as Lord High Admiral, so you could have noticed me at, erm, other events I s-suppose."

 

He thought if he had seen her at the sleigh race. She might have been with that blond fellow that was a new Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the King, thanks to being some favored relation of the Duke of Buckingham, who rather terrified Beverley. 

 

"England must be quite different from such a place. I have never been anywhere that it is h-habitually warm." Which might seem a bit strange considering he was the aide to the man that commanded the Navy, but Beverley had barely been anywhere. 

 

"It is always good policy to be ready for rain and storms here and to take advantage of, erm, good weather to be outside."

 

 

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“Ahh, yes, that was where I saw you, Lord Beverley. My partner and I came in at second place and I was the lady who immortalized the event with a limerick. It was my first experience with snow. I had seen it from my window the first year I was in England, but I had no desire to go out in it. I had no desire to do anything but stay in my room and mourn for all I had lost. But I shall not speak of depressing things. Snow was like something out of a fanciful tale, beautiful to look at though treacherous to walk in.” Anne-Elisabeth laughed. “I slipped on the ice so many times that my bum ached until it finally thawed.”

 

As for Barbados: “It's a beautiful island and different from England in both climate and culture. The English community is smaller but upholds the same values and traditions as you do here. One of the more unfortunate consequences of living so far away is that news from our homeland is already several months old when we get it, and our clothes are woefully out of date for the same reason.”

 

She did think it odd that he was in the Navy had never been to the Caribbean before, but it was better to keep those thoughts to herself so that she wouldn't embarrass him. Maybe the Duke needed him in London to handle his affairs when he was off to exotic locales. “It must be a busy time for you now, my lord, with the Navy preparing for war.”

 

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Beverley chuckled at her jesting of falling on her bum. Of course, even he could still fall on his arse in the snow or ice, but he had far more experience with it. He remembered as a boy the spectacular slipping and sliding about on more unsteady legs. 

 

"Generally, it is not so very bad. These southern areas of England do not oft have much snow and rarely does the Thames ice over. You will grow, erm, used to it. And, at least, your, erm, fashions will be far more cutting edge."

 

Her question about the Navy made him raise an eyebrow. In his mind, those were topics ladies did not usually engage in, but how busy he was hardly qualified as too scary a topic to engage in with a women, so he answered. 

 

"Not so busy as the many clerks and sailors involved in preparing an entire Naval fleet, but it is surely far busier than things are generally, for an, erm, gentleman of my station. Much of my time is spent in going through correspondence and aiding my master in keeping track of the things of importance, relaying out his orders. It is not v-very strenuous." In truth it was rather exciting.

 

(OOC - I totally lost track of this over the holidays! Please poke me next time ❤️ )

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“Oh, I like it here, don’t get me wrong.” Anne-Elisabeth smiled warmly at Beverley. “It is only the weather I find disagreeable. Even now it is cold for me. I haven’t seen a single courtier wearing as heavy a cloak as mine. And my gown is made of velvet.” She thought about mentioning how many pairs of stockings she was wearing just to see him blush, but she didn’t want to embarrass this quiet and proper gentleman. The Countess generally found men like him boring, but she could see the intelligence in his eyes and his shy way of speaking was quite adorable.

 

“There’s more to do here than in Barbados, more to aspire to. I have dreamed about coming here since I was a child and I do not regret leaving my homeland. The only thing besides the weather that I will probably not become accustomed to is the smell. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time here in the gardens. The pleasant scent of flowers and greenery masks the stench.” One of her pomanders was nestled in her pocket, but there was no need to use it. She took them with her wherever she went just in case. Until she had left the Caribbean, she had not been aware that she was sensitive to strong odors.

 

She noticed his raised eyebrow. Was she venturing into forbidden territory again? No, it seemed she was not. Perhaps Lord Beverly wondered why a stranger was interested in his personal life. Anne-Elisabeth felt a bit sorry for him when he said that going through correspondence and relaying orders was exciting. It sounded insufferably dull to her. Maybe he should invite him to the party she planned to throw soon so he could discover what fun really was. His wife would be included in the invitation too.

