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

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George and Davina

 

"Forever is a long time.” George replied sagely, Davina had never seemed so young as she did now.  She needed advice, and George felt truly old as he provided perspective to her now, “Your persistent kindness will eventually soften opinions. I am not saying next week, nor even month, but eventually they will come to see you as the gentle, kind and gracious woman that I know you to be.”

At least she and Richard were not as impossibly estranged as he had become with Mirtel.  He’d not even bade his sister farewell, nor had she invited her brother to their farewell dinner.   George saw the absnce of rift as a blessing for Davina, for Richard had always had her best interests at heart, and was not scared to stand up for her when he thought it necessary.  (Though George would never forgive Richard for telling him to never speak to Davina again)

Patting her hand where it fell upon his arm, George's classic features remained calm and even.  “I wish you to find peace, there is no need to apologise to me.” Said he, and then he gave a smile as she agreed to display a piece of her cleverness with the needle. “Oh I am pleased. It shall further round out the exhibition, it is truly becoming far more than I could ever hope.”

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The Mountjoys sans Kingston

 

The succinct conversation between Charles and Ursula, if the two syllables of ‘Ahem’ and ‘I’ could be called a conversation, was as expressive as it was brief. First dispensing with the departure of Francis he gave a polite bow as the man withdrew. He bore him no animosity but was glad of his departure for it allowed him a modicum of privacy with his wife however brief.

Her look, subtitle and fleeting, was like a knife into his heart for he had sworn to himself that he would never be the cause of disappointment and hurt for Ursula but yet he had and he did not know how or why. How could their relationship, for so long as steady and natural as the sunrise be in such disarray? There had been no ill intent but yet both of them were raw and battered due to nothing more than two simple syllables and a plethora of subtext. At that moment he despaired for what was there to build on if they both were so hopelessly incompatible that they could no longer say even two words to each other without giving offence or angst.

As the blood drained from her face he was sure it was a prerequisite of her steeling herself to turn her back on him but that she did not do. Instead of that she offered a silver ray of light through the darkening clouds. The French were adept in the witty comeback that on its face appeared to be consolatory but was in fact a cutting retort. Her retort was worthy of such Gallic disdain but Ursula was not French. She was German which was perhaps as un-French as one could be.

“If such an expectation would not be incommodious to her Ladyship…”

The touch of her hand unleashed a flood of hope which quickly turned to alarm as first her touch then herself became unsteady. He moved to steady her, to be a rock upon which to find succor. The formality with which he cloaked his emotions shifted as his concern rent it asunder.

“Are you Ill?”

Was all that he managed to say as his eyes darted about her person to seek out a cause, the concern and yes even fear in his voice and expression unrestrained. So distraught was he that he neglected to offer a pocket handkerchief, he carried extra for just such contingencies, which, as every gentleman knew, was the proper reaction whenever a lady was in distress. 

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George and Davina 

He had somehow managed to get it all wrong but she did not bother correcting.

Instead she smiled a bit at his complement.

"Yes I shall have to be patient then as you say."

"A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel" * She quietly whispered under her breath but he would hear it.

His touch was welcom'd and she nodded her dark head but did not answer him back her eyes of a sudden being stung by tears which she wanted to hide at all costs.

After a few moments she had calmed herself enough to ask him more about his Exhibition and who else was involved. It was a red harring designed to keep the conversation light until such a time as their attentions must be directed elsewhere.          

 

(*Proverbs15:18)

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Posted (edited)

George and Davina 

He listened: and even if he had misunderstood her, he was sincere in his well wish.   And now Davina bent her head, appearing more battered and bruised than he had imagined possible. The bible verse she whispered touched the gentleman’s heart, and he could not help but wonder if there was deeper meaning behind of it.

... their history had been stormy, even passionate, with arguments at many a turn.  Could it be that she regretted that?  Might she be reflecting now, and wish she'd not been so quick with her tongue and refute?  If Davina knew George at all, she'd surely know that he was now contemplating his (eternal!) quest for a wife, and wondering if...

She fell equally silent, but when she looked at him again he was sure he noticed lashes clumped of a new dampness there. 

"Perhaps a letter would be best, it is easier in a letter to maintain calm and purpose therein." at first he pretended he was still talking about her prospective in-laws problem, but then he gave way, "And. If you would ever like to write to me..." George stopped himself there, abashed with a fear that he'd gotten entirely the wrong idea.  

They both moved on to discussing the exhibition.  "Well Lady Habersham as you already know, she is a legend amongst her peers and surely the success of the show is thus assured." 

 

 

Edited by George Hardwick III

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Athenry and Sophia

 

A thin eyebrow arched itself in response to Sophia's knowledge of Erasmus, scarcely a field Cadell considered appropriate for a young woman, particularly a Protestant one – but then again, equally scarce was his knowledge of feminine pursuits. Lady Toledo herself, too, had proven herself to be full of surprises, capricious as she was, and so the viscount greeted her response with another muted smile and a quiet, “The concept is equally foreign to me as well, if you might pardon the expression.”

He could still remember the young girl who had showed up at his doorstep, followed shortly thereafter by a bedraggled Lucas Cole. Outsiders all, then as now, the feeling persisting – maybe, in some respect, strengthening on Athenry's end – despite the rise in status he and Sophia had experienced. Accordingly, even without their friendship, he would have felt hard-pressed not to help with the German countess' mysterious problem. The example of Christ taught that succor was to be provided to all outcasts, rich or poor, that those on the outside looking in were all the more cherished by the Most High for their struggling.

