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Blackguard

Flowers for the Living Tuesday May 12 early Afternoon

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"Yes, no jewelry," Elizabeth agreed.  A dark room was not a place for jewels anyway.

"What is a ... voo ... doo doll?"  It was clear that the Duchess had no knowledge of the ways of Caribbean witches.  "Are you suggesting casting spells Darlene?  You must not do that.  It is one thing to listen to the dead and quite another to cast a spell on someone to force them to become your puppet.  Someone could say that you are a ... .  Well you could be in great trouble."  She seemed sincerely shocked.  Spell casting was taboo.  Still, curiosity got the better of her and she had to ask "how does this magic work?  Who taught you such a thing?"  

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"Don’t worry Elizabeth, this is magic alright.  It’s done by Doctors in fact.” Darlene chose to leave out the ‘witch’ part of the witchdoctor title.

“My little maid Maisie, the darkie girl that I hired when we were in Jamaica, yes she mentioned something once, and I know I had to learn more of it.  They did not want to tell me though, it took simply ages to find someone to talk, and cost Thomas a small fortune.  Well, he thought it was for a regular Doctor.  Anyhow, it’s quite a secret thing, which is why you cannot tell anyone. But then noone talks about regular doctor visits either.  So it's quite normal.”

“Mmmm.... it’s to do with these figures and, mmm…  sort of like blessings for them.  It’s mostly to do with chickens. See, the feathers for stuffing, and sometimes the chickens have to die, and, something with an egg to take the evil out of someone. I’ve not done that, but it seems very interesting dont you agree.”

“Yes, so really, it’s Chickenology.  Yes that is a better way of saying it.”  

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"Doctors practice medicine with dolls?" the Duchess uttered aloud not sure if she heard correctly.  How was that possible.  Was there anyone there with a proper University learning? Then there was a part about chickens.  "Do not tell me they engage in animal sacrifice there Darlene," she declared.  "That is what ancient pagans did, if I recall correctly."  Eggs to negate evil sounded religious.

"Of course there are plenty of people in London that believe that prayer alone can heal.  They have no regard for science or the supernatural," she lamented.  Of course, her idea of science was not the classic one; rather the sciences of the mind and the supernatural.

"Does it work?" Elizabeth found herself asking.  "Do they really heal people this way in Jamaica, and it works?"  With but a brief pause she added "have you used it and it worked?"

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She might have gotten away with it if she’d not mentioned the part about chickens.

"Alright then, they are called witch doctors actually."  Darlene’s shoulders slumped and she huffed, “I am just so terribly bored!” with a lip jutting that Elizabeth had such sensible advice.

“I don’t even know if it works.” She replied somewhat quietly, as it seemed that Elizabeth might be more forgiving of the heresy if it proved practical.

“I cannot see how it does work, but sometimes it just helps to have something to do.  To try help. Like, this, these.” She indicated the pair of dolls that she’d taken back into her hands, “I have a sweetheart who might never propose.  So I thought to try this. Oh but don’t even mention it to Francis, she thinks I am stupid and he was drunk to even say he might.”

Sighing Darlene was ready to put the dolls down, when other thought came to her. “Perhaps your see-er might be my better help. Perhaps they will have a message for me too?”

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"Witch doctor?"  That sounded like an oxymoron to her.

Elizabeth listened patiently to her friend, understanding the frustration.  Her sister was always one to look at the dark side of things.

"It sounds to me like this is just harmless fun," she offered, trying to help Darlene cheer up and to defend what others might see as Satanic rituals.  "Girls are always praying and spell casting on gentlemen to get them to propose."  She tried to laugh it off though knowing it to be true.

"This sweetheart in a red coat.  He is a soldier?  Who is he?  I'll just have Chris tell him to propose.  That should solve it.  No need to rely on a gypsy seer," she laughed, quite pleased with herself for solving Darlene's problem.  Her husband was a duke and a commander of the King's Life Guard.  What soldier would dare say no?

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"Yes it’s just the same as that.” Though Darlene had hoped there was more to it than mere folly or wishful thinking.