 

“I can only imagine how hectic their lives must be. Captain Ernle told me that some of the ships were to be outfitted with extremely powerful cannons. I suppose those are being installed as well. I confess I know little of such things, but I am curious to a fault. What makes them better than the ones that are currently used? Do they have a longer range?” She grinned disarmingly. “Feel free to tell me that it’s none of my business if you would rather not speak of such things to a lady.” There were other gentlemen who would not share that sentiment and would be happy to answer her questions.  Perhaps Captain Ernle himself would oblige her one day. She had met him at a libertine party so he probably had more liberal views.

 

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"Yes, they can strike at further distances than our previous cannon," Beverley replied, with a nod. "I cannot say what it is that makes them particularly better. They are of a novel design and composition."

 

In truth, he did not understand why a lady was interested in cannon and the strangeness of it did have him a bit on his guard. He was aware that there were spies who were female. 

 

"Captain Ernle would know much of such things. He is one of our most promising captains, although we have many older skilled naval leaders." They were an island after all. 

 

"Are you related to the captain and the new Lord Treasurer?" he asked.

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By his answer, Anne-Elisabeth deduced that he was not one of those narrow-minded fools who believed that ladies should not be curious about subjects that wouldn’t ordinarily concern them. Maybe he understood that everyone wanted to feel secure, that they and their loved ones would be protected during the coming war. While it might be fought in Dutch territory, if the English lost, they could be invaded by the French. It was good to know about the advantages their homeland held over the enemy. It made everyone feel safer.

 

Had she been unconsciously testing him to see if he was worth befriending? If so, he had passed with flying colors. He was also not conceited, for he admitted that he didn’t know why the new cannons were better than the old ones. He even implied that she should ask Captain Ernle if she wanted to know more. She certainly did, and not just about the cannons. Anne-Elisabeth wanted to know more about him. She had a reason to approach him now that she had Lord Beverley’s recommendation, whether or not he had meant his words the way she had interpreted them.

 

“No,” she sighed. “I came to court alone. My husband and family perished in a shipwreck while traveling to England from Barbados. I was the only survivor. I mourned for them for a year and a half, then finally realized that they wouldn't have wanted me to grieve forever but to make the most of the second chance I had been given. So now I am trying to make a life for myself on my own.”

 

She quickly changed the subject. “Do you know Captain Ernle well? You speak quite highly of him.”

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"Oh, erm, well, my apologies," he said, awkwardly. 

 

On her own. My, that was quite something to the viscount. He was a traditionalist, though it might not yet have shown through. 

 

"Not very well, no, for he has most oft been at sea from my understanding. I only know him through my position with the Lord High Admiral." He might have revealed that he read most all the correspondence, especially that from sea, but he did not think revealing such things prudent to a lady.

 

"His father being recently made the Lord Treasurer and having been Chancellor of the Exchequer these last years as well, Captain Ernle is somewhat well-known."

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“There is nothing to apologize for, my lord.” Anne-Elisabeth attempted to look suitably sorrowful. The loss of her husband and family had been a terrible tragedy, but she believed that she was better off without them.

 

It was impossible to tell what Lord Beverly thought of her revelation. Was he shocked that she intended to live without a gentleman’s authority, or did he appreciate her independence? This young Viscount hid his feelings well. She had no idea what he thought of her unconventional plans, though he had not seemed to mind her question about the cannons. He was, at, this moment, an enigma … a polite and informative enigma.

 

“Ahh, I see. His family is on the rise. I’m sure they must be proud of their success.” She definitely wanted to get to know the Captain better.

 

Anne-Elisabeth turned her attention to the sundial, pushing another stray curl back over her shoulder. “I came out here to see this marvelous invention. I was hoping to see it in action, but It’s too windy and probably not sunny enough. I confess I can’t identify all the faces on the crystals, but I do recognize His Majesty. I suppose they are all members of the royal family?”

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Beverley nodded at her estimation of Lord Fosbury's rise and his son's thereby. "Indeed, but they have many loft relations to aid them upon the way, so it is not, erm, so, well, unexpected of a rise. He is married to the Duke of Somerset's mother and has been for some time." 

 

Though many were granted titles that they did not deserve, it was not His Majesty who was known for gifting titles to absolute nobodys. That had been His Majesty's grandfather, who handed out titles to pretty men. Nevermind that His Majesty gifted titles to many mistresses; that was normal kingly behaviour. 

 

Speaking of such titles and mistresses. "Yes, erm, the royal family and His Majesty's children and their mothers. I cannot confess to know every single face of the children either." Such likenesses were not near as detailed as a portrait. "His Majesty has many children."