Even still, hearing that Lord Kingston would indeed be involved lifted something of a burden off the young lord's shoulders. The man had a much more intimate knowledge of material matters than he. Even still, such charity and insistence on virtue had gotten him into trouble before, first with Father Petre, and later with the older acquaintance who had chanced upon Her Grace his wife with him.

“Sympathetic ears I have in abundance,” he murmured back, eyes looking upon the Queen as he considered the topic of his marriage, and the sham it was. “Or at least in a matching pair.” Still wearing his courtiers smile, he went from Her Majesty, in part the instigator of the strange turn of his life, back to Sophia with an answer. “I didn't think it would suit me,” he confided, neglecting to complete the thought. Maybe it still doesn't. “And it's strange, no longer being a bachelor.” Given the circumstances, especially.

“But, ah, I'm certain my lady wife would be grateful for the introduction. London is lonely for the French.” With a quiet laugh, he looked back at the very German Queen, nodding to himself as he added, “I do hope your husband has heard only a kind estimation of me, hm?”

 

 

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George and Davina 

"A letter?"

"Ah well I fear that even a thing filled with honey-dipped words of Praise would not be enough."

She fixed a side-ways glance to the man beside her quietly taking him in. If she had changed then so had he and she wondered at his sudden offering of exchanging communications.

Was he perhaps speaking of their shared Past? Was he in some round about manner trying to express that he still held feelings for her? She gave a mental shake of her dark head at the idea. That wound he had inflected last year when he had told her that he 'could not offer her what she so deserved' had led to the breaking of her heart and the fact that he had found her so lacking in all that he wanted for a wife and preferd some other woman (and still unknown) had near been her undoing. Yet he had not married and offered no explanations for the cause. Was he once again searching? 

She knew that they were not meant for the other yet if Fate tossed them again would she think different?

She gave a small inward sigh. Best to not go down that path.

Half turning in her chair the better to face him she smiled. "I should like that. Writing to you and you to me. There are many things that I have missed George."

"Ah that Lady has a well earned Reputation and you were wise to inlist her. Does she play The General or are you allowed to have your say?" 

She teased him with an easy familiarity. Keeping things light between them was well and good despiste the 'Somber Nature' of the Company gathered.

"What verse did you bring? I am playing it Safe - a verse from John. Its fitting for the occassion."

Edited by Davina Wellsley

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

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.

Beverley's lady wife did a very good job making him feel bolstered and competent, and if he had known Lady Worcester more intimately, he would have more fully appreciated such things.

 

And being that von Bruhl was not some ancient German duke, the viscount was further at some ease that made conversation a bit easier for him.

 

"I very much so remember. There was some link to  Lady Mountjoy's family, was there not?. A pleasure to finally meet you." Beverley inclined his head politely, thankful to have the memory of a courtier. Further thankful he had reason to pay attention to German things and persons for his own position and duties. "And you, Lady Agnes." 

 

He found it difficult to come up with some small thing to say for the other lady, for he was quite afraid something stupid about Monmouth himself might be implied, and that was not very politic. From his understanding, the Duchess was not very keen on her husband so perhaps he separation was quite welcome. His Majesty was too kind to women to extend any disfavor her way. 

 

"I do hope that they say that of me," he said, with a small mile. "I do enjoy horses and any sport to be had with them. And yourself? There is far more dangerous hunting on the continent they say."

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Chatham and Darlene

They made a surprisingly good match, if only for the fact that Darlene had never let the truth of a matter get in her way either.

Her eyes flared appreciatively at his qualification. “Ooh I adore attending parliament sessions.” She breathily admitted, “all that important business being discussed, oh or even sometimes things that are not important at all, but it sounds important when the peers are talking of it.  Do you know, I probably like parliament even more than you. And as you explain, it’s actually the biggest theatre of them all!”

Charles was managing quite well holding onto his gruff, but Darlene suspected she was starting to break him down. 

"A parliamentary commission?” That sounded fancy.  “I wish I had a parliamentary commission, I’d be very good at it you know, and would never report the sort of mistruths that were reported to you.  Mine would be much nicer.”

Darlene happened to know far more actors and actresses than a well bred lady ought to know, her first love had even been one such, a director also.  Evan Richards was everything a teenaged girl could ever want.  Even his carriage was slicker than most, she’d sat there one day happily watching him polish it, it was true love. Probably.

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George and Davina

Perhaps it was too soon for her to consider trying to mend the broken bridges, or at least at this final decline George decided to call it a day.  Possibly she would reflect on his advice later, possibly not.  As her friend he did not judge her better or worse either way.

His mind had shifted instead, to this query, though yes it was couched with a nervousness. He would unlikely forget the anger she had directed at him that day on the prison roof.  A figurative breath was held as he gingerly tested… and the look Davina gave him told him that she understood. 

Her reply was carefully made.

“Ahh.” George exhaled, she was neutral, which matched with their previous conversation.  His shoulders relaxed, “As have I.”

Then as was the ladies wont, she directed the conversation onwards.  “Well I had thought of something from the Book of Psalms, I have a penchant for poetic verse.”

… the change of topic ha him turn to see how their Hosts were managing. Her Majesty was settled, but her Paramount Lady was not, in fact she with her Lord Husband seemed momentarily stalled.   

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Her Majesty and Compton

With the assistance of a couple of her Ladies plumping cushions and arranging her shawl, Karoline settled to her chair, and the Bishop next to her.  Till the fussing became too much even for the (remarkably) patient young Queen, who then shooed them off to their own seats.

