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EASTER 1678 | A rousing evening with Her Royal Majesty (8th)

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Athenry and Sophia

 

A Galician friend of the Jesuits had, in Athenry's St. Omer days, introduced him to the concept of saudade. At the time, the idea of a profound, bitter nostalgia had made little sense to a pious young idealist, with dreams of discarding his family's ridiculous Welsh-ness re-invigorating the humanism of Erasmus of Rotterdam and Sir Thomas More, but in the brief time since he had returned to London, the notion had begun to make a great deal of sense.

Has it truly only been a year? He felt a different man now, and perhaps he was – Sophia certainly seemed to be a different woman – but now was hardly a good time for such considerations.

“My adventures, as always, are somewhat limited, and oft more mental than anything truly gallant,” Cadell replied softly, shooting a wry look towards the cane in his right hand. A half truth, of course, but a truth nonetheless; service in the cause of the Lord and true faith often required far worse lies than that. Letting the warmth found in drink and the company of an old friend guide the conversation to fairer climes, he explained, “But they have taken me about His Majesty's business, and in the doing, so allowed my lady wife to return to her homeland.”

“I found Paris to be grand, and the chateau le Roi has begun to favor in Versailles cramped, but orchestrated with a fascinating precision that would never be allowed by us independent servants of the King here,” he went on, careful not to sound too enthralled with the grandeur of the Continent's greatest power. “And the reception far more gentle than current events would lend one to think.”

Defying what must have been good sense, Cadell had made no secret of his Catholicism, having associated where he could with York's party. But considerations in this regard fell by the wayside as his manners returned alongside the presence of the Queen, and he gave thought to Sophia's situation in turn as the gathered courtiers performed the necessary courtesies. She no longer seemed the coquettish girl he had met when new to London. With child, risen in station, her English much improved...and troubled, clearly. Time, it seemed, had put them on parallel paths in many regards.

“You have my congratulations on your blessing from Heaven, my lady,” Athenry offered in a low murmur out of the corner of his mouth. More of the old stiffness returned as he searched for an appropriate conclusion. “And my, ah, sympathy for whatever weighs on your conscience.”

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Chatham and Darlene

"As you say my lady. I shall bear it in mind, though I doubt I will have much cause to use the word in your company," Charles replied, smiling with the simple joy of conversational cut-and-thrust. "Shall I substitute 'in the general run of things?'"

It really was a pity that he only seemed to meet Darlene at ostensibly religious events, he mused, appreciating her clean, floral scent, the soft sound of her whispered voice, and the warmth of her closeness. It was so much more difficult to discreetly slip away and find a secluded corner.

"Very true," he murmured in agreement. "I shall have to seek out the opportunity to practice." Would you like to teach me? his eye asked, dancing wickedly.

He let his face fall into a mock-doleful expression as Darlene playfully threatened to betray his trust. He held out a plaintive hand as she cast about them for someone to reveal his secret to.

"Please my lady," he asked, his begging somewhat undercut by the hint of a smile curving the corners of his lips. "I am entirely in your power. Be gentle, please."

Their play of course, was curtailed by the Queen's entrance, which would doubtless have pleased the German harridan had she known.

But of course, 'curtailed,' does not mean 'stopped.'

"It really is most inconsiderate of them," he murmured. "Ah well. We shall simply have to enjoy ourselves in spite of her Majesty."

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Posted (edited)

George Hardwick (who was practically a resident of the Queens Presence room these days as he kept a vigil hoping to gain an audience) had quietly seated himself and been watching the various arrivals... his hand moved with charcoal upon one of the last few pages in this current sketchbook. He’d be needing a new one next week. These books were practically a visual guest book of the comings and goings from Her Royal Majesties apartments.

One of the arrivals tonight was a pleasant surprise, young Cadell had returned to court...  and George supplied a nod of greeting across the room towards him.  The bright eyed and exuberant Lady Toledo meanwhile engaged that gentlemen. Perhaps later they would have a chance to speak.

But for now, here arrived the Queen - George stood to bow, and after she was seated settled back to his chair. 

Sketchbook was pocketed, and bible drawn out instead. He for one was actually looking forward to this very Anglican evening, as a new convert he was quite smitten with their liberal all embracing views!  This would be positively riveting, he was certain! 

Edited by George Hardwick III

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Davina Finds George 

Her ears knew the footsteps and so with a small sigh came out from her hiding place exactly timed to curtsey to her Mistress. Once passed she looked for a place one eye brow raised as she caught sight of a face from the past (Cadell) then took note of Chatham with Lady Toledo. She debated to go to a certain Gentleman but that was not wise and so it was with relief that she saw another much more welcom'd face. Noticed his sketchbook and smiled and stiffled a laugh as that was put away and a Bible took its palce.

"Hello. Might I sit here?" She asked him quietly. "Two Souls converted yet still in understanding."

She sat arranging herself then folded her hands together in her lap. 

"I did not expect to see you attending here. It will be hard going and I expect to see several with struggles when that is realized."

"You have been near to living here lately George - what is it that you are seeking?"

"And how might I help you?"

