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EASTER 1678 | Good Friday Service (8th all day)

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Posted (edited)

You English. No wonder you crawl so for the French - you are still more than half Papists, all of you. Look at your churches! 

It had been a Dutchman who told Charles that, if he recalled correctly, in one of those conversations that lingered in the memory only because he had been so certain that it would end in violence. It had not on that particular occasion, drink carrying off the would-be Puritan before Charles had to.

Wait. Was he Dutch? Or Swiss? Vexatious, in any case.

Quarrelsome drunk or no, it would be hard to argue with the man on the evidence of the day. The royal chapel was never exactly spartan, but the floral display for the Easter services was several steps beyond, even before one took note of the grand spectacle offered by the worthies of court drawn up in all their finery.

And oh, how some of our continental correligionists hate spectacle and finery.

For his own part, Charles was rather fond of both, and thought the flower arranging quite a nice touch. His own ensemble could even be said to be inspired by the vernal theme. His waistcoat and breeches were a rich leaf green silken damask, the floral pattern picked out in gold to match the buttons. His cravat was also green, of Bruges lace, with a simple unadorned gold cravat pin holding it in place. His stockings and eyepatch were of the shimmering gold colour that marked traditionally dyed Sardinian sea silk, and his court shoes were of finely polished black leather, and red heels and golden buckles alike gleamed. Finally, to complete the outfit, he wore over everything a justacorps of delicate fushcia, with golden vines embroidered on the collar, lapels and turned back cuffs. More Bruges lace, white this time, erupted from the wrists. He was not quite the most expensively or fashionably dressed member of the congregation, perhaps, but Charles was a match for the spectacle of the setting, he felt.

If only the spectacle was more than visual. There are so many other things I would rather be doing!

Charles bit the inside of his cheek to force down a yawn as the Bishop droned interminably on. That was true, so far as it went, but he could not claim he would be an engaged participant even if the service were more exciting. It had been a particularly... energetic week on his part.

He had to swallow a smile at the thought, and barely resisted the urge to turn to look at Mary beside him. He could not help but brush the back of his hand against hers, though. A brief, seemingly accidental, and entirely innocent contact, but it still sent a wonderful frisson down his spine, helping fend off the encroaching forces of sleep. (Who launched a renewed assault, covered by the bishop's bombardment of boredom.)

I wonder if I could get away with wearing the patch over the good eye, putting some makeup over the scars, and sleeping through the whole thing?

Something to keep in mind, he decided, for the next time societal obligations and expectations mandated that he waste his time.

Edited by Charles Audley

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Amongst The Queen's Ladies

She's been quietly picking at the edge of silk ribbon trim for some time now her dark head bowed in Respectful Piety as the oratation continued. It was to be a long-winded and full of Homilies service that all of the gathered flock were ment to remember and practice. Another silent inward sigh and her ears picked up the whisperings from the other Maids seated around her ..... bits of gossip mostly but now and then something caught her focus and she filed it away as was her custom of late. There was hardly anything occuring anywhere but that will change come Tuesday with all the Easter Soberness finally put away for another year.

Raising her head to ease her neck she was able to observe but her gaze did not linger. Clearly SHE was not the only one whos mind was wandering if the features and manners of those she watched was any clue! She had to be careful tho for Lady Mountjoy could well be watching her so once again she lowered her head and resumed her shreading all the while thinking that she was badly in need of a diversion.

should I ask God for one? I am of a certinity in the right place 

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Lowther, Chichester and Frances Departing

With the arrival of the king they divided, and young Lady Francis made her gracious farewell.  While he'd been surprised at her appearance in front of him, he was disapointed when so swiftly she did leave.   

Quote

"I must go ahead ..... I hope to have the chance to meet with you both again. Gentleman."

 

While he could hardly moon over someone else’s fiancée here in the middle of a court event (was the wretched Dorset even watching!), he tried make to add some deeper and sincere intent into his returning platitude, "I look forward to that Lady Francis". 

Hoping he'd not been too obvious, George moved to take a free space at the end of a pew.  He was distracted from the serman for a time, as he ruminated on the advice Lady Cambray had given him.  He intended to follow it, and speak with Frances privately as soon as he could.