Murmurs were exchanged between Compton and HRM (as the last few people settled to their chairs) - the Bishop’s body language suggested her was about to stand once again.

 

Francis & Dorothea near Karoline and Henry

Dorothea, who happened to hold Francis with no small amount of esteem, grinned at his modesty.  He always did that, she knew, always claimed to be one of the most lowly of court.  “Well if you wish, you can imagine that your seating is entirely due to my begging an indulgence at the royal footstool.” she teased, “and you now owe me a great favour.”

The Dorothea of a year ago would never have teased, she had been acutely serious, but had learnt that artform from spending time with him.  “But in fact Her Majesty is quite fond of you, and hearing from Bishop Compton’s lips, how you favoured the evenings theme thought your placement might serve as a good example.  It is notable that naught others from your Dukes household is in attendance tonight.”

The couple, correction, the two individual people, were able to take their seats after Her Majesty had.

 

The Mountjoys sans Kingston

Had he misread her olive branch as something else? Ursula was in no state to tell, her inner distress coming to a spear head at this dreadful moment.  Whatever Charles might think, she loved him dearly, and had barely slept since she’s lost the rhinestones. And now this.  This was just too much.

“It…” she had been about to pledge it was her wish, but the kinking of her knee rather than a graceful step, prompted his voice of concern

But the Mountjoys never shirked their duty to the Crown, even when…

“Actually…” she turned and looked into his eyes, her brow crumpled need fully for his directive, her hand clasping around the handkerchief he offered and capturing also a number of digits upon his hand. Yes she might try regather herself, and carry on and through the evening; but equally she might be gently escorted away and perhaps with her Charles caring for her.

 

The Beverlys

Von Bhrul gave a nod to Beverly, an acknowledgement of a sort that the other knew a little of the him.  He’d found few English took the time, or even had the interest.  “Yes I served as a youth in the Saxe-Weissenfels household, that was before I went of like many a lad does, to make war.” His accent was that clipped German sort,  though perhaps it did not sound so abrasive to Beverly upon account of his spending so much time with Cumberland.

“It was Lady Mountjoy who extended an invitation to me to attend here, a greater show from home easing the young queens cultural transition.” He further revealed, and perhaps answered the unspoken questions.

Beverly did not need to worry about engaging Agnes in conversation, for Mary (delighted that the men seemed to strike it off) spoke in quiet asides to Agnes.  Whom she knew was performing a duty as companion, rather than it being a possible match.  The young Scottish girl was good natured that way.

“Indeed.” The German replied, “if you are in the game for the rush of danger, then I would direct you to the forests of Saxony.  Myself, I am fonder of a race, give me a clear open field any day.”

 

 

 

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The Mountjoys

From a distance it would simply appear that a man and his wife took a few moments from a public setting to say a few words of routine greeting to each other but in reality the exchange was much deeper. Navigating the minefield of social, professional, personal and emotional expectations in a public setting did not make for an conducive environment for addressing complex misunderstandings. They had but a few moments before such a scene would become socially awkward and that was simply not enough time to achieve what they both desired.

Yet there was a ray of hope in the path offered by Ursula. It was a narrow path of uncertain direction but it was noticeably offered as a way forward and with so many things of late having been unclear and misinterpreted it was the one piece of floatsome to grab hold of in this maelstrom of emotion. His impulse was to tighten his hold and take her away where he could shield her from distress and they could come together as one like they used to be able to do. That would be the easier path, the sensible path, but their positions at Court, their status, their reputation and their obligations did not allow for such easy and sensible actions.

It had been said that ‘The Mountjoys never shirked their duty to the Crown even when…

Ursula, by means of her own effort and character, had established herself as the Paramount Lady to the Queen and as a force to be reckoned with at Court. Charles would not do anything to jeopardize her position or reputation even for his own personal gain and for her to be seen being spirited away could be construed as showing weakness. Although he longed to capitalize from her offered opportunity and take her away he could not bring himself to do so. His sense of duty and his regard for his wife’s prestige and position would not let him to benefit from her loss no matter how much he longed for such a resolution.

They did have a few precious moments of relative privacy however and he took advantage of them as he steeled himself to do his duty to the Crown. He took her hand grasped around his own and brought it to his lips where he gave it a kiss. From a casual observer it would appear nothing more that a chivalrous gesture between a Gentleman and his Lady but in the flesh it was a tender kiss devoid of all subterfuge and pretext.

“As it is so often our time is not our own.” He said cloaking his desires in familiar formality. “We must purge this dissonance between us but alas at present there is no time to do so. The Queen is in need of her Mistress and her need overrides our own. Fortify yourself my dear and take your place at the Queen’s side… show the Court the woman you have become…and be comforted and assured that I will be there standing at your side today, tomorrow and the days after that.”

He slowly led her around and towards where the Queen was sitting, his arm steady and guiding but not forceful. 

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Francis and Dorothea

 

"Then I see no explanation then but that I owe you a very great favor," Francis replied, for as kind and honest as she was, he rather thought his seating far more about her than about him. "And I already feel in your debt for eyeing such a fine artisan in Kingston and allowing me my pickles for Her Majesty."

 

Then she amended with more specifics, and he had to admit that would be far too much fable for her to make up were it not at least something of the truth. Up popped one his blond eyebrows. 

 

In his typical fashion, Francis deflected the attention and said quietly, "I confess, His Grace was sleeping quite raucously when I left. He had meetings of a intellectual nature late into the evening last night and is...shhhh...of an age now where he cannot continue as he used to as a younger man." Whether that was true or not was for Dorothea to decide. 

