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Cadell Mortimer

Happy-ish Returns, early evening, 9th April

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The sandstone Brooke House on Pall Mall is the London residence of the Earl Brooke, Sir Robert Thomas St. Leger, and his family. Set on a few acres with a walled and tiered garden, the house sits on the rise of a small hill which slopes in the back to small fashioned pond. Climbing roses and berries grace walls and terraces interspersed with ivy with the occasional cluster of manicured fruit trees. It boasts a large royal oak just off the back corner of the mansion with two wide swings which used to be a familiar playsite of the younger Lord Beverley, Robert St. Leger and his sister Lady Doneraile. Now it is a frequent site of play for the lady's 3 little boys when they are visiting their grandfather although they most often stay in Battersea a few miles down the Thames. The garden wall and various garden half-walls are a familiar haunt for Lord Beverley to lay about and read or nap.

Brooke House itself is a large, thick rectangle. While wingless, the set of rooms on the second floor to the right rear, belong to Lord Beverley, the Earl Brooke's heir. The second floor to the left going down to part of the first floor are the rooms of Lord and Lady Brooke who traditionally keep separate bedchambers. Lord Brooke's rooms go down to his study and an anteroom on the first floor. Facing the garden between those apartments on the second floor is a garden room which is popular for a morning meal or tea. The rear of the first floor is dedicated to entertaining space with a large hall/dining room, library, and a gallery. Guest rooms are found on both floors but most specifically on the second floor facing the front of the property.

When arriving in front, there are always blue liveried servants with badges of the Earl's arms on their coats to greet you and attend to your needs.

 

As strange and inhospitable as London could be at times -and that was to say, at least as far as concerned Catholics, most times- Brooke House had been more of a home to the Viscount Athenry than had his old house on Piccadilly or the new one in Chelsea, with its grand library and the sanctuary it had provided for an open Catholic among friends who kept the faith in private. So too had Lord Beverley, military man, recently remarried, and a seemingly proper soul among the decadent court proven to Cadell personally. London had nearly from the get-go (as if the viscount needed to remind himself of the fate of Gabriel Richmond and his conspirators, or his role in it) proven itself almost as duplicitous as Versailles, and without the saving grace of being a Catholic court in service to the most powerful of the Catholic kings.

Beverley's honesty and understanding, as well as dedication to the appropriate way of doing things, stood in stark contrast. It was a rare moment that the third son of a minor Welsh baronet, whose wife had been unfortunately inclined to their barbaric culture, could find a peer among the Peers.

Even if he was one of them, now. Not that one would notice...

So it was that, still wearing the grey silk damask of earlier, Cadell had taken a coach to the familiar Brooke House, exiting the carriage with a slight groan but not before nipping from a pewter flask decorated with the lion-and-dragon of the old Mortimers, the ones before the rebellions against the House of Lancaster. His marriage allowed for more ostentatious arrivals now, yet, he viewed himself as defiant rather than a fool – displays of status were best kept out of sight of the mob. Holy Saturday, one could surmise, would mean little to a sufficiently-stoked fire. As he reached the front, he gave a crooked smile to the blue liveried servants of the Earl, nodding to the stalwart footman Duncan and his new counterpart, Jean-Pierre, to dispense of their gifts to the counterparts among Brooke's household.

“Athenry to see Lord Beverley,” the viscount announced brusquely but presumably unnecessarily, believing the servants to know him. The cognac burned down his throat and into his chest and stomach, prompting a slight, familiar, and a strangely welcome nausea as he watched his servants retreat to the coach. One gift was in a small wooden box, carved ornately in a Turkish style, the other clearly a work of white-and-blue porcelain, adorned with lotuses and a figure that seemed to be a portly eastern Mandarin of sorts. “I would appreciate it greatly if my lord's belated wedding gifts were present when I see him.”

 

Edited by Cadell Mortimer

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Beverley had not been one to oft bring home his friends, so Cadell was very recognizable for being one of few so honoured. These days Beverley even had the ability to invite to his own (extremely modest) rooms at the palace, so he was even less likely to bring home guests unless they required the grander scale and opulence of the family house. 

