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EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

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Davina and Sophia

"I shall dissuade you from drawing as the Bishop speaks - to do so might well make it appear as in doing THAT was of more import than listening. And that you think more of your pastime. And it would not sit well with the rest of the Congreation either."

"This is Church after all." She admonished in a quiter tone. She did not want any to overhear if possible.

"As it is EVERYONE will be wondering why the Spanish Ambassador's Lady attends here - it is assumed that you converted prior to your marriage you know."

She very much wanted to add 'and how you can not think of these things yourself after all this time and just remain as you used to be amazes me'

She smiled then raising her voice a bit as she added 

"We are all waiting Lady Toledo and every prayer here I suspect shall be for a Safe deliverance and a Prince."

"Lady Winchilsea is indeed a friend and she was feeling out of sorts so I kept her company for a while. She will, I hope, return to London soon."

"Baintrees bride is called Catherine - she is the daughter of Jane the present Duchess of Norfolk so half sibling to those from the late Duchess. We are also cousins in a way I suppose but there is no cause for any impediment unfortunately."

 "I do not know much beyond what I have already seen and I think he will find himself much absent from his house."

She gave a small shrug.

"Will I like having a sister-in-law? Well I have promised to not cause problems and so I shall not. I will remove myself from the house on Piccadilly and stay at Whitehall - Sister Catherine must adapt and learn to run his house but then she has been well trained I am sure!"

"So you have lost your fear of water then?"

"I should like to travel upon a large vessel out into the blue sea going to so far off place. But tis doubtful that will ever happen."

Her eyes followed the movement and for a moment she wondered at it then as Sophia clarifed she leaned closer to whisper in case this was still unpublished news

"OH! How wonderful! How are you feeling? I must say you do not look the least ill!"

She was very sincere in her congratulations and of its own accord her hand grasped that of Sophia's with a quick press.

"When is the child due?"

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 Catherine Sedley approaching Charles

 

“You’ll never find me if you keep looking that way.”

 

Catherine appeared from behind Charles, smiling playfully. Her blue-violet gown was loose over her swollen belly, accentuating her pregnancy rather than concealing it. She was quite proud to be carrying his child, and didn’t care about the whispers that often followed her, claiming she was brazen for staying at court while unmarried and pregnant. Weren’t all libertines brazen by default?

 

“I could have let you pine for me during the service, but I don’t want the Bishop to be angry with you because your eyes are on me instead of on him.”

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John and Susan

 

“Very true, but that one’s been around a long time. People believe it."  Susan grinned. "Don’t be surprised if some courtiers are wary of you at first, thinking you want to have them for dinner … literally.”

 

It appeared that she had brought up a sore point, given Lord Silverbridge’s reaction. Did the Englishmen who traveled to the colonies treat the colonists like servants? She supposed that some would think they were inferior because of the place they called home. Having met more than her fair share of arrogant snobs, this notion did not surprise her. She thought it fitting that the colonists sent them packing.

 

The young blonde decided to say nothing more on the subject. “There is nothing to forgive, my lord,” she replied with a reassuring smile. His story was typical. Many gentlemen came to court after taking over their father’s title. Perhaps it was something of a rite of passage, to introduce oneself to court. Some looked for wives. Others wanted to make connections so they could rise even higher in status. Lord Silverbridge was quite down to earth. He sounded pleased with what he had already received.

 

“Congratulations,” she said sincerely. Susan frowned when he mentioned the Earl of Huntington. “The Earl and his family have not been to court in years, since long before my debut. I’m afraid you will have no luck running into him in London. I know nothing about him but his name.”

 

Lord Silverbridge then mentioned his ill sister. “I hope she feels better soon. I have heard that long sea voyages can be rough on one’s constitution.”

 

He must have seen her gaze roaming around the chapel, as he asked who she was looking for. Susan was glad that she rarely blushed or her cheeks would be flushed crimson. She had been foolish to think that Lord Chichester was intrigued by her. Maybe he had just been leading her on. Or what she had thought was interest was just friendliness. She would go to his exhibition and bring her poem, if for not reason than she always kept her word.

 

It wasn’t only him she had been looking for, so she didn’t have to lie when she answered. “My family,” she said. “I am to sit with them today instead of with the Queen's ladies like I usually do. I am one of Her Majesty’s maids of honor.” Her eyes scanned the congregation again.  “I should probably go and find them now. Maybe some other lady will fall into your lap today."

