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Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

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Oakham and Toledo

She covered her lips to hide her amusement, though naught could halt the dancing of eyes.  "It would be wrong of course to hope it a trend that will catch on for next week too?!"  Darlene for her part was well ready to get up from the pews (she suffered both a terrible thirst and a need to pee!) 

If there was any doubt in her mind remaining (though there wasn’t anyhow) her utter delight with new friend was then confirmed as Sophia suggested a terribly clever thing. Darlene’s eyes flared, "Ooh that is terribly clever." said in a low enough voice so other might not hear, and take up the clever idea too. "I cannot believe I've never thought of that.  You are really quite a savant I think. I bet you could also make up excellent party games."  The latter being a highest compliment that Darlene knew how to give.

Whispered then ... "Shh... lets wait a minute, till the rest of them have left.  Quick - pretend to pray!" 

Which Darlene then herself did.

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John and Anne-Elisabeth

He thought her not wanting to remarry somewhat of a shame. She was a fine looking woman.

"Ah! Well then I am glad to hear that there is a chance of some lucky man then. It would be a disappointment to see you go to waste."

"Excellent. Two is always a better number when planning a Campaign. I think we shall make a formidible pair."

"It has been some time since I was held with affection as you describe. Very nice in shape and with skin soft as well. Or so I imagine."

That he was speaking with a double tongue she would no doubt guess.

"Then it is settled. Say two of the clock? And you would stand out no matter the color. Besides my eyes are very good."

She accepted his offer of escort slipping her hand onto his arm where he promptly drew it closer against his side.

"With more to come .... If God is listening."

He set his pace slower than usual smiling down at her from time to time as they made their exit.

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Oakham and Toledo

 

“I hope it does,” Sophia replied. “I’ve had enough of Church these past four days. Though I suppose we will find ourselves here again next Sunday.” She had an idea for some mischief they could cause if they arrived early, but she decided to wait until she joined Darlene for dinner on Wednesday to mention it.

 

The blonde Countess preened at her friend’s praise. Darlene was the clever one, always coming up with the most intriguing activities at parties and balls. Her compliment delighted the young singer. who had both envied her and admired her since she had first come to court a year ago. “I’d like to try, but I’ll never be as good as you are. You have a natural talent for it.”

 

Sophia nodded when Darlene suggested that the pretend to pray, bowing her head and folding her hands, but keeping one eye open. The sounds around her began to fade. When it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop, she whispered: “I think everyone has gone now. Shall we begin?”

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Oakham and Toledo

Quote

“I’d like to try, but I’ll never be as good as you are. You have a natural talent for it.”

Which was true, provoking Darlene to shine "Why just imagine if we ever put our skills together and created an event.  It might set a new bar of how things should be done in entertainment, our names would be noted as the most accomplished hostesses -or should that be hostessii - to walk the halls of Whitehall." Darlene's name would go first of course. 

But to this adventure, then stealthily prayed - Darlene peeked just once or twice to make sure that Sophia was diligent too, and also to be certain that she was fake praying better than her friend.

Competitive praying was a thing.

But thank goodness the ladies decided they'd done enough of that. "I was just going to say that too." Darlene whispered, and flashed a grin. Scooping herself up to her feet she looked about, before scooching down the pew checking under, around and about. 

"Wasn't this where the chancellor was sitting?" she whispered, bending to pick up a button. "I don’t even think this is his, what can that mean?" her eyes flared with playful intrigue

 

OOC: I beleive we are perfectly fine to find little unimportant bits and bobs.

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Sophia was entranced with Darlene’s vision. “So why don’t we do it? We can plan something spectacular when I come over for dinner. After nothing but church, church, and church in the last few days, I’m sure everyone will welcome some high-quality entertainment.”

 

The blonde Countess spent more time stealthily looking around the chapel than pretending to pray, so Darlene was much better at it. However, if Sophia had known her friend’s thoughts, she would have tried harder to fake prayers. Maybe she would have even said ‘amen’ out loud to show her phony religious fervor. It wouldn’t hurt for other courtiers to think that the Spanish Ambassador’s wife was loyal to the Church of England. Perhaps she wouldn’t convert after all.

 

If they both had the same idea, then the chapel must be completely empty. Sophia rose in one graceful movement, which she savored as she would not longer be so agile in the coming months. Since Darlene chose to search their pew, she moved to the one across from it.