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Beverley arrived quietly, needing to attend this in order to support his lady wife, who had been made one of the Queen's ladies over the previous season. He still felt exceedingly out of place at anything specifically about religion. Thankfully for him, due to a lifetime of far more serious religious practice, he was well-versed on Bible verse, and he was educated enough to also know that said verses were shared across more than one religion, Jews included. 

 

The one good side to this was that this season he had more success with getting his father to trust him more, so he could wear more fine things. Two years previously getting one of their nicer family jewels to wear for an evening was an ordeal because his father had not trusted him not to gamble away his clothes. He wore a navy blue ensemble, accented by pale yellow, in support of their warlike endeavors and looked around for his lady wife as many began settling into chairs.

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George & Davina

Davina arrived within moments of his bow to The Queen.  Smiling to the lady of shared history he bowed again and reached for her hand to place a kiss.  "You certainly may, I have always enjoyed your company." He allowed her to sit first, then settled himself back to his own chair.

Bible feeling a tad awkward of a sudden

Until she revealed unexpected news. 

"Converted?" The earls eyes flared momentarily with the surprise.  Of course he'd seen her at the Anglican church, but that hardly meant much, any number of covert Catholics attended that service. "I must confess, I am surprised at your choice." though a whisper of a memory tickled his mind now, of a conversation they had once had, and he'd thought she had been meaning him. Perhaps though it had been herself all along, with thoughts to a conversion in action only.  But what could he ask her to test that thought?  Instead he simply looked at her, wondering to divine the truth.

"Yes I have been hopeful to gain an audience with Her Majesty, well rather more likely Lady Mountjoy I would say. They have kept me waiting a week of days so far, though I don’t much mind. It has been ample time to consider how I might phrase my request."  He smiled in saying, and was grateful for the friend that she was to have asked him this question. She was the first. 

"Might you help? I am not sure... I wish to be commissioned to paint a portrait of the queen with the baby once we are blessed with it's arrival. Commissioned in name only of course, for it would be my gift to Their Majesties, and to our Nations visual recording of history." as he explained his hopes out loud for the first time, he did not see them as unreasonable. In fact the Earl thought he had a very good chance at success in this, all he needed was a chance to have that conversation.  

But he had time, the Baby had not been born yet, by the looks it might even be months away yet. 

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George and Davina 

She smiled at his Salute once again thankful that they had managed to somehow retain a friendship.

"You are wondering at my choice of word? Well are we not always in such a state - choosing a side, who to follow or not, clothes food ... an endless listing that is not specific to Religion."

"And yet that answer will hardly satisfy. Am I to speak of my private thoughts with my Public Face then? You and I are mirror images of the other yet I am afraid tis I that is flawed."

He might well take her meaning in that she now presented an outward sign of conversion but her Beilefs had not changed nor would they. 

"But this is not a place for such conversations."

Her gaze moving about the room but not really seeing as it was just a break for her to regather herself.

She heard his reasonings nodding her head as he continued.

"What a splendid idea!" She whispered back. 

"You may be assured that I shall seek out Lady Mountjoy - I can hardly go to the Queen now - even if I wanted to for she is ever surrounded by those Senior Ladies that please her."

"Why it shall be beautiful and Everyone knows your Talent. And I can see no objection."

"But there is a chance of that. Or it being seen as 'favoritism' so others will complain of it and then it shall become some contest with the 'winner' not being You and thus disappointment."

"Hmmmm .... Will you let me think of a good plan? There is Time enough. And Lady Mountjoy can, in that space, become more enamoured of the idea of it just being Lord Chichester that shall have the Honor."

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George and Davina

And so he understood, but as she said this was not the place to talk of such things.  Thus they were content to move to other topics.

“I am pleased you find the idea agreeable. If there was a way you might assist me gain an audience with one or the other" by that he meant Lady Mountjoy or the Queen, “so I might place my petition before her, I would be most grateful. But I ask you to allow me just that. I have rehearsed my speech in my mind for seven days now, I would feel robbed if denied the opportunity.”

So he had explained that he did not want her to petition on his behalf.

“Favouritism? All of court life is favouritism. That you chose to sit next to me now is an example of such, favouritism is the very seat of human nature, we could no easier deny ourselves of that than of the air that we breathe.” Said he in that philosophical bent of his, “but my hope is not without some little precedent, my sister when she led the redesigning of these very chambers, had one of my works hung in this room with no objections from Her Majesty.”

“But enough of me. Though my many days here I have been surprised at how little I have seen you passing through. Might I guess you have discovered some other diversion of late, do tell me what it might be? A good works, or new charity to be nursed perhaps?”

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Chatham and Darlene

His sultry-voiced inquiry reminded her of another thing, of which she was mor than happy to brag: “It just so happens that I shall be giving lessons on some such to hoards of young ladies soon.” She grinned, “Though I do not know if placing a wolf amongst that flock is quite what their fathers are expecting of Dorchester house.  You have heard of Dorchester house have you not. It’s only the most exclusive finishing hostel for young ladies.”

