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

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Beverley & Bruhl

 

Beverley had a guileless sort of smile when Lady Mountjoy agreed with him, for he was clearly very pleased of it and possibly also relieved that she agreed. It broadened a bit more as she gave that knowing sort of look toward his lady wife. He smiled at her too and then gave a nod of thanks to Lady Mountjoy.

 

As to relieving them of their ladies, it was not as if they could refuse! In this instance, the ladies had duties the gentlemen did not. Both Beverleys could stay at their place at the palace if his wife was needed and it became too late to retire to Pall Mall.

 

"Of course, my lady. We can happily discourse about horses and have a drink meanwhile?" he gestured away and gave a look to the German for his agreement to retreat and leave the ladies to their business. In all honesty, it was far easier to talk to another man without the added needs to present ladies. 

 

 

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The Queen and Mountjoy

 

“Ah, a fine point.” Karoline agreed.  She knew Ursula very well, having stayed within the Mountjoys house herself at one stage, to now spending most days together, “Still, it is an option. I am sure that and we are weeks away from truly urgent demands.”  like many women in her condition, she had a caring hand on belly as she spoke.

Thought of the unborn baby was never far from her mind. 

A puff of amusement passed her lips at his roast beef jest, “Take care Lord Mountjoy, too much patriotism is not good for the waistline.” She smiled, eyebrow raising as she considered her own state, realising she’d possibly made a joke.  Belatedly she added a grin, taking credit for the wit as though it had been deliberate!  (It was surely the first time Charles had heard her tell a joke)

The future King  would need to get his sense of humour from the father and not mother in this match, but Karoline had other fine traits that would undoubtedly serve England well.

Sensible talk was more her thing, and so the question of Emerald hair pin satisfying to reply to, “It was my Christmas gift to Lady Mountjoy, did you like it? She was overjoyed to receive it.”  Which the young queen took as a compliment.  It was only afterwards that she realised he might be angling for information of the missing gift he’d given.  “Ahh… while of course it means she cannot wear other stones that might rival it.  Emerald clashes quite terribly for instance, with blue.”

Which was a well meaning white lie.  Everyone within Karoline’s apartments knew of the hunt for the missing rhinestones.

 

 

Francis & Dorothea

“But I am sure you underestimate yourself.” Dorothea begun to protest.

She had little to no comprehension of the fallout Francis would get if he attended a weekly bible meeting, how his brother come uncles would tease him mercilessly if they found out. Why the fellow might need resort to sneaking out without anyone knowing, or a creating a charade of some other ‘acceptable’ libertine outing.

But instead some quick thinking and fast talking got him off that hook…

“That is a brilliant idea.” Dorothea stated, impressed, “Then the guest list is not fixed, which would add to a fine variety to differently entertain Her Majesty week to week.  Too much routine is difficult for her.” That last sentence was whispered with a glance toward the master routine maker; Lady Mountjoy.

“And, so you will attend my weeks though, wont you Lord Kingston.” Which was the main thing.

Francis fiddled, drawing her attention to his ear, well, earring.  It looked rather fine on him she thought, and always made her remember his tales of life on the high seas.  “Do you miss it?” the question came out of the blue, she then added, “traveling the world, I mean.”

  

 

Beverley & Bruhl

Sebastian was likewise complicit, and bowed to Her Majesty as she moved with the young ladies to one side.   “Your lady may save mine a second time this evening: I can hope, for her sake.” He made quiet comment to Beverly, with his hunch for lady Mountjoy’s interest being over the whoremongering word used earlier.

Availing himself of a drink (a cup of mulled wine was his choice) he then turned back to Beverly, “Though may I clarify that Lady Agnes is not 'mine' at all.  We were paired for company, rather than intentions.  Not that I would be so averse.” He accidentally discovered he was digging himself a hole instead of explaining away a potential misunderstanding. 

“But yet, to horses.” The simpler subject! “Have you plans to compete in the upcoming games?”

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Davina & George, and then seperate 

Well there was no need to answer that!  George repressed a laugh, it was good that she was getting back her sense of humour.

But the evening pressed onwards, and George found it fascinating to hear what verses inspired others – though none more so than Her Majesty’s own, presented via Lady Dorothea as her speaker.  Again George felt like applauding, but nobody else was (so he could hardly do so!)  

He begun to think he might have time to speak another verse, perhaps from the book of Job, one of his favourites – chapter twenty seven definitely, but should it be verse 3 or verse 5? Would anyone mind if he read them both, oh, yes and including verse 4 while doing so…

He was inwardly debating specifics of anotehr reading with himself, when suddenly the evening was over.

 Bother!

Getting to his feet he offered hand to Davina to assist (just as well because her foot had fallen asleep).  “Yes I think I’ll get a drink, and mingle a little.” Smiled he, while mindful that she had her duties to attend to.  “Thank you for your company Mistress Wellsley, I am so pleased that… that we have reached this stage.”