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Beverley had learned a long time ago to tune out most of the services he was required to sit through in order to maintain his position. He did notice that there were many similarities, but he found there to be a different sort of feeling to the sermons in the Protestant faith. It felt very unfamiliar to him despite the many times he had participated. 

 

Likewise, Brooke was required to attend in order to maintain his positions. 

 

As things progressed, Beverley sighed inwardly. It was not the only obligation of religion of the day. It was not even the first. They had been up quite early at home attending to the true faith. 

 

 

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Lady Lucas

Seated within nearness to the 'Family' she was content with her position. Dressed in a pale yellow brocade gown that had once been of another design she continued her observations of those about her.

She knew that most every Courtier would be in attendance and it was therefore a good opportunity not just for her but others' as well to catch a glimpse of faces not often seen or to examin and chew over what was worn. Really this was no different than any other Court Function save for the location.

She stood and made her reverance as was required her eyes assessing the Queen's figure with interest but she was not close enough to gage the size and shape of her belly and the clothing also was a hinderance. It was assumed everywhere that naturally she would birth the Kings Heir for all the Broadsheets about the City proclaimed it thusly and she thinks that it will figure its way into a Sermon no doubt with offerings of "Praise To The Lord" ringing out from the Congregation.

Her gaze traveled about looking for the face of her son. She could not imagine that he would not be here but a mere Baronet would hardly be missed amongst all the higher Peers. Not much had changed between them and it was still a sense of sadness to her. They shared a house but little else. When it was time for a prayer she bowed her head and silently asked for what she wanted.

How else was God to know unless directly told? 

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Todays readings was focused on the apostle Matthews accounting, while embellished by Compton’s dialogue upon it.  The Bishop found the entire event riveting, alas, this was not so much the case for the greatest number of his parishioners.  (It was a long day, even for the most devout of Anglicans) 

 

When the break finally came for lunch it was most welcome.  That two hours went past all too quickly, before everyone was returning to the chapel and retaking their seating...   Notably Her Royal Majesty was now absent, though most  ladies of her ladies still were and there seemed no concern on their faces to suggest there had been any problem.   

The afternoon services of Good Friday were a little more buoyant, which included hymns and shorter bible readings by some of the younger reverends. Adrian Hamilton for instance, had the reading of Mathew 27 verse 54, "When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake ad what took place, they were filled with awe and said 'Truly this was the Son of God!"    Adrian flushed through out the entire thing, but at the completion looked to the congregation and gave a nod before moving off.  It was a very big honour, never mind the brevity of the verse read.

Then finally the Bishop completed the service by leading all with the Lord Prayer...

 

Service Ends

Exiting out into the bright of day again, it was sometime around five. 

 

 

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No one would be surprised that Louis sat in the front of the church .  He was a man that sought the limelight unless it was in his interest to do the contrary.  With Nicci on his left and Lisa on his right he sat between the two ladies he loved the most.  Between those two charming ladies sat the man he loved the most.  Then, there was his sister and her husband.  He loved his sibling, but in a different way.  She was still a child coming into her own, but her blood marked her as important.  Family could provide the greatest support or the greatest ache.  He preferred the former.  She would need to be nurtured, as would Francis, her ducal husband.

Not as verbose as usual prior to the ceremony, he nodded at everyone important.  Royalty and near royalty, like Buckingham, received the most obvious acknowledgements, but he was not so foolish as to ignore other lords and families that were prominent.  All who attended the royal chapel were prominent in their own way.

The service seemed rather rushed.  Thank God for small favors.

"I feel my sins washed away," Louis whispered to the two ladies beside him.  "Now we have a clean slate to start anew."  He smirked as he stood and offered his hand to his wife and then Nicolette.  Those gowns were so cumbersome that it was hard to sit and stand.

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His uniform lint-free and his boots polished to an unnatural shine, Langdon had stood sentinel as a good soldier should in the wing of the church.  As a member of the Life Guard, he had felt it his duty to project military power as a shield for royal safety.  It was unlikely that an assassin would strike in the church, especially with dozens of gentlemen ready to rise in the monarch's defense.  Yet, he felt a military presence might be reassuring nevertheless.  Perhaps it was nothing more than showing off his uniform and basking in the female attention and male admiration it brought.

