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George Hardwick III

How to Steal a wife | Cambray residence morning of the 7th

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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.

 

Lord Chichester walked with satchel tucked under arm; therein was his notes on various sessions of the House of Lords. Biased of course, to his point of view.  His recently made woman friend Lady Cambray had expressed an interest to learn more about English politics, and his notes might at least be a start.  George knew from his own study of the subject that it would take years to come close to mastering the subject, but it was a harmless enough topic for a young woman to  read about. Not for a moment did he think she would ever become a player in courts political games. 

Yet all that was much of an excuse for his visit today, for he had enjoyed the young ladies company and... and had come to think that her opinion upon a rather delicate matter he was contemplating would be... well possibly what he wanted to hear.  Oh he'd thought at first to seek Lord Beverley’s advice on this, but, well he could well guess how his terribly upstanding and proper young friend would reply.  No, never, perposterous, certainly not, what are you even thinking!   Those were the sort of words the doe eyed St Ledger would say.

But George wanted a more liberal point of view, perchance encouragement, for his utterly wild idea. 

 

*Knock knock knock* 

 

George adjusted his lavender silk cravat as he waited at the doorstep – presenting the very image of a man of whom butter would not melt in his mouth.

Edited by George Hardwick III

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Anne-Elisabeth was looking forward to Lord Chicester's visit, though she didn't know what to expect. Would he just give her his notes and leave or would he want to stay awhile? She hoped for the latter and so had prepared accordingly. It was too early for lunch, but she had instructed her cook to have tea and an assortment of sweet and savory snacks, including hard to find fruit from the Caribbean, available in case he was hungry. If he wanted something stronger than tea, she would suggest he try her exotic coconut wine.

 

There were several places in her house where she could receive guests. The previous owners had apparently enjoyed having people over. It was the quirky garden that had prompted her to buy it, but the number of parlors for entertaining was another reason she knew she had to have it. Some of those rooms were empty now, as she had yet to buy furnishings for them, but eventually, they would serve the purpose for which they were built.

 

Even had they been fully furnished, the Countess believed she would always prefer the upstairs drawing room, mainly because of the large window that spanned the length and width of the wall opposite the door. The window gave one a lovely view of the whimsical garden with its creatively sculpted topiaries. They seemed to shimmer in the morning sun, giving them a magical appearance. The window's filmy coral curtains had been drawn back and fastened with turquoise ties with seashells strung upon them. Her telescope was set in front of the window, pointed up at the sky.

 

The room was decorated in a tropical theme. The other three walls were each painted with a different color … one turquoise, one coral, and one light amber. The paintings on the wall depicted beaches, the ocean, palm trees, flamingos parrots, and brightly colored flowers. There were several large potted plants set artfully around the parlor and vases full of flowers sat upon small tables next to pretty seashells.

 

At the end of the room sat a fireplace with a low fire burning in it. A rug featuring an underwater scene had been placed near it and a couch and two chairs made of rich dark mahogany were arranged around it with a small table between them. The upholstery echoed the colors of the walls. There was another longer table along one wall, strewn with books and maps of the night sky. The entire house was a bit warmer than most English residences so that it would be comfortable to a lady who had grown up in the heat of the tropics.

 

Anne-Elisabeth had chosen a mauve silk gown for the occasion, embroidered with tiny white flowers. The bodice was moderately cut and trimmed with white braid adorned with pearls  that framed the neckline. Her sleeves were twice puffed and the lace ruffles that hemmed them reached nearly to her elbows. The skirt was embellished only with white braid and pearls along the bottom and she wore a white sash around her waist, tied into a bow at the back. Her jewelry consisted of a pearl necklace, bracelet, earrings, and rings. It was a lovely but informal ensemble, suitable for receiving guess at home.

 

Although she heard the knock at the door, she stayed where she was, looking out of the window. She had instructed her butler to greet Lord Chichester, take his outer garments if he was wearing any, and show him to the drawing room. As two sets of footsteps approached, she turned around and smiled, waiting for the fashionable the Earl to walk through the door.

 

 

 

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

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It was unusual to be lead to a reception room up a set of stairs.   George felt oddly impertinent to climb them (as though he was going directly to a boudoir).  She was a libertine widow after all. To be recieved directly into her private chambers was practically scandalous. Actually, perhaps not even practically, but fully scandalous.  (Lord Beverly or Lady Lucas would know the answer to that query) 

Menwhile, Georges eyes were a little rounder as he put his head through the doorway (before fully entering) - though then seeing Lady Cambray he relaxed and smiled.  Shoulder lowering he strone into the room, approching warmly he took his bow. 

"Lady Cambray, what a marvellous setting I discover you within, you are a veritable water nymph - have you a conch shell handy, I feel compelled to blow into it!" he smiled with eyes bright.  Still tucked under his arm was his satchel of contrastily dry and dull political things. 