 

He eyed the sundial again. "I confess, the workings of such things were not my, erm, forte."

 

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“Powerful relations can only do so much. One still has to prove oneself worthy of having honors bestowed upon one, which they seem to have done quite admirably. I hear that Captain Ernle distinguished himself at sea, which means he must be quite exceptional. There are a lot of ships in the fleet, after all, each with an ambitious captain. And yet he rose above them all.” Anne-Elisabeth chuckled. “Maybe he defeated the greatest number of pirates.”

 

One raven eyebrow rose slightly. Some of the images were of His Majesty’s mistresses? She had figured that the ladies depicted on the crystals were cousins or other relatives. I wonder if Nicci will be added to them, she thought. Her friend was rising at court too, and the tanned Countess was happy for her.

 

Lord Beverley didn’t appear too curious about the sundial. “Well, I am determined to figure out how it works. Complicated devices have always fascinated me. Had I been born a man, I should have liked to be an inventor.” Her cloak billowed upwards on a sudden gust of wind and she smoothed it back down. “Do you know of any activities that are planned for this season? I was told that there might be some sort of equine event. I do hope that was not just a rumor. I love to ride and brought my horse with me from my estate in Cornwall. Do you enjoy riding too, my lord?”

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Beverley smiled and replied, "I am sure he would tell the stories quite well. Far better than I, at least. He is sure to have some very good ones based upon the spoils he has returned with. Pirates too, I wager."

 

It always seemed that anyone who spent much time at sea had come across pirates at some time or another. 

 

"Really? An inventor?" He could not conceal his surprise. Then again the Carib was wild, perhaps the gentlefolk were a bit wild as well and that was normal. "I surely do not know much how it works, not well enough to explain it." Navigational things, surely. Other sorts of sun dials, not so much.

 

"Easter generally is swept up with religious observances and the like, but after that is over court generally perks up quite considerably." He nodded, "That is what we hear. His Majesty did postulate holding such after my family gifted him with horses over Christmas. I have yet to hear what sorts of events might be planned, erm, but I understand they were to be novel."

 

"Very much so. I ride most days. My family is known for horses."

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Anne-Elisabeth loved to surprise people just to see how they reacted. This was not one of those situations, as she didn’t think wanting to be an inventor was at all shocking. Her charming companion had a different opinion and his expression was rather cute. As usual when she met a handsome gentleman, she wondered what he would be like in bed. Very proper, she decided, and he probably thanked his wife afterwards, which she wished more of her own lovers did. Then again, she had never thanked them either.

 

Lord Beverley admitted that he was not mechanically inclined. Most gentlemen weren’t simply because they didn’t have to be. Perhaps one of the servants who worked on the grounds knew how the sundial functioned. She would eventually find someone who could explain it to her. When the dark-haired Countess had a goal in mind, she never gave up until she achieved it.

 

She barely prevented wrinkling her nose at the thought of spending the weekend at church or in prayer. Not my idea of a good time. She was still too new to court to ignore any opportunity to make new acquaintances, so she supposed she would have to endure it. Being seen was more important than avoiding abject boredom.

 

One eyebrow quirked upward when he revealed that the King had decided to hold an equine event after Lord Beverly’s family had given him horses for Christmas. They bred horses? How intriguing. She didn’t need a new one. Her stubborn and mischievous Delilah suited her quite well. “That’s what I heard as well. I hope ‘novel’ doesn’t mean riding while standing on your head. I’m a good horsewoman but I could never manage anything like that. I doubt the contest for ladies will be too unusual.” Men tended to underestimate the skills of the fairer sex.

 

“I ride frequently myself, just not every day.” She smiled engagingly. “Perhaps we shall run into each other while riding. Where do you usually go?  Can you recommend an interesting place to ride besides the park?"

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Beverley laughed as she said she hoped His Majesty did not have them competing on their heads.

 

Then he stopped laughing and said, "Oh, that was a joke, was it not?" She did not actually think that possible? No, not even women could think such a thing possible. "Even if a man might try, erm, most are far too fat around the middle and to balance that way on the ground!"

 

As to the contest for ladies, Beverley did not show much of a reaction. He merely said, "His Majesty has been known to enjoy a capable lady on horseback. Perhaps, erm, you will be surprised."