 

He offered his hand so that she could settle herself into her chair before he took his place next to her as the Bishop readied himself to begin.

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Beverleys, Agnes, & von Bruhl

 

The viscount did not find much strange in the German, so his long service to Cumberland had likely desensitized him to the coarser tongue.

 

"There seem to be greater opportunities for it on the continent," Beverley commented, not wishing to talk much of warlike matters around the ladies.

 

"Like you, I favor the thrill of a race, though any time on horseback is well-spent. It is said His Majesty does wish some manner of equine events following Easter. You should join and represent the German contingent if it is true." He smiled. "Though I warn we Englishmen put up fine competition with horses."

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George and Davina

Her Family's push and pull was like all others she surmised and so she could offer no further comments.

Yet she was pleased that he too was of a like mind and had missed her company like she had his. It did not occur to her to think beyond that.

"Well that is a good choice and very fitting."

"I have no idea as to how this is all to be done. Lady Doretha has all the credit with Kingston aiding - now that is an interesting combination do you not think? And Bishop Compton is about to crow with delight."

"Who has taken you by surprise by their attendance?"

"Lady Toledo for one. I can just here all the scribbling that will be done as some signifiance will be looked for. I had thought she would have been made to convert but perhaps the Ambassador is tender-hearted? Do you not think it strange?"

This question would be understood by one who was and one who remains Catholic. That Rome would not have demanded his wife to become a member of the Flock before marriage let alone after was indeed odd. 

Her eyes rested upon the Mountjoys and she smiled a bit as she took in the display.

"I am glad to see them thusly -  the Mountjoys I mean. They had a tremendous shouting match a few days ago so I heard. Do you suppose she is finding it hard to have him returned?"

"You must promise to give me a gentle 'nudge' if I show any signs of drifting off. I shall do the same for you."

She was determined to now present a happier countance hence her chattiness which would hardly fool him. 

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Athenry and Sophia

 

Sophia noticed Cadell’s arched eyebrow. So he had no idea that I knew Erasmus was not just his cat. The element of surprise was something that she was beginning to use to show courtiers that she was much more than just a silly teenage girl. Dropping tidbits of tantalizing information also made her seem more mysterious and interesting, or so she believed. Everyone at court now knew that she had a beautiful voice that had been recognized by both the King and Queen, but they knew little more than that.

 

Her heart went out to her friend when he admitted that he shared her feeling of not belonging. His situation was not so different to her own. He was a Catholic Welshman  married to a Frenchwoman, and she was a German married to a Spaniard who was presumed to be Catholic. They were both out of place here, attempting to make their home in the English  court.

 

“There is nothing to forgive,” she said with a smile. “Being foreign doesn’t bother me anymore. In fact, I’m rather proud that I am now foreign twice. I may be the only lady at court with that distinction. Oh, there are still those who tell me to go back where they came from, but they are not worth my time.”

 

Sophia was pleased that Lord Athenry agreed to listen to her concerns. “I shall send you a note, so we can work out a date and time that is convenient for both of us. Perhaps you can visit my residence. It belonged to the last Ambassador and he made quite a mess of it. During recess it was redecorated to suit its new owners. I would love for you to see it.”

 

Cadell seemed as unhappy with his marriage as she was with hers. Yet another thing they had in common. Did he still wish he was a bachelor? Marriage was much different for a gentleman than it was for a lady. A gentleman lost some of his freedom when he was wed, while a lady simply went from being under the rule of her parents or guardian to that of her husband. Sophia hoped his wife was not a complete shrew and that she didn’t resent him for taking her away from the King. She wasn’t the first of his monarch’s mistresses to be be married to a courtier.

 

“I hope that she and I will become friends. We foreigners should stick together.” What would Esteban think if she made yet another French acquaintance? He had never warned her against associating with Nicolette or Caroline so perhaps he didn’t care, despite the long-running animosity between the Spanish and the French.

 

“Oh definitely,” she assured Cadell. “He likes to read, and I told him that you and I had some interesting discussions about books. Mostly he reads in Spanish, but I’m sure he reads English books as well. There are some on our bookshelves that are definitely not mine. I wonder how many other households have books in four different languages.”

 

A servant stopped before them with a tray of drinks, and Sophia took a glass of wine. “Did you read any good French books while you were in Versailles?”

 

Edited by Sophia de la Cerda

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The Mountjoys 

 

There are very few crystallising moments in a life, far more at those great swathes of time where routine and mundane carry methodically on, but this, this was one of those definitive moments. Charles lifted her hand, and placed on it a kiss.  But it was more than that, and her rhinestone blue eyes met his and held – pomp and artifice laid bare in that moment.

She imagined she could see right into his heart, and he into hers, despite the tangle of brambles that might lay between. Thus for the first time in days the lady felt hope again!

As was correct, Charles uttered directive to their duties. She gave a small nod, and murmured, “I am bolstered by our unity in this.“  and she was. Her posture shifted slightly, and she moved with him to the Queen

There arriving she smiled, “My Lady, have you ever heard the sound of ice singing, it is a most profound and glorious sort of music ‘neath wintery lake, born of the ice cracking.” She was relaying a message by this, and Karoline sighed a breath of relief to it. 

Charles might have heard those sounds too, possibly even during his recent travels to northern parts abroad.

 

OOC: Just learnt of this today, and it seemed too wonderous not to somehow include! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chxn2szgEAg

 

Near to the Queen stood Lord Kingston, whom was assisting Lady Dorothea to a seat...

