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EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

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The Royal Chapel

Close by to the Banqueting House exists the Royal Chapel.

Seven broad stone steps lead up to the old building; grand arched double doors are wide open. Within, great vaulted wooden ceilings capture a great volume of air above the congregation - high above heavenly depictions look lovingly upon the mahogany pews. Candles flicker in sconces, the building itself is not overly well lit - behind the altar stained glass windows filter the light in a brilliance of colours.

 

A makeshift wooden arch had been constructed, which had then been covered all over with flowers.  Under this archway England’s loyal and dutiful courtiers filed into the Chapel...

Eventually His Royal Majesty and entourage would arrive, which would be the high point for most, with the low point being the sermon/s. 

 

 

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Twice in as many days. If attendance at Church won you any favours with the Almighty then Lowther was positively racking up a fine celestial bank account at present. The credit he could perhaps use to offset future bad behavior? What a very Catholic thought! For shame!

Yesterday's attendance had turned out to be quite an interesting affair. The requirement to attend Church together with the courtiers' desire to be seen to be in attendance had made this Holy period a fine time to take stock of the Court he was now determined to ingratiate himself in. He could see who was "in", who was "out". On a more earthy level, he could see what was fashionable and popular and make mental notes to try and improve himself on that score. So many men of the Court were - to his eyes - devilishly refined, soft southerners. Surely they could all do with a dose of good, honest, Northern plain speaking and bluntness? On an equally earthy level he (forgive him, O Lord!) was able to survey the ranks of the Court's ladies. An unmarried man, in want of a wife, there was no better place than Court to find one. Equally, as a man generally and with no objection to the favours of women before marriage, the Court was a fine place to look for such as well.

Today the King was meant to be in attendance. Along with him would be the very top echelons of the Court. Surely the chapel would be rammed today - for the chance the see the King, rather than as an expression of spontaneous public piety. Lowther had therefore arrived early and taken a place in a pew as far forward as he could. As a conversational (rather than a devotional) aide, he carried a battered pocket copy of the Book of Common Prayer, bound in tattered, flaking black leather.

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The Vicountess Oakham did think herself to be awfully mature now, why look, she attended chapel by herself and was not even upset of it. 

She was wearing one of her new court dresses, the powder blue with darker blue needlework, her hair scooped up high and held with a plumped ribbon (though no less than a hundred bobby pins where also there hidden!) Around her waist was another ribbon, and another around her wrist in a bow in her signature fashion.  He smile was warm with a touch of optimism as she sashayed into the prettily decorated chapel. 

Would one of her Charles-es be here perhaps, or perhaps she'd make for herself some other and brand new suitor?  A girl could never have enough of those after all.  

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Of all the Protestant events which he had been to, this one grated on Cadell the most. That was to say, he had not been to many, solely the important, court-sanctioned ones, but it felt particularly sinful to attend a church event on Holy Saturday outside of the Queen's Chapel. Nonetheless, appearances had to be made, and more importantly, little of political value could be gained from enlisting Portsmouth into taking a carriage into the mouth of the mob, not when it had seemed that the fires of anti-Catholicism had cooled only to flash up into a blaze of anger at the French.

The King's presence, of course, would have the opposite effect. Cadell had, before his absence, began to make in-roads of the sort Chevreuse and Saint-Aignan would ideally approve of, and sought to continue to do so now. His conscience, for the moment, remained clear: the true faith had been acknowledged earlier, in private and in a manner reminiscent of the hiding-places for Catholics he had once aided in the construction of.

Besides, the confessional was made for such gray areas. The new Lord Athenry, being the God-fearing scion of the Apostolic and Catholic Church that he was, needn't have made a mental note to visit it soon.

A silk damask justacorps matched the grayness of the sin at hand, light blue and silver brocade accenting the damask's floral patterns while cooling down the scarlet of his waistcoast. A quiet click-clack heralded his arrival, and the light slate of his eyes scanned the gathered courtiers for those he recognized, either by acquiantance or reputation, though Cadell did not yet make to join any of them. It was hard enough to act in a sanctified manner when such pressing matters weighed on the young lord's mind. It was even harder when those who surrounded him could easily have known of his faith, and wonder as to his intentions.

Hopefully, the King's attendance was reason enough to be here.

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Very well, she had arrived and perhaps a bit earlier than she had hoped for. Frankly she did not look forward to what was most likely going to be a long and drawn out affair. But anyone and everyone who was part of court was expected to be pious on these sorts of occasions. Considering many of the courtiers she knew, that was quite hypocritical. And yes, she lumped herself in with those.

She was dressed in a somber grey dress (fitting her mood), thinking she might better look the part of a devout churchgoer. Clasped in one hand and held against her bosom was a Bible, it looked in remarkably pristine shape almost as if it had never been opened. That was because it seldom had and only for such public performances like this one.  Besides, if she was to have been allowed complete honesty, Caroline would have stated she was a Catholic but, given her blunt personality, she would have added 'not a very good one.' Her mother had never believed and instilled her doubts in the girl. Her father was a bit more mysterious as to his own inclinations, he basically never talked about it. One thing if attendance at Sunday services indicated devotion, he was definitely not pious.