 

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Charles and Juliana

 

As soon as Charles and his stepmother were seated, Juliana sauntered up to them and slid into the pew. “Pardon me, my lord, but is this seat taken?” Although her tone of voice was polite, her blue eyes danced with mischief.

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Davina and Sophia

 

Sophia was accustomed to Mistress Wellsley’s reprimands and they did not raise her ire as they were given in good faith. She frowned slightly. “Some people listen better when doing something with their hands. I am one of them. If I have to sit completely still, my mind wanders. So drawing is the best way for me to concentrate on the sermon. The good Lord made me this way, so I do not think he minds.”

 

A soft sigh. “I am aware that there are eyes upon me always, simply because I am the wife of the Spanish Ambassador. People are going to talk about me no matter what I do. Giving them something harmless to spread around court is better than leaving them to their own malicious devices. I would rather them be scandalized because I draw in church than for them make up rumors that have the potential to tarnish my lord husband’s reputation.”

 

So she was not likely to run into Lady Winchilsea anytime soon. “I’m sorry to hear that she is feeling poorly. If you correspond with her, please tell her that I think of her often and wish her well.” Maybe I will write her a letter myself.

 

It did not sound as if Davina approved of her future sister-in-law. All Sophia knew of her was what she had heard: that Catherine had been born while her mother was the Duke of Norfolk’s mistress and that she was said to be very pious. What she wasn’t sure of was whether she was still considered illegitimate even though her parents were now married. If she was, the young Countess could well understand why Davina didn’t like her and why she didn’t want to live under the same roof. Maybe her brother’s future wife was also a shrew if Davina suspected that her brother would not spend much time at home. Perhaps she was just ugly.

 

Sophia shook her head. “I am still uncomfortable around water, but it is becoming easier each time I travel by ship. Last week, I went on a boat ride with the Duchess of Monmouth and her cousin Mistress Dundas. It was scary at first, but eventually I was able to enjoy myself. I think I may be on my way to overcoming my fear.”

 

Her friend was probably right that she would never get to travel.  The blonde Countess felt sorry for Englishwomen.  They very rarely left their homeland. "Who knows?  Maybe you will marry a gentleman who wants to show you the world."  It was not impossible that such a thing might happen, particularly if she married a foreigner.

 

Davina seemed pleased by her news, and she took Sophia’s hand and squeezed it. The petite blonde beamed. “I feel better than I ever have. I occasionally feel nauseous, especially in the mornings and afternoons, but today I do not feel sick at all. The baby is due in early October, I think. It seems like such a long way off. I cannot wait to hold my child in my arms.”

 

Sophia leaned forward and lowered her voice “There is a matter I would like to discuss with you, Mistress Wellsley. I have a decision to make and I would appreciate your advice. Here is not the place for it but would you be willing to meet with me sometime next week?”

 

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On 9/3/2020 at 10:58 AM, Anne-Elisabeth Devereux said:

Anne-Elisabeth and Ernle

 

Anne-Elisabeth had feared that her intrusion might be unwelcome, but he greeted her warmly and with a complement. “Why thank you, Captain. Your presence is equally enlivening.”

 

She grinned at his assessment of the services. “About as much as you do. I will be glad when these observances are over. I sat so long yesterday that my legs are still numb. When we are dismissed this afternoon, I’m afraid they might buckle underneath me.”

 

"Well, we cannot have you falling into things again," Ernle teased. "You might develop a reputation for being clumsy."

 

He gave a half-hearted look to see where his family was seated. It was important to have a presence at such public events. It seemed a very silly thing to concern over when one had been in sea battles. 

 

"Perhaps you should make certain to sit between two handsome gentlemen so that when you rise, you can have your pick of sides on which to fall?" he raised a brow and grinned.

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The Chathams, joined by Juliana

Charles did not have long to wait. No sooner had they settled themselves in the pew than Juliana appeared, sliding in next to them.

"By all means, my lady," he said graciously, keeping the smile from his voice and face, though impish delight danced in his eye to match hers. The cloak she wore was interesting, for he knew she had no need of it. He swallowed another grin. He had a shrewd idea what her game was, but he was content to let her set the pace for now.

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Davina and Sophia

"I think that might apply to a bible or song book rather than pen and paper!" she whispered. "But then I too have been guilty of being distracted - a stray thread on a ribbon is MOST annoying."