Fare welling her, George went to get himself a nip of brandy, and perhaps a wedge or two of cheese if there was any – while looking about with an approachable smile.  Chapter twenty seven would have been such a good one.  

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Seperating From George and Wandering

Now that things had finally ended she gave a sigh and a smile to George as he stated his intent which made her think about what she would do now. Waving him off she stood for a moment looking about the room. So far Lady Mountjoy was still occupied and the fact that her husband was here meant that she would have no real time for the Maids which was perfect. With no desdire to join any of the others' Davina began a slow maneuver that somehow took her towards DANIEL yet still out of range. That little voice appeared again on her right shoulder echoing as before

no! no! 

Quickly followed by the left saying

yes! yes!

Just what was a girl supposed to do  .....

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Mountjoy and the Queen

 

“We shall, I am sure…” he actually at this point was not sure but chose to put the best light on the subject. “…take whatever opportunities are afforded to make opportunities for us to be together. Once you are safely delivered of child and resume a more active role it is my hope to divert more time as your Master of Horse so as to put the Margravina and myself in closer company to each other. It would also have the benefit of putting me in closer company to Your Majesty as well but I hope Your Majesty will forgive the treasonous act of putting the Margravina before you. But for her and our daughter Hope there are no women I esteem more than Your Majesty.”

He smiled at her jest. “You speak not only in jest but in truth.  Am beginning to find it takes more sport to counteract my indulgences these days.” He was still trim and fit the very model of a handsome gentleman as his Mother used to say (would Ursula say that as well?) but with his duties it was getting more challenging to find the time to exercise and he had not been to Epping once since his return to hunt.

His smile broadened when she explained that the trinket in question was indeed a present from her and not from some secret admirer as he had tortured himself with supposing.

“Oh! It is a most splendid gift and a most Royal act of munificence.”

He exclaimed showing more pleasure than a piece of jewelry, even as one as elegant as the one in question, as one should be.

“I think sapphires set off her eyes to perfection but I now see that green complements her golden hair admirably. I see I shall have to expand my inspections of stones next time I engage a piece from the jewlers”

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Francis & Dorothea

 

Francis had not much contemplated what George or Will might say if he held company at the Queen's Bible events. Sometimes, a gentleman had to do what a gentleman had to do, and Francis was quite secure in his libertine virility. One did not need to be the Earl of Rochester. He did have something of a reputation to keep in tact after ridding himself of the remnants of Charles Kirke's lingering reputation to his own. Even though he had not been at court, he knew such things could change very easily. He did not have to be an angel, but he could not be utterly wild.

 

"I do not know that I have enough spontaneous verses and depth of knowledge, but I certainly have mind enough to comment on other's thoughts," he said, with a slight shrug of one shoulder. "When one has traveled, one learns to be able to talk about a great many things with a great variety of people, as you have well-noticed, I think." For not only had Francis been able to talk to Dorothea (when she had been petrified of Bradley), but she had also learned quite a thing or two of their English court and come to also discourse on many more things than she might have anticipated. 

 

"Ha, well, I am pleased that you like the idea. Exclusivity is quite the requirement for any small royal event, for the invitation is its own currency and reward thereby. And you do know how the English like to compete. I do think the Germans do as well. As with your Latrones." He gave her a knowing grin. She beat him quite soundly on the regular, and he knew it was a favoured game between Dorothea and the Queen. 

 

"Well, you might depend upon me for variety," he joked, but only partially. Such was actually quite in keeping with the spirit of his royal master and it was the King that declared the young blond just the pretty thing to be a buffer between His Majesty and any dramatics. It had not precisely been said that way, but Francis was quite perceptive and knew the King hated tears and such. 

 

"Oh, yes, of course I would," he agreed. "And you shall give me advance warning, shall you not? I will want to put my mind in the right place well before."

 

"Miss what?" he asked, not immediately getting the reference. "Oh, well, many parts of me do, yes. That is not to say that one cannot also love being on dry land. It is all very different. Equally a part of me now, I think. Why do you ask?"

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On 8/19/2020 at 10:42 PM, Hope said:

Beverley & Bruhl

Sebastian was likewise complicit, and bowed to Her Majesty as she moved with the young ladies to one side.   “Your lady may save mine a second time this evening: I can hope, for her sake.” He made quiet comment to Beverly, with his hunch for lady Mountjoy’s interest being over the whoremongering word used earlier.

Availing himself of a drink (a cup of mulled wine was his choice) he then turned back to Beverly, “Though may I clarify that Lady Agnes is not 'mine' at all.  We were paired for company, rather than intentions.  Not that I would be so averse.” He accidentally discovered he was digging himself a hole instead of explaining away a potential misunderstanding. 

“But yet, to horses.” The simpler subject! “Have you plans to compete in the upcoming games?”

"Save who? Lady Agnes?" Beverley puzzled for a moment and then said, "Oh, the whoremondering." The last word was made in a barely there whisper. "My lady wife does think very soundly, I am most grateful, but I, erm, do not envy her dealing with Lady Mountjoy. I much prefer the service of the Duke of Cumberland."  He smiled slyly. Was that a joke!