There were many perks to being a 'merry widow' and she was quite comfortable in that role, these past few seasons at court had been highly enjoyable, even exciting at times. But one of the downsides was one often had to show up at public affairs all by oneself. So here she was standing there alone. It was a bit annoying. She scanned the audience for anyone she might approach and chat for a bit before His Majesty showed up. Speaking of hypocrites.

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George catches up with Caroline, then sees Cadell

In the Carriage: There was a wrist corsage of lillies on the seat next to the Earl. 

Meanwhile George had been fussing about with a pockerchief in that carriage - having recently seen a French fashion plate where the item was used as a male accessory.  He'd been intent to try out the style today, but on the ride over he'd grown doubts.  So now he was considering tucking it more discreetly in his belt, or even leaving the lacy thing behind.   When a movement out the window caught his eye.  It was Caroline! 

Corsage was snatched up, handkerchief was left behind, as he rushed to exit the carriage and made long strides to catch her up -- so that he arrived into the church barely two steps behind of her.

In the Church:  "My Lady Kendishall!" he greeted/called her attention, smiling and bowing, "I hoped I would find you here, might we sit together do you think?" here the Earl presented the floral gift. "And, I have this token, for you." He smiled warmly (hiding his nerves at this boldness!) all while ready to assist it over her hand. 

As his eyes aclimatised to the interior lighting he yonder saw old friend Cadell (while instantly wondering if the other had seen his offering to the young lady?)  he smiled to the other with an inviting pitch of eyebrows - that perhaps they might approach or be approached? 

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Cadell Joins George and Caroline (after a moment)

 

Cadell's eyes continued to wander about the assemblage for a few long moments, only to eventually catch sight of an old acquaintance, one he had set about contacting the night before: in the distance, there was the inimitably fashionable George. Most curiously, he was handing a young woman whom he did not recognize a corsage of lilies. Well, I say, Chichester! The man, as ever, was bold – a trait the younger viscount did not quite feel he possessed despite evidence to the contrary.

As their gazes met, the corner of his mouth perked up, turning the fixed expression of aspiring sprezzatura into an amused, though still friendly, smirk. Perhaps the gesture exchanged between George and Caroline was merely a friendly one (he had the distinct suspicion it was not, although it would be unsurprising if the Church of England was lax in its rules of decorum), but Athenry was not self-centered enough to test the waters just yet.

Instead, Cadell took a minute longer to survey the surroundings, allowing George and his companion a private moment; by the time he ceased feigning interest in the Royal Chapel's stained glass, it would nonetheless take a longer than average time for the limping lord to make his approach. Still, better to be rude than to act the obvious exile among the Pharisees...

Finally, he reached the two, tucking his Bible (the English College at Douai's translation, naturally) into the crook of his cane arm as he offered a deep bow. “We're on hallowed ground, my lord,” the viscount greeted, his Welsh lilt having been muted and somewhat morphed by his year in France. “I suppose that means our truce will hold for awhile longer, hm?” Not to leave the young lady out of the conversation with references to chess matches from what felt like an age ago, he chuckled and turned to Caroline with a respectful smile. “I beg your pardon for the intrusion, my lady, but I felt honor-bound to ensure the unfinished business-” His grey eyes darted back to George, half-twinkling at the jest. “Between this man and I did not ruin your morning on this holy day. I don't believe we've had the pleasure, however...”

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Posted (edited)

From behind came a now familiar voice, it was George. Or rather Lord Chichester as this was in public. She turned about immediately of course and offered him both a nod of acknowledgement and a sincere smile.

"Why Lord Chichester, I should rejoice then that you have found me. Of course, I would be delighted to sit with you. And what is this?" her blue eyes fixed on the flowered gift he presented her.

"How sweet," she offered her hand then so he could place it in it's proper place.

"So how did you know these are my favorites?" Caroline lied without a blink, it would not have mattered what they were, she would have said the same thing as this was all about boosting his confidence.

It was about then that another gentleman approached the pair and greeted George. Hmmm, there was a sudden mention of hopefully a truce in place? So this fellow was an enemy of George? Well then, she supposed she would then add him to her own list of foes, purely out of sense of loyalty to her husband to be. Pity, the man was quite handsome and seemingly pleasant too.

The fellow now addressed her with an apology if he was intruding with his 'unfinished business'?

"You have ruined nothing so far unless you have in mind some foolishness such as a duel or something? This is certainly the wrong day for something like that given the holiness of the occasion," she replied.

He wanted to know who she was. She could have answered and almost did but then glanced at George, so that he might have the honors of the introduction. Besides she was most curious to hear just exactly how he would present her.  If he would be open with their new relationship or if he would rather have it kept secret for awhile yet - either way she would follow his lead.

 

Edited by Caroline Despanay

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It was a very attractive smile she gave, and George felt some joy to receive it. (Their courtship this far was going very well!) “A token of my affection.” He replied to her query on the flowers, “it is but a little thing – the flowers I mean, not my affection.”

It was easy to get a little tongue tied in this new circumstance.  He was still learning.  But any concerns he’d had for her response vanished, his brow clearing as she revelled that these happened to be her favourite flowers.  George beamed, and locked that tidbit away for future use.  “May I?” nimble fingers assisted the petite bouquet’s band over her wrist.  And he smiled pleased to the finished look… though he did not linger overlong as he had seen an old friend who was (considerately!) taking his time in approaching.  

I must thank Cadell for that some time.