"Very well - I shall say no more on this topic Madam - do as you will."

Davina smiled to indicate her words were not another 'lecture' but she still holds the thought that Lady Toledo is still being difficult but it is for her husband to discipline.

"I shall indeed pass on your good wishes, if I see her."

"I did not see how you could have lost that fear so quickly and yet you went again. Brave indeed. But then you may have had little say. With Monmouth you say? How did you make that connection?"

There seemed to be no end to what this Lady was getting up to!

"Why that is but six months." Her eyes searched but saw little to indicate that a child was growing. "I am glad that you are not suffering. So many do. So I have heard." 

But then things took a serious note and Davina leaned in a bit closer the better to listen.

"And now you cause me some measure of curiosity and as it sounds not a topic for light discussion then I shall of course agree."

"Say when and where and I shall. But Thursday I am not free."

"But will you tell me this much - you are in no danger?"

Her gaze held that of the other.

Sophia could not miss the sincerity and the need for an answer back.

Edited by Davina Wellsley

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John and Susan

"And I just might - but I fear they would be too tough to digest" Came his quick reply.

He was delighted so far that this chance encounter was proving a good one! Lady Susan was well able to stand on her own and as he appreciated a fine wit she was one he would try to see more of.

He offered her another small bow at her gracious reply but then he grew serious as she spoke of Huntington.

"In truth? Why I had thought that at least some member of the Hasting's family would be here .... this is a disappointment but I am confident that I can search out anyone that might have more information."

His brow furrowed and he glanced past her lost in his thoughts but then was quick to cover.

"She was with me yesterday for Service but then this morn sent her maid to say she would lie abed. We are both strangers here yet I thank you for your thoughts and shall pass them to her."

"The voyage was indeed long - seven weeks by duration - and we arrived a week late thanks to a storm at sea. We have only been here a week."

"Verity surprised me and was faster to recover then I had anticipated so why she has taken ill now I do not understand."

He had no illusions about the female body but its actual 'workings' he had no clue of as did most of his sex.

He gave a low whistle at her announcement then a slow smile that was quick to reach his eyes

"The Queen? Well I am indeed in exalted Company and I fear my greeting was far too lax. Next time I shall do better!"

"Ah I fear Lady Susan that you are the only Angle for me - I have been spoiled for any other."

He teased yet there was a serious undertone as well. 

"My I escort you  - if you will not be embarrased that is - being seen with me a man from 'The Colonies' no less."

He smiled down at her and would take no insult if he was turned away. If that were the case then he would take to the pew. 

He knew that they would meet again.

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Nicolette & Beverly

 

Beverly was such a straight fellow, he did not even look startled (which is what Nicci had hoped for)  but instead thoughtfully considered other names for his prospective heir.  She’d wanted to say again how Welcome rhymes with Ulcome, and would make a fine pet name, but the tease was flattened with the weight of Beverly's seriousness.  

"I am sure your Mother would love the idea, better used than gathering dust. Ah… what is her title named then?”

“Is the alllowablity of it's use by a grandchild the sort of thing that the House of Lords would discus?.” she thought to ask, having once heard that they settled conflicts on matters of preferment, and this being similar to that.

The conversation was becoming terribly serious.  And perhaps with some benefit to Mary, his pregnant wife.  “Than might I suggest you speak with Lord Basildon upon the topic tomorrow night.  He shall be accommodating I am sure, for he is as fond of his wife as you are of yours, and understands the concerns for a husband in the circumstances.”

“Yes, yes they are.” Smiled Nicci, aware of Lady Worchester’s children’s age, and having said what she did in playfulness.  But Beverly did not understand playfulness did he.  “Truthfully, as much as I am looking forward to the extended family dinner, prospect of keeping conversation in such a place is a little daunting.”

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The Chathams and Juliana

 

“Thank you, my lord,” Juliana answered. As she had known he would, Charles played right along with her, pretending that they were complete strangers. That impish gleam in his beautiful clue eye set her body to humming pleasurably.

 

“It’s rather hot in here,” she stated, standing up and removing her velvet cloak. She stretched like a sleek cat, allowing Charles to get a good look at her shapely figure before sitting back down and tossing the cloak casually over her lap so that it covered his too. Acting as if she didn’t notice, she kept her eyes straight ahead.  "I wonder what the Bishop will preach about today."

 

As she spoke, Charles would feel her long fingers running over the side of his thigh.