Perhaps Darlene was wearing a marketing hat at that moment.

But then she was teasing him, and he played that game happily - but then people usually did willingly take part in the theatres she created around them. The highlight of such had been that time she’d utilised a circle of no less than 6 people at a royal ball,  to act out ther recounting of her Carib recess story! And a good time had been had by all (even the fellow whos role was to be an island).

Alas, what more she might have made of their current show was quashed by Karoline’s arrival. But Lord Chatham was not one to give up quite so easily.

Darlene leaned close to hear his suggestion, and lips pursed with pleasure at hearing it. “Are you suggesting a … Game... of some sort?”

Wouldn’t that be just splendid, and so rare for someone else to be the one to initiate it. She paused for him to supply – though was fully prepared for his mind to blank on it, then naturally she would invent a game instead.  Darlene's game would probably involve cows (since the heifer was in her mind) and possibly pregnancy for the same reason.   

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The Beverley's

Mary was within a small cluster of the younger queens ladies.  But when she saw Beverly arrive she flashed a smile in his direction, and murmuring something to her friends she broke apart to join him. Her eyes were admiring as she approached him, he looked particuarly fine after they had been apart for some hours!  

"Good evening my lord husband." there was a soft pleasure in her voice to say. Beverly might notice a familiar necklace around her throat, it was one of his mothers favorites that she'd been honored to wear.  "- did you remember to bring the bible? Its quite the fashion tonight, I sent a messenger to let you know, but they never returned, did you get my note?" Mary's voice had quickened to a gentle excitment. She took her duty to the Queen quite seriously!  

Sliding her arm though his, she presented a warm smile to general populace around about - while she motioned discreetly towards the last pair of available seating nearer to the queen.   Perhaps the gentlman noticed another pair (namely Agnes acompanying von Bruhl) had just stepped towards those same seats!  

 

OOC: there is still some reserved seating for Lady Mountjoy etc - these are not those 😄 

 

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Chatham and Darlene

"I have heard of it, yes, and the quality of instruction is obviously all that is advertised. The young ladies are most fortunate," Charles said. "But really my lady, a wolf? Me? I am entirely domesticated, I assure you." He gave Darlene a lupine grin. 

"I take your point, though. Mine is not a visage any father is likely to appreciate seeing near his daughter, and I fear I cannot carry off a dress. Hmm. Perhaps private lessons, then, if you are willing?"

Charles had not been suggesting a game, in fact, merely proposing that they continue their banter and flirtation despite the arrival of her Royal Misery, if perhaps a trifle more subtly. But when Darlene leaned in like that, lips pursed and voice full of anticipation...well, he would challenge any man with blood in his veins not to give in.

"I had not thought quite so far ahead, but yes, I think I am," he murmured, mind whirring. "Hmm. Something that does not require much in the way of props or preparation, obviously. You could choose a courtier or some other personage, real or fictional, alive or dead, and I will play the role for the rest of the evening, while you endeavour to make me break character. Does that suit my lady, or have you suggestions of your own?"

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Chatham and Darlene

Darlene’s other Charles would be pleased to hear Dorchester’s repute, this review surprised Darlene even. “Oh. Good.” She settled with a confused titter, “ah… can I ask where you heard that?” Was there some ground swell of support even? (Which would only make it even more important that Langdon let her give these lessons that she’d been begging to do for just ages.)

“Would prefer fox?” asked she, though she thought wolf suited him better. And to prove her point he tried a second time to lure this little lamb away from safety of the flock. “Oh yes perhaps.” Said she, with absolutely no intention of fooling around with anyone quite so soon, if even at all. Truth be told Darlene was far more conservative than she ever let on (for she liked to imagine herself nearly as daring as her outrageous cousin Heather)

But any talk of fake bow tying lessons aka shenanigans was forgotten, as he posed a game, and she did not even have to invent it for him. 

Darlene gasped with delight, “Goodness gracious!” she hissed in an excited whisper, and with no hesitation chose “I choose Cromwell.”

Which was probably not a very kind choice, even if it had her secretly laughing with glee.  

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George and Davina

Somehow she felt as if she had just been chastised.

"Of course. How silly of me to not have remembered that. It was much admired."

"I will not hinder you in any way My Lord - I shall only engage Lady Mountjoy and ask if she will see you. She will send word to you I am sure."

She looked down at her hands resting so comfortably in her lap showing no outward sign of her inner feelings.

"I have been at Baintrees as there is not much need here. And no I have no new anything. I fear I am quite out of diversions at the moment."

Her eyes went to another of the Queens Ladies who was occupied with a Gentleman (Agnes and The German) as her thoughts were said aloud 

"Perhaps I should have wed von Bruhl after all. I have never been to Germany. THAT would be diversion enough don't you agree?"

"I wonder how many us shall have the same verse  ...."

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Athenry and Sophia

 

Sophia felt a bit guilty for asking about Cadell’s adventures when he called attention to his cane. However, one could still do many interesting things with limited mobility. She could not remember his affliction hindering him before. Had it worsened since he had left court? She certainly hoped not.  She only wished the best for him.