 

The servant nodded to the request about the gifts. "His Lordship is expecting you, my lord. If I might show you to the library, my master will be down shortly."

 

The library was as Cadell remembered it. Here in London it was no vast familial collection but rather a sampling from the greater works that were held at the family seat. It was still very large for a house in town and even though the weather was mild, there was a fire going. The servants saw to bringing in the presents quietly and efficiently. 

 

Not much time had passed before Beverley showed up in the doorway and said, "Welcome home, friend." A very personal greeting for the very formal viscount! "You look as if you have traveled well." 

 

Some did not fare well on sea journeys. And it had little to do with one's outward constitution from the number of stories he had heard. A grown man might get violently ill whilst a lady was perfectly fine. It was rather odd in comparison to the way of most ailments. Women seemed the more delicate in such ways. 

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In the back of his mind, where the rest of the urges suppressed in good, Catholic manner lay, Cadell had always wondered what it would have been like to have been born among the truly great families, to be catered to by more than a handful of servants, to have your name sought by matchmakers (Baptist May did not count, in this regard) and to have risen in life respectfully. Even here, which was not so great as Maidstone -another of the Saint-Legers' holdings familiar to the newly-made viscount- a wave of that old feeling, a sort of longing that belonged to the permanently crippled third sons of the world, a desire to do more, be more.

All in all, it was faintly ridiculous to think so. Even if his father had been a bastard of the non-literal kind and his mother a hen with a bizarre attachment to the Welsh lifestyle, he was still of the gentry. And envy was most un-Christian for the fortunate of the world, regardless of whether they had done and become more than what was expected of them.

Fortunately, Cadell was among friends, a sensation more comforting than the excitement at Versailles' viper pits. He gave a smile to the servants for their assistance with the belated wedding gifts, and rose to greet Beverley as the young soldier made his appearance in the doorway. “Thank you, my friend. I believe that my sea legs are of much more use than my actual ones.” After the self-deprecating jest, he took a pull from his flask, then smiled rather bashfully, the courtier's mask having faded around his friend. “Ah, cognac Augier. Do you, er, mind terribly...?”

It suddenly felt very common to have taken a drink without something being offered. As if to lessen the blow of his rudeness, he offered Beverley the pewter flask. “I sent my congratulations by letter, of course-” Beverley, his sister Beth, and (oddly enough) Nell Gwynn had been those he'd corresponded with the most in France. “But I found it insufficient to convey my congratulations – Mary Somerset! Well done, man. Well done.”

A more boisterous sort would have likely clapped Beverley on the back at this, but neither of the two gentleman were anything approaching boisterous. “Madame la duchesse was too busy taking in the sights of her homeland to assist me, so I must confess that I enlisted the help of a charming Turk in acquiring separate presents for your marriage.” His grey eyes darted between the teapot and the box which held Beverley's. "I am...not particularly well-versed in this type of thing."

Edited by Cadell Mortimer

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Beverley chuckled warmly, shaking his head some of his friend's method of self-deprecation. For some reason or another, Beverley had never judged Cadell to be lacking in noble manners or proper upbringing either, so he was vastly unaware of his friend's inner thoughts. 

 

"I do not mind at all, only wonder that the servants did not offer," the viscount added, with half an awareness that they had probably been seeing to his presents. "Cognac, eh?" Beverley chuckled. "You have turned quite French in tastes." It was his attempt at a joke. French wine and her related spirits were quite popular.

 

"I fear it shall not do with the Negroamaro I've been enjoying," he smiled, which might consider him Italian in taste were it not for the fact that there were very few English drinks which tasted very good! They were not known for grapes or spirits, so if one fancied either it came from the continent. Sometimes illegally.

 

He did beam at his friend's proclamation of the choice of his lady wife. 

 

"I confess, I am beyond pleased, and God has blessed me very liberally in wife. And beyond simply name or breeding...or even dowry," Beverley praised. "There are some who might have thought there better options, and to be sure there are dukes aplenty these days, but they are not Somersets and the majority of them have no great lineage but that was done recently, if that." 