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John and Susan parting

 

Susan’s laugh was bright and cheerful. She didn’t giggle like most young ladies. Giggling, to her pragmatic mind, was for children. “They would probably taste strange too,” she added, wrinkling her nose melodramatically.

 

Lord Silverbridge’s seemed disappointed by her news. The Earl of Huntington’s friendship or support must be important to him. Unfortunately, she could offer no more on that subject. It was sheer luck that she had even remembered the Earl’s name.

 

The conversation moved to is trip to England. Seven weeks was a long time to be at sea. Susan knew that a sudden storm was a hazard of ocean voyages and some ships wound up on the bottom of the ocean. She was glad this amiable gentleman had not suffered such a horrible fate. Maybe someday sailors would learn how to predict them so that they did not come upon them unaware.

 

As to his sister’s illness: “Maybe she is overwhelmed. I was when I first came to court, and I had been preparing for it all my life. It’s an entirely new way of life that one has to become accustomed to. Perhaps she needs to be eased into it gently instead of all at once.” Church services were quite tame as far as court events went, but she remembered her own uncertainty when she had made her debut. Even church could be daunting..

 

Lord Silverbridge seemed surprised that she was one of the Her Majesty’s maids of honor. Some ladies would take that as an insult, as if he thought they were not good enough to serve the Queen. Susan was too down-to earth for that kind of assumption and took his reaction as a compliment. “Your greeted me in the proper manner,” she assured him. “I am nobody special just because I attend upon the Queen.”

 

She enjoyed his flattery, but knew that replying back in the same teasing way was dangerous, not to her, but to him. If she was, indeed, an angel, then her eldest brother was Satan himself. Susan didn’t want to put Lord Silverbridge in peril by allowing him to believe that they could be more than acquaintances. She found him interesting, and they could converse briefly in public, but anything more and Philip would be suspicious.

 

“Thank you, my lord, but it is better that I go alone. I am not embarrassed to be seen with you" Susan smiled warmly.  "My brothers are very protective of me and I doubt you wish to be interrogated."

 

Eventually he would hear tales of the Earl of Pembroke and would understand why she turned down his offer.

 

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Lord Silverbridge,” she said in parting. “I hope you enjoy the service.” With another smile she was gone, disappearing behind a group of gentlemen talking in the aisle.

 

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Anne-Elisabeth and Ernle

 

“That would be unfortunate,” Anne-Elisabeth agreed. “I’m so new here that it would be easy to make that assumption, as false as it is.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially and leaned slightly forward. “Though I doubt anyone remembers how we met except the two of us. It is our little secret.” She was pleased that Captain Ernle recalled that incident. Drinks had been flowing freely and some of them had been fortified with something stronger, probably opium. Luckily, she had not drank so much that she made a fool of herself.

 

Captain Ernle looked around the chapel, probably for his family. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about joining them. Be thankful you have one, she thought as her dark eyes roved appreciatively over his fine form. Sometimes she missed her own, but their watery demise had given her a freedom that she would never had experienced had they lived. Loneliness was temporary. Marriage was forever.

 

“Hmmm, a very good idea. I wonder where I can find two such gentlemen. It seems like everyone is sitting with family today.” The young Countess sighed. “I’m thinking of taking a walk around the lawn after the service to stretch my legs. I don’t want to get right into a cramped carriage after sitting all day in a pew.”

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Davina and Sophia

 

Sophia couldn’t see the difference between drawing and fiddling with a ribbon and believed that Davina no longer disapproved of her sketching in church now that she had explained why she did it. There was nothing sinful about keeping your hands occupied so that you could listen better. She knew not to mention that she didn’t pay attention to the sermon  and instead daydreamed about her beloved Prince, reliving those glorious nights they had spent together in Madrid and imagining the look on his face when he beheld the result of those nights for the first time when their son or daughter was born.

 

“Thank you,” she replied when Mistress Wellsley promised to pass on her good wishes to Lady Winchilsea. Maybe she would mention that Sophia had become pregnant while in Madrid, meaning that Lady Winchilsea's husband could not be the father. Then if she did think ill of her, the Countess would realize that she had been mistaken in believing that she had succumbed to the handsome Earl’s charms. Anyone could tell her that Lady Toledo was completely devoted to her husband, for that was how she acted whenever she was with him.