He watched his brother Bradley to see if he would continue to moon after Dorthea when she entered.  His own eyes followed Davina's arrival with her.  Of course, his own gaze was focused on Lady Oakham in the crowd, but he spared glances for Susan Herbert, Catherine Sedley (if she felt well enough to attend), Catriona and her sister Fiona, Tamsin and other friends and ladies of his acquaintance.  

When the service was finished, he snapped to attention and looked for the Duke of York.   Having avoided the prince because of Catherine, he felt it necessary to have a conversation about Savoy's letter.

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Francis & Buckingham, and then Francis

 

Buckingham had little desire to partake in public eating after sitting through the bishop, so he and Francis had escaped the small way back to the Duke's.

 

In fact, Buckingham probably would not have come back for the second bit if he had his own way; however, he knew his master the King would never let him hear the end of it if he skipped. When one had been stuck praying in childhood together endlessly, such things generally became the fodder for adult ribbing during similar occasions. He actually had hilarious stories about the King and prayers, but generally hilarious in the way of many such stories...they were funny only in retrospect and had not been amusing in the least at the time. Their time in Scotland had been particularly shaping. 

 

Without the Queen by his side, Buckingham was entirely certain Charles would be napping. 

 

Francis found Buckingham with his eyes closed for a good portion of the service. Thankfully, nobody could really notice with them being toward the front. Though the practice of religion was not the deepest desire of his heart, Francis did not feel a call to nap. Perhaps it was because he had spent so much time at sea where one was not subjected to sermons and readings. There was still some novelty to the grandeur of it all for him. 

 

Following the service, Buckingham paused with the King.

 

Meanwhile, Francis sought to give a kind word to Heather's brother before looking for his friends.

 

 

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York

 

The Duke of York was not to be found at an Anglican service. Instead, he was having private Catholic arrangements for he and his wife. Lord Langdon would see a few members of York's Household were there though. It was likely that at least a few of them would know where to find their princely master. All were known to Langdon as most of York's Household were Navy or military men of some form. 

 

Exiting together were Lord Feversham and Sir George Legge. And further behind them another blond head, belonging to Captain John Churchill was flirting with a young red-head. She had a wealthy, and noble, Scottish father. Either way, they were all known to be trusted by York, and importantly, also the King. 

 

 

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The Killington group: 

Following his assistinf Lisa, he turned to help her.  

"Now now, lets not rush ahead of yourself." Nicci smiled in return to Louis quip, while accepting his held she extended her hand to get to her feet.  His help was not strictly necessary, upon account of have having fine and strong thighs, but she liked the artifice fo it anyhow. During that movement, and being closer to his for a moment, she murmured, "- extra penance is required for some like yourself."   

Breaking apart as Louis then assisted Margarethe - Nicolette he looked around the chapel then, as most Courtiers gratefully left, while some few idly lingered.

Nicci wanted to join Buckingham with the King, but was mindful that in public it was for CR to direct.  Still she looked that way a lingering moment with a hope, weren’t they both as bored as she was, did they not also crave some lighter distraction?  A little flirtation, and perhaps a joke.   Nicci hoped for a sign, or a motion that she might be allowed to approach?   

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Palliser Siblings 

Having 'Come to London Afore' John had thought himself well versed yet the scene being played out before him and his sister had him feeling like the proverbial fish out of water. All around them sat Courtiers - some who spoke in whispered tones and others seemingly uncaring if they were overheard. Despite the surroundings gossip was rife and the taking apat of others' seemed to be of particular delight. He took notice of the faint pink on his sisters cheeks but did not draw attention to it as she was in conversation with an older Lady to her right who raised a finger and pointed out things .... To his left sat a Gentleman of middle years who mumbled soto voice as his wife talked without hardly a breath until there was an exchange of looks and John found himself the beneficiary of a companion to which he was eternally grateful.

He was quite willing to quielty talk of himself as the other expressed curisoity and after some minutes noted that the Gentlemen in the pew ahead had turned half round the better to listen. He answered the questions put with ease and would gladly have continued but the arrival of Their Majesties cut him shsort.

Everyone rose as did he and his sister giving reverance as was custom eyes following at they processed down the aisle his sisters soft voice remarking on it all. Then the Service commenced and it was much the same as Sunday Service back home where a Sermon and Lessons read only with a bigger congregation.