 

If Cadell had forgotten how snobby Beverley could be about blood, he was thus reminded! And courtiers in England, even the men, could be just as gossipy with their friends as the French.

 

"Lord Worcester is a most admirable father-in-law. Our families have a long history with each other that is good to renew. It was not the first time a Somerset and Saint-Leger have married."

 

As to the gifts, Beverley snickered at Cadell being left by the Duchesse. "You have advanced yourself mightily, but I see there were some trades. Still, my friend, you are step-father to the King's children, and another child of His Majesty shall be on the throne one day. That bodes very well for you."

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“And I suppose it wouldn't do if I accused you of being Italian in taste, in turn, would it?” Cadell shot back with a smirk, noticeably more relaxed among the company of like-minded men than he would be in nearly any court function. The Italians were known for their vices in general, but one in particular, of the sort that even proper men could joke about – at least in closed quarters, without women about.

If only court as a whole was that simple – for the most part. For all his supposed humanistic ideals, Athenry was still a man, and held a man's opinion about most things, but even he knew his own horse was tied to that of Portsmouth.

A step up from having no horse at all, at least.

Moving on, however, he once again considered the match, altogether having long since approved of it but taking note of Beverley's mention of the family in question: if memory served, Worcester was of the Court party, and of originally Catholic extraction. “Imagine my disappointment,” Cadell drawled, swishing around some cognac briefly. “When I found out that the Herbert related to your father-in-law shares little but a common ancestor with Pembroke. Ha! Wouldn't that be something.”

“As it is, the man's mostly good for his menageries, to hear tell. I've made little effort to discover more.” He shrugged languidly. Mercurial types were not for him, particularly those whose reputations ran to the dark. “I should like to see a lion with my own eyes, however,” he added in non-sequitur, the brandy perhaps encouraging such errant thoughts. “My cousin's boy is quite fond of them.”

'I see there were some trades.' Cadell hid his reaction to this remark behind a sip of the cognac, instead nodding as the conversation turned to the boons at hand. “Let's hope His Majesty's heir isn't the jealous type, hm?” That could get particularly sticky, considering the number of royal bastards on hand. More seriously, he added, “You should meet Richmond, you know. With all that's transpired, the boy could use a military type around him. The French do it well, but...” Another shrug.

“A French wife, French gifts for my friends...” He glanced back at the unopened box. “The least I could do is ensure the lad grows to be properly English, I should think.”

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Beverley smiled and chuckled to himself. "Touche."

 

"Ha! Yes, it is very strange with both titles and surnames of Herbert and Somerset in the realm. Unfortunately, we cannot claim a stronger relation. Though, if I daresay, I would much rather a brother-in-law of Lord Herbert than the Herbert that is Lord Pembroke. He is, they say, a most mercurial and irascible personage." Whereas, the young Lord Herbert was the youngest member of the Royal Society, a far more cerebral individual.

 

"Mmm, yes, they do say it rivals His Majesty's. And that he has bears and lions ravage dogs and any number of beasts." His eyes flared. It was quite common to fight animals but Pembroke's scale was reportedly on another scale and quite bloody. "I think any man should like to see a lion." Or any exotic animal, really.

 

"Well, you shall have to inspire any young prince to grow to like you before he is old enough to decide to be jealous," Beverley replied, sagely and strangely. His aptitude for strategy extended to court life to an extent. "I should like to meet him if such would be permissible, though I have hardly been a military man of much action."

 

One day, perhaps. 

 

Chuckling at the very French description, Beverley answered, "Well, I am certain His Majesty appreciates that."

 

He turned his eyes back to the presents and moved his hands to the box. 

 

Beverley had a most candid face, and his delight was very plainly written in the parting of his upturned lips and brightening of his honey-brown eyes. 

 

"It is most magnificent!" He held the curved blade up and examined the fine horse head before admiring the fineness of the blade itself. "Thank you, my friend." Then he added with an amused grin, "I do not think this is very French."