 

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Francis and Dorothea

“In that case I shall ask for two favours, or perhaps even three.” Dorothea was thinking to one day, when a rare moment of being alone occurred, of asking him for a kiss. Asking for one was daring enough but to practically vocalise asking for three – was utterly audacious!  

The fair skinned lady blushed. A blush that was hardly helped when he described the Duke as ‘Raucously sleeping’, oh yes it might mean snoring, but for the famed libertine it might mean something else too.  

“I hope such is a difficulty that you are not troubled with yourself.” Snoring she meant, but the other too, “It’s a trouble I’ve never had, sleeping as soundly as a babe, no matter how late I sit up reading.”

But then the Mountjoy’s arrived too, and Dorotha turned to nod her respects to the commanding woman and her husband before she was assisted to her own chair.   

 

OOC: The arrangement went: Lord Mountjoy/Lady Mountjoy/Karoline/Compton/ Francis/Dorothea

The Beverlys were seated to Lord Mountjoy’s other side, and behind them stood Von Bruhl and Agnes

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Beverleys, Agnes, & von Bruhl

It might not seem much, but Beverly's accepting manner had a subtle effect upon the German, an effect that VonBruhl himself would be hard pressed to pinpoint as to why.  "Quite so," he replied agreeably, glance towards the ladies observed and small nod given.

"Haha." his eyes closed some with smile, "The English have home advantage, and skill also!  Ah, but I have never been under the illusion that the game would be easy. Yet 'the race is not always to the quickest', as they say - and endurance is one of my better qualities."

It was in his mind to invite Beverly to join him n a ride some time, but for the moment they fell hush as the Bishop was standing.

 

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The Mountjoys approaching the Queen

The tension that had been building between his wife and he since his return had been palpable and only growing due to their duties and obligations, especially during the Easter observances, denying them the opportunity to resolve their issues. The pot had boiled over… almost…but their inner affection allowed them to dissipate the tension enough to step back from the brink… for now.

The stress had been great for Ursula but despite his outward show of calm it was no less so for Charles. As they made their way to the Queen the relief in stress combined with an ill advised plate of lamprey bordelaise eaten prior to his arrival combined to upset his stomach so it rumbled and gurgled akin to singing ice on a frozen lake. Charles paid it no mind as he was relieved to see that his assurances to Ursula were not misconstrued.

“We shall speak of this anon when we have the liberty of privacy and time enough to give it the consideration it is due. Until then, I beg you; let us not harry ourselves unduly.”

He wanted to say more but they were now close enough to the Royal party to make it impractical.

He was himself enough not to be so distracted to observe the compliment paid to them by Dorothea and returned the accolade with a small bow and offered Kingston a nod noting the precedence his location confirmed upon the young Lord. He also gave a nod of his own to his left to acknowledge The Beverly’s, Agnes and von Bruhl.

Sitting down after he squired his wife to her own chair he responded to Ursula’s comment. “My apologies Majesty, it must have been the lampreys.” Which could have been thought a peculiar way of addressing the Queen but he followed it up with a more conventional salutation. “I am delighted to see your Majesty so radiantly in good health and fervently wish you comfort and repose during your condition.”

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Francis & Dorothea next to Compton & Karoline

 

"So far as I know, I sleep quietly when I sleep, though I doubt a servant or subordinate would complain of me snoring too loudly," Francis replied with a chuckle as they headed for their seats.

 

It was telling that his thoughts had not even run to a woman complaining of his snoring or anything more bawdy, for in all honesty Francis might be able to count snoozes with a woman on one hand. It was, in effect, so rare an event it did not cross his mind. Not that he did not lay with women frequently, as all men did, there was simply not habitually that sort of intimacy involved.

 

Friends that he also slept with were something of a differing situation and not all that common either. As he had confessed to both the hilarity of the King and the Duke, he had never had a mistress. Nor been in love. 

 

Then he saw the empty seats. Lord Kingston, who was barely even used to being Lord Kingston, had not fully appreciated just what Lady Dorothea meant by their seating arrangements. Or rather...his seating arrangement. Indeed, he felt in another world entirely, like an out of body experience, as he greeted the Queen and assisted Lady Dorothea to sit. Even as he returned Lord Mountjoy's nod with one and a smile of his own, Francis felt something out of place when he prettily sat himself down next to the bishop. There was a moment where he was almost looking down on himself, still feeling outside his body but not understanding the sensation, when he felt the heavy presence inside of his justacorps, tucked in a breast pocket, that anchored him. 

 

Being a man of certain philosophy, intellect, and spirituality, he was not a believer in simple coincidence. When things happened in a certain perfect sort of way, it was not luck in the midst of cosmic chaos. Call it a sign. Call it a positive energy. In that moment, the feel of what was in his pocket was far more than the simple some of its parts. It transcended a simple object.

 

Nobody would have believed it had they heard it, but the Duke of Buckingham had given his newfound nephew was his brother's - Francis' father's - Bible*. The pretty and diminutive book that was well-worn from a childhood spent with a ridiculously strict and religious king for a foster-father. Coming from Buckingham, any Bible had been as unusual as it was now remarkable in this moment. It had been what Francis had tucked into his coat to help him through an evening of Bible readings.

 

As he took it out onto his lap, it helped him find his voice so that he could smile and greet Bishop Compton next to him, "Good evening, my lord." He gave a nod of his chin to the rather large crowd, quite a few standing, and compliment, "Yourself and Lady Dorothea are to be commended. I do hope Her Majesty is pleased."