 

"Oh, but do not worry of misspeaking, for such affairs were never my strong suit. Horses are a far easier topic and far easier in general." It might have been another joke. 

 

"I do, certainly. I hope that we hear something of it soon. Or maybe even some well-founded rumours, for none I hear are truly very possible and must therefore, erm, originate with some matron or another who knows little of horses. I was arranging a ride with Lord Mountjoy and Sir George Legge. If you should like to join us, I am sure you would be most welcome."

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Posted (edited)

Cadell and Sophia parting; Sophia trying to get Chatham’s attention

 

When did Sophia avoid the spotlight? “I don’t. This is just not the right time. I would never think of upstaging God.” She smiled mischievously. “He might strike me with a bolt of lightening."

 

She no longer had to grab every opportunity to show her skills like as she’d had to do when she had first arrived in England. Now she was known throughout court for having a beautiful voice that had charmed both the King and Queen and had brought Masters Cole and Greyson’s opera to life. Rumors of her success in breaking a glass with her voice were probably being spread even now. She could afford to be selective as to where and when she wished to shine. Showing off now might hurt her chances of befriending the Queen, a goal she had never given up on and probably never would.

 

Courtiers continued to spout verses, most competitive and a few repetitive. Sophia fidgeted, bored out of her mind. How long would this go on? Finally, some woman she had never seen before stood up and recited the Queen’s selection. She had a German accent. Since when, the young Countess wondered, had Germans been able to serve the Queen? She had been told over and over that her attendants had to be either English or married to an Englishman. Had that information been wrong? When she had arrived in England, her dream had been to become a maid of honor. Had it not been impossible after all?

 

Sophia might have been angry if she wasn’t happy with how her life had turned out. As a lady-in-waiting, she would never have been allowed near Don Juan and a marriage to a foreigner would have been out of the question. She would have eventually been wed to an Englishman and would never visit the continent again. Whether she had been lied to or not, everything had worked out for the best. A handsome prince had literally come along and swept her off her feet and now she was carrying his child. One hand absently caressed her flat belly as the ordeal … erm … event came to an end.

 

“I think Her Majesty chose that verse because she thought that this evening was going to unfold a bit differently. I hope she isn’t too disappointed.” Sophia laughed when Cadell said he feared for the events that would take place after Easter. “I do not fear for them; I look forward to them.” Nothing, save for the endless church services still left to attend, could be as dull as tonight’s gathering. She felt a bit smug that the concert she and Lady Kendishall had given had been more successful, not to mention infinitely more entertaining.

 

Her friend did look tired, and perhaps a bit tipsy. “Then I shall have to try harder,” she grinned. “Your company was as delightful as always, my lord, and I’m very happy that you’re back at court.” He yawned and bowed to her. “You should receive it soon. Sleep well, my friend.”

 

Sophia watched as Cadell hobbled away and then strolled over to a refreshment table. As usual, she was hungry. The baby demanded a lot of nourishment. As she filled a plate, she tried to catch Lord Chatham’s eye. This was the perfect chance to speak to him.  She was free of both her husband and her bodyguard. Maybe he would walk her back to her carriage … or pull her behind a clump of bushes and have his wicked way with her.

 

Edited by Sophia de la Cerda

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Darlene & Chatham

Chatham cited a relevant verse from 'Hebrews' - his continuity of the nights theme impressed, even if he'd not been agreeing with her, good theatre depended greatly upon continuity.

"...those sat on the wall... might have a great fall - quoth Humpty dumpty." returned Darlene with eyes glinting.  Lord Chatham was an unlikely ‘straight guy’ in this act, best she make use of it while she could.

With the event wrapping up, Darlene extended her hand to the gent, for needless-yet-pretty assistance to her feet. "Perhaps your escort on some future outing? Ooh, or perhaps you can join me upon my hunt for evil do-ers down at the docks. It is a great concern to the Lifeguards you see, so I have promised them my assistance." 

“There is far more to the story of course, but it’s n a needs to know basis.  Are you in?”

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Mountjoy and the Queen

He declined, in just the same martyr manner as his wife might have, Karoline left it at that.  The offer had been made, so she felt absolved of any responsibility in regards to their marriage problems.  

But he liked her accidental joke. “Perhaps I shall share it with His Majesty too.” Supposed she, always anxious to please the Husband she’d fought so hard to get.

Where even were those other princesses now? Forgotten, certainly never mentioned in her presence at least.

The bullet was dodged, and she was relieved she he did not probe more towards the blue gems that were missing.  “And so upon that happy note, I am ready to retire.” She spoke, by this charging him with the duty of arranging such.   (Lady Mountjoy meanwhile was out of the room, having taken a pair of young ladies aside) There were other young ladies in her service present, Mistress Wellesley for instance looked quite idle.