 

 

 

 

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“They say one can't choose their family,” Cadell considered, on the topic of the Herberts and Somersets. “But I hardly think whoever coined that adage gave thought to the subject of marriage. Or our friend Pembroke, for that matter.” He had not yet gotten to know Pembroke, beyond the customary courtesies – for the reasons Beverley had listed, the man seemed more of a liability than an asset. “Still, I suppose a lion would make it worthwhile. Perhaps I should ask for one?”

That, given what he remembered of his own youth and of cousin Gwen's Arthur, would likely endear him to any prospective prince or royal bastard, although the viscount's provincial roots made the suggestion an instinctive joke. Two accidents had seen him rise from complete obscurity to a more mild one vis-a-vis his former baronetcy, and he was as of yet unaccustomed to the truly gaudy benefits of wealth and stature.

He gave his friend's advice due consideration: by now, he had known Beverley to possess a keen mind for the workings of court despite his demeanor, and nodded along at the words. “A Catholic influencing a prince might raise a few eyebrows,” he put in, right thumb brushing the sapphire eyes of his cane's carved ivory handle. “But perhaps if the lad has an appreciation for the written word...” A slight smile and light laughter followed a shrug of his shoulders. “Elsewise I may need to petition Prince Rupert to borrow you.

It went without saying, after all, that a man crippled in his youth knew nothing more of military affairs than the strategies he'd learned in books and the basics of firing a pistol. Not that Cadell had needed such, not even during the Flotilla catastrophe.

Cadell beamed even as he disagreed with Beverley, proud that he'd apparently made an excellent selection. “As pleased as I am by your reaction, I must say au contraire, my friend. Where we in London copy the French, in Paris they look to the east.” His left hand lifted the flask up, and his eyes fell upon it for a second before drifting back to his friend, explaining, “The teapot is an imitation, of course,” he said, smile still going strong. True blue-and-white porcelain was for the wealthiest of the wealthy, kings and dukes and merchant princes. “But the jade is from Hindustan, and the blade Damascus steel.”

“From what the Turk merchant said to me, I should like to see the Sublime Porte as well. But that's the domain of traders and those in high office, and I don't see an ambassadorship for myself any time soon,” the Welsh viscount threw in with another mild chuckle. “As for you, I do pray there's little opportunity to use that blade in the near future, hm?”

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Beverley laughed as his friend said that he might ask his new brother-in-law for a lion. "I think him the sort who might just send away for one for you!" Pembroke was rumoured to enjoy all things beastly, so if Cadell seemed to also enjoy that, it would probably go well. 

 

What Beverley said next was entirely a product of being a creature of court, and gossip, and rumours. 

 

"Perhaps not so much as you think," Beverley said. "His lady mother was close with the King at one time, they say. Why would His Majesty make Pembroke the uncle to his children?" He leaned in conspiratorially, "Pembroke looks precisely like a Herbert and a Villiers, the eldest son...but..." 

 

Captain Herbert was a very rare thing in either of those families: he had dark hair. And none of his brother's vain, mercurial, and aggressive temperament.

 

"It could just be court gossip. Ladies must talk of something. Often something is made out of nothing, but sometimes..." there was truth in there, even if just a grain. "Well, the Dowager Lady Pembroke is still an incredibly handsome woman in her later age." 

 

"Connections are what you make of them, Lord Athenry. Make friends, I say, with your new wife's in-laws and family, as far as you can go. For even with Pembroke, best to have him murdering for you than feeling murderous of you." And he did not feel very poorly in his candor, for Pembroke's reputation was absolutely no secret. There was little reputation to beat around it. "He is known for being protective of his family. He put on some spectacle with the mob at the height of the anti-Papist sentiment last year." 

 

Beverley was somewhat surprised a grand band of them had not banded together and killed Pembroke and his wife after the ammunition he handed to a very angry crowd!

 

"Yes, but he is not going to be King, and his mother is already so. And His Majesty did allow you to marry her, so..." Beverley shrugged. Clearly, the King was not worried about it. "I would be happy to meet the boy if he has such interests. You needn't borrow me!" he chuckled. 

 

"No? My friend, I think you sell yourself far too short. His Majesty appreciates a sound mind. You already gravitate closer to His Majesty's family circle than I do." 

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