 

“You are correct. I had no choice but to travel with my lord husband to Madrid. I have no family to stay with and he would never leave me on my own. He is quite protective of me. I think I will always be wary of water but I wish to overcome my fear. With each trip to Spain, I feel a bit more at ease. I won’t be traveling until the baby is old enough to make the journey, so I shall be remaining in London for at least a year or two. My lord husband is buying us an estate, which will be well-guarded in case he must return to Madrid without me.”

 

As Sophia had hoped, Davina agreed to meet with her. “I am in no danger,” she reassured her friend, noting and appreciating her concern. In truth, she had a target on her back because Juan … and by association, Esteban … had some powerful enemies, but that had nothing to do with the problem she wished to discuss. “What about Friday?  I believe I am free all day.”

 

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The Chathams and Juliana

"The crowd can make chapel somewhat... stifling, yes," Charles said, in the tone Mary would recognise as the one he used when forced to make polite conversation.

He allowed himself to admire Juliana as she stretched (discreetly, of course, for he was not an oik), both because it would have been wanton self-cruelty to deny himself and because nothing would tell Mary that something was afoot as speedily as not admiring.

He was unsurprised to find the cloak thrown over his lap as well, and coughed politely, as though to call Juliana's attention to it, in order to further the deception. When his cough drew no response, he eyed her sidelong and shook his head slightly.

"Traditionally, the tone is more serious than celebratory," he replied, his own tone slightly but noticeably cooler, "and the idea of keeping vigil is emphasised."

He fell silent then, savouring the illicit thrill as Juliana's fingers went to work under the cloak.

Of course, at this time of year above all others, it would not do to be selfish...

Unseen, his own hand slid slowly towards Juliana.

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The Chathams and Juliana

 

Juliana couldn’t remember him ever speaking to her so apathetically before. And he did it so easily, as if the two of them were, indeed, strangers. She heard his cough, and saw his annoyed look out of the corner of her eye. He was definitely playing his part well. She would have to reward him for it Tuesday evening.

 

“Yes, I’ve noticed that. One would think that Easter would be a more joyful occasion.” Her fingers snaked toward his inner thigh. “The Bishop has such a stiff way of speaking.”

 

She could hear his hand sliding across the wood of the pew. Where, she wondered, would it land?

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John and Susan

"My sister has, up to now, never shied away from anything. Perhaps it is as you say and she must accumulate."

He gave a small shrug of one shoulder.

"I shall try to remember your words and say them to her. If Fate permits there mgiht come a time you two shall meet."

His smile returned and his eye danced a bit with amusement at her self description.

"Ah. I would beg to disagre. You are hardly 'no one special' - that is not a label I would have choosen. You are after all an Angel sent from Above."

He whispered his gaze traveling upwards. Then came her directive on her brothers and he again smiled.

"I dare say I would survive. I've been in tougher places and encountered creatures more ferocious than they."

"Yet I too am 'a brother' and so I can understand being protective  ...."

He spread his hands a bit and then he offered her a bow adding

"Yet I Hope that we shall have further encounters and you will grant me the privilage of an introduction."

He watched as she was quick, like a shy doe, to move amongst cover. He was quite able to trail her progress with his height and he followed her unhurridly his eyes watchful for anything that might cause a distress.

That his interest was entirely piqued he knew. He also knew he would seek out more about Lady Susan if he could.

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Davina and Sophia

"Well I am glad to hear that you are to remain here and not travel back to Spain. And a country seat is appropriate yet would you not stay at the Embassy when he travels?"

Davina was glad to hear that there was no danger yet she could not shake the feeling that there was something more lying underneath.

"Friday. Let me think.... I have nothing. Might you come to my rooms? I mean I suspect that whatever it is needs privacy and I can see you in with little to no difficulties"

"Unless you think it something that would displease Lord Toledo."

It was an impulsive suggestion to be sure.

"You can kick off your shoes and find comforts and Poppy will see to all wants. You will come to no harm."

"Will you come?"

Her gaze was direct and she pressed her hand once again to the others'.

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The Chathams and Juliana

"Easter Sunday should be more... joyful, as you put it, but for now the emphasis will be reflection and such things."

He was going to have exact some payment from Juliana, Charles decided, for forcing him to think and talk about the liturgical underpinnings of the Easter services. It seemed a great betrayal.

Especially, he admitted wryly to himself as her fingers slid so torturously over his thigh, when she seeks to make it difficult to think at all. 