“Yes he’s a soldier.”

The Duchess was trying to help, her tone alone said as much.  

“I promised not to tell anyone who he was.” Why had Charles wanted to keep it a secret? Times like this Darlene wondered if Frances was right.

“Would Chris do that for me?” she did not mean to sound quite so much like a little girl as she said that, did not mean to sound helpless. “Your family has really been so good for me Elizabeth, thank you for your offer, but. Well I have just today decided I will just let destinies path fall as it will.  Besides, with a friend like you who needs a husband.”

Putting the figures back in the box Darlene turned back to the Duchess and smiled, “I shall order a fresh pot of tea and we can make our plans for the seance. Should we have drinks before and after – red wine of course, and perhaps should all wear our cloaks so it will feel most mysterious and help evoke the spirits. What do you think?”  

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"Chris will do as I tell him," Elizabeth declared boldly.  The man was nearly helpless without her, or so she imagined.  

At first Darlene seemed intrigued as Elizabeth expected; but, then she declared a desire to trust Fate, claiming she needed no husband.  Lady Ablemarle recognized it for what it was -- pride.  Darlene could not ask for help.  It created two minds within the Duchess.  She could help her friend secretly.  She would learn the identity of Darlene's suitor and apply suitable pressure behind Darlene's back.  It would achieve the desired goal without Darlene having to know,  It was simply brilliant.

The other mind whispered that she should encourage Darlene to not seek remarriage.  Some ladies were better off without husbands.  Further, if Darlene found a husband and had some precious child, would she not float away as a friend, more concerned about husband and child than faithful friend?  Perhaps she could do both.

"That is the spirit," she encouraged.  "Why do you need a husband Darlene?  You already had one.  Most men simply want your wealth and your body, and they expect you to obey their wishes.  I was lucky that Christopher is compliant and brought his own wealth and titles, but I know of so many marriages that are sad.  Wives have no say or law to protect them.  If Chris were to die, I would never remarry.  Why would I?  What would I need with another husband?"  In this view she was sincere.  "Every woman should have one.  But why two?"  She huffed at the thought.

"Yes, another cup of tea as we solve life's mysteries," she offered gaily.  "Perhaps with a hint of honey?  Do you have any honey?  As for wine, I think tea for the seance," she announced as Darlene replaced the dolls.  She was left with the urge to pull out the soldier doll and give it a violent twist.  "Cloaks yes.  You must also wear lots of silver.  You have a silver necklace don't you?"

 

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"Oh of course he will, he hasn’t eyes for anyone but you.” Darlene felt silly to have asked if he’d do it for her, when plainly it would be at Elizabeth's wifely instruction/command.

Noting the Duchess’ second glance at the dolls, Darlene never the less tried to pull her mind from those thoughts. The moved from her room still talking, and down the stairs – but to her heart Charles felt near to her still.  

“Well, someone to instruct, as you instruct your Chris.” Was an answer she imagined Elizabeth would accept. She knew better than to cite love, for they had already spoke of that and she knew Elizabeth a cynic, “and I thought perhaps I would have children one day.”

Which reminded her of the Dukes letter.

“If Chris died, then you might marry for reasons of your own. It need not be for the family so much, a widow surely has the right to choose her own.  If Chris dies, though of course he shall not, then I expect any number of men who might currently admire you, would then dare to approach. You might be surprised.”

“Yes with honey.” A fresh pot was ordered, with honey, ‘and also shortbread’, while the ladies got back to their plans. 

“Has tea better affinity with the spirits?” Elizabeth plainly knew more about this sort of thing.   

… “but the jewellery needs to be close to our skin, so covered by our clothes – we don’t want the gypsy to see it.” For as they’d established, all gypsies were thieves. "Why Silver and not Gold?" 

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"Oh green griffins," she dismissed.  "Chris has eyes for every pretty woman.  I catch him staring.  I do not doubt that all men are like that.  Chris has eyes for my father's dowry," she whispered .  "You, on the other hand, Darlene are blessed with beauty.  Do you find men staring at you?"