As things drew to a close the Gentleman to his side gave his introduction and also of the Gentleman ahead. John was asked to call over the week ahead, if he was so inclined, as there was interest in many things and the two men thought that he should meet others who would have an interest. He included his sister in an introduction and saw what he always saw - smiles and nods and pleased expression - his sister was indeed charming and her manner none could fault. He was hopefull that thru these two Gentlemen she might also benefit for it was wives not husbands that weilded the real power after all.

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Lisa and Margaretha leaving Louis and Nicci and approaching Cordelia

 

Lisa was glad that the service was finally over. She had arranged her voluminous blue skirt so that it rested against Louis’ leg and had occupied herself during the sermon by occasionally reaching over to briefly and playfully stroke his thigh. Church had always bored her, but it was a necessary inconvenience that had to be endured. Teasing her husband made the monotonous droning of the Bishop a bit more bearable.

 

She also looked over at Margaretha every now and then. Her beautiful redheaded Dutch ward sat on her other side and seemed completely engrossed in the sermon, as if every one of the Bishop’s words was precious to her. During the second half of the service, she sang each hymn with enthusiasm. Both Louis and Nicolette might note that she had a lovely though untrained voice.

 

Lisa knew that Nicolette did not like Margaretha, but would her attitude soften if she knew how pious the girl was? She had not been told about Nicci’s seduction of the King because she would have been shocked into speechlessness and it was none of her business anyway. With any luck, she would never find out.

 

The pretty Countess laughed at Louis’ comment as he helped her up. Her skirts didn’t hinder her in standing, but her numb legs did. After he had assisted Nicci and Margaretha to their feet as well, she placed her hand lightly on Louis’ arm for balance. Her bum was numb as well. Perhaps her husband would help her with that problem later in the evening.

 

Lisa smiled at Nicci’s rejoinder.. “I agree with our cousin, Louis, and anyway, who truly wishes to start anew?”

 

Her blue gaze traveled around the chapel and  lit upon Lady Lucas. Louis already knew of her plan to ask the known matchmaker to help find a husband for her ward. “If the two of you will excuse me, I wish to introduce Margaretha to somebody. I won’t be long.” 

 

Taking the girl’s hand, she led her over to Cordelia. “Good day, Lady Lucas. I have been hoping to make your acquaintance. I’m Lady Elisabeth Killington, the Countess of Basildon and this is my ward, Margaretha van Nassau-Zuylestein.”*

 

The young girl curtsied. “It is a pleasure to meet you, my lady,” she said with a light Dutch accent.

 

 

*This is not her official surname, as she is a bastard. It is what she prefers to call herself.  Lisa's reasons for allowing it will become clear in time.

 

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Lady Lucas Gets Company

She had given up looking for her son and was making her way out when her name was called out. She turned her brow raised slightly wondering who it might be ....

If she was surprised she hid it well.

"Lady Basildon." She offered a greeting her eyes then going to the young girl at her side where she acknowledged that greeting with a nod of her head - she would not attempt trying to say that name!

"You have sought me out Madam and so how might I be of help?"

Her mind was already busy formulating plans as it was clearly of a matchmaking encounter and so she appraised the red-headed girl with more interest. That she had spoken in English was providence indeed.

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 Cordelia and Lisa

 

Lisa was well-known at court. She was certain that Lady Lucas already knew who she was. The older lady didn’t look surprised that she wished to speak with her. Maybe since she had a young girl in tow,  she already knew what was coming. Matchmaking was already proving difficult.  It must take special skills and patience that the blonde Countess didn't possess. Perhaps that will change  in a couple of decades. Louis will probably be a Duke by then. She shared her husband’s lofty ambitions and knew that the Killington family was destined to ascend to an exalted position in the hierarchy of court. Margaretha would help them gain more influence if she married well.

 

Straight to the point. Lisa liked that. She had never been good at mincing words. Eloquence was her husband's forte. By the way Lady Lucas appraised her ward, she did know why Lisa had approached her. Margaretha looked a bit uncomfortable under the woman’s gaze. Her face was nearly as red as her hair. Like Lisa herself, the Dutch girl was not fond of being the center of attention.