 

How long had been gone anyway? Since last spring, she believed. An entire year! He had likely heard that she was married and to whom, just as she had heard that he had been wed to one of the King’s mistresses and been given lands and a title or two. He looked quite well and content, she thought. His time away from court had been good for him. Perhaps his marriage was a happy one, too.

 

Maybe he even knew about the nearly impossible feat she had accomplished at the concert. If she had known he was returning to court, she would have postponed it so that he could attend. Cadell had supported her during her very first concert at Windsor shortly after she arrived in England. That one had actually been inspired by her wish to sing for him.

 

“Sometimes mental adventures are the best kind,” she smiled. “and certainly the least likely to go awry.“

 

So he had been on His Majesty's business in France? Had he been a spy? How exciting that would be! He was the type of gentleman that nobody would expect of nefarious intent and so the perfect choice for that kind of work. Sophia thought that she made a good spy too, though since Ronquillo’s departure, she’d had no chance to practice her fledgling skills at covertly gathering information.

 

Cadell had obviously enjoyed Paris. “I envy you for spending so much time there. I have heard the most fascinating things about Versailles and wish I could visit myself.” The young Countess sighed. “I fear it is impossible now, not because of the tensions between England and France but because I am married to a Spaniard, and the French and the Spanish get along worse than cats and dogs. I doubt my reception would be as warm as yours, no matter that I am not truly Spanish at all."

 

The Queen arrived. Sophia glanced briefly at her swollen belly, wondering how it felt to be so large with child. Well, she would find out soon enough. The Queen was taller than she was and carried her temporary bulk with dignity, something the blonde Countess would probably not be able to pull off. After the obligatory curtsy, she sat back down and turned back to Cadell.

 

“Thank you,” she said, a soft smile curving her lips. “My lord husband is very happy.” And my royal lover even more so, she added silently to herself. “Lord Toledo is the Spanish Ambassador now and he recently was awarded the title of Count. I am now a Countess, which was my dream when I first came to court. I just got there in a rather roundabout way.”

 

Her smile faded at the mention of her predicament. Considering that he was Catholic and a close friend ... “May I discuss it with you, my lord? You may be able to help me make a decision. It is a delicate situation and I cannot mention it here."  Her former guardian's scolding had not been forgotten.  "If you gave time, perhaps we can get together sometime next week?”

 

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Charles, well armored in his etiquette was quite prepared to stifle his inclinations and banter lightly with both his wife and the young lord. Or so he thought. Unconsciously or deliberately Ursula’s had went to her throat and traced the line of white pearls across her alabaster neck. His glance naturally followed the movement and a chink in his amour was exposed and penetrated as surely as the most skilled rapier thrust. Of the many fine features he attributed to his wife perhaps the most captivating to his mind was the paleness and curvature of her neck. He had many times before gazed transfixed at the play of light and shadow along its contours and many time had run his own hand across that desirable field.  Such a sight, when having been denied its pleasure for so long, was something he could scarcely dismiss or defend himself against.

Having been so careful to include Francis in his greeting at portray an attitude of polite interest he now not only forgot that the gentleman was standing less than three feet away but forgot that there were also other beings in the room his attention so fully fixed on his Ursula so. “Ahem…” he said, clearing his throat, not so much as a prelude to speech but because he had discovered that he had forgot to breathe so nothing either droll or mundane followed the ‘ahem.’  He was at the moment uninterested in speaking.

However Charles was not so lost in carnal lust that a fragment of his brain did not register the unique sound of both doors being thrown wide which at the palace could mean only one thing. His reason fought its way to ascendancy and after a brief internal struggle he tore his eyes upward and his face resumed the all too familiar expression of an expectant courtier.

“Ah… it seems we are yet again thwarted for lo, Her Majesty approacheth.” The public Mountjoy had reappeared.

He gave a deep bow in the direction of the entering Queen. Having been away for so long this was the first opportunity he had of seeing her majesty heavy with child. The look suited her for she was radiant as always, perhaps a bit incommoded but such a condition had an attractiveness all its own to male perspective. His eyes surveyed her suite in an attempt to decipher the politics at play but he mainly sought to catch the Queen’s eye and gage her reaction to his reappearance. He had always thought that his position within her household was secure and perhaps it was from outside threats but he was saddened to realize that his calculations had now to include the possibility of internal threats.   

He may have been recently unnerved but his years and a barrister, politician and courtier had instilled in him resilience to personal foibles and a penchant for cloaking his actions in formality and etiquette. Naturally he and Ursula had the innate formality and reserve of their personalities and class but heretofore, to him at least, it had been an organic formality that carried an undertone of personal intimacy that highlighted their intimacy. This intimacy was severely strained in the present circumstances.

“I believe it is expected for you to attend the Queen.”

He had the good grace to sweep his glance to Francis and acknowledge him as a participant in the conversation. It was not the poor man’s fault that Mountjoy’s attention had been wholly absorbed elsewhere.