"You can instruct servants," Elizabeth laughed.  "You need no husband for that.  Children yes.  I still owe my duty to produce a male heir and a spare to carry on the Ablemarle title.  My mother was quite the brood mare, so it is but a matter of time."  Truth was that there was growing concern about her inability to have children.

"These men that shall seek me out shall be nothing but pirates.  I shall see right through them.  No, I shall be a content widow to chart my own course," she assured her friend as the tea was being prepared.

"Silver wards off evil spirits," Elizabeth explained patiently.  "The unholy cannot abide holy water, blessed items, or silver.  Gold is but adornment to them, but they fear silver for it burns them.  Yes, it must touch your skin.  I will wear a silver tiara, silver necklace and a silver laced belt.  Oh, and a silver pin over my heart.  One cannot be too careful.  The medium must wear no silver, but keep a silver crucifix nearby.  He is the vessel for spirits ... we are not."

As for the gypsy, "she can see a sliver or two of silver, but do not show her any gems.  They are like magpies, they are. They cannot help but steal them."

"You can add herbs to tea, but not to wine.  Certain herbs help in a seance," she added cryptically.

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Darlene blinked at the unknown term. "and Purple Pegasus-es" she laughed, "- Elizabeth where do you get your sayings, you are marvellously unique!" 

Simply said she was greatly enjoying the Duchesses company! (which was a surprising realisation still) 

"Perhaps they stare, I ignore such things, I am far more interested in men of action." Darlene knew very well that Elizabeth’s husband was a watcher, she'd even dallied with a flirtation with him now and then, but he'd never made a slightest move. 

"In any case it's perfectly fine for a man to look, I must admit that I found it a little odd that my Thomas did not seem to do so. He was not nearly as hot blooded as I had hoped." she sighed, and then thought occurred, "Your Chris must be quite sensual I expect."

Because best friends, even relatively prim ladies like themselves, could talk about such things as that.

"It sounds quite good when you say it like that." Darlene had always enjoyed allegory. "So I might be captain of my own ship too? Only, it doesn’t feel like that so much, there is all the Hamilton family still - Henry the new Viscount Oakham set to marry any moment and turn me into a Dowager, while the Mother Hamilton, already a Dowager, glowers away at me.  In that family I now have no rhyme or reason at all. But it hardly as though my Brother can take me back."   These were some of the thoughts that rattled in her mind, to explain some of why she sought a new family. But she shrugged of it, for she was truly trying to not even care. Status quo might need to exist some good while yet. 

"Oh I see.  Now you explain I am reconsidering my entire jewellery box. I've always preferred gold, but it's practically bait." she was hardly ready for such big news. "I don’t know if I even own anything silver, might you be able to lend me something for that night. I shall of course order my own items as soon as the shops open again!"" 

"Like, parsley?" the thought of adding herbs to tea seemed odd.

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"My grandmother would tell me as a girl when I wished for impossible things that I would see green griffins before such a wish might come true," Elizabeth explained.  She had shortened the phrase as a way of dismissing the unlikely.  "Purple pegasuses would work too," she offered by way of encouragement.

"I had thought your Thomas to be a man of action," she opined before dismissing it.  "No matter.  Chris thinks himself a man of action but he is far too predictable, which is good in a way I suppose."  She mentioned nothing further about his sexual appetite.

It seemed as if the Hamilton family was aloof.  She could hardly offer that the Cavendishes were warmer, especially to outsiders.  "It is best if you stay away from Oakham then.  I hope your Thomas left you enough income to live comfortably."  If not, it would be more apparent why Darlene might seek another marriage.

"I shall lend you some silver items," the Duchess pledged.  "I have plenty.  I'll give it to you the night of the seance and help you afix it to the right places."  As for the tea, Monck replied "sage or anise seed can be protective when added to tea.  Mandrake can attract spirits.  Parsley helps too, but I do not put it in tea.  It is said to be as effective as mistletoe in warding off evil spirits.  You need to find a good nerbalist shop Darlene."