 

(OOC - *Blackguard had Buckingham gift Francis this particular gift. I remember WTFing over a Bible coming from Buckingham, Duke of Irreverence, but in true AoI fashion it now comes back as the absolute most perfect gift. It's almost like Nicci and the toy soldiers, actually.)

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Athenry and Sophia

 

Happiness seldom factored into what Cadell believed was his duty – and indeed, it would have been difficult to say if he was truly displeased with the circumstances of his marriage. The mask that Nell Gwyn had gifted him was of the commedia dell'arte character Pantalone, an obvious dig at the nature of the King's (or Baptist May's) charity, and yet it hung opposite a bust of St. Thomas Aquinas in his study. The juxtaposition was both a private, self-deprecating joke and a moment of cynical pride, an homage to the role he played in order to further the cause – and a sign of respect for Mistress Nell. Like her rival, his wife, the woman was worthy of respect despite her coarse nature. The humanists all agreed that a clever woman was a welcome thing.

All the world's a stage...

“It's settled, then,” he agreed, as the conversation turned towards a visit, so that Sophia might speak her mind freely. “I will open my ears, and we shall endeavor to introduce our respective better halves.” His courtier's smile remained firmly in place, teetering on the verge of warm, an effort assisted by the wine. “I would relish the opportunity to practice my Spanish once more, in truth,” he continued, mock-confidentially. Monsieur de Comte would surely approve as well. “I was, ah, somewhat more lax on my decorum at St. Omer, and made the acquaintance of a handful of hidalgos over the shared language of drink.”

Now, Artois was much more heavily contested, and the Catholics of the College there likely had their loyalties split. In culture, as with much else, Cadell sided with the French, and thus had an answer immediately at the ready when Sophia asked about his reading selection. “Molière's shade still haunts the literary world of France,” he answered with a shrug, personally finding the man a bit too blaspemous. “Racine interests me more, but, ah...you may find yourself interested in the works of Madame de La Fayette. Her salons are the greatest in Paris, and her works filled with tragic heroines and commentaries on court manners.”

Speaking of,” the viscount segued with no explanation as to whether he was referring to heroines or courtly behavior, exchanging his empty glass for a full one all the while. Drink had been a welcome companion in France, and even when just returning to court, he saw no reason to change that. “My arrival was extremely recent, so I am at something of a disadvantage: what does Her Majesty have in store for us tonight, do you know?”

Edited by Cadell Mortimer

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George and Davina

 

So their attention moved from matters between them and onto matters around about.  And to George, newly converted, the prospect of hearing the Bishops thoughts in this more intimate setting, could not be more welcome.  "Perhaps we shall more deeply discuss passages from todays service?' his comment followed hers, and he placed bible more visibly upon his lap. There were a number of book markers sprouting from it's pages. 

 

He'd not met Lady Dorothea, so could hardly comment, while Francis had not seemed the especially devout sort so perhaps that was what Davina meant.  "There is a season for all things." was what he said on that - supposing that weekend the appearance at least of being devout was practically a fashion statement. 

 

While the matter of Sophia's Anglican-ness was something he could speak upon with knowledge base. "I agree." said quietly though, head bowed closer to hers, "Why nearer to Rome at least I know the church will refuse to marry those of mixed faith. And even in England they insist that a document is signed that any children born of the match must be raised Catholic. But she somehow was granted some manner of leeway, perhaps via her ward of the time, Lord Kingston - who exists under Duke Buckingham’s protection. Still who knew the Duke had sway over the Catholic church?" 

 

That thought was frankly amusing, and Georges lips smirked of it. 

 

Their review of those present then shifted to the Mountjoys - George with a loyalty to the Marquis upon a kind word so many years ago when he himself was brand new to the House of Lords.  "A row? Oh I am saddened to hear of that, why I saw him prior to going in and he was positively simmering with eager to greet his wife." what could have happened? Davina, with her insider knowledge, spilt some beans. "Hmm, I had not thought of that. A wife’s great success may well be a difficult thing for a man to adjust to, thought I would not have thought the Marquis bull-headed, certainly not towards the mother of his child." 

 

Mountjoy had that precious thing that George so greatly aspired towards: a child, an heir. In his mind a wife might be forgiven nearly anything if they had supplied. 

 

"Oh. oh yes of course." George was surprised for a moment, but played along with Davina's glib comment. Best he did not act too excited to get to the bible quoting part of tonight’s event. Acting bored of it all was part of this fashion trend!  Still he was sitting erect, with eyes bright towards the Bishop.... 

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George and Davina 

She followed his movement as his Bible became more apparent and noted the bookmarkings - he was, so it seemed, entirely immersed into his NEW Religion and she thought yet again how it looked so easy for him to simply switch from one to the other. It was not like there was a change in Monarchs overnight when one went to bed a Catholic but woke at dawn a Protestant as in Times Past but then she had no insight to what lay in his Soul  and had no wish to peer into. It was quite possible that he struggled still and like so many, herself included, presented a 'Public Face' and acted accordingly - in the desire to salvage Family name and holdings - but come dusk and within the confines of private space took up beads and lit candles and knelt on floors lips moving silently and eyes closed in devotion.

She was no different she knew that yet the daily struggle to hide it was a strain - her brother adamant like George that it be thus to ensure the Family stayed as it was with no stain to keep Ambitions from being played out at Court - her marriage into a Protestant Family   ......

A small sigh escaped and she quickly recovered her thoughts to the present.