Cadell was a sporting sort, and arrived in spirited style. George chuckled at the jest, “Truce? Lets call it an amnesty instead, though how you might relinquish your arms of battle when the field is the intellect – I can only dread.” He chuckled again, and was smiling still as Caroline put the new arrival at his ease.

Graciousness.  This is what he here noticed in the woman he courted.

“Then may I correct that,” it was his pleasure to do the honours, “Lord Athenry, please meet my, ah, companion Caroline Despanay, the Baroness Kendishall…” he might have told Cadell that Caroline was available, a widow, but to do so would have felt gauche. As far as courting went, he was not even sure that people were supposed to announce that, would it sound braggish, would it sound too possessive?   

“And Lady Kendishall, Cadell Mortimer, newly Lord Athenry is my old rival over the checkered board - yet his great win must surely be his marriage to Lady Portsmouth. Check and mate my friend.”  Possessive or not, George stood near to Caroline, very much in the manner of a couple.  

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Standing within a group a bit off to one side of the entrance her eyes had caught and then took hold of the little Tableau being played out. Only one was known to her yet she stared at the young woman the longest taking her in from head to toe. Of how familiar her manner was as she held out her hand to receive his flowers her smile and easy countance.The another joined and she watched as he moved closer sending a clear signal to the other man. It was a declaration so subtile yet could not have been missed. Ownership.

It was perhaps what she had needed to see.

Hope was a thing she'd held tightly onto for weeks now waiting for something to happen. But nothing had. Whatever she had wanted him to do he had not. Instead he had turned round and went in another direction to seek warmth and companionship - two things that she could no longer give him - and thus she was forced to finally concede. It was over before it really had a chance to begin.

Her Fate was now sealed. Her life entwined with a man she did not like and judged by his Public face and behaviors. There only to provide an heir (which she accepted for that was her responsibility after all) but with little else between husband and wife. He was popular and much admired she assumed amongst his Libertine friends and she would be forever pitied because of it. But the rewards were great - a double Countess no less. So said Everyone.

'Frances .... Frances ....' 

A whispered voice at her side broke her thoughts.

"What are you looking at? We have all moved ahead but you are here still. Are you ill?" Concern and a warm hand to her own.

"I am well. Nothing is wrong. I had thought I saw someone I knew but it was just a trick of the light tis all."

She shook her head a bit to add credit.

"Come. Let us join the others." She turned and brought that smile she now wore everywhere back into play.

If he had, by some chance, caught her watching she would never know it for she did not look back.

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Posted (edited)

 Lord and Lady Mountjoy arrive

According to custom Ursula, as Mistress of the Queen’s Robes, would normally accompany the Queen during events such as these while Charles’ status as both a Crown and Household official was more ambiguous. He had however made arrangements for the two of them to arrive together before taking their place next to the Queen. He did not want their current differences to become common gossip within Court circles so aimed to dispel such potential rumors with an outward show of congeniality.

Things were not settled between them but their conversation last evening had resulted in an understanding of sorts wherein they recognized the importance of keeping up appearances during the Easter observances and agreed that their issues would be discussed later when they would have the time to deal with their personal concerns without the stress of Court politics complicating matters. Whether or not that discussion would be a gentle meeting of minds or a furious row remained to be seen .The carriage ride was rather quiet with both of them sticking to polite banal comments in a gallant effort to remain amenable for neither one of them wished to exacerbate the situation. It was thus that the couple arrived together disembarking from their carriage the very picture of marital and religious devotion.

Charles was attired in an apricot coloured silk frock coat with gold braid and semi-precious stones in an ivy pattern along the seams and Flemish lace about the mint green velvet cuffs that hopefully would detract from the fact that they were two inches shorter than fashionable this season The buttons were rose gold with a single small diamond sent in the center of a stylized Tudor rose. His breeches were of mint green watered silk as was his waistcoat which was adorned with a more gold lace down the front. His cravat of ivory Alencon lace was held in place with a pin of gold set with a square cut emerald and his periwig was of auburn curls giving off the faint smell of frankincense. In the carriage he had been fussing with a newly obtained pockerchief which he had seen worn by a French Ambassador. It was a bit frilly and not common fashion in England but if he puffed out his chest and kept his arms behind his back it might detract persons from scrutinizing his cuffs so he decided to throw caution to the winds and wear the new French fashion, yet he was careful to do so meekly as Jesus would have done on such a holy day.   

Ursula chose a gown of silver grey tussar silk with pleated sleeves and a full ruffled skirt with a darker bodice of jacquard silk in a floral pattern adorned with pearls and a chemise of white Chelsea lace that modestly covered her lower arms and full Décolletage as befitting the tone of the occasion. The gown was accented by sapphire blue velvet ribbons edged in gold. Her hair was done up in English ringlets and for church she wore a small bongrace in cloth of silver set with seed pearls which she paired with sapphire and pearl earrings and a necklace consisting of a trio of teardrop sapphires.

They entered through the flower entwined arch arm in arm and slowly made their way towards the front nodding and smiling at various acquaintances. Lady Oakham (Darlene Hamilton) looked particularly youthful as Charles nodded in her direction inwardly thankful for her support with his efforts to reconcile with his wife. Staking claim to a position that would be behind the Queen they spoke softly to each other for a few moments before Ursula was waylaid by some aspect of protocol Charles drifted off without realizing that he was still carrying Ursula’s prayer book in a white silk purse. It was too late however to return the burse directly so he mentally made a note to return as soon as the Queen arrived and present the book too her. In the meantime he fluffed up his lace and pockerchief and hoped the purse would not make him look girly.