 

“I hope you might be able to help me with finding a husband for my young ward. She has a fine dowry and royal blood runs through her veins. Princess Mary became fast friends with Margaretha shortly after we arrived in the Netherlands and she suggested that I take her back to England with me.”

 

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  Juliana of Hesse-Eschwege approaches Chatham

 

As soon as the service ended, the self-styled Swedish princess sought out her most ardent worshiper. Dressed in a gown of purple silk, the stately blonde glided gracefully up to Charles, a saucy smile turning up the corners of her lips. “Atoning for your sins, my lord?” Her eyes narrowed teasingly. “Or praying for more?”

 

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Cordelia and Lisa 

Interesting. So she had been right but the pace must be set to HER liking not the other way round.

The Countess was straightforward in her approach as well yet there seemed to be a lack of warmth in the telling of it. The younger girl was obviously uncomfortable and Cordelia would start with her first by trying to make light of this beginning and in so doing hoped to win confidence from the other which would make it easier for Cordelia to make changes and changes there must be. That she was a ward meant that the Countess might have bought the wardship which was not uncommon but not in England as of 1660 when the Court of Wards had been done away with but clearly still so in European countries. That might be an issue down the line but it was far too early to worry.

"How clever of you Lady Basildon to seek me out. You have stated it all very precisely yet perhaps it has made your ward uncomfortable ..." 

She turned her smile all soft and gentle to that person adding

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance and you must not think anything of this conversation being spoken of here. It is how things are done and I have no doubt you will soon grow accustomed."

"How charming you are and I suspect quite accomplished as well? We shall naturally not discuss this further here but at a time chosen to fit best ..." She spared a glance to Lady Basildon. "Perhaps in the coming week? And I shall not require you to attend if you are unwilling."

"As you can see I am quite harmless. I think you will find I am most understanding."

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Charles and Juliana

Charles stood, idly observing the crowd in the hopes of spotting something that might help dispel his unutterable boredom. Mary had swanned off after the service, to play with Northampton he assumed, though she had not said and it could have been any of a hundred other things. Their duty was done anyway. They had presented the image of a unified family (and nothing more) during the interminable wait for the Bishop to stop talking. He wished she had lingered though. People watching was so much more rewarding when one had someone to compare notes and barbed witticisms with.

He had just accepted the fact that serendipity would not furnish him with relief from his enforced boredom, and that he would have to be more proactive, when serendipity furnished him with relief from his enforced boredom. It was no exaggeration to say that the world seemed a brighter place as he turned to face Juliana, smiling with newfound wicked cheer.

"Our saviour died for my sins, your highness. I have always thought it something of a duty to ensure it was worth his while," he laughed, the blasphemy seeming especially amusing given the date and the place. "And when I think of you, thoughts of sin soon follow. Which is to say that sin oft occupies my mind."

He stepped closer.

"You are a vision," he murmured, drinking her in. "You have been well?"

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Posted (edited)

Sophia Intercepting Francis

 

Sophia had eaten enthusiastically during the break. The baby growing inside her was always hungry. During the second half of the service, her beautiful voice twirled around the chapel as she sang the hymns. She tried to keep her voice quiet enough that it didn’t drown out the rest of the congregation, but it was hard. The young Countess loved singing for the glory of God. Nobody might believe it when watching her performances, but every time she sang was for God. Some people worshiped Him with words; she worshiped Him with her voice. That was, after all, the reason He had gifted her with it.

 

She placed her sketching supplies back in her bag when the service was finally over. Maybe Lord Buckingham would speak with her now that was no longer early. Spotting him across the room, she sighed. He was speaking with the King. Interrupting them would be a social faux pas she had known not to make when she had first arrived in England.

 

Noticing Francis leaving him and heading off with a purposeful stride, she hurried to catch  up with her former guardian. “Lord Kingston, may I have a brief word with you? You, I, and His Grace had arranged a meeting for this afternoon, but instead we attended Church all day. Would the two of you be willing to meet with me on Wednesday afternoon instead?”