"The Bishop, alas, is indeed no orator," he agreed, suppressing the urge to sigh and relax into Juliana's touch. Instead he allowed just a hint of dry amusement to warm his tone. It would be uncharacteristic of him not to agree with anyone decrying Compton's lack of rhetorical talent, after all, and that covered his appreciation of the blatant innuendo.

"His understanding of pacing needs work, I think," he said, as under the cloak his hand came to rest on Juliana's thigh. He let it linger there, savouring the anticipation.

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 John joined by …

 

About five minutes after Susan departed, another young lady approached John. She was about the same age as Susan, but taller, with auburn curls and hazel eyes that sparkled with mischief. “Is this seat free, my lord?” she asked, indicating the space beside him in the pew.

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Charles and Juliana

 

“Such things as repenting. He is very firm on that subject, but I suppose we all have sins that need forgiving.” Juliana was having a difficult time keeping a straight face. If she thought that torturing Charles in this fashion wasn’t fun, she would be lying to herself.

 

She appreciated his own double-entendre.  Her blue eyes widened slightly as his hand found her own thigh under her cloak. Even through the layers of petticoats she wore, her skin tingled enticingly. How long, she wondered, would she be able to keep up their absurd conversation, before his ministrations drew all the breath from her lips?

 

“He probably has no clue about his own shortcomings as I’m sure that many members of his congregation regularly stroke his ego.” Juliana's hand echoed her innuendo and stroked his thigh, stopping just before she reached the bulge in his breeches. Her fingers fluttered rhythmically upon his inner thigh, but she made no other move. Nor did she intend to until the service began.

 

“But we should not speak this way or God may send a lightening bolt to smite us.” Amusement tinted her low voice, and though she still stared straight ahead, Charles might notice her subtle smirk. If God (assuming he actually existed) did smite them, it probably wouldn’t be for their words.

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Davina and Sophia

 

“Many Ambassadors live in their Embassies, but they usually leave their families, in their own country. At some point in the past, a Spanish Ambassador must have brought his with him, for there was a manor built a fair way behind it, which is where we have lived since my lord husband was given his position. It is as heavily guarded as the Embassy and would be safe, but we don’t want our child to spend the first years of his life in London. The air is much fresher in the country and children need room to run and play.”

 

Sophia remembered her own childhood fondly, growing up in a castle with a moat around it and a village nearby. The castle was still hers. Maybe her children would be allowed to stay there for a few years when they were old enough to travel, though she expected that Juan would want them with him in Madrid if they were sons. Perhaps he would let their daughters stay with her. The baby she carried within her was hopefully the first of many.

 

Davina offered her rooms in the palace as the place for their meeting. It would be nice not to have to be the hostess for once. The blonde Countess entertained in her house quite a bit and she had a few friends coming over next week. Feeling the warmth of Davina’s hand on hers, she smiled. “Of course I will come. My lord husband does not restrict my activities as long as I take my bodyguard with me.” She suspected that Esteban would approve of her friendship with Davina, as she was a maid of honor to the Queen.  And Catholic.

 

“What time would be best for you?”

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Davina and Sophia

She nodded her head in agreement adding that 

"Yes country upbringings have that advantage and besides what needs to be taught and learned can be done in that setting just as well as here."

"Oh I am glad that you have accepted! Now. How best to get you in ...."

"Can you arrive by the Riverside? Just south of the Privy Stairs and a short walk is Volary Garden where some of us Maids have our rooms. It used to be the King's Volary and was called 'birds walk' if you take the meaning but now all those creatres are housed in St James Park."

"i think this is the best way."

"Or else I shall have to use the Queen's back stairs and then Pebble Court which is the passage way behind the Banqueting House. There are several passage ways that lead off that and ours would take us to the Queens Presence and from there to where I am placed."

"The distance is greater as well as the observations of our progress."

"There is nothing to hide naturally but I should like to not have so many eyes and ears but mainly for your care and that of the baby."

"Will mid morning be acceptable? Say eleven of the clock?"

"I will meet you and then we shall to my rooms where my Poppy will care for the rest."

"I suppose you will be followed but that is no matter. Poppy will see to him as well."

Her eyes danced and she smiled.

"What do you think?"

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John Joined By  ....

No sooner had Lady Susan left when Divine Providence struck a second time.

He stood at once as a feminine voice called out a question. He appraised in much the same fashion as he had previously but knew that this Lady was all together different.