Casting about he spied George and thought to approach him but George quickly a woman and was as quickly joined by another man. The dynamic of the trio clearly claimed a subtext that Charles was not privy to but by the time he deciphered d it he was too close to be able to diplomatically veer off so with a flourish of lace and the whiff of frankincense he barged in.

 

Approaching Chichester. Despanay and Mortimer

 

“My dear Chichester, I ventured to seek you out in order to enjoy your company but see I have been anticipated by these charming persons.” He smiled and made a convivial gesture to Caroline and Cadell. “I pray your forgiveness Mademoiselle for my intent was to stalk old Chichester here and not propel myself upon you so."

Edited by Charles Blount

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Posted (edited)

And Then There Were Four

 

Companion, hm? If intellect was indeed Athenry's weapon of choice -of course, there was little in the way of other options for a man marked by a permanent limp- then the Welshman would have been amiss to not consider himself a student of body language. From Dutlas Manor to Versailles, observing first and speaking second had been the outsider's premier tool.

George's gestures, then, provided more context than words could have whilst still remaining politic, the way the man positioned himself next to Lady Kendishall speaking volumes. “No, my lord,” Cadell replied in good humor, shaking his head once. The Jesuits described themselves as soldiers of the mind and soul, and he could still appreciate their way of doing things, even if le Roi didn't favor them. One wondesr why... “I fear that I'd be without a defense entirely should I relinquish that particular set of arms. But I can assure you that I would find it most un-Christian to take them up against a friend while here.”

That was likely the most sacrilegious Athenry could get with a jest; he had known enough libertines to become accepting, even comfortable, with their habits, but firmly outside the camp of those so comfortable with sin. Self-consciously, he primped his cravat, white silk on Tourainian gray.

Caroline and George were both gracious as regarded his joining them, and he provided the widowed baroness with a respectful bow and courtier's smile. She was young, not unfair to look upon, and courteous – a good match for Chichester, if that was the way of things. “Enchanté, Lady Kendishall.” His flawless French being a particular point of pride, he could not help but lapse into it on occasion, particularly after a year of speaking mostly that. “The good earl has the right of it; while he inflates my pride with a far too charitable estimation of my talents, it's certainly true that a man's greatest victory is the woman who accompanies him.”

His eyes darted from Caroline's face to the corsage, to George and then back again, searching for a reaction. This was delayed, however, by the arrival of a fourth, a well-dressed man (he made particular note of the pockerchief, a familiar affectation in France, but one that was just beginning to seem acceptable in London – Cadell resolved to acquire some immediately) with the bearing of a practiced courtier joined them. Something was familiar about this one; it seemed certain that they'd never met, but there were only so many who attended court with any regularity. From the House of Lords, perhaps? If that was so, he would likewise need to pledge himself to making the man's acquaintance. If they don't exclude us Papists from that, too.

“I do hope the lady's in a forgiving mood today,” he offered by way of greeting, bowing once more. “Or else Lord Chichester's popularity might make us both seem the interloper, my lord.”

 

Edited by Cadell Mortimer

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Now that she realized this so called rivalry was merely about silly chess, Caroline's defenses came down instantly. She was relieved not to have to take up any possible battles involving George (though perfectly willing to if needed) so quickly into their new relationship. Besides, this fellow was quite handsome and well spoken, she already decided she liked him. Though she did not think he was one of the libertines in court, he had never been at those sorts of parties that she knew of. However maybe she had been too drunk to remember him?

After George's fine introduction, the man replied in French. Rather bold given the current political situation going on between the two powers but she only smiled and replied, "Merci. Mon pere est francais."

Not that he probably cared but she had said it anyhow.

"I had not heard that before but I like it. I shall have to remember that, Lord Athenry," the young woman stole a quick glance at George as she spoke.

Just then another man, also decked out in sartorial splendor, approached the trio for the purpose of seeking out George it seemed. My, he was a popular fellow, she had not realized. Interesting.

"Oh, it is quite alright, Lord Chichester obviously has many friends and who am I to stand in the way of him enjoying them."

Again she decided she would let George do the honors of a formal introduction, though she had seen this gentleman at court many times previously.

 

 


 

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George was distracted, having discovered a very keen hope in his heart that Cadell and his lady friend would strike up a rapport, that hope was so acute as to be a tad debilitating, so that George became very readable before them (ie he lost his courtiers mask)   But if his ears did not deceive him, they were both well received, Cadel even mirroring his own praise upon Caroline "Oh I certainly agree!" he grinned as well as chuckled!  "Though my race has not been won on that regard quite yet."

Which all but explained that their courtship was not yet a done deed (and the Earls enthusiasm for it.)  

Yes it was going splendidly, and George felt a growing confidence towards his prospective match...

Was it the bright air that surrounded the well met trio that perhaps attracted the Solicitor General to approach. Turning to see who neared, George's smile faltered (for a moment there was a frown of dismay!) before he brought amicable greeting back upon his face. 