 

 

Edited by George Hardwick III

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Lord Chichester did not immediately step over the threshold. He stuck his head in the doorway first, as if not certain what he would find within. The unwritten rules of polite society were more relaxed in Barbados and it wasn't unusual to use the second floor of a plantation house for receiving guests. During her year in Cornwall before coming to court, Anne-Elisabeth had learned that things were different in England. The second floor of a house was considered private and only family, very close friends, and lovers were invited to ascend the staircase.

 

This house had a perfectly respectable downstairs drawing room which been decorated in an ocean theme …soft blues and greens, accented with white and cream. But the second floor parlor with its wide windows and spectacular view was her favorite room in the house, and the one in which she spent most of her time. Why should she not entertain here if she wanted to?

 

She noticed the Earl's round eyes and suppressed a chuckle. Had he, perhaps, expected to find her in her nightdress? What would he have done if she had not been fully clothed? Drop his notes and flee or pretend that nothing was amiss? Well, she would never know the answer to that question, for despite her libertine ways, she had never been inclined to entertain in her skivvies. She had too many lovely gowns and sparkling pieces of jewelry to show off. "Do come in, Lord Chichester," she said with an engaging smile.

 

Finding the interior of the drawing room … and herself … perfectly proper, the Earl strode into the room with confidence, all hint of uncertainty gone. He was a fine-looking man and just as charming as he had been the day they had met, despite the unfortunate beginning of that encounter. She admired his eloquence. He certainly knew how to compliment a woman. His words might have made her blush, if she had been the blushing sort, which she was not.

 

“You flatter me, my lord, though I admit that I do like being compared to a sea nymph.” She moved to one of the tables and picked up a pretty conch shell that had been lying beside a vase of brightly colored flowers. “Here you are,” she said, holding it out to him, her dark eyes twinkling playfully. “If that one doesn't work, I have several others.” A conch shell had to be specially prepared to be used as an instrument and hers had come straight from the Barbadian shore, but she didn't expect him to actually blow into it. She just liked to tease him, in a playful platonic manner.

 

The Countess looked down at the satchel tucked under his arm. “Thank you for bringing your notes. I am sure that I will find them quite fascinating.”

 

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

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Welcomed into her second floor room (the locale of which would take some getting used to for our George!), he was graciously received -- though she actually did have a conch and swiftly enough offered it!

“Ha, my bluff has been called!” George gave a laugh, “You are a rare treasure, what other lady in London, nay all of England,  would have such a shell within her hands reach!  I now must refrain from suggesting we send the seal to fetch us a drink, for fear they might come flopping in the door. Though really, how would they manage the stairs!”

All said while holding up his hand to decline an attempt of blowing into the shell.  He’d once tried to blow a trumpet, and had only succeeded in making an ugly noise. He was far too interested in impressing Elizabeth Anne to want to repeat such a sound within her hearing.

To the point she identified the satchel.

“Oh yes these.” He held the fine leather satchel out to her, “for you to peruse at your own leisure, I need only collect them at the end of the season.” Nodding head towards the divan he then asked, “May I? You see, Lady Cambray, I come to laden with a concern which I hope to gain your advice upon. A matter far more perplexing than mere politics, you may need to take a seat also for it. Its… the Cavendishes you see. Oh, and Dorset. I have to mention him too I suppose, though would rather not.”  

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Anne-Elisabeth laughed at the image Lord Chichester's jest conjured in her mind.  One of the many things she liked about him was his wit.  Placing the conch shell back on the table, she waved her hand nonchalantly. “Seals aren't good at serving drinks,” she said, schooling her pretty features into a serious expression. “I have an octopus for that. He can not only climb the stairs but he can carry a tray of food and several drinks at the same time.”

 

She picked up a starfish that had been lying beside the conch shell. “I doubt any lady in England has one of these either. Unless they're stitched upon a cloth in an embroidery hoop.” The young Countess' seashells had not been brought with her from Barbados. She had lost everything she owned in the shipwreck. The gentleman who supplied her with coconut rum had surprised her with an entire barrel of lovely shells from her homeland. If he had hoped to be rewarded with a shag, he had been sadly disappointed.

 

Her new and fascinating friend said nothing about the telescope by the window, a more unusual object for a lady to own than exotic seashells. Then again, she had already told him about her interest in science, so he might not think it was odd that she had one in her parlor pointed at the sky.

 

She took the satchel that Lord Chichester handed her. “All season? Thank you, my lord. I was hoping I wouldn't have to rush through them. And yes, please sit down.” Anne-Elisabeth carried the satchel over to the long table, pushing aside a few diagrams of constellations so that she would have a place to set it. Returning to him, one ebony eyebrow arched upward when he said he needed her advice on a complicated matter that concerned the Cavendishes and Dorset.  Whatever could it be?  She didn't know the Cavendishes, but Dorset was a fairly uncomplicated man.

 

“Of course, my lord. I will be pleased to offer you my advice.” Anne-Elisabeth sat down beside him. He had never stumbled over his words in her presence before and she sensed that he was a bit anxious “Is it something you would prefer to discuss over a drink? I can send for some of my coconut rum.” As an attempt at levity, she added: “It won't be delivered by the octopus, though. I gave him a day off.”

 

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