"Lady Dorethea is German, like the Queen, so tis suspected that some favoritism is much in play. Which is why some of US think tis the allowance for this Event"

She supplied the information to him assuming that he had no knowledge of it.

She was caught off guard at his quiet agreemnent regarding Lady Toledo. But whispered back

"I do not understand it. What was done to allow it who is to say and yet perhaps in secret some documant is in place. Lord Toledo does not strike me as one unbending in most things and certanily NOT in his Faith."

"Buckingham has many fingers in many pies. One must lose count. She was no end of troubles to Kingston afore her marriage and was full on nonsencial ideas and thoughts that I was taken aback. There were several of us Ladies at that time who were deligent in our approach and advice but she was either playing dumb or did not care a whit. And she is not much changed."

There was no animosity behind her words at all. She was just speaking a truth as she saw it.

She smiled again as she looked to the Mountjoys.

"So it appears! I am glad of it for Lady Mountjoy out of temper is not a thing I wish to see or deal with. But does not a wife take her own 'success' from her husbands? He is certanily that and so Her rise is thru His. That she shines is but a refelection."

"So the Bible tell us." She whispered to him.

She hid a smile by opening her own small Bible as if looking something up.

Davina was not by personality or nature one to easily give up her personal ambitions so her little speech of wifely devotion would no doubt be seen right thru.

Edited by Davina Wellsley

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Chatham and Darlene

Charles ground his teeth, forcing down a smile. He agreed wholeheartedly with Darlene that Parliament was the grandest theatre of all, but Cromwell did not.

Or at least, one would so assume.

Focusing on her words and how he should respond to them made things easier, he found, for devoting any attention to her bright eyes or breathy tone drew his thoughts along distinctly unCromwellian paths.

Though I doubt old Oliver would be all too far behind me, were he in my place.

"It is not fitting, madam, for you to make light of Parliament so," he hissed to cover his smirk at the thought. 

Of course that was all but a challenge, he realised immediately, and that meant it was a mistake. Well, he could do nothing about it now, so he would just have to press on and hope, however futile the latter was like to prove.

"Mistruths? You would impugn the character of Parliament's own commissioners? Or is it merely their competence you doubt?" he asked in a strangled whisper. "The morals of the realm are a serious matter, madam, and it is deeply unbecoming for you to treat them with such frivolity and... and feminine silliness!"

This was becoming almost physically painful, Charles noted. He could feel himself choking on the pomposity.

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Mountjoys taking seats

Charles words were soothing, and much appreciated. Though Urusla would not, could not truly relax while the precious token, the gift, was still lost.  Charles might have forgiven her for not wearing it here tonight, but surely in a more intimate setting he expected to see it fastened about her neck. 

Lady Mounjoy reavowed to have it found, ‘Ill offer a reward perhaps?’ was her private thought.

And then they were seated.

Karoline gave a confused smile to Charles, a look that slid across to Francis (her source of out of the usual foodstuffs), and then looking back to Charles she thought to avoid trying to reply to his comment at all!

“Thank you.” Was simple enough said – and besides the Bishop by standing, now drew them to silent attendance.

& other Important People

While on the other side of the Queen, past the Bishops now empty chair, young Dorothea was also biting her tongue (while blushing) having not really meant to extract details from Francis on his sleeping habits! 

Bishop Compton

“Ahem.” The Bishop begun and moved his eyes over the circle of all who were gathered, “Thank you for attending this most fitting event for this hallowed evening, I think I can speak for us all when I thank Her Royal Majesty for her benediction and indeed presence this evening.  May I begin with a prayer…”

Which he did in inimitable Bishop-y and protracted style

"… though our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”  Completing that he looked about the room again, “I invite participation in this evenings sharing of favourite biblical verses, including but not confined to those that relate to the sacrifice of the Lord.  And more particularly I invite some small commentary also, for how the verse cited has assisted, inspired or perhaps consoled.” 

Henry Compton remained stood a moment longer, expecting a rush possibly of eager persons keen to begin... 

Who will next take the floor 

Initially however, there was just silence. How, or would, the silence be broken?   

(As the first person made a motion, Compton nodded, and by taking a seat forfeited the floor. )

 

 

Note to all:  Resetting posting order as of now!  ie, freeforall (go on, I know you've got bible readings eager and ready lol)  

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Athenry and Sophia

 

“Look for my note in a day or two. We can introduce our spouses at a court event. I would rather be alone with you to discuss my dilemma.” Realizing how that sounded, Sophia blushed, just as prettily as she had always done. “Not like that, of course. And there will be servants in the room serving us refreshments so we will not truly be alone together.” She sighed softly. “My lord husband is quite possessive.”

 

She had almost said ‘jealous,’ but ‘possessive’ was a more accurate description of Esteban's attitude toward her. As he had never shown any romantic interest in he, he probably didn’t care personally whether or not other gentlemen fancied her. He was protecting her from the advances of amorous men because that was what Juan had asked him to do. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t working very well. She had two lovers and yet she still loved her Prince with all her heart.

 

Cadell was different. He was a very dear friend and she had spoken of him often enough that her husband should know what kind of relationship the two of them shared. Still, it was always better to be safe than sorry.

 

¿Tu hablas español?”* Sophia grinned. “I will not tell him, so that he will be surprised. I think he will be pleased that you are willing to converse in his native language. We speak it at home a lot, mainly because I need the practice. I have been studying Spanish since we wed, and I have learned more from my trips to Madrid than from my tutors.”