Mountjoy was a veritable united nations of fashion; Flemish clashed against Alencon lace, Tudor roses on buttons, an Irish green on breeches, while that shade of apricot was fresh from the groves of south of Italy. Never to mention the Scottish auburn of wig, and then... good god that was a Middle-eastern fragrance the man was wearing?! But that was not the worst of it. The worst was that Mountjoy flapped around the fashionable kerchief that George himself had conflicted about!

"What a sight it is to see you again my Lord Marquis." George voice was a tad strangled.  What had happened to Blount during his absence, he'd always seemed so very well put together, but now, well, he was a complete mess!  This could not be Monsieur Dalliards doing (thought George charitably, even while a supporter of Maisonere's fashion house).  "Do please join our league," said welcomingly none the less, after all Charles had welcomed George in when he'd been a polcital pariah.

"Have you met Lord Athenry, freshly expunged," he gave Cadel a wink, "from honeymooning in France, "and Lady Kendishall who's affections for those parts are possibly rivalled only by your own - ah - eager embrace of parisian culture and fashion."  George motioned to the kerchief that have briefly stilled within Mounjoys fingertips.   "Friends, here I present the world renown Lord Mountjoy, a man of many parts." 

 

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Posted (edited)

Darlene & Frances

The dreadful trouble with being absent for a time, was that all her old friends were now off making new lives for themselves, leaving Darlene at something of a socially loose end.  She noticed over there, a cluster forming with eager and happy chatter amongst themselves. Even her admirer CB joined that group, though he gave a nod in her direction prior, and Darlene understood the reasons he could not court her right her in public.

Giving a sigh Darlene's spirits faltered.  It was as she pulled her eyes away she noticed another lady who seemed to be touched similarly, albeit breifly, melancholy -  Though that others companion then approached and might have pulled Frances back into her group. 

It was not even an opening really, but closest to one that this Viscountess had yet spotted - not wanting to be lonely the whole of the day she felt compelled to seize upon it.  "May I join you too?" 

Edited by Darlene Hamilton

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Beverleys

 

Beverley arrived for the required Saturday shows of faith with his lady wife. His face looked appropriately serious for the venue, but in truth he was simply not looking forward to another day of blasphemy. Were it not for the importance of being seen, he might have feigned illness. Days of prayers were enough to stomach, but days of the wrong prayers were even more boring. 

 

When Lady Beverley went off to speak with her friends until things were closer to underway, Beverley was left to look for some of his own friends. He sighted the large group around Lord Chichester and would have joined it save for the size of conversation likely being a strain on his skills. This early in the morning, he would prefer to put off looking too foolish! 

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Darlene and Frances

She had made the start to return to her group but then a voice calling out gave her pause so she stopped which meant her friend did as well. A quick whispered exchange of words and the other nodded her eyes resting on the Viscountess as she listened then with a nod continued on.

That she would have much to say once she re-joined the others might be all to clear as she looked back not once but thrice until she reached them whereupon some conversations were started amongst much speculations.

Frances of course knew how things worked but she would not give any satisfaction in that direction and instead turned to offer a pretty small dip to the other woman.

"Viscountess." Her smile on display. "You have come unattended then?" She asked then added "If that is so then naturally. We are a small grouping and tis possible that the Duke and Duchess may well arrive .... but there is room enough I should think."

Lady Oakham would suruly know that the 'Duke and Duchess' were Frances' parents.

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Darlene, Frances & Co.

Was it any comfort to already be known to the other? Not really (in her past circumstances) though at least Darlene did not need to introduce herself. (Her reputation no doubt had done that already!)  But still, Darlene had rolled the dice by returning to London, and she could hardly shy away from these potentially awkward situations. Likely Frances said yes upon account of curiosity if nothing else, but good friendships had begun out of odder things in the past.  Who knew, this might be one of such?

"Yes unattended." Darlene gave a small smile and shrug, "Widowhood is not without considerable disadvantages, needing to make the most of ones own company being one of them. I would very much enjoy to better make your acquaintance, Lady Frances."  Darlene fell into step and moved to the Cavendish lady's small grouping, there to offer a small smile - crossing proverbial fingers that the others eyes were not as baffled by that as inquiring.

"Good morning Ladies." said she, her heartbeat having quicklened as she stepped into this stage of unknown drama.    

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Posted (edited)

Beverley, approached by Mlle. Vauqueline

 

Nicolette for one had never thought Beverly to appear foolish, but rather she'd crushed on him for some good long while now. He had those brown puppy dog eyes, and that open and also nervous sort of earnest disposition that tugged at a ladies heart.  She'd tried to kiss him of course, but that had not been so easy, for he was also one of the most extremely proper fellows in all of court (especially within his age group) 

"Cousin..." her voice, full of rich French resonance purred as she approached from beyond his left shoulder, her eyes flaring appreciatively as she commented, "what a fortune that I find you unattended."  

Air kisses were attempted, if not actually given. (A girl needed to keep trying!) "... and congratulations, I have heard that your happiness is to be made complete within but a few more months now." 

The French belle was wearing a rather glorious costume in pale blue with gauzy layers of silver net over the skirts, upon which were needlework a great collection of ships, fishes and even mythical sea creatures; to complete her look she wore a little trident by way of hair comb. 