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"It's a good saying." Darlene approved, "though it sounds like your Grandmother had much in common with Frances.  I would prefer to say that if one dreams and works with conviction, then anything might be possible. Perhaps I shall paint a statue of a Griffin green to illustrate that point." 

Darlene like to talk big, though in truth there had been many green griffins (or purple pegasai) in her life. 

"Yes I thought he was too." she really did not like to talk about Thomas much, doing so always made her feel sad.  "But in the end I was just his trophy, once he'd won me he had very little interest at all."

"I suppose at least you know what to expect." the topic of Chris frittered, but not before this brunette suggested, "I wonder if he can be changed. Perhaps some novelty might renew his efforts? Or at least, I wish I'd tried again with my Thomas. Potentially we could have been so happy."

She shrugged at the money question, Darlene had never paid any attention to that sort of thing. So far all her usual accounts still worked, so everything must be fine. "I shall probably just stay here, even in the recess." 

"Oh thank you Elizabeth, have you a second silver tiara too? I would like to wear one of those. Ought we bring our bibles also, and perhaps I should fill a bottle with holy water just in case." After all what they proposed to do was dangerous. Darlene, raised properly in the English way, was utterly superstitious. 

"You are right, I do." finger was put to her lips to help think, for the life of her she had no idea where to find a herbalist in London. 

 

 

OOC: :P 

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"Stone griffins can get algae," Elizabeth noted.  "I told grandmother there were green griffins," she recalled, trying to not naysay Darlene.  Of course, her grandmother had merely shushed such defiance.

"We were both trophies I supposed.  It is better than not being trophies however."  She offered a small smile of privilege.  "Our men were disappointments.  I suppose I could change Christopher, but do I really wish to?  Would that really have made you truly happy?"  It was spoken with a shade of doubt.  Elizabeth was not one to think that sex could bring happiness.

"I shall have a silver tiara for you.  It will protect your head, along with a silver choker.  The pin will protect your heart.  I think you will look lovely in silver,: she judged as she looked at Darlene with a eye towards fashion.  "Silver lies well with dark hair."

There was said to be a herbalist owned by a French woman, likely a witch, but the Duchess preferred to spend her coin with honest Englishmen.  "I can find you a book on herbs.  When is your birthday by the way?"

 

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Even though Elizabeth was more fun than Frances, she was still rather sensible.  "Oh yes I suppose." Darlene replied of algae, understanding that her oldest new friend was making an effort.  This friendship was simply a more serious minded one than was Darlene's usual.

"I don’t truly know, I hardly gave it a chance." she replied on topic of Thomas, "I think he had a difficult time properly expressing himself..." but Elizabeth’s actual question had been what would make her happy.  

"What most makes you happy?" Darlene asked, realising that she was unsure of her own answer.

Talk of dressing up for their evening was a happy thought though, and Darlene smiled of it. "You are a dear, I cannot wait, we shall prepare together then? I would like to match you as much as I may."  she imagined that together they would make a striking pair. "Goodness, it is only a shame that the seance need to be such a secret, for almost no-one will see how fine we look."

"Cant you just tell me what to buy?" Darlene preferred that over having to read a book on a tedious subject.  "But my birthday is the 2nd of December 1656, I'll be turning 22 this year.  When was yours?"   

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I think men generally have difficulty in expressing themselves," she replied.  "Women are better at expressing themselves, expect for female servants that is.  They natter so and it is difficult to understand what they are saying."

"What makes me happy is exploring things on my own, not being slowed by others and fools," she confided. "It certainly is not running a household."  That was the chore of other ladies.  Monck thought it best to defer to hired help in that regard.

"My birthday was February 22, 1654.  So I am more than two years older than you.  So you should treat me as an elder," she gave a snort.  "I married Chris when I was 15.  Seems like a lifetime ago."  It had almost been a decade and she was still childless.

"We shall look our finest for the spirits then.  Perhaps at the next ball we wear matching silver jewelry?"