 

“Is it a man’s button or a woman’s button?” she asked. “If he’s not married, maybe he fancies a certain lady and keeps her button as a keepsake  Sophia wrinkled her nose.  Or he could have stolen it, which would be extremely creepy."

 

There was nothing interesting in the pew she was inspecting so she moved on to the next one. Nothing had been left in that one either, until she saw something glittering. “Oh, this is strange!” she exclaimed. “There are three silver hairpins stuck into the back of the pew. I have no idea how they got there unless some enterprising gentleman was removing them from the coiffure of the lady sitting in front of him.”

 

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"We completely must," she fully agreed, and planning an extravaganza would be a perfect topic for their dinner party. 

Then to their treasure hunting...

Darlene dropped the Chancellors button, her interest caught by her friend.  "Ooh you found the best thing!" she whispered, hurrying to see Sophia's intrigue. 

"He practically undressed her, I wonder if she even knew. Or perhaps she did know, and was complicit! Goodness, that is even more daring than I'd be. I’m so jealous!" Darlene grinned.  "I bet mine was just the chancellors loose button popped when he sat downside, everyone knows Lord Daventry is so boring." 

Darlene touched one of the pins, "Was this where George Churchill was sitting? He's quite a fascinating man don’t you think? He’s a little bit wicked, and also exciting."  

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Sophia’s ice-blue eyes lit up. She could hardly wait for Wednesday evening. They were going to have so much fun!

 

She grinned when Darlene joined her to view her discovery. The silver hairpins glittered in the light that spilled through the stained glass windows. “If she knew, then why didn’t she retrieve them? Or why did he not take them with him to give to her later? He must know a lot about lady’s hair to remove the ones that would not make it tumble down her back. Or maybe it was intentional and he was her lover arousing her while she was sitting beside her husband!

 

“It’s more daring than I would be too.” She turned mirth-filled eyes to her friend. “Though wouldn’t it be amusing to put something down the back of a gentleman’s jacket … like a frog?” A bright burst of lyrical laughter played with the acoustics in the chapel. “Nobody would expect a lady to do such a thing.”

 

The petite singer shrugged. “I’m not sure. I wasn’t paying attention where everyone was sitting.” What would Darlene think if she knew that Sophia daydreamed about sex with her Prince during long boring sermons? “I must confess I don’t know much about him. Before I was married, he never asked me to dance, not even after I became the May Queen. I’ve never spoken to him either. Maybe he’s allergic to foreign ladies. Do you know him well?”

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"It's a scandal, I completely agree." delighted Darlene fairly shone "Shall we keep looking for more?"

Sophia meanwhile plotted Mischief, making Darlene giggle out loud.  But the frog prank idea was going too far even for her! It was seldom indeed that Darlene reined another’s ideas in, so it was possibly even a first that she then said "Or what about a little love letter, that he shall later find at the end of the day when he disrobes. Then to wonder back though his day to who it might have been?" 

"I don’t know hm at all in fact." Darlene replied cheerily as though that was no matter at all, "But I sat next to him at the Lords, and asked him to provide me an escort to the Green Ribbon Club. If he was a good and sensible gentleman he'd have said no.  My Late Lord Husband for instance, would have been aghast. But George Churchill agreed. It shall be shockingly dangerous, and I expect to have a great deal of fun!" 

 

 

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John Burgoyne left in the company of George Churchill.  It might seem that the blond man was trying to cheer the dark-haired Burgoyne.

They paused outside the door after greeting a few other guests.  "They are both pretty," he said a little loudly.  "I could let you have one if you wish," he offered in jest.  "You could buy me a few and tell me which you like.  Come on."  The pair turned to take their leave.

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Oakham and Toledo

 

“Yes, we should keep looking, But first …” Memorizing how the pins were arranged and exactly what part of the bench they were embedded in, Sophia removed them and moved to the pew on the other side of the aisle, sticking them in the back of the bench in exactly the same pattern. “When they come looking for them, they will expect to find them where they left them and will discover them in this pew instead. Perhaps they will believe that they forgot which side of the aisle they were sitting on.” It was a subtle prank, but would definitely cause the culprit a bit of confusion.

 

Moving to another one, she listened to Darlene’s suggestion. Of course she would come up with a better idea. A frog would be hard to smuggle into a search. Its croaking would give it away. Unlike most ladies, she had no qualms about catching one of the slimy creatures. She had caught quite a few as a lonely little girl growing up in a castle with a moat around it to keep others out. Entertainment often came in unusual forms.