Edited by Nicolette Vauquelin

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Darlene, Frances & Co

They were but a foursome counting Frances herself - all daughters of Peers but she was the ranking as being a Dukes daughter - and none held a Household Position as of yet. Well schooled in Court Politics each knew facts and stories that supplemented the other so taken as a whole were extremely well informed. Now having amongst them such an individual as this Lady was known to be was indeed a Prize. And in their eyes upt their own sense of self-importance as it would be seen and they would all be sought out and questioned endlessly with no care as to the correctness of it all.

Yet a picture of correct behavior could not be faulted as they dipped curtsies amongst the chirping of "Good Morrow Lady Oakham's" with eyes filled with curiosity. They had filed single file into the pew which allowed for Frances to then sit with the Viscountess on the aisle. The opposite side was unblocked for addition arrivals.

Frances would remain standing until Lady Oakham had seated herself as was correct for she did outrank her as a married women albit now a widow to her own unmarried state.

"Forgive me. I was thoughtless in that question. It was not nice at all. It is not a topic any of us think much upon."

She was refering to Lady Oakham being a widow.

"I shall admit I am curious as to why you would have sought me out."

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Darlene, Frances & Co

"It is less so now that you have said that." Darlene's eyes relayed mirth at the others frankness. Yes it had been mean, but girls in a force like them were very often that way.  Darlene had not expected an easy time. "And I hope you never shall need to think about that overly, you are upon the autumn of maidenly carefree I hear. Marriage is a difficult enough adjustment to make, without it being cut prematurely short as mine was." 

But she did not want to talk about Thomas, doing so only made her sad. They had had such high hopes, and while it had gone horribly wrong, she had loved him still. And now he was gone. 

"Oh well." Frances then put the ball into Darlene's court, and the Vicountess bent forward to include the others with her smile, "Well it is probably obvious really, I seek delightful company such as one can find in unrepressed youth. I may be a widow, but I refuse to cluster with courts old matrons. Fun and lightness is what I truly seek. Shall you like to play a game with me, there is so many to be had, even for the most discreet of sorts who might appear as hush as a church mouse.”

Darlene actually had no idea at that moment what sort of very quiet game might be played during a church service - but if such a thing could possibly exist, she’d be the one to invent it.

 

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Francis arrives with his Mumsy

 

Francis had not been able to sleep much the night before, if he had even done more than lay in bed for three hours, and he had been very drunk when he had arrived home too. He had then left early to collect his lady mother from Kingston, which was truthfully only a few miles outside London. He had not particularly offered a reasoning for his early arrival, for they had not made arrangements to arrive together prior, and though she must have suspected that there was something there other than his typical doting, she did not say anything on the ride to the Palace.

 

Though he was quite an attentive son, mothers always knew when something was suspect, but for that moment he had escaped any interrogation. He was trying not to let on that he had something he wished to speak with her about after all the praying.

 

When they arrived in the morning light, there were bags under his eyes which was quite odd for his youthful face, but he knew the importance of putting on a good show. Buckingham had many times, in a far more verbose manner, informed him that if it walked like a duck and quacked like a duck, it was a duck. Apparently, what held true for relations of ducks, also worked for relations of dukes. 

 

His justacorps that day was a decorative brocade of that deep purple-red of the edges of a fresh-plucked rose. His breeches and waistcoat were a warm golden flax. He felt considerably more noticeable than he wished to be but that was part of all of this too. With a tiny shake of his golden curls to confine them behind his shoulders, he asked his mother, "Is there anyone you would wish to speak to?" Then again, perhaps there was someone who wished to talk to them!

 

If he pretended all was quite normal, perhaps it would be. For now.

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Darlene Frances & Co

There was some moments of silence as the request was digested and Frances hid a smile as she rightly guessed that the other three were unsure how to take it. That one was speaking of GAMES in Church was in of itself an oddity and coupled with Lady Oakham's reputation might well cause some caustic response.

"Not all of Courts Matrons are thus - some are quite well versed - you wowuld be surprised I think."

Frances stepped in to ward off any unpleasantness.

"Why have we not all found this to be so?" She half turned to look at the others' her gaze holding a clear warning to not make troubles. Smiles and nods but a pout or two was clearly seen as well.

'sometimes Frances you are no fun at all' 

 She knew the voice but turmed back to Lady Oakham adding

"You must not take anything to heart Lady Oakham. And your Company is most welcom'd." She smiled to add warmth to her words.

"As for Games, well, I can not think of how that might be accomplished - and to be honest not a thing to be tried either. This is not time nor place no matter how innocent the intent and I should not like for you to be thought of badly."

This was whispered so that only Darlene would hear.

"That which you seek needs must be found ourside these wall. Why do you not come to the Presence - there is much to be found there."

Thinking that she sounded to bold she hastened to amend by adding

"Please do no think I scold or am shying away. I am oft times called a 'peacemaker' and now you have evidence of it."

She looked down at her hands resting in her lap then back up to meet the others gaze directly. 