Yet even in a situation such as this he could be shrewd and mindful of his own situation. His left arm was held at such an angle that it would be easy for Ursula to claim it, and him, as an escort when she joined the Queen’s suite. It was not so obvious however to force her to take his arm. The nebulousness of the gesture and his observation gave her license, to withdraw alone when she pleased without giving public offence.  

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Chatham and Darlene

"Why you told me, my lady," Charles laughed, "when you said that you would be giving classes there, for is that not instruction of the highest quality." (The truth was that Charles was only vaguely aware of Dorchester House, indeed could not recall where or how he had first heard the name, and had simply seen an opportunity to flatter Darlene.)

His grin grew toothier as Darlene substituted 'fox' for 'wolf' as her animal metaphor of choice for him.

"if you think it fits," he said easily, "but tell me. Do I truly look so feral?"

But that game was perforce shelved in favour of another, one of impersonation. Charles felt his eye flash appreciatively at Darlene's choice of Cromwell.

"As you say, madam," he replied, letting the mirth drain from his voice, adopting a more clipped tone in place of his usual luxuriant drawl. He straightened into a more rigid, upright posture and opened the distance between them, just a tad. Frowning would be going a little too far, he judged — the natural set of his features was severe enough when he was not smiling. 

This should be interesting...

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George and Davina

Unaware she held any guilt (triggering her chastised feeling) George cheerily continued with interest to her activities. “That would be grand, though only if it does not disturb you from your interests.”

Ah, but she revealed herself somewhat idle lately. “Well I am surprised, you have always struck me as a woman of great industry.  Have you some trouble that is spoiling things for you at the moment, saping your inspiration perhaps? I myself am entreily familiar with such a thing of course, ther are any number of times I’ve lost my muse.”

At that last comment he gave her a small smile, she herself had been a muse lost to him once upon a time.

“My advise would be to enjoy your little rest. I dare say your brother is happy to have your company, but do not let yourself grow comfortable in the shadows. Come out, dare with us into the light. Oh it’s bright and oft scary, but you are not without friends who will cheer you on and support.”

“In fact. You will know I am hosting an art event next week, with Lady Habersham. I have invited Lady Kendishall to play a piece for us, on her cello. Might you too like to contribute? Perhaps the reading of a poem, or some other artform to which you are inclined. Come, do agree, it might cheer you.”

For she certainly needed cheering, George gave no comment to her aside on the German, nor could she really have expected one from a man who had himself petitioned for her hand. 

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Chatham and Darlene

 

"Oh yes, I did." the pretty lady pouted at it being pointed out that she herself had told him.  She hated to feel silly (well unless it was silly fun). "Anyhow it is true, and I am glad that you can see the sense." 

"It's not so much your look."  she discovered a need to explain, "it is more the feeling you give." she lowered her voice further still, "I feel deliciously like prey, and tis a sensation I rather enjoy, though I should not want to be pray to a beast that doesn’t have a romance to it. Wolves seemn the finest, and foxes are also but prettier, I would certainly not call you a boar for they are all tusks and grunting."

Then they were about this new game, she was flattered of course of his choice, for it said he'd learnt her well enough to know her penchant for acting.  As she chose the most despised man in recent English history, she supposed she had set a very fine challenge. And also...

He fell 'into Character', and she adjusted her own pose accordingly - placing her hands primly together upon her lap as they sat. Afterall Cromwell was hardly likely to keep the company of a lady who sat all akimbo!   "I am so pleased we get to spend this time together, for there is a burning question I've always wondered answered: Why did you, I mean do you, despise theatres so terribly?"

 

OOC: I cant remember that they sat, if that’s ok with you now might work?

 

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"Indeed, it does seem so Lord Mountjoy," Kingston replied. He offered his own exceedingly pretty bow to the Queen thanks, of course, to Buckingham's finishing tutelage the previous summer. 

 

"And I think it is expected I attend Lady Dorothea," Francis added to Mountjoy's observation, with a wry grin as the young lady gave him a look. One he actually understood. "I encouraged her idea of the event and made my promises to come in support." He was not generally one for such tame venues habitually, but he had been known to make a well-behaved appearance at a proper event or two, at least. 

 

"So I shall take my leave exuberantly, knowing how even a small moment between you both is much welcomed," Francis said, smiling pleasantly at them both before politely leaving them to their small privacy. 

 

With a slow pace, to make certain that he was welcome, he made his way toward the young lady who had proposed the very event. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chatham and Darlene

"Now that is flattering talk, most pleasing to hear," Charles murmured, giving Darlene a long, considering look. "You would be worth the hunting, too. But worry not. I don't bite. At least not unprovoked." 

He laughed, a deep, rich sound, his eye aglow with simple delight.

Impersonation was a more complicated process than was first apparent. Facial expression and elocution were the least of it. There were a host of things involved in the way you moved and held yourself that would make or break the act. The walk was simple enough — Charles had developed a firm, brisk stride for military purposes that, slowed just a tad, suited the Cromwellian image he was creating. Sitting, though, that required more thought. Charles habitually poured himself into his seat, or sprawled across it, lounging in a thoroughly louche manner. That obviously would not do, but the habit was so deeply engrained that it took a genuine effort of will to instead lower himself with slow, ponderous dignity and hold an upright posture once seated. It was almost a relief to turn and gravely consider Darlene's question.