 

Francis & Dorothea

"Yes well I would have enjoyed somewhat more discussion of the various verses.” Dorothea then admitted, which fell more in keeping with Francis’ potential offerings also.  “And with a broader view, such as yours, it might be quite diverting to ladies less travelled.”

Yes she liked his idea very much – this ‘event ideas/organising’ side of him was unexpected.  With a little laugh she agreed, “Love of completion is perhaps common to all human nature, though who can know for certain unless the Royal Society were to publish a study upon it.” Cheerily said. 

The Germans were, slowly learning humour.

He suggested he could be relied upon for variety.  “I already rely upon your for consistency, Lord Kingston.”  Was this German lady also learning flattery?  Or perhaps it was merely another show of her young devotion to him.  Aside from Karoline, Francis was her best friend in England.

He answered her question, it was as shed hoped to hear - then Francis wanted to know why she had asked.

“Your earring, reminds me of your past life,” she smiled, “it is even blue, like the sea, and seems so carefree. Or at least that is how I imagine life on the sea to be.” 

 

Beverly and Bruhl

“Yes that.” Sebastian frowned a nod and looked towards where they ladies had vanished.  “and Lady Agnes is usually so quiet.”

He felt a bit sorry for the girl.

But drew his attention back to the gent, “So I have heard. Though these are tense times, what with the affair of the Rhinestones.” He assumed that Beverly had heard about that from his wife, “and quite understandable. The phrase ‘coiled spring’ might be used to descript her.”

He considered letting Beverly in on the issue he was currently wrestling with, but then, he hardly knew Mary’s husband yet.  Perhaps, if things did not soon improve, he’d take him into his confidence.

Talk of horses was just the thing for men to bond on.

“Ha, yes a horse is far more a known quantity.” he smiled of Beverley’s reserved joke, another German learning English humour..

“I would enjoy that greatly.” He was surprised even, at the invite!  “I have of course been practising my speed separately, but surely some competition during practise will be the best to really push oneself.”

Turning to note the returned Master of the Horse (a title that did not have much to do with horses actually), he asked, “Have you heard any on how fine a horseman Mountjoy is? And also, Legge?” Plainly he relished the thought of a little friendly competition. looking forward to

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The Queen and Mountjoy searching out Davina Wellsley

 

The simple statement of the Queen indicating that she wished to retire brought momentary consternation to Charles. Would his wife think he was deliberately usurping her duties? Even of that were so he could hardly shirk his duty. The next concern was that he would have to momentarily have to leave the Queen unattended as he fetched one of her Ladies. What would happen if Her Majesty were to trip or suddenly faint he would never forgive himself. He then recalled an old Professor at Oxford, an authority on arachnids, who once told him ‘with great power comes great responsibility’  so he undertook the peril of leaving the Queen to stand quietly on her own.

“As your Majesty wishes.’ He replied with a small bow as he cast about for a nearby Lady in Waiting. Lo, I behold Mistress Wellsley not very far away. With your permission I shall bid her to accompany your Majesty.”

Leaving the Queen utterly devoid of attendees save for the several dozen courtiers in the room he approached Davina Wellsley who was presently unaccompanied. Normally he would engage in polite chit chat upon approaching a lady and although technically his position did not give him authority over the ladies in Waiting he was acting for the Queen so came quickly to the matter at hand.

“Mistress Wellsley, the Queen wishes to retire and the Margravina is otherwise disposed. Will you please attend to her Majesty.”

He was confidant enough in his wife’s abilities to believe there would be servants stationed in the Queen’s private chambers to assist so he refrained from any further instructions allowing Mistress Wellsley to proceed as she saw fit. He would return with Davina and accompany the Queen to the door of the Presence Chamber but no further.

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Davina and Mountjoy then to the Queen

She heard the heels on the floor and turned to the sound - it was Lord Mountjoy of all people!

"My Lord?" She curtsied but still offering a smile. But at his words she turned her gaze and nodded and then followed him back the way he had come.

"Your Majesty." She curtsied. "Lord Mountjoy has said you wish to retire and so I am here."

Her eyes doing a quick assessment as she continued in a lowered voice so not to attrack attention. To any that watched it was nothing unusual.

"How might I assist you? Do you need a Physician? Allow me to walk you back ..."

She turned to Lord Mountjoy to ask

"If you might annonce that Her Majesty will retire  ..."

She knew he understood Protocol and so would tell the Assembly which would give everyone time to bow/curtsey. To not do so and simply have Her leave would give rise to all kinds of gossip and speculations!

 She stood quietly and without fuss waiting for her instructions.

It was but a short walk to the private doors and Davina was confident that nothing would go amiss and once thru them and they closed she knew too that her Ladies would be at the ready.

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A Quick Announcement from Mountjoy

As Davina very efficiently approached the Queen Charles surveyed the room and assumed his public speaking voice.

“My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.” He began in a senatorial voice pausing for the assembled to take heed. “Her Majesty thanks you all for attending this rousing evening and will now take her leave of this fair company and retire for the evening.”

