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Cadell Mortimer

Felix Culpa, afternoon, Easter Sunday

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Easter, it was said, was a time for family, for the Christian man, his spouse, and children to contemplate the sacrifice Christ had made for mankind and His resurrection. Cadell Mortimer was successful in doing the latter.

For once, he had missed Wales, the backwater that was regressive enough to allow its Catholics to practice their faith quietly. The night before, being Holy Saturday, was supposed to be a recognition of the Harrowing of Hell and greeted with hymns, but instead the Viscount Athenry had taken to his books – the study being the one room in their Chelsea manor that was truly his – to consider further how the French dominance of civilized culture might be put to use in England. Catholic priests were in demand, after all, and Holy Saturday was traditionally barren of righteous observance.

Nonetheless, Cadell Mortimer, Viscount Athenry and so on, was a man who typically felt need of absolution, guilt or no.

So it was that he had been feeling particularly blessed on Easter Sunday, wherein a proper Mass had been provided for the residents of their Chelsea home, allowing the young lord to feel at ease with the moderate impropriety (attending a service belonging to a false Church who owed its rise to a handful of Protestant whores, of course, was improper) with which he had approached his return to the London season. But he had, for better or worse, favored the sanctity of the study from late morning through to the afternoon, head bowed in prayer for his family in Wales,and to reach an accord with what, sham or no, was his erstwhile family of French origin.

And then, after resolving to speak to his wife, fellow conspirator, and compatriot in their mutual chastity (at least as regarded the other, Cadell preferred not to think about Louise's extracurricular activities), he uttered one last quick prayer for himself, to follow the wisdom of the felix culpa doctrine, the blessed Fall. That Man might do good from the evil into which they were born. For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.*

Naturellement, it wouldn't have done if his lady wife was to be found somewhere accessible. Their (comparatively) small home was devoid of her presence, occupied only by servants from two realms, and it took the recently-promoted-to-head footman Duncan to guide his master out to the gardens, a long limp for one reliant on a cane. Nonetheless, the courtier's mask the viscount wore grew warm and sincere, fond of Portsmouth as he was, upon catching a glimpse of blonde hair and a lady lost in thought.

“I forgot your fondness for gardens, it seems,” he greeted gently, thinking back to the unfortunate circumstances of their introduction. Before approaching her, he paused, plucking a white lily -a symbol of purity and the Blessed Virgin- and hobbling over with it held between his fingers. “But in my attempt to find you I discovered that the cook has prepared a veritable feast à la française, which ought to be pleasing if you should wish to invite anybody.

Realizing that this was an interruption which may have seemed asinine, Cadell shrugged his shoulders. “Is aught amiss, my lady?” Even now, as he offered the lily, he stuck to formality, querying further. “Might I sit with you?”

 

 

*St. Augustine

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Why would he not see her? Louise had anticipated that he would send for her as soon as she arrived back in London, but she had received no summons. She had gone to the palace to see him but had been turned away every time. Some of the letters she wrote to him were answered cordially, but not in his own handwriting. Why was he avoiding her? He had approved of her marriage and her trip to France with her new husband. Had he been planning all along to let her go?

 

She reached up and brushed a tear from her cheek. No, he would never do such a thing. He cared for her, she knew that much. Maybe since England was at war with France, it was not wise to be seen with her. Yes that was it. Or were those rumors that he had a new French mistress true? Was some ambitious golddigger trying to take her place? If so, Louise was determined to find out who she was and destroy her before she sank her teeth into him.

 

An errant tear dropped upon her hand. She would not cry. He would send for her when he could. She and Cadell had only been back for a few days. He was probably longing for the moment they could be together again and had simply been too busy to answer her notes himself. She had to believe that. If she didn’t, she feared that she would go insane.

 

He was her life. He was her world. He was the sun she revolved around. Without him, she would wither away and die.

 

The familiar cadence of her husband’s footsteps bought the Duchess out of her morose thoughts. A genuine smile graced her pretty features as she looked up at him. She had never once regretted marrying him and their long stay in France had been quite enjoyable. It had been fun to show him the places she loved, to introduce him to friends she had kept in touch with over the years, to attend events together at a court that was more decadent than its English counterpart.

 

Cadell was her friend as well as her spouse, and she believed that he was now more French than he was Welsh. They had not had to hide their faith in France and had been able to practice it openly, attending Mass without fearing that they might be discovered. The entire trip had been a wonderful and enlightening experience and she felt that the two of them had become closer because of it.

 

“You know well how much I love flowers,” she replied in her native tongue. Why speak English when they were alone? Even their new home had been decorated in the French style. Louise watched as he picked a pure white lily from a bush, her gaze resting for a moment on his hands before glancing at his cane. She knew he was often in pain and tried to help him as much as she could.

 

“Yes, I picked out the menu myself,” she replied. “And there is nobody I would like to invite more than you.” She had yet to get in touch with any of her friends but she hoped to throw a party before the season ended. When she was back in his good graces.

 

“No, nothing is wrong,” she assured Cadell, not wanting to tell him what was bothering her quite yet. Her smile brightened when he handed the lily to her. “Thank you. Of course, you may sit with me. You know how much I enjoy your company.” Louise scooted over on the bench to make room for him., looking down at the beautiful flower. “I am just feeling a bit homesick, I suppose. It will pass when we get back into the swing of court life. It has changed. So many new faces. But France was like that too. Have you run into any of your old friends yet? Or made any new ones?”

 

A tear fell upon the petals of the lily and she shook it off, hoping that her husband would not see.

 

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