"Because, madam," he began in those clipped, almost harsh tones, "they were founts of licentious mirth, and those involved of low, iniquitous character, displeasing to the Lord, and thus at least a partial cause for the strife that so wracked our fair country."

It was a very great strain to get all that out with a straight face.

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George and Davina

yes there is ... you see I have lost my lover and now what shall I do ....  look for another perhaps ....

She could hardly speak THAT aloud even if it was the truth.

"Baintree is much occupied with his own House - soon he is to marry Norfolks daughter Catherine and all he speaks is that I needs must be sisterly."

"It will be uphill I think for that Lady is not an easy one. I shall be back in my rooms here soon enough and it is as you say - there are 'friends' that care."

"Yes I have heard of it. I should like to attend but will excuse myself in contributing. My "skill' is with a needle as you well know and so there is little I can do to entertain."

"And besides after this eve of verse the last thing I wish to do is recite!"

"What I wish for is some excitement and so I Hope that next week will signal that direction."

She said all of this in whispered tones unwilling to be overheard. She did need cheering but she knew that she was herself changed and what once would surfice would no longer. 

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Athenry and Sophia

 

“Content” would have been an overstatement as an assessment of Cadell's state of mind. “Resolute”, perhaps, would have been closer to the truth, although still missing its mark; more than anything, the viscount still found himself to be on the outside looking in on matters pertaining to Whitehall. That did not rule out acceptance, however – that he had certainly found, as the red heels of his court shoes and Tourainian silks might have revealed.

Truthfully, it was only regrettable in the sense of where it had come from. But Cadell Mortimer, who was in his heart very much the newly-minted man, possessed a quarter-century of experience with being the outsider at home.

Thank you again, Father, he considered, reflecting back on all the unkindness Sir Hugh Mortimer had shown his third, and only surviving, son. This beast is of your own creation.

George and Davina were treated with a respectful nod of acknowledgment and a courteous smileThe Queen's approach and Sophia's word brought to mind (who else?) the words of the aforementioned cat's namesake, and unbidden they formed on Cadell's lips, uttered quietly out of the corner of his mouth, “'I am a citizen of the world, known to all and to all a stranger.'” He wondered if Sophia, a German married to a Spaniard residing in England, would identify with Erasmus' words as much as he, a (regrettably) Welsh courtier belonging to the French party might.

Of course, Erasmus of Rotterdam also had a few choice words for those who belonged to any party, but then again, Cadell had never been given the option of joining the clergy as his idol had. Though I feel half the monk for what His Majesty has given me... went the unbidden conclusion to that thought.

He eased back into the seat, masking a twinge in his mis-set leg with another gulp of wine, all the while finding physical pain matched by a slight bit of guilt as he considered the possibility of getting to know Lord Toledo, and the potential it had to serve the interests of his two causes. St. Omer had been under Spanish rule at the time of his attendance, before war had returned to the region, and there was surely something to be gained from familiarity with the Spanish – but his friend then asked for help, and the ever-present Catholic guilt reared its head at the prospect of utilizing her in such a manner.

“My lady,” Cadell began to answer, uncertainly, before swapping it out for a more familiar form of address, “My friend.” Although the past year and the company of Portsmouth had lessened it somewhat, he still felt apprehensive when relating to the troubles of women – they were curious, emotional creatures, while he was a scholar through and through. “I'm scarcely a font of wisdom, and am seldom equipped to deal with the problems of the world save with a smattering of Plato and Aquinas.”

He continued more solemnly, keeping his voice quiet. “But you have been kind to me.” Habitually, his eyes searched for Kingston, thinking this would have been much easier if the young Countess was still his ward. “So I think it's only courteous that my door remain open to you, always.”

 

 

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Beverleys

 

Beverley smiled as he saw his wife coming toward him. "Good evening, lady wife." His chocolate brown eyes caught the necklace and he added, "You wear our jewels even more finely than my lady mother." 

 

He was quite of the belief that he made a very stellar match with Lord Worcester's daughter, and the fact that she was with child only cemented that fact. It was the most important thing in a wife for Beverley, who was the last inheriting male, and Mary was now spoiled for rising to the task. 

 

"I did, and I have brought yours," he replied, for quite honestly Beverley did not spent much time reading the Anglican version. It was not as if he made any use of one outside of the chapel and public eyes. "I hope that pleases you." He smiled as she took his arm and headed in the direction she had indicated. 

 

If Beverley noted the other pair, he did not make much of an indication of it. He was born courtier enough to think others should automatically give way to rank and position. Although there were not many instances where he got to take advantage of such things as a viscount, he did take advantage of them when present. 

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Mountjoy, Mountjoy and Kingston

It was only natural that Ursula paid great heed to the minutiae of Charles movements at that moment, the look to her hand, her practically naked neck (it might as well have been given the absence of the precious token!), his heavy pause and then the clearing of his throat – not as precursor to comment, but left reverberating in her mind as the comment itself!