 

"I ride the countryside outside of London proper often, but it is not always safe. I also ride in the park, as my lord father lives just on Pall Mall."

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He had not been certain that she had been jesting? Surely Lord Beverly wasn’t lacking a sense of humor? No, his next statement proved that he had one. Anne-Elisabeth chuckled. “You are right about that. Acrobats stand on their heads with ease, but they are usually quite lean.” Whether from the exercise or from lack of sustenance, she did not know.

 

So His Majesty liked ladies who were accomplished on horseback. That was useful information. Perhaps she could impress him with her riding skills and show him that she could do more than spout spontaneous limericks on request. Maybe I should start composing limericks about horses. Reciting a limerick while Delilah prances in rhythm might dazzle His Majesty, if I can get that stubborn horse to cooperate.

 

“I was advised once to hire a bodyguard. Perhaps I should, so I can ride safely in the countryside. The park is becoming a bit boring. I found the gazebo. Are there any other interesting places in the park that I might not have discovered?”

 

Anne-Elisabeth didn’t want to detain Lord Beverly too long and it was becoming obvious that the sundial wasn’t going to move today. After he answered her question, she would take her leave.

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Beverley smiled at her. It was rather rare that he held a very long conversation with a woman and did so with any degree of normalcy. His skills were not in interpreting or conversing with the fairer sex, at least not beyond those scripted sort of court conversations.

 

"Even the park can be dangerous too," Beverley advised. "I heard tell that some soldiers patrolled there the other night to discourage and chase away the ruffians."

 

While such a thing might seem quite brazen to many, Beverley, being a military sort of man, saw it as a perfect protective action toward the more gentile element of the area. After all, he lived on Pall Mall not far from said park! 

 

"I think any lady ill-advised to go out alone anywhere in London or nearby," Beverley said. "Travelers on roads are frequent targets for thieves. There was a lady of quality who was robbed and had to walk to the palace in quite a state after her coach was set upon by thieves, and the Duke of Norfolk once had his daughter kidnapped." Beverley nodded very seriously, "I do not wish to scare you, but I wish, erm, all ladies to be safe."

 

He took a breath and tried to gauge her reaction. 

 

"In the park?" he asked, blinking for a moment. "Erm, there is a pond, but you'd be ill-advised to swim in it, for the ducks seem very fond of it, and there is, erm, evidence of their, erm, fondness all over banks." Yes, he could talk about thieves but had a difficult time talking about poop around a lady.

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Anne-Elisabeth had heard about how dangerous the park could be at night, but she pretended she hadn’t, letting her dark eyes widen in surprise. “It is? I guess it is a good thing that I never ride at night, though I suppose I could become distracted and forget the time. The notion of hiring a bodyguard is sounding better and better.”

 

She truly was astonished at the examples Lord Beverley gave of ladies who had found trouble when in London without a man’s protection. “That’s horrible!” she exclaimed. “Thank you for the warning, though I should be safe enough on horseback. Delilah is quite temperamental when it comes to strangers. She would rather kick them to the ground and stomp on them than allow them near her.”

 

The young Countess smiled warmly. “You have not scared me, my lord. There are dangers aplenty in Barbados. I wasn’t aware that it was so perilous here. Thank you for letting me know..”

 

She had not yet found the pond, I will look for it the next time I go riding, Anne-Elisabeth found Lord Beverley’s awkwardness cute. He was much too well-bred to say the word ‘shit,’ and had to find a way to convey it in a less vulgar way. She thought he did a decent job of it. “Thank you for that warning too. It’s far too cold to swim now anyway.”

 

She looked over at the sundial and then back at her charming companion. “It looks as if this scientific marvel is going to remain stationary today, and I do not want to take up too much of your time.” She held up her hand to be kissed. “It was nice talking to you, my lord. Thank you for keeping me company and for your excellent advice.” Perhaps knowing that she had enjoyed their conversation would bolster his confidence a bit.

 

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"Very horrible," he agreed. 

 

He refrained from saying bandits were quite used to frightened horses, for he supposed he had frightened her off it all enough; Beverley had quite the estimation of delicacy of women!

 

"Oh, you are more welcome, though I am sure I have not been much help." He cast his eyes to the sundial too, for a moment, mirroring her look. He then noticed her hand offered up and obliged in his typically formal way with a small smile. "Do enjoy your day."

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