Waiting a few more moments for the crowed to make ready he then bowed in the direction of the Queen.

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Charles and Darlene

Charles would admit to being surprised by Darlene's chosen forfeit. He was not sure what he had expected, but being asked to safeguard her while she undertook some task for the Life Guard was not it. (Assuming that this was not part of some further game, of course, but even then this was not the path he would have imagined her creativity taking.)

Still, for all that, there was only one answer he could give to the question 'are you in?' even leaving aside the fact that no gentleman could possibly allow a lady to visit the docks unescorted.

"I most certainly am," he affirmed. "How much can you tell me?"

There was no possible world where Charles Audley would turn down the opportunity for some excitement.

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Charles and Darlene

Once he got to know her more, Charles would discover that Darlene had a knack for never doing the expected - even her moods were entirely unpredictable.  "Thank you! I don’t plan to go early, for everyone knows dishonesty requires night time. So shall we say about nine o’clock, after our dinner is settled."

It was a great relief to her to have a protector for this nefarious duty.  Really, she had been surprised when her future fiancée had even allowed it, unless Whitehurst had thought she would chicken out.  Or had he thought she would go to the docks in the relative safety of the middle of the day.  

"I shall tell you more in the carriage. You do have a carriage don’t you? Otherwise its a long walk... mmm, and what colour is your carriage, is you have one, like, I would not want to get into the wrong one." Which she'd once done - now that had been an adventure! 

"Do you know that lady over there?" Darlene’s eyes had slid to see someone trying to get Chatham’s attention – and he, being a male, had not even noticed.  “Her name is Lady Sophia, she likes to sing, she wanted to join my opera but alas arrived at court when it was all done.”   

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Karoline

At Mountjoys announcement some few other women within her household also drew near, while the Queen turned her practised smile to Davina (not bothering to answer her alarmist 'physician' question) then looking back to the gentleman gave a nod as an expression of thanks.  "Good Evening." 

Davina might accompany the young queen through the presence chambers doors into her more private apartments. "Such unity this evening."  Karoline relieved this comment as to Davina personally. It had not escaped her notice that Davina had commenced attending Anglican services.  There were others moving about now, and the process of getting the queen ready for bed then begun, it was a well practised and stream lined process.    

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Posted (edited)

Charles and Darlene

A wise man would doubtless have found every word out of Darlene's mouth yet more reason to dissuade her from this venture, but wise men doubtless had less fun. Charles merely found the idea interesting, and directed such wisdom as he possessed towards the outing's success.

"Late is probably best," he agreed. "You do not mean to go tonight, I assume, but which night best suits you? I have a prior engagement Tuesday, but aside from that I am entirely at your disposal."

As for carriages... Charles considered a moment.

"In the interests of discretion, it might be best if we were to meet elsewhere and hire a carriage," he suggested. "It could drop us a little way from the docks, and we could walk from there, the better to preserve our anonymity."

Having only one eye, Charles' field of vision was somewhat limited and, from where he stood, Sophia was in his blind spot. Had Darlene not spoken, he might have missed her entirely. Nodding his thanks to his companion, he turned to smile amiably at Sophia in greeting. He couldn't speak to her as he might like in company, but with any luck they could engineer an opportunity ere the night had passed 

"The lady is known to me, yes. I have occasional dealings with her husband, and I have a great appreciation for her musical talents. She played Diana in last season's opera," he explained.

That was a plausible cover for his true relationship with Sophia, he thought. As he spoke his hand moved absently to adjust his cravat. 

Edited by Charles Audley

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Davina with Karoline 

She knew what was being infered and responded accordingly.

"Indeed Your Majesty for that is best all round."

Not by manner or speech had she betrayed even a hint of her inner thoughts. 

Once inside the doors closed behind them and Davina offer her curtsey as she handed her Mistress over to her Ladies of the Bed Chamber.

Those who were on duty and would see her into the private apartments and there to be settled for the night.

With a sigh Davina was now free and her thoughts of earlier faded. She was weary and the idea of her own room and the comforts of being clad in just her chemise were too hard to resist.

Turning she went back out thru the double doors and after some plesanteries with those scattered about took her own leave.

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On 8/25/2020 at 7:02 PM, Hope said:

Francis & Dorothea

"Yes well I would have enjoyed somewhat more discussion of the various verses.” Dorothea then admitted, which fell more in keeping with Francis’ potential offerings also.  “And with a broader view, such as yours, it might be quite diverting to ladies less travelled.”

Yes she liked his idea very much – this ‘event ideas/organising’ side of him was unexpected.  With a little laugh she agreed, “Love of completion is perhaps common to all human nature, though who can know for certain unless the Royal Society were to publish a study upon it.” Cheerily said. 

The Germans were, slowly learning humour.