In that moment her heart was broken, this the second time she had disappointed the very man she loved so much!

“I…” her brow crumpled, with thoughts to confession, but eyes then turned to Kingston.  It was not done to air laundry in public, least of all persons of the rank that they enjoyed. 

So instead Ursula smiled, while praising The Lord that the German girl arrived and Francis was thus summoned, “Might I return your well wish upon you both too.” said she…

The Mountjoys cont.

Her Majesty, who had looked their way, gave a small smile and nod in their direction… (Karoline for one was very up to speed on Lady Mountjoys situation, but was unable to tell by just looking if anything was resolved.)    

With Francis removed, Ursula discovered herself ‘alone’ with Charles, but he with his comment upon Her Majesties Arrival, the colour drained from her face.  His words were akin to a dismissal!  Yet it was an opening too, one that she took “That expectation falls upon yourself as Master of the Horse also.”

Which was speaking volumes more than the few words, her hand as she placed it on his sleeve was light then heavy then light; and as she moved to take a step she discovered herself unstable (thus unable), her clasp on his arm tightened.

 

Kingston cont. (approaches Dorothea)

The German girl flashed an exuberant smile; the scene Francis now approached could not have been more different than that he had left.  Bobbing a little curtsy, she stretched out her hand, while leaning in also to excitably whisper, “I cant believe how many people are here, it’s it just wonderful!”

Near to her Bishop Compton acknowledged Kingston with a nod, while Karoline looked between the pair and gave a smile.

“You and I have reserved seating near to Her Majesty, I hope you’d not been thinking to sit elsewhere. Had you?”

 

The Beverlys

Mary was growing into their marriage, and the devotion and praise from her Lord Husband played no little part in that.   “She would be most upset to hear you say so!” Mary however glowed with delight at his daring (though not for one minute did she think he implied any lack of devotion to his mother thereby, for she knew him to be a very attentive son.)

“Thank you.” Accepting the bible, “Yes, I am very pleased, though the greatest blessing is your very own presence.”  

Her cheeks pinked a little, as she felt they were practically announcing their affection to the whole room. Usually this pair were very private. 

Moving to the seating, they narrowed with a convergence upon Von Bruhl and Agnes… the taller man halted his step… who held greatest precedence between them all?  “You are looking especially well tonight Lady Beverley.  I take it this is the most fortunate Viscount Beverly?”

Mary spoke, “Thank you Freiherr von Bruhl, yes this is indeed my Lord Husband, Lord Beverly you must have heard me speak of Lord Bruhl from Her Majesties homeland.” Her eyes slid to Agnes, “And this is Lady Agnes, cousin of Lady Monmouth.”

Various curtsies and bows were given – with Bruhl calculating that the other couple had right to claim the seats.  Graciously done, he begun to manoeuvre Agnes that they would stand behind the circle of chairs – meanwhile they remined in speaking distance.  “You are an avid horseman from what I have heard.” He said.

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George and Davina

If the Earl had any idea of the young woman’s verbal commentary, he’d have been shocked beyond belief. But as it were he continued under the belief that Davina was one of courts most morally upstanding.

“Ah, a wedding in the family, what a joyous occasion to anticipate.” Still, why didn’t the pending fete occupy Davina too more fully? Meanwhile both knew Baintree loathed George with a vengeance, and so cheerfully he teased, “Though I shall not hold my breath for an invite.”  

Frankly, Davina’s brother could go beep himself as far as George was concerned.

So Davina explained why she was not very involved, it was the brides fault. “Ah, well that is a difficult thing. Have you devised a tactic to resolve the rift, I can speak with the voice of experience to say that allowing something like this to come between siblings is a tragedy. It I could have one wish, it would be that my sister and I had parted on better terms.”

Davina declined, but her excuse gave this artist-with-paint an idea. “Very well, if not a vocal contribution then perhaps display a piece of your needlework, which is no less an artform I would say - and with the greater number of those invited being the matrons of court I would guess that they would appreciate a piece that is so relatable to their own skill set.”

No she was not herself at all, but a gloomier shade.  Her plea for excitement in the weeks coming left George uncertain, he having offered her a part the only exciting prospective in his own life. The exhibition.  

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Chatham and Darlene

"As long as you believe it.” Darlene replied with a giggle and a wink.

She fancied herself a seasoned courtier (though the artform of toying with affections had been one she’d been working since the age of 4!)  Whitehall was now blessed with her magnificent (and some said mercurial) presence.

Chatham visibly shifted himself, frowning some with a stuffy tensioning of his mouth and bearing.  Darlene was impressed. She’d always had a weak spot for those grumpy sorts of men, for she fancied that it was those fellow that needed her efference the very most. Also, it was a fun challenge to soften their stone hearts.

But first and foremost she had this life-long-wondered question.

“Truly…” she breathed, and it was very easy to imagine that it was the actual answer that the actual villain of arts would have given.   

“...and to hear the word font, usually associated with the church and even baptisms, used in such a way… goodness, it is quite evocative language. Why, were you not so against them, I would suggest a career in the theatre might have suited yourself.” She smiled prettily, raising an eyebrow with the tease.