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"You need a darkie servant like mine, she hardly says a word." Darlene recommended, "ooo and then our servants could be friends too, and it would be just perfect."

Because sometimes Darlene had wondered if Maisie got a bit lonely.

"Hmm..." tipping her head she mused, "It must be a Cavandish way, to be such a strong mind and independent. I remember William commending academic interests for women. It seems a nice idea to do, but I have no idea of what I'd like to think so much about. I wish my days to be more fun. Oh and yes I agree, planning the weeks menus and such is the ultimate boredom, who cares what wine to pair with salmon an if you should only eat blancmange in springtime!"

"I will treat you like - a little bit older." Darlene grinned as a tease "though you are a Duchess and I'm only Viscountess, so you have to go through the doors first anyhow." breaking into laughter she alleged, "so you can clear it for cobwebs, for I'm afraid of spiders!"

Of attending th enext ball in matched silver she nodded, "That's a grand idea, and might help ward away malevolence there also." 

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"Oh yes, I want a darkie maid.  How do I find one?"  It was becoming a status symbol to have one and it struck her as darkies might be more open with the spiritual.  "I want one from the Americas and the Orient too."  She might like to collect them.  She could certainly afford it.

Elizabeth nodded at the thought that her grandfather liked educated women.  His last wife, Margaret, was quite the accomplished authoress.  She laughed as Darlene teased about treating her as an elder.  She knew she had precedence and had only been jesting about being like an elder.

"Maybe the silver will ward away fools too," she announced hopefully.  "I suppose I should be on my way shortly," she observed as she nursed the remaining tea.

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"I think that Cumberland knows how to get them." Darlene mused dizzily, having never really paid any attention to import or exports.   "I don’t think you should have one from the Americas though, " Darlene had made friends with Weroance Anne, and so it just did not seem right to her.  "But ooh but I’ve never heard of anyone having one from the Orient, you will amaze everybody at Court."

The ladies chatter was what some would call inane, though Darlene would describe it as purely enjoyable.  But even the best of afternoon teas came to an end, and soon this one did too.

"We can only hope. " Darlene paused on that thought then boldly announced, "I think I want to swap all my gold jewellery for silver." It was a very dramatic decision, but seemed do very right just now. "I wonder if there is anyone who does that sort of thing. I bet our Count Fiorenzi would know." 

At length their cups of tea were empty and the dregs of the pot quite cold - so farewells were made, Darlene embraced the Duchess also. "Thank you so for visiting." she farewelled sincerely, "I cannot wait for our evening of discovery together." 

 

And speaking of discovery, after the Duchess had left, Darlene returned to those letters they had found, and re read them all again. The second one broke her heart each time, Thomas had never realy loved her.   Which made the last letter all the more important...

Quote

 

Your Grace,

Your letter has been received and I will keep it as a bequest at the time of your passing.  Rest assured that if Lady Hamilton has a child acknowledged by you or is pregnant at the time of your death, she will be given the estates you have identified.  If she has no acknowledged offspring of yours at the time of your death, she will be given your house on Picadilly, all contents, and if she falls upon hard times after your death, the monies set aside for her will be delivered along with the letter you have asked me to forward.

Your Servant,

John Leeds

10 Temple Way

 

 

It was times like this that Darlene wished she was cleverer, but she was only clever enough to know this was important.  What could be done with it.  

Maybe I should show Charles? 

 

OOC: sorry for my late late late reply & thankyou for the thread

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As the Duchess took her leave, she had been convinced that an Oriental servant was the trendsetting move.  That alone, was something valuable to take away.

"Yes, Forensi knows all about silver jewelry."  She lowered her voice to add "he also has fashioned weapons out of solid silver do you know?  He carries a silver dagger with him at all times.  He claims to have silver bullets and mini balls, as well as a sword glazed in silver.  The poor man mentions that he is both a hunter of and hunted by the supernatural.  There is danger in all of this Darlene.  He has spent a decade or more at it.  We must be very careful."

On a happy enough note they parted and Elizabeth was satisfied for the moment that her grandfather did not leave her a letter or message behind.

~finis

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