He suggested he could be relied upon for variety.  “I already rely upon your for consistency, Lord Kingston.”  Was this German lady also learning flattery?  Or perhaps it was merely another show of her young devotion to him.  Aside from Karoline, Francis was her best friend in England.

He answered her question, it was as shed hoped to hear - then Francis wanted to know why she had asked.

“Your earring, reminds me of your past life,” she smiled, “it is even blue, like the sea, and seems so carefree. Or at least that is how I imagine life on the sea to be.” 

"Perhaps you should find someone to study it and become a great patroness," he suggested. "Though studying human nature seems more philosophy or has been. I could help you find an enterprising young person at Cambridge to sponsor."

 

After all, he could not have her fishing about the competition to put her ideas to good use!

 

"Then I shall have to show you how one can be both at the same time," Francis replied, thinking it entirely possible to be consistent and a purveyor of variety. 

 

"It reminds me of such too, the carefree moments, the possibilities." He smiled and then added, "And, truly, they are only moments. As I alluded, much of it puts you in good contact with God on a frequent basis and is hardly carefree. The rush of it, though...there is a certain thing about danger that makes one feel very alive."

 

Alas, it was at that moment that the Queen chose to retire for the evening. Along with the rest of the company, he gave his pretty bow to the departing Queen. She seemed quite large to him even though the birth was not that soon, but he knew better than to comment on such things. 

 

"Shall you retire as well?"

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Dorothea and Francis

"Oh yes. And philosophy is such spiritual subject, so perhaps the theological college at Cambridge would best suit?"  she as very happy with his idea to find an individual for this task*. 

While she grinned at his claim to prove consistency and variety.   "I will try to present a sceptical view of you during the proving,"  the doing of that might be a great deal of fun, "When shall you begun the challenge Lord Kingston, I shall need some advance warning, so that I dont accidentally begin with a smile."  Because typically she smiled a great deal when around him. 

As he explained the vibrant sort of nostalgia he felt for the sea, she gave a nod in understanding  (though her own life was relatively tame, and almost never life threatening).  "I suppose a night like tonight was not very exciting in compare."  Dorothea could understand, "still I quite like that you carry a little sparkle of the sea with you." And she'd not tell him that he made her feel alive when he was around. Not that he was dangerous though (it was something different). 

It was announced that the Queen would retire now, she dipped a curtsy with Francis' bow.  It was the formal ending the evening.   "Well, I suppose that I shall. I have yet to read this evenings selection prior to Chapel tomorrow."  She was one of the very few courtiers that would take up Compton’s suggested bible readings for the next day.

"Thank you for... your part in this." she turned back to Francis and simply said. 

 

* IRL Dorothea went on to keep theological correspondences with a couple of European thinkers of the religious reforms, this then suits her so perfectly! 

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Lord Chatham, Lady Oakham, with Lady Toldeo beckoned near 

 

Not until the following day did Darlene rethink

“Oh no, not during Easter. Not even the foulest criminal would ply his trade over the holy days would he? Well, maybie if they were Turkish. I met an Turk once, he seemed perfectly nice for first impressions, he had everyone calling him Bey something… it was a funny sort of a name, but seemed to be important enough to him.”

She got a little side tracked by the memory, but then returned to the adventure at hand.  

“If not Tuesday, then Wednesday.” She agreed, and he had his clever plans on how to avoid rousing suspicion. “Well I don’t have a carriage, so why don’t you come to my place and we can take a city carriage from there. I have an account with them, and everything.”

These sorts of bills were still going to her long suffering brother.

 

Waiving Sophia over

Learning that Chatham was indeed known to Sophia’s husband, Darlene waved her hand to the lady, becoming her over. “Probably she needs to talk about Spain then.” The Viscounts deduced for the Earl’s benefit, and then presented a smile for the other woman’s approach.

“Good evening Lady Toledo.”

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Mountjoy Alone

Charles bowed to the Queen as she bid him a good evening “A good evening to you as well Your Majesty, may you sleep well.”

With that the Queen left the room and Charles was free to roam as he wished. Mistress Wellsley was also left to her own devices but she too decided to withdraw and he gave her a nod and touched his hat as she made her farewells. He looked about the room and there were several groups of interesting people but he noticed that the Margravina was not amongst any of them likely having been called away to deal with some matter or another. He took a goblet of wine from a passing servant and downed it then emulating Mistress Wellsley made his own farewells and quietly left the room heading alone to Saxony House.

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If Francis was honest, he was not entirely sure there was such a specific college, but then again his interests had never been with the clergy whilst he was there. 

 

"Whilst divinity would surely be good for such thing from one perspective, there are also professorships in moral philosophy which may be fitting more broadly, and they would have students looking for patrons I am sure. If you wish uncharted territory, there might be more thinking outside the box there than with those focused on more spiritual interpretations. That is simply my thought," Francis replied. "But I shall find you some candidates from both to speak with if you wish."