 

“See?” she asked with a grin. “You are much better at this than I. A love letter is a much better choice, the bawdier the better. We should do it next Sunday. I feel sorry for the gentlemen who sit in front of us.”

 

Sophia had no idea what the Green Ribbon Club was, but the way Darlene described it, it must be an exclusive gentleman’s club. “Ooooh. He does sound daring and adventurous. Just be wary. He might want something in return that you’re not willing to give.” The petite blonde didn’t want to ruin her friend’s anticipation, but some gentlemen did not indulge ladies out of the goodness of their hearts. Then again, Darlene was a widow. Maybe she fancied George Churchill.

 

There was nothing of interest in the pew she was searching, and she moved to yet another. "I hate to sound ignorant, but what is the Green Ribbon Club?"The cushion looked a bit lumpy, so she felt underneath it. Her fingers came in contact with a book and she pulled it out, glanced at the cover, and held it up. “Look … a racy novel! Someone wasn’t listening to the sermon today.”

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Oakham and Toledo

While Sophia finished fussing with the pins, Darlene realised she had broken one of her rules, the one that went 'don’t talk about somebody until they have left the room'.   Because it was only now that she'd started on George Chruchill that she noticed he was slower than most in leaving the chapel, that he was in fact, just over there.  He looked fine again too, in that dangerous and exciting sort of way she especially liked.

"The green ribbon club is for politics, like the woolsack, but not refined, nor royally endorsed I don’t think. They publish controversial pamphlets, in fact maybe they call them the pamphleteers? Or if they arent, then they should be." 

"Bawdy love letters do you think? You would have love my cousin Heather..." her eyes followed George and John as they left, and even as Sophia discovered a forgotten book Darlene cooed, "-Come Lady Toledo - I am bored of this game."

Darlene was intent to follow after the gentlemen, and so the ladies came to overhear their words.   

"Why Captain Churchill, I thought you were talking about us for a moment." Darlene interjected cheerily and with a wink to Burgoyne (whom she did not actually know, but winks were a handy way of negating social niceties.)   

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Oakham and Toledo approaching Churchill and Burgoyne

 

Sophia wrinkled her nose. She had been studying politics lately because she thought she needed to be informed now that she was an Ambassador’s wife, but she didn’t understand half of what she read. “It sounds boring to me.” Lifting her eyes from the bench of the pew, she grinned at Darlene. “But I’m sure you will liven things up. They will probably invite you back again and again.”

 

As for the love letters: “Yes, the bawdier the better. Oooh, maybe they could even be written in another language and he will have to find somebody to translate them for him.” Though she was fluent in German and Italian and adequate in Spanish and French, she couldn’t write the letter herself. Her handwriting might be recognized and then Esteban would think she was having an affair with some random gentleman she had actually never met.

 

After she discovered the racy book, her friend declared that the game bored her. Sophia joined Darlene as she moved toward the exit. In front of them was the gentleman that they had just been talking about and the gentleman that she had publicly embarrassed at a ball last year. She had nothing to fear from John Burgoyne now that she was married. He probably had no idea why she chose a Spaniard over him. Or maybe he did. She was a Countess now and most young ladies loved titles.

 

They seemed to be discussing ladies. Darlene made a saucy comment, probably hoping to impress George. Sophia smiled at both of them, wondering how he would answer. What if they really had been talking about them?  She didn't realize that the naughty novel was still clutched in one hand.

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Churchill was surprised but an easy smile appeared on his face.  Burgoyne looked startled and embarrassed with the attention of the two beauties.

"If it was words of praise you overheard, then it was surely about you," George assured Darlene.  "Ladies, may I introduce John Burgoyne?  He is an aide to the Earl of Oxford and a fine fellow.  John, this is Lady Oakham, a most charming lady and sadly widowed and this is the Countessa Toledo, a favorite at singing events and the wife of the Spanish Ambassador.  I am certain that these two are the most beautiful ladies at court this season," he flattered.  "Imagine having them both together."  He could only imagine.

"Ladies what a rare privilege to make your acquaintances," John offered with a bow.  He could only hope that they had not been overheard.  As for the most beautiful lady at court, John had a favorite beauty, a French one, that eclipsed the two in front of him, at least in his opinion.

 

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