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Cordelia Lucas

Newcastle House, Tuesday 2 PM, Marriage Talks Part Two

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She arrived at the appointed hour glad that the Sun was out.  

Looking very Spring like in an apple green brocade gown with cream lace and wearing her pearls she was comfortable in her appearance.

Her driver was sent to announce her and then he quickly returned to hand her out of the carriage and see her up to the door.

 

(placeholder for the Duchess of Newcastle)

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The butler had been given instructions by his mistress, and when Lady Lucas arrived, he led her through a long corridor to a door that led to the manor’s spacious garden. He strode down a path bordered on each side by colorful early-blooming flowers, past a bubbling fountain, and to a pretty white gazebo liberally adorned with gingerbread trim. It was clear that the Cavendish family took good care of their garden.

 

Lady Newcastle sat inside, shaded from the sun. She was dressed in a pretty blue gown and a sapphire necklace glittered at her neck. She watched as her guest approached.  The butler had announced her and turned smartly on his heels to go back inside.  With a genuine smile, the Duchess waved her hand toward the chair across from her.  There was another vacant chair between them.  All three were arranged around a  small round table covered by a lacy tablecloth. “Lady Lucas, how lovely you look today. Green becomes you.”

 

In the distance her daughter Margaret, attired in rose, was having a lively discussion with a gardener in front of a blooming bush. “I hope today’s meeting goes better than the last,” the mother remarked. “Margaret loves the garden, so I hope she will be agreeable today.” She was still embarrassed at the way her enigmatic daughter had acted last week. The girl had been punished severely for her impudence and seemed to have learned her lesson.

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Gaining admittance she was led out onto the Garden wnere she could see her Hostess sitting inside a pretty gazebo.

"Your Grace." She said adding a small curtsey. "How full of Spring you look." She paid a complement in return.

She saw that Lady Margaret was also present but otherwise occupied as she took the offered seat.

"Well as to that Your Grace I must defed to your own knowledge."

"But in fairness this is not the easiset of conversations to have. I do hope that her punnishment was not too drastic for that might well put her off the notion entirely."

"Shall we follow an agenda today or  ...."

She asked as it was best to know the direction from the start as that made her own input better applied. 

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“Thank you, Lady Lucas.” Even though her guest had only made the proper response, compliments meant a lot to the Duchess. They made her feel that others saw something in her that she didn’t see when she looked in her mirror. She wasn’t as young as she used to be, a fact that could not be forgotten in the presence of so many beautiful daughters. Lady Newcastle was still a striking woman, but her youthfulness seemed to wilting more quickly than the petals of a delicate rose.

 

It was true that the conversing about marriage could be frightening to a sheltered young lady who had little experience with gentlemen. She remembered how scared she had been when her own fate had been in the process of being decided. “Margaret knows her duty,” the Duchess replied in a resigned tone of voice. “She has been prepared for this moment all her life, just as you and I when we were her age.”

 

Lady Newcastle said nothing about Margaret’s punishment. That was none of Lady Lucas’ business. As for agendas: “You’re the expert on these things,” she said with a genuine smile.  Others deferred to her because of her status but she didn't mind letting someone more knowledgeable than herself take the lead.  “How would you suggest we go about it?”

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oh dear how very tiresome  .....

She gave a small nod and smiled at the complement for it was TRUE.

"Very well then. Let us proceed. You have I shall presume looked over the list's I left with you last time? I noted all the Peers and who has eligible sons excluding heirs, naturally."

"Shall we go over it just the two of us - I see no need to involve Lady Margaret at this stage. Once you have narrowed it down and any information that is lacking found perhaps then."

She was all business. In manner and speech yet the Duchess would find it hard to take offense as it was rather sweetened in the delivery.

"It is important to understand just what your expectations are versus what is Available."

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“Oh yes, the list.” Lady Newcastle sighed. “I meant to bring it with me but it slipped my mind.” Forgetfulness … another annoying sign that she was aging. She waved one of her maidservants forward and instructed her to fetch it. “I made some notes and crossed a few of the names out.”

 

The Duchess visibly relaxed when Lady Lucas said that Margaret wouldn’t be needed today. She glanced over at her daughter, who was inspecting a bush while the gardener pointed something out to her. Her middle child was excellent at hiding her true feelings, but she had never tried to conceal her passion for plants and herbs.

 

Her guest definitely knew what she was about. Lady Newcastle was absolutely positive that she would be able to find Margaret the perfect match, one that her husband would also be pleased with. “The gentleman on your list are known courtiers, but there might be a few who are new to court that may be suitable as long as an alliance with their families would benefit ours. I suppose we shall have to wait until social events are held again to find out who those lords are.”

 

(OOC:  I found the list you sent me and I'll PM you with the changes she made to it.)

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Cordelia nodded her head in agreement.

"A new face does not rule out a possibility. And as to benefits, well, that too must be known."

As she waited for the servant to return her gaze drifted to where Lady Margaret was.

"Lady Margaret has many sides - I would not have thought her to have such an interest in plants. She has some knowledge then?"

"That might be useful in the process - a prospective husband might well appreciate a wife that has the skills needed to nurse him or their children. Or any on his Estate for that matter."

"It is, I am afraid, not such a skill as it was in times past. There are no battles or keeps to protect nowadays."

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The Duchess had expected no protest from Lady Lucas on the consideration of new courtiers. Not all noblemen, even those from powerful and influential families, found court life palatable. Some far preferred their estates in the country where they could hunt and fish to their heart’s content and never have to deal with political matters. Others found court too crowded or simply wanted to do as they wished without everything they said and did being dissected and purposefully misconstrued.

 

Their sons, though, often came to London out of curiosity, to find favor with the King, or to find a spouse … sometimes all three. Lