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The chancellor attempts escape | Thurs Early Evening

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On 11/8/2012 at 3:00 PM, Charles Rex said:

Gresham College, Headquarters of the Royal Society








Gresham House was built in 1566 and named after its original owner, Sir Thomas Gresham, once a Mayor of London. Upon his death in 1597 this grand mansion was bequeathed to the city of London, with Gresham expressing his desire that it be used as a College, a place of learning, with room for lectures, research space and lodgings for seven professors, each of a different discipline. This entire venture is funded by the earnings of retail tax from the shops surrounding the Royal Exchange, which too was founded by Sir Thomas. His gift to the city allowed for great minds to come together and work upon their ideas, a practice cumulating in the founding of the Royal Society in 1660.


Gresham college is open to members of the public, who may attend the free lectures that are held there regularly. All manner of topics are discussed, from natural philosophy to the applications of mathematics and the orbit of the planets. All who are interested in the pursuit of knowledge, or perhaps just the opportunity to seek the opinion of a learned academic, would be well advised to drop in on a session.


The Lecture Theatre



Visitors wishing to expand their intellects should make their way through a little door and enter the lecture theatre, where they would find themselves faced by a number of benches in long lines, sloping up the length of a cosy hall. The dark wooden rows are positioned to give even those seated at the back the opportunity to see the lecturer at his podium. Anyone in the farther rows is also benefitted by the remarkable acoustics of the room, which allows a speaker to project his theories with little need to raise his voice. Unfortunately, this also means that the squeaks and creaks of the aging chairs and the whispers of less enthusiastic attendees are amplified quite considerably.


During the day, light is provided from the high windows that face out onto the College's courtyard, although shutters can be drawn to facilitate the use of demonstrations that require a darker environment. The room is already nearing a century of use, which perhaps explains the prevelance of dust and a curious aroma of musty books and burning. It should perhaps be explained that experiments involving exotic chemicals or the deaths of small mammals are not an uncommon sight in the College lecture theatre.


The Courtyard


This simple square is lined on two sides by sheltered walkways, supported by elegant columns, that offer protection from the elements for the wandering scholar. The courtyard itself has a lawn and lines of young elms along its edge. A stone urn sits upon a pedestal at the centre of the lawn, a pleasant feature in an otherwise unremarkable environment.


Professor of Law: Richard Pearson

Professor of Physics: John Mapletoft

Professor of Music: Thomas Baynes

Professor of Divinity: George Gifford

Professor of Geometry: Robert Hooke

Professor of Rhetoric: Henry Jenkes

Professor of Astronomy: Walter Pope


Francis had come to quite a few presentations and evenings at Gresham, and he had enjoyed this one no less than the others. He had spent some time before the meeting speaking to his friend, Sir Isaac. Last meeting he had been fortunate enough to escape any notice by his former Master of Trinity College, or so he assumed, but the gentleman was unsurprisingly also at this meeting. 


Every time his blue eyes had glanced at the man, he thought it exceedingly odd that he, Francis Kirke, Georgic-translator extraordinaire, was now the chancellor of the whole university!


Dare he hope that he would, once again, escape the room without notice? 

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And he almost escaped, indeed Francis back was to the room and he was almost out the door when...

"Leaving so soon Master Kirke?"  the sonorous tone was very familiar, as was the form of address.  While Francis may be a Lord now, and even Chancellor of the whole of effing Cambridge, he'd always be the errant Master Kirke to Professor Pearson. 


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There was something about the voice of any person who had habitually scolded you in life; you simply never forgot it, even more than a decade later. That selfsame phrase had been used several times at his attempts to sneak out. Or sneak back in, if he was entirely honest. He had always been a daring youth, impulsive and certain in the way that any Villiers male was, and that particular voice knew all about his daring-do. Hanging out windows, even. 


He had not learned it all in Italy. He had learned some at Eton before he'd even gone to Trinity, so he'd been well-practiced at sneaking before even Pearson.


Of course, he had no choice but to break his exit and pause, moving away from the door. "Good evening, Professor," he greeted, incapable of keeping a small twinge of pink from his still blush prone face. Francis did not seem to have aged much in appearance besides growing taller. "Is it early, sir? I think once you would have found it quite late to be out if I remember correctly." 

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Had the boy grown any older at all, he still looked a sapling to the ever more aging Professor, and was just as cocky as ever.  'Wipe that smirk of your face!' was what he'd have said if he was stood in the hallowed halls of Trinity College. But they were not. 

They were here at Gresham. 

And this unruly and even sometimes showboat of an individual now (theoretically at least) outranked him! 

"Our views upon time keeping has always been at odds." he responded with a frown as he looked over his eyeglasses at Francis, "I am pleased at least that you have learnt to use doors." 


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It was not necessarily that comforting to outrank someone who had punished you as a teenager. There was something about a good birching that leveled the playing field forever.


"I am simply lucky that late in London society is far later than a university life allows, though I have never required much sleep," Francis replied, which was all very true and not even snarky. 


"Well I can come and go through them mostly as I please these days, sir, which makes it simple to make use of them. But I have learned far more than to use doors thanks to the patience of many, yourself included." He was nearly thirty. He could most assuredly behave like an adult, even if he was a witty and sometimes cheeky adult. 


"I have also made much use of the agrarian knowledge accidentally afforded to me both here and in the colonies, you would be most pleased to know. I am remiss to not have named an orchard after you, sir."

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Of doors, Pearson digressed to the figurative:  "So I have noted.” pushing aforementioned glasses back up his nose, “to the surprise of more than one of your professors, myself included. One might wonder how general negligence towards education can possibly be rewarded so. I speak frankly with you, and here it is, that there was a generalised gasp at the recent announcement.”

While Francis managed to keep a sense of humour around him.  It was a joke surely, that his hours rewriting Virgils Georgics had spawned agricultural interests!  “Not  a Pear orchard.” The professor groaned, resisting the curl of lips and huff of a laugh.

“You must then appreciate that the colleges intent was ever to save you from discovering yourself in a Virgils Basket.”

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Francis blushed at the 'so I have noted' for her was not particularly one who saw himself so grandiose as to receive things on his grandiosity alone, doors opening included. 

The further explanation had him pulling in a deep breath through his nose.


Well, then, that was rather blunt. 


Blue eyes were obscured by a few blinks as his mind worked for something appropriate to say. 


"...I was unaware I had any negligence toward education, sir...In my defense, it was more a negligence to remember or wish to obey rules and restrictions...and I can hardly be the first youth to have ever evidenced such a thing." It was hard to piece together a response so there were some pauses. "His Majesty's return to the crown was an exceedingly exciting few years for someone who spent the first eleven years of life in exile. I was only fourteen and I left when I was sixteen to go to war." He took in a breath of a bit more confidence and collection and said, "One might think academics intelligent enough to not judge such things from the shadow of a boy once known rather than by the actual man. I, at least, attended the university and more than one of my relations has been chancellor before. That is surely an improvement from the last." 


So...perhaps that last bit was a bit acerbic, but you could not wholly blame him.


"No, nor fig trees." His eyes narrowed some. Perhaps he should name a vagina orchard after the man. "Kingston is known for its apples, but I am known for Paw Paws which are a colonial fruit that tastes like vanilla custard." He was not wholly joking, but nor was he wholly serious. He actually did bring back said fruits and had planted them at his estate years prior, and he had done so at  Kingston early in the fall too.


"I hope the goal was far more than that, for I have proven wholly capable of evading that with my own tutelage. But considering I have made much use of most of my Mathematical and Astronomical knowledge, successfully navigated  a number of ships without killing a horde of people, and put forth new ship designs to the Lord Admiral a few seasons past with the help of a few members of the Royal Society, I will look forward to making the lot of my former professors gasp for other reasons."

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"As was the discussion in the staff room. It was not without precedent, and yet still.” He drew a deep breath. 

Pearson had never been one to skirt around a topic, in his experience with boys you had to be quite blunt or they would entirely miss the point.    

Then exhaled… “perhaps ‘neglectful’ was the wrong word, academically you did fair enough, yet your report card never the less bore mixed sentiments from ‘some’.” Myself. “which now raises concerns that…”  Is my position now at risk? “Well, might I allege that an academically trained mind might further see the good intent behind past stern measures, and not feel a need to remodel that which he has now come to oversee.”

Which was enough airy fairy talk for this straight talking man.

“I am doing a poor job of it Kingston, enough of figs, pears, or pawpaws, what I want to offer is a olive branch!”

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Up went one blond eyebrow and then the other. His lips pursed together. His cheeks pinked from amusement held in. 


Well this was surely a turn of affairs. 


"You are worried I would relieve you of a position for taking measures well-meant wrongly, and I am worried you shall not take me seriously in a position for the seeing me as the boy I once was..." He let out his chuckle. 


"Sir, I credit my success in life to the fact that I learned to curb my impulsivity early by harsh punishments alone, and I would thank you for it." Francis tittered. "My grandfather was far worse, have no fear, and I was still very fond of him. I have no desire to reform anything other than opportunity for those who graduate or seek funds for research...and to steal all the good candidates away from Oxford, of course."


He grinned, "And it is good no olive branches are needed, for olive trees grow very poorly out of the Med."

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Thankfully Francis could also speak plainly, even if he'd learnt mastered the waffling poetry-speak of Whitehall palace.  He told Pearson in frank terms that his job was safe! 

Pearson was elated, fact made 'obvious' by an ever deepening frown (best read as 'intensity of emotion')  "Such character I here discover in you is the very purpose of strict measures. While in reply I would add that the master gardener, if we are using Georgics terminology, does not judge the tree by the wood he has pruned from it, but rather by the fruits it bears. In this, your sentiments are sweet to the taste and pleasing."

"I look forward to working with you on some such endeavour, though those oxford chaps need to be tackled carefully." 

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"That must be what the Lord meant when He commanded us to go forth and bear fruit," Francis joked in reply. For in truth, little in religious study seemed to favor sex at all. 


"Never fear, I shall not divest you of your pruning shears." He chuckled and after a moment added, "But I really must take my leave, this is not my only engagement this evening, and before you suppose otherwise the only lady I'll entertain this evening is Sophia*."


(OOC - *wisdom)



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Pearson was happy to chuckle at the young Chancellors humour, "Though I might debate that on the original context, in ours it is fitting enough!"   his expression being positively relaxed in compare to earlier.  

Pushing spectacles back up his nose he fare-welled, "To such a quest I can only bid you 'God Speed' Master... ah... Lord Kingston." the old professor remained stood there looking after his exit for a moment more, he held good hopes for this one. 


& fin!  

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