Edited by Sophia de la Cerda

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The Duke of Buckingham Leaves the King & Saunters Toward Nicci

 

Nicci would see the Duke and the King share a laugh together as she watched. John Ashburnham and Captain Herbert were nearby them. After a few moments, the King left the chapel in the company of Captain Herbert. Buckingham and Ashburnham then walked down the aisle together before the younger man separated off too.

 

Buckingham continued his approach to Nicci, regarding a few other well-wishers with an imperious nod that did not invite an approach and conversation. 

 

As he moved closer, the mademoiselle would notice the man's blue eyes looked a bit tired, though his step did not show it. 

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The Duke of Buckingham Leaves the King & Saunters Toward Nicci

Jealousy as an emotion was comfortably familiar to Nicci, as she saw the men laugh together she felt those tingly hot embers of motivation and desire again - while  she wondered what joke they were sharing, wishing she could share it too.  And perhaps she would, for the King was quite indulgent of her little questions... a thought that had her mentally smiling as she admired the men in their profiles.  Watching them was rather pleasurable in itself.

She remained idle some while longer, reluctant to settle for anyone else’s company, and then finally it paid off.  She sent a welcoming smile to His Grace, and moved to close the gap between them...

Dipping her head, "Our friend is in good cheer."  This much she had witnessed, but she did not spot the weariness in Buckingham’s own eyes until he was directly before her.  Such a courtier, Bucks could easily maintain his courtier charade under more extreme circumstance than this, "La, but so much idleness, it is exhausting for men with dynamic lives." said she in her flattering style.  Offering some sympathy, but with it; admiration. "Have we dates for the equestrian events yet? Looking forward to a ride is all that sustains me, Your Grace." Nicci grinned. 

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Sophia and Francis

 

Francis smiled as he turned toward Sophia's familiar voice.

 

"For me, I can say that I am free, but it would hardly be correct for me to speak for His Grace. I shall ask him, though, and if it is a problem, I shall let you know," he replied. 

 

"And you and I must speak about the other, your personal matter. Without His Grace." 

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Charles and Juliana

 

Ahh, the pure wickedness in his smile! It sent the most delightful sensations shimmering down her spine. Juliana had missed him more than she would ever admit to him, and not just because she was looking forward to presenting him with the gifts she had bought for him during recess. The pleasure that they would lead to sent fire rushing through her veins.

 

She laughed heartily at his rejoinder. A few people turned to look in their direction. If they hadn’t been at church, she would have flipped them off. “Even if he only considered the sins of the two of us, his sacrifice was not in vain.” Juliana grinned seductively. To his other comment, she added: “Great minds think alike.”

 

Juliana basked beneath his gaze. “Why thank you, my lord. I am well, and I hope you have fared better. There are times I doubt my insanity for agreeing to let Danby’s daughters stay with me. Teenage girls are a handful.” Their antics often made her glad that her son had been taken away from her. Boys were said to be more trouble than girls.

 

Her full lips turned down in a pout. “Because of them, I must cancel our meeting tonight. There are no inns open to send them to this weekend. Though neither you nor I mind and audience, I would hate to shock them too much. However, I have booked rooms for them Tuesday night. I would love you to join me then.”

 

Juliana reached over and ran the long nails of one hand down his thigh, not even bothering to hide it. “In the meantime, sit with me in church tomorrow. We should be able to find ways to entertain ourselves during the service.”

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Cordelia, Lisa, and Margaretha

 

Lisa referred to Margaretha as her ward because it was the clearest way to describe the relationship between them. They were not related by blood, but the Countess was responsible for her as long as she remained in England. Life in the Netherlands had been practically unbearable for the young Dutch lady and Lisa thought that she would fare far better here, especially with England allied with the Netherlands at the moment. She also saw her younger self in Margaretha. The two of them had grown close while Lisa had served Princess Mary in her new home, and she truly wished to help the girl. She and Louis had already discussed possible husbands for her but neither of them knew which eligible gentlemen would be amenable to a beautiful foreign wife.

 

At Cordelia’s words, Lisa’s blue eyes spun to Margaretha. She did look quite embarrassed. It must be rather shocking to go straight from enjoying a sermon to having her attributes listed as a potential wife. Perhaps I should have told her my intentions beforehand. Lady Lucas seemed to know how to make the Dutch girl feel more at ease. Lady Basildon had not noticed that Margaretha’s fists had been clenched at her sides until she relaxed them.