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Darlene Frances & Co

 

Well that revealed one thing; Darlene instantly knew that those other girls would grow up to become the most boring matrons at court ever!  But there was still some hope for Frances…

Tipping her nose Darlene sighed at the instruction – and would not be the first in history to automatically baulk against it.  “Well we are about to spend the next four or more hours sitting, I for one cannot think of a more perfect nor, in fact, necessary time for some amusement to assist the passage of time...” Darlene’s mind here raced, searching for a game idea that was so churchly apt so as to make the other three seem like heathens to rail against it. “Why I speak of the game of guessing at the names of biblical women that might feature in todays sermon. We can be sure of Mary Magdalen of course, so she cannot count.  Oh but wouldn’t it be a surprise if, say Ruth, was to some how feature!”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it - bitches.  Yes Darlene dared to feel a little smug, raising her eyebrow at Frances who might even share in the joy of putting her more stuffy friends in their place!

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Darlene Frances & Co

Three pairs of eyes assessed as explanations were offered but little favor was to be found with it.

"I do no think such a 'Game' even if tis biblical would be well received." Said one.

"And even if it were how would I explain to my Father that I was spending time here in amusements rather than in Prayer?" Added a second.

"Well it might be interesting  ..." Added the third. "But I too do not want risk a lecture."

"Lady Oakham is quite clever in finding something so quickly so must be admired." Frances spoke up quietly for there were many eyes and ears in close range. "Yet there is also something to be said for the objections of you three as well."

It was hard to make both sides feel vindicated and Frances was getting very tired of it.

Rasied to act and behave in a certain manner she had cultivated the air of submission to satisfy her Family and thus was allowed some Freedoms. She was determined to now ride herself of that appearance and stand on her own.

"Might we two sit and converse instead?" She asked. "Tis best to now ignore them. To continue will only provoke and I for one have no desire to be a part of it. Tis bad enough that it follows me everywhere when we are all together and my temper is heating up."

This was, for her, a very unnatural thing - the expressioning of her feelings straight out.

"What will you do here at Court? Have you any Family about you? You must be very popular! I can see that you are a person of excitement."

Frances changed the tempo as it was best. Lady Oakham was an unknown yet Frances could not help but think she was so different from herself.

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Darlene Frances & Co

This was a tough audience, by their replies Darlene could see that their preconceived opinons of her were not to be shifted.  The Viscountess’s  smile faltered at that, she was no where near the robust creature she wished to be, and really, all of court knew that. 

“Oh… very well then.” Her eyes did not meet those others eyes, as she resisted the urge to turn and flee.   

Perhaps Francis sensed the wounds given, for she took up the role of humanitarian, one who might give shelter or a drink on a overhot day.  Darlene felt like leaving still, but accepted the offer with a nod of head…

Moving to a place to sit, she bunched a cheek at Frances flattery that ‘you must be popular’. “I was once.” That was so long ago now.  “Goodness, I fell older than any matron to remember it, when I arrived at court back in 75, and all my friends… yes there were many then.” 

Shaking her head, Darlene tried not to let those other girls disapproval get to her. “Its not really that I am a lady of excitement, only that I try to be.  I get bored so very easily you see, it’s most usually my undoing. Probably your friends are right not to want to play the counting game, though truly I thought it completely harmless.”

“No, I have no family in London.” Francis questions showed what sort of world she lived within, which Darlene could understand even if her own was no longer like that. “My brother writes to me often.” She thought to add, “really I write to all my brothers, and my sister too, regularly.”

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Darlene Frances & Co

Frances was all to familiar with situations like this. Court was filled with those all of like mind uncaring of the feelings of others' determined that only they were of importance. She herself was guily of it to some degree but she would never cause intentional hurts - or so she like to think.

She settled herself alongside Lady Oakham in a half turn which was deliberate and signaled very clearly that she was not at all amused by her friend's actions. It would also ensure that conversations were ment for the two of them alone thus Frances was depriving them of any change to gain further content in which to gossip about and re-tell later. 

"Do not give them such importance Lady Oakham. They are intent on making mischief you see but it is only because of where we sit now and the Company around the objections were said."

"We are in between rows as you can see and so observed even without being heard. Fault will be found regardless and even I will be quizzed by the Duchess later - she will hear of it even if she does not attend by those Matrons who seek to tattle-tale and wait with baited breath for reactions."

She did not add that it was because of the reputation - real or imagined - that followed the Viscountess the compnay that she kept or those that allowed her in would be judged.

"This is how WE all live."

"I think you are far too hard on yourself Madam." Frances quiety said. "When one has been absent those left behind naturally move ahead and thus change in all manner of ways."

"Every time I come up to London from being in the country I find this to be so. My absence was filled and new alliances formed and oft times there is no place for me as it was and so I needs must take a different approach."

"And now I am to marry and shall no longer have things in common with my unwed friends and so the cycle repeats. Tis a tiresome thing indeed. But if it is not done then I am doomed to a life filled with solitude."

"And have they no wish to come to London then? Your brother and sister?"

She was ratteling on but she simply felt that Lady Oakham had had her feelings hurt and needed to be reassured. If Lady Oakham took offennse then she would apologize.  

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James Meets the Kirkes, Accidentally

 

James O'Neill was back in London, and at a court event where he could follow his lord father's wishes, no less. His mind had been buzzing like a bee-hive with a half-hundred different thoughts, his green eyes rimmed with dark circles, but his heart beat steady in knowing that everything was in its right place once more.

Except for his Bible, and by that token, the book that he carried in his left hand instead.