"I see no impediment as to why you should not. Please."

He stepped to one side to allow her to move inside or stand if she wished.

"You are alone ...." He looked to see if there might be one or two more for they tended to roam in packs or so his experiences had suggested. "Baron Silverbridge by way of introductions."

John was a quick learner.

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Charles and Juliana

"That was rather the point of the whole exercise, yes. His firmness on the topic is understandable in that context, I think," Charles offered, all lazy drawled disinterest.

He snorted gently at Juliana's next innuendo, using the action to cover his disappointment as her hand halted on his thigh. It would not do to pout at her in chapel. Instead, beneath the cloak his thumb rubbed slow circles on her thigh. There was rather a lot of fabric between him and her flesh, of course, but it was important to show willing.

And it is, after all, the thought which counts.

"Even were his ego not being stroked, I am not sure that the Bishop would agree that it is a shortcoming. Rhetoric is artifice, artifice is vanity, vanity is pride, and pride is a sin," he said lightly, and swallowed another snort as Juliana continued.

"Were the Almighty in a smiting mood, surely there are worse offenses for him to start with," he replied, keeping the amusement from his voice with difficulty, "but in the interest of avoiding being smitten, I shall accede, and cease."

He did not dare look at Juliana, lest his composure break.

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The Chathams and Juliana

 

Initially Charles seemed to not know who this woman who took a seat on the other side of him. Mary noted Charles tone, he seemed as bored as he’d ben on any other of the holy days at Chapel.  But as he continued to engage the other woman, Mary wondered why…

And woefully bored herself she leaned forwards enough to view the other.  It was not that she was jealous of Charles attention, no it was not that at all.

“If anyone is art risk of being smote, it would surely be Lord Chatham here.” Were they even introduced, Mary had not overheard an exchange of names. “Mary Audley, Lady Chatham, pleased to meet you…?”  which was a prompt of course, for the others name. 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 10:56 PM, Nicolette Vauquelin said:

Nicolette & Beverly

 

Beverly was such a straight fellow, he did not even look startled (which is what Nicci had hoped for)  but instead thoughtfully considered other names for his prospective heir.  She’d wanted to say again how Welcome rhymes with Ulcome, and would make a fine pet name, but the tease was flattened with the weight of Beverly's seriousness.  

"I am sure your Mother would love the idea, better used than gathering dust. Ah… what is her title named then?”

“Is the alllowablity of it's use by a grandchild the sort of thing that the House of Lords would discus?.” she thought to ask, having once heard that they settled conflicts on matters of preferment, and this being similar to that.

The conversation was becoming terribly serious.  And perhaps with some benefit to Mary, his pregnant wife.  “Than might I suggest you speak with Lord Basildon upon the topic tomorrow night.  He shall be accommodating I am sure, for he is as fond of his wife as you are of yours, and understands the concerns for a husband in the circumstances.”

“Yes, yes they are.” Smiled Nicci, aware of Lady Worchester’s children’s age, and having said what she did in playfulness.  But Beverly did not understand playfulness did he.  “Truthfully, as much as I am looking forward to the extended family dinner, prospect of keeping conversation in such a place is a little daunting.”

 

"Oh, well, Fairlight, a barony as well," Beverley replied. "Very old English baronies are generally the only titles which can be inherited by a lady, in the absence of a male heir, erm, which I know is different than France." He explained it, knowingthat titles were quite different on the continent. 

 

"No, erm, I do not believe so." Beverley was very well educated on court convention and nobility. "Regardless of courtesy titles, precedence is predetermined by the peerage of the family patriarch's highest position. An heir apparent can use any title by family convention, erm, that is held in the line and will, by law, one day be his...generally it comes from the father though. There are very few baronies left which can be inherited through the female line, and heiresses with viable baronies are quite, erm, fought over by eligible peers. I think most of them generally have many titles to use as courtesy for their son and grandson, some even great-grandson. But...my lord father would have to give permission."

 

The young viscount determined that he would see to the daunting task of speaking about such to Basildon. The earl might not be very old, but he had a very intimidating presence to Beverley, like the much older and experienced lords. And Beverley was jealous of his clothes and jewels too, but that was neither here nor there.

 

"I would not worry over it. Lord Worcester is very congenial. And Lady Worcester shall make certain that you will be seated close enough to converse with her too," Beverley supposed. After all, the lady of the house would not want to be surrounded by just her sons and husband but would probably be quite happy to talk with her grown ladies too!