 

She tilted her head to the side. “Maybe you should not mention St. Omer, though. The French took Artois from the Spanish, did they not? It might be a sore point with him.” Sometimes the young Countess wondered why Juan (and Esteban, whose opinions were the same as his master’s) hated France when his half-sister was its Queen. She had considered that part of the reason was that Maria Theresa was legitimate and had enjoyed the privileges of growing up royal. But no, Juan would never be so petty. Had Cadell met her lover’s half-sister while he was in France?

 

“I know of both Molière and Racine. I believe they both worked with Lully and you know how much I admire the French composer. When I was in Venice, I watched one of Molière’s plays, but it was performed in French and at the time, I didn’t understand a word of it. I was able to follow the story through the actions of the actors, much like one does at an opera. Madame de la Fayette does sound interesting. Can you obtain some of her books for me? My French is improving, mostly be reading, and I would love to practice with stories like those you describe.”

 

What did Her Majesty have in store for them? Sophia smiled and shrugged. “I am not sure. I came hoping I would get the chance to sing a hymn or two for her, but ... oh, I think it's starting."

 

The Bishop began with a prayer and then asked everyone to recite Bible verses.  "Well, now we know," she whispered to Cadell.  Sophia was aware that she was considered by some as vainglorious and probably shouldn't go first, no matter how much she wanted to.

 

*You speak Spanish?

 

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Francis the Bold and Brave 😆

 

It seemed that these more proper courtiers were sedate of public presentation of themselves! Or perhaps it was just his inner adventurer or military man that led him to charge forward in order to avoid any long silence. This was important to his friend after all, and the Queen. Francis was not a shy person in the very least, and he had gone to university which required copious amounts of religiosity. Not only that but one could not spend much time with Lady Dorothea without absorbing some things. 

 

He cleared his throat and at the nod said, "I fear I am no where near as eloquent on such matters, but we naval minded Englishmen are rather known for shying from no challenge." He licked his lips and said. "It is in that same mind that I have always found a particular attachment to John 15, especially, 12-14." He then recited the particular verses, for he could not do the entirety of John 15 from memory, although he could easily paraphrase it.

 

Quote

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

 

"I have been in such circumstances many times. To serve on a ship is to have such willingness, and to lead one is to show it by example and inspire such in others. Those verses are quite well-known among many sailors."

 

(OOC - the entirety of James 15 is here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John 15&version=KJV ... no way Francis memorized the whole thing LOL)

 

He cast his blue eyes at Dorothea to see if he needed rescuing yet!

 

They traveled briefly over the bishop next. They had spoken of his ship service that day outside the chapel where Dorothea had come up with this idea. 

 

How much talking was he supposed to do? He had never been to any such thing as this before. Was he supposed to keep going?

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The simple fact was that George and Davina shared an affinity, a likeness in their views of the world. George gave a nod at this, an tip of head in agreement at that, and a veiled rolling of eyes at that other thing even. “It defies explanation.” He simply said, and by doing so implied that ‘they’ stood on the higher ground in that regard!

There might have been more gossip to share on Mountjoy too, but the Bishops standing and commanding the rooms attention required a pause to their occupation.   And George did so without any grudge, he being so new to the Anglican faith that there was some fun in the novelty factor if nothing else.   

“Amen!” He voiced, a little to loudly, to the Bishops prayer.

And then the evenings activity was announced… and then for a dream moment it seemed that no body present intended to partake.   But Kingston spoke up.  

Response to Francis

George found himself nodding along… and finding interest in how Kingsons take on the verses came from a sailors perspective.  But he was the one who came to court on his ship. George then recalled, which had him briefly reflect upon how the man had transformed from an out-of-place brave to this, well spoken fashionable individual…

Kingston’s dialogue then ebbed

George eyebrow rose, how did this evenings transitions from one speaker to the next evolve?  As yet there was no directive from the Bishop, and so, taking a breath George dared!

“Well said Lord Kingston, your verses bring to mind a favourite of my own, the relation being that service to the Lord requires a sort of selflessness, yet without fear that our needs will not be met.  Matthew 6; 28 and 29;    

Quote

‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ”

It was no surprise that such a verse was dear to George’s heart (however fixated on raiment he was apparently trying to be less obsessive!) it was instead thought of Francis outward transformation had triggered his citing it.

In after-amble the Earl added, “it later explains in the chapter that ‘all these things shall be added to the man who seeks the kingdom of god.” 

And here it was George whoms words now petered out, which was perhaps the cue for a next to speak.   

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Beverleys

 

It would take more than the first few exchanges for Beverley to contemplate speaking. These sort of events made him quite nervous. He was not the best public speaker and nor was he truly Anglican. Nobody in this room knew that aside from his wife. 

 

If his tongue could match his mind at such events, and if he could lay his thoughts bare, he thought he knew more of the Bible than most. And he had been quite old before there had been the crutch of doing so in English, whereas the Protestants only knew the English.

 

Or so he thought. 

 

For the time being he stayed silent, content to listen intently to the interplay of others.

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Davina And George

She was glad to see that he still seemed to share in some of her thoughts despite all that had gone between them. She smiled and added bits here and there every now and then her gaze going to Lady Mountjoy. They were amended by the Bishop's standing  ....

 She said her own "Amen" and silently added what she needed to. Public Face was Public Face yet her Soul was her own. 

She had a feeling that the Maids might well be singled out as a means of drawing others' to unwilling to volunteer. But then Kingston Braved it and then to her surprise next came George!

As for herself she would wait a bit. 

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