“If what you say is quite true, I am left to wonder how you discovered all of that. It is surely knowledge based upon personal experience, mmm?”

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Chatham and Darlene

It was an ungodly effort not to return Darlene's smile, and even then Charles would not swear that the corner of his lips did not twitch. It was instinct for him, the simple bone-deep principle that when a beautiful woman smiled and arched a teasing eyebrow at you, you reciprocated. He frowned pensievely, in case his control had lapsed.

"I was a Member of Parliament, madam," he reminded her, tone stern, "and that teaches a man a little rhetoric. If such gives me the skills of an actor, then my time as a soldier gave me the skills of a highwayman, but in both cases I have chosen to put those skills to a nobler and more moral purpose, for I am a righteous man."

That little speech was so dry and pompous that he almost choked on it, and perhaps it was only that which saved him from dissolving into laughter at Darlene's next question. He could not bring himself to glare at her, however much it would have suited the impersonation, but he did lean back and draw himself up with ponderous dignity.

"'Personal experience?'" he asked in an affronted hiss. "Nay! 'Twas a thing of common knowledge, and investigated most stringently by a parliamentary commission. Sober men, of proven character and moral rectitude!"

(Charles had invented all of that, but it sounded good.)

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George and Davina 

"Yes Joy shall indeed abound. Policitcs at its best. I am but an observer and even then not looked at with 'fondness'."

She enlightened.

"In my temper, well I declined the Duchesses planning to pair up son George and I, and she took umbridge to my perfectly reasonable objections.  So now I fear I shall be forever under her sour gaze."

"I have asked God for Forgiveness and so seek to temper myself better."

"Rift? Hardly that. He is not pleased with me for many reasons and so waits to call out all my short-comings. Yet there is no seperation between Brother and Sister in the way you imagine."

"And Lady Catherine is over zealous in her  ... Devotions ... and tis Baintree that needs must handle it."

"You of all people will understand that."

It was no secret amongst the family that Catherine Howard was a staunch Catholic.*

Davina was making reference to how she herself was made to 'conform' at least Publicly and George would no doubt grasp her meaning that the Bride would soon be made to follow suit.

She saw that she had been discourtious to him so made amends

"I am sorry George. I am indeed ill humoured and out of sorts bit tis no reason to not be of help."

She set her hand on his arm in a soft gesture of apology.

"I shall do ask you have asked. In fact, now that this is discussed, I have the ideal thing which will be perfect."

"Do you wish to see it first?"

She whispered her gaze resting on where the Queen settled. Amongst the Maids they shared 'signals' when one of them was wanted so she had to be ever watchful.

 

*(And George as a fellow Catholic would have no doubt seen that Lady on occassion in Chapel. In his Catholic Days that is)

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On 6/3/2020 at 11:47 PM, Hope said:

Kingston cont. (approaches Dorothea)

The German girl flashed an exuberant smile; the scene Francis now approached could not have been more different than that he had left.  Bobbing a little curtsy, she stretched out her hand, while leaning in also to excitably whisper, “I cant believe how many people are here, it’s it just wonderful!”

Near to her Bishop Compton acknowledged Kingston with a nod, while Karoline looked between the pair and gave a smile.

“You and I have reserved seating near to Her Majesty, I hope you’d not been thinking to sit elsewhere. Had you?”

 

Francis had hoped that the tension with the Mountjoys would alleviate some with his departure, but that remained to be seen. Instead, he focused his attentions on the never-ending pretty bowing of a courtier, kissing the hand held out to him in the manner that got him that dashing reputation. 

 

"Indeed, and you worried over the idea. There may be a few standing, I daresay," he answered back quietly.

 

"We do? Or rather, I should express surprise that I do," he added, accentuating his 'I' with a raise of blond brows. With a small chuckle he added, "I hold no surprise that you do." 

 

Despite his good fortunes of the last year, he still found it strange to garner such notice or to be held in anything like a high place of esteem. Somewhere in his mind, he explained it by his position as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the King, not anything more. 

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Posted (edited)

Athenry and Sophia

 

“Truer words your cat has never spoken,” Sophia jested. Would Lord Athenry be surprised that she was familiar with Erasmus? Her stepmother had introduced her to his works and she had found them quite enlightening. “The English consider me Spanish and the Spanish consider me German. I have never felt as if I truly belonged anywhere.” Except in the arms of my beloved Juan. My place will always be with him.

 

She grinned when Cadell addressed her as his friend. They had not seen each other in a year and both of them had married and risen in status, but their friendship had remained strong and sure. “Even if you can give me nothing by a sympathetic ear, I will be grateful. Lord Kingston has agreed to discuss the dilemma with me as well.  It is a life-changing decision  and once made, it cannot be undone."  Actually, it probably could, but not without angering her husband and her lover. 

 

“So how are you finding married life? I hope I will get to meet your lady wife and I promise to introduce you to my lord husband at the first opportunity. He has heard me speak of you a time or two. I think the two of you will get along well.”

Edited by Sophia de la Cerda

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