 

He rather liked his earring as well, for it surely was not a fashion statement. It had been far more popular during his grandfather's time. Such things were rather out of fashion now, but Francis cared little about such things. Buckingham teased him about it but in the end had been more concerned that it at least be expensive - for if one was going to use an old fashion, one had to do it ridiculously well and that oft meant grandiose. If he started his own fashion with large dangling, manly gems, then he would be quite pleased of it, admittedly. "It is like my drop of the sea carried along with me," he replied, appreciating the poetics of that imagery.

 

But the evening was rolling to an end. He had his own obligations that evening. Little did he know how revealing and altering they would be! He would kiss the ladys hand if offered and said, "I know you shall have a pleasant evening then." His accompanying grin was a bit cheeky; she loved Compton assigned readings!

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Sophia approaching Darlene and Charles

 

Sophia sighed. Charles seemed so engrossed in his conversation with Lady Oakham that he didn’t even look her way. It didn’t occur to her that he might not notice her because of his impaired vision. She didn’t want to interrupt their discussion. Perhaps they would have a chance to speak tomorrow either before or after church.

 

With one last lingering look, she prepared to turn away from him just as he looked toward her, smiled, and adjusted his cravat. Yes! He saw her and was thinking of her!  Sophia smiled back politely, using her acting skills to hide the elation that she felt inside.

 

Lady Oakham’s gaze turned to her as well. Had they been talking about her? The other lady beckoned her over, and Sophia walked over to join them. “Good evening, Lady Oakham, Lord Chatham,” she said, gently brushing her cheek with the tip of one finger. “It’s wonderful to see you back at court, my lady. I hope you have been well.”

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Charles and Darlene

"Bey is a Turkish title of office, I think," Charles offered, adapting to Darlene's tangent. It was not difficult— his own thoughts were prone to growing wings and embarking on grand, chaotic flights. "Something akin to our Lord Lieutenant, if I remember correctly."

(Charles had dealt with a handful of beys during his travels, and found them much like men of high birth everywhere, albeit refreshingly straightforward to bribe.)

Their diversion into the structure of Turkish nobility aside, they had the beginnings of a plan of action for their little soirée at the docks.

"Nine o'clock Wednesday suits perfectly," Charles agreed, and then found another detail that needed clarification. "Ah, where do you reside my lady? It might make more sense for me to hire a public carriage and collect you."

Joined by Sophia

Charles had expected absolutely nothing of this outing, and had found himself more than pleasantly surprised. Darlene was fun, in an energetic, madcap way that appealed hugely to Charles, and now he had a precious chance to talk with Sophia.

And narry a sign of that German lout that shadows her.

That was an exquisite thought, and it took an effort to keep it from his face as he greeted her, especially when he saw her make Corinna's sign.

"Your excellency," he murmured, inclining his head. "My congratulations on the success of your concert. It was a stirring performance."

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Charles and Darlene

"He was trouble whatever the rank, I never really liked him much," Darlene had liked him actually, "and he ended up in the Tower..."  She could not remember why Abdul had been imprisoned, but the imprisoning itself "- it was all the talk of court."

But back to their own trouble, that surely would not land either of them in the cells (should somebody touch wood about now?)  she agreed to his suggestion with a head-of-curls-bouncing nod.  "You will knock on my door to let me know you have arrived." 

Even though it had been nearly three years ago now, she was truly cautious about this.  Darlene had learnt a hard lesson of just jumping into a carriage willy nilly, and never wanted to do it again. Here she passed her calling card to Charles then, whom she deemed non-dangerous, even though he had a prirates eyepatch. 

 

Joined by Sophia

 

And then Sophia arrived, Darlene beamed, though was confused as Charles called her excellency. That was taking flattery to an extreme.  "Oh yes Lord Chatham told me of your success, I am so pleased to hear you got to sing. Oh how I remember your disappointment to have missed out on performing at my own Opera at the palace." she chattered on Chatham’s topic cheerily. 

"I have been well yes, but my darling Thomas lesso." Darlene had not needed to tell anyone of his death to date, to date people had already heard. It was a difficult thing to relay, and had her think of him, which made her a little sad.  "I miss him terribly, nearly as much as I missed him while he was alive."  Which was saying more than she should to virtual strangers. 

"What about yourself? Lord Chatham has been telling me that he and Lord Toledo are quite involved, I dare say that leaves you as the third wheel in their conversations, and entirely bored!  Perhaps we should plan getting together next time they have to talk business?"

Darlene hoped to gain new lady friends, especially young and fun ones – why perhaps Sophia would even be interested in hunting for villains on the docks with her?   

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Dorothea & Francis

 

Francis betrayed his fine education at that moment, providing the lady with a thought provoking reply.  Following a mental pause she nodded her head, “By such one might bridge into new understandings, it might be more a field of discovery if not bound by disciplines where free thought is not akin to heresy.”  These words were quietly spoken and with a glance towards – ah, but Bishop Compton had already retired for the evening.

Indeed the population in this room was rapidly thinning.

“Please do, it sounds quite an adventure even if far from the oceans salt and spray.”