It wasn't out of any lack of piety, truly: despite Iveagh's insistence that he carry Catholicism in his heart and the Church of Ireland on his lips, James found comfort (and more than a little literary approval) in the redemption of all men by the Son of God, and surely a world full of wonder, of beauty, of inspiration required the hand of a higher power. Even the fire-and-brimstone of the Old Testament made a certain sort of sense, none but an artist of his peculiar temperament, the Irish poet felt, could truly understand how the maker of such marvels could strike his creations down with such wrath.

No, his skepticism in the words of the clergy aside, James would have never intended to show disrespect in a holy place – not without significant reason and intoxication, of course. The truth was more benign; in his hurry to secure lodgings at St. Mark's, find an outfit appropriate enough to impress upon his Irish masters his ostensible eagerness to serve, and stash away a few copies of a manuscript away from the prying eyes of his father's footman, he had taken the book currently being used to provide historical weight to what would be his first opus in the place of King James' Bible.

Nemeta, nemeta...” the poet could be heard muttering in Ulster brogue, mulling over synonyms for the ancient groves of the druids. A keen observer would note that, though his outfit -a navy justacorps, accented with Butler yellow to match the lighter blue of his waist coat- was fine enough, his cravat was tied rather slapdash, and he tugged at it idly as he weaved through the crowd. Many of the faces seemed familiar - Mademoiselle Vaquelin, whom he had once dubbed a nymph during a bizarre stroll with His Majesty's, was with Brooke's son, and elsewhere he could spy Lady Kendishall, from a party of Melville's long ago. “Mona...now that is a reference more obtuse than the Wel-”

James made a stutter step as his private reverie of mumblings were cut short, realizing he was approximately two paces from quite-literally running into another familiar face, Kingston, reeling back slightly and brandishing his book, startled. It was Tacitus' De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, far from a holy book. “-a thousand pardons my lord, and ah,” he shot a glance to the older woman, who seemed to have some of Francis' look about her. The words came pouring out of him, unbidden and unconsidered. “My lady. Truly. I'd been deep in thought, you see, about Anglesey, and, ah...I just-”

Sheepishly, James smiled, revealing a solitary dimple, and bowed deeply, suddenly remembering his manners and where he was. “-I beg the pardon of you both, most deeply."

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On 7/6/2020 at 1:06 AM, Nicolette Vauquelin said:

Beverley, approached by Mlle. Vauqueline

 

Nicolette for one had never thought Beverly to appear foolish, but rather she'd crushed on him for some good long while now. He had those brown puppy dog eyes, and that open and also nervous sort of earnest disposition that tugged at a ladies heart.  She'd tried to kiss him of course, but that had not been so easy, for he was also one of the most extremely proper fellows in all of court (especially within his age group) 

"Cousin..." her voice, full of rich French resonance purred as she approached from beyond his left shoulder, her eyes flaring appreciatively as she commented, "what a fortune that I find you unattended."  

Air kisses were attempted, if not actually given. (A girl needed to keep trying!) "... and congratulations, I have heard that your happiness is to be made complete within but a few more months now." 

The French belle was wearing a rather glorious costume in pale blue with gauzy layers of silver net over the skirts, upon which were needlework a great collection of ships, fishes and even mythical sea creatures; to complete her look she wore a little trident by way of hair comb. 

Beverley had not seen Nicci's approach, so there was some startle on his face as she appeared and greeted him. Though it did not seem common knowledge, Beverley and Basildon had wives who (so far as most knew) were sisters, so the French mademoiselle was his cousin by marriage. 

 

"Oh, yes, erm, good day, Cousin," he replied, allowing the air kisses for surely some familiarity was expected among those who shared relations. "You are looking very well."

 

For a brief moment, a little furrow crossed his brow, not immediately understanding her comment about his happiness, but then it slowly dawned on his face and he beamed. 

 

"Indeed, my lady wife shall shortly bring a little Lord Ulcombe into the world, if the Good Lord desires to place his blessings upon us," he replied. 

 

He wondered if it was uncouth to ask how things fared with His Majesty, for there was certainly some knowledge about that His Majesty enjoyed her company, even if she was not a publicly proclaimed mistress - at least not yet, with the Queen pregnant and so much relying on it. In the end, Beverley did not risk it, but Nicci could likely tell he had been thinking about something. Something which then went unsaid, so she might guess, especially when a silly little smile accompanied his lack of words.

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Nicolette & Beverly

Nicolette smiled more fully at his surprise - he was an adorable fellow for just how often life seemed to catch him off guard!  Though she was not so silly to mistake that for a foolishness: he was prodigee of Cumberland and had married terribly well. That sort of thing does not happen by a (surprising) accident.  "Well then looks are not deceiving," she crooned as they exchanged air kisses.  

"Lord Ulcombe shall it be?" it was the first time she had heard that title, "a word sounds so like your English 'welcome', it cannot hardly be a coincidence I think!" 

"Tell me have your tried divine if it is girl or by, by the old wives tests I mean - like how a ring swings?" Nicolette quizzed, while she noticed a rather silly look on Beverley's face (indicating that was something else going on his mind than this).  Though even if he had asked that question, she'd have avoided any reply, not that she even guessed at it.  For by it all she discovered was her rather usual response when before him; that of an urge to kiss him quite properly!  

Showing exquisitely french flirtatiousness she instead said, "You shall be a fine father, of either, I would guess.  I cannot imagine a nicer spot to sit than on your knee." 

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