 

“Thank you, my lady.” Margaretha curtsied again. I must break her of that habit, Lisa thought. Her days of subservience are over. She also wasn’t certain what Lady Lucas was being thanked for. Being kind to her perhaps? The girl’s eyes lowered to the ground when Cordelia spoke of her accomplishments. Her humility had always been refreshing to Lisa. Her husband, sister-in-law, and cousin had no qualms about singing their own praises.

 

Margaretha, too, looked toward her guardian. “You can choose whether to join us when we discuss your marriage prospects,” Lisa assured her. Knowing the redhead’s curiosity, she would want to be there.

 

As for Cordelia being harmless, Margaretha curtsied yet again. “Yes, my lady.”

 

The Countess’ gaze turned to Lady Lucas. “Do you have time to decide on a date and time now or is there something else you must attend to. I do not wish to keep you too long from your family.”

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Francis and Sophia

 

Sophia was afraid that Francis would not wish to speak to her again after what she had said earlier. The breath she had not realized she was holding whooshed out of her when he turned to her and smiled.

 

“Very well,” she replied with a charming smile of her own. “If I do not hear from you, I will be at the fountain on Wednesday afternoon.”

 

She nodded when he mentioned her dilemma. “Yes, of course.” The blonde Countess certainly didn’t wish to discuss converting to Catholicism with the Duke. “What about the day after, on Thursday? Maybe we can go riding together if you do not have to serve His Majesty then?"

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Cordelia, Lisa, and Margaretha

Cordelia was calculating on her feet and made the assumption that this girl had had her wardship bought and that was no matter unless Lady Basildon was making use of it as a sweetner to up the anti in the husband pool selection. She saw the swift glance made by the Countess and the apprisal done and thought that there was perhaps some truths in her own assessment - Lady Basildon was intent upon a course that would be self fulfilling as were all Courtiers -  and so Cordelia must now discover what THAT was before deciding on the best way to procede.

Ambition was a fine thing yet it could easily destroy those that did not understand that one had to temper it and oft times add in a healthy dose of Patience.

She offered another smile and a nod of acceptance to the curtsies. The younger girl then deferred to the Countess and Cordelia wonderd just what lay beneath that red head and mild manner. Would this girl be like the Cavendish daughter cleverly hiding her true manner as she said and did what was expected but all the while schemed inside or would she, due to her foreign birth, be the opposite and thus far easier to handle and mold?

Cordelia refocused on the Countess and paused as if in thought then said

"I see no reason why such things can not be arranged now. Can we agree upon Wednesday the 13th - late morning?" She did not add a at your connivance simply because she wanted to be the one that set the tempo from the start.

Lady Basildon was clearly a woman of no nonsense who was used to having her own way so Cordelia was curious as to just how far she could push her.

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Charles and Juliana

Charles winced sympathetically at Juliana's words.

"I know. My sisters are just reaching that age and, well, let us just say that I am glad they remain at the estate."

That was not, strictly speaking, true. Both Sarah and Catherine were almost unreasonably well-behaved in fact, at least when he was at home. (He did not trust Catherine's innocently cherubic smile, though. It reminded him entirely too much of his own.)

"As for myself, I have fared as well as one could expect, though bitterly have I missed the... entertainments and distractions of court." By which he meant Juliana, and she doubtless did not need his waggled eyebrow to know that. He waggled it anyway, just for fun. The ridiculously unsubtle nature of their flirting had always been a pleasure, and he had to make up for lost time.

Her pout could have started a riot in a monastery, and Charles could not help but think it unfair to pair such a fetching expression with such unwelcome news. He clucked his tongue in disapproval.

"Irritating but entirely understandable," he conceded, and smiled a slow, hungry smile. "I suppose the wait will add a certain... spice to proceedings."

He laughed softly as she stepped in and trailed her nails over his thigh. He was exquisitely aware of them, little lines of lightning shooting through him. That, and her closeness, her warmth and her scent, were beginning to have an effect on him.

It would only be gentlemanly to reciprocate.

He reached down to trail his thumb over the inside of the wrist of her free hand.

"My stepmother will be sitting with me," he whispered. His eye flashed. "We shall have to be very discreet."

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