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On 9/16/2020 at 3:02 PM, Anne-Elisabeth Devereux said:

Anne-Elisabeth and Ernle

 

“That would be unfortunate,” Anne-Elisabeth agreed. “I’m so new here that it would be easy to make that assumption, as false as it is.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially and leaned slightly forward. “Though I doubt anyone remembers how we met except the two of us. It is our little secret.” She was pleased that Captain Ernle recalled that incident. Drinks had been flowing freely and some of them had been fortified with something stronger, probably opium. Luckily, she had not drank so much that she made a fool of herself.

 

Captain Ernle looked around the chapel, probably for his family. He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about joining them. Be thankful you have one, she thought as her dark eyes roved appreciatively over his fine form. Sometimes she missed her own, but their watery demise had given her a freedom that she would never had experienced had they lived. Loneliness was temporary. Marriage was forever.

 

“Hmmm, a very good idea. I wonder where I can find two such gentlemen. It seems like everyone is sitting with family today.” The young Countess sighed. “I’m thinking of taking a walk around the lawn after the service to stretch my legs. I don’t want to get right into a cramped carriage after sitting all day in a pew.”

"An enterprising lady such as yourself can have no lack of ability for finding handsome companions," Ernle replied, teasingly. He spent much of his time at sea chasing pirates and foreign ships, and court had a strange sort of amusement for him.

 

Generally, in sea life, the sailors chased the ladies, but at court eligible ladies quite enjoyed sea captains whose fathers were of prime prominence and whose step-brother was a duke! It was quite amusing to be on the receiving end of so much flirting, and he rather enjoyed it. 

 

He wondered if ladies enjoyed gentlemen chasing them as much as this! The hard-to-get game could be fun. 

 

"I wish that I could join you in such freedoms, but my father would have my head. This is all rather boring." And that was all true. Religious holidays were not time to be seen bandying about. There were many family obligations for those who had family at court. 

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John and ...

 

The auburn-haired lady lifted her head and pushed her shoulders back as John looked her over, clearly enjoying the attention. “Thank you, my lord,” she said with a playful smile as he moved to the side. He might detect a slight Scottish accent.

 

Sliding into the pew, she left just enough space for John to sit beside her at a respectable distance. She had seen him conversing with Lady Susan and had been pleased when she left. He must be new to court. I’ve never seen him before. And thus she was intrigued. She had thought about plopping into his lap like Lady Susan had, but decided that would be a bit much, even for her.

 

“Thank God,” she replied to his supposition that she was alone. She noticed the way he gazed around the chapel. Was he expecting an angry father or brother to swoop in and whisk her away? As far as she knew, her brother was not at court. He was probably off on the King’s business again.

 

He introduced herself as Baron Silverbridge. “Enchanted.” Her smile brightened. “I’m Lady Fiona MacBain, Viscountess Lochend.” Technically, that title wouldn’t be hers until she married, but he didn’t know that, and calling herself a Viscountess made her feel important.

 

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The Chathams and Juliana

 

Juliana huffed. “As if the subject of repentance hasn’t been pounded into us all our lives.”

 

Beneath the cloak, Charles traced little circles upon her thigh. Her flesh seemed to burn beneath the layers of her skirt and she could feel her inner muscles contracting in anticipation. Her fingers continued to flutter on his thigh. If nothing else, their little game would be an exercise in self-control.

 

“Very true,” she agreed. “That sounds like the way a priest would think.”

 

She nodded to his next comment as well. “As shall I.”

 

The lady on Charles’ other side leaned forward, probably curious about the woman who was conversing with her stepson. Juliana looked her over. She was not unattractive. I wonder what Charles would think about a threesome with his stepmother? It was an amusing notion, and one she thought he would never go for.

 

“Oh really?” One pale eyebrow rose slightly when the lady claimed that Charles was at risk of being smitten. Maybe their relationship wasn’t so chaste after all. Juliana smiled when she introduced herself. “A pleasure, Lady Chatham. “I’m Princess  Juliana of Hesse-Eschwege.

 

“I confess, I am curious. Why would God wish to smite this kind gentleman?” Under the cloak, her fingers stretched out, brushing lightly against Charles’ groin.  "Are the two of you married?"  They were pretending to be strangers, after all.

 

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