And so they farewelled, Francis with his jibe that was not even untrue.  “Oh I shall.” Smiled Dorothea, then realising he was poking fun – which produced a grin. “And good night to you also Lord Francis.”

Upon those warm notes they parted, Dorothea for her part having had a most wonderful evening!

 

Edit:  It was well after the fact that she even realised she'd accidentally used his christian name! 

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Francis & Dorothea parting

 

Francis was far from as studious as the young lady in matters of God, but he was at least a deserving Chancellor of Cambridge who quite enjoyed books...just those on other topics!

 

Unlike the lady, Francis noticed quickly that she used his Christian name. Since being gifted his title, he had grown rather accustomed to far fewer people using it and so it became a little more notable to hear it these days.

 

It was not simply that, though; that particular styling was actually as his father had been called as the younger son of a duke and it was very noticeable for that. And because such was not a proper styling for him, even if people knew who his father was, he noted the intimacy of saying it right away. 

 

There was a long moment as he watched her exit the room where he was quite chuffed that she would wish to use his Christian name, but there was another piece of him (perhaps in an arm or something) where he noted that inspiring such sentiment in a lady so highly ranked was perhaps ill-bred of him. A little furrow crossed his brow as he contemplated this, for he was realizing that he was rather fond of the lady too. It did not change that she was ranked so highly above him that he should take care. If he was not a gentleman of the King and a relation of a duke, he likely would not even be an acceptable acquaintance for such a lady!

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Charles, Darlene, and Sophia

 

“Thank you, my lord.” Sophia held up her hand to be kissed, just so they could touch again, however innocently.  Pretending that Charles was just an acquaintance was more difficult than she had imagined it would be. Did he feel the same way? “I am pleased that you enjoyed it.” And that you enjoyed me even more.

 

Lady Oakham’s chatter helped quite a bit. “Maybe if I had not hid in my room during my first week in England, I would come to know you and could have been given a small part. Sometimes, though, it is refreshing to be part of the audience instead of onstage.” Darlene might notice that her command of the English language (and particularly her grammar) had improved immensely in the last year. She now spoke with only a light accent that was mostly German with a hint of Italian. 

 

“I was impatient to show the court how well I could sing. I have done that now. Shortly after you left, I gave a concert for the King and he was so impressed that he commissioned a full scale opera to show off my voice. Master Cole composed it and Master Greyson wrote the libretto. It was performed last season at the Dorset Garden Theatre. I wish you could have been there and also at the concert that Lady Kendishall and I gave a few days ago.” Her ice-blue eyes lit up and she grinned brightly. “I broke a vase with my voice! It is still hard to believe that I actually pulled it off!”

 

The young Countess felt guilty for her joyous outburst when she heard Darlene’s sad news. “I am sorry for your loss,” she said sincerely. Lord Oakham must have been away on business a lot if she had missed him while he was alive. It did sound as if there had been affection between them, but it might have been just on Darlene’s side. So many arranged marriages turned out badly. Perhaps eventually she would embrace being a widow. Widows had so much more freedom than wives.

 

Charles had told Lady Oakham he had business with Esteban? Sophia barely stopped herself from shooting him an inquiring look. “Oh yes, the two of them can go on and on.” It was possible that she was predicting the future. She did think that once they got to know each other, the two gentlemen would get along famously.

 

“They don’t usually include me in their conversations as I have no idea what they’re talking about.” This time, Sophia couldn’t resist pouting playfully at her secret lover. “It is quite boring to listen to them prattle on.”

 

She smiled at Darlene. “Why wait until they meet again? We can do fun things together regardless of whether they are talking business or not.”

 

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Charles and Darlene

Charles took Darlene's card with a theatrical flutter of his fingers, and vanished it up his sleeve, smiling. His sleight of hand was undeserving of the title, really, given how florid and dramatic his motions were, but he had always found it useful for impressing and entertaining those who enjoyed spectacle, and Darlene seemed one such to him.

"Perfect, my lady," he agreed easily.

(He would have been torn between amusement and offence to learn that Darlene did not deem him dangerous but, perhaps fortunately, she kept that thought to herself.)

Joined by Sophia

It was a struggle not to linger overlong when kissing Sophia's hand, and frankly Charles had no idea how he managed it. He did know, though, that it would be an even greater struggle to resist the urge to stretch innuendo to breaking point if the conversation continued as it had begun.

It was his great fortune, then, that Darlene was on hand to take the conversational vanguard. It gave him a moment to set himself, and to remember where he was. Any gratitude he might have felt though, was tempered by Darlene's translation of 'occasional dealings,' to 'quite involved.' The former suggested a casual acquaintance, the latter a much closer relationship, at least to him. That made the lie much more porous.

Can't be helped now, anyway. We shall just have to play on.

It was difficult to focus on practicalities in any case, with Sophia pouting like that.

"If my 'prattle,' bores you so, I can take my leave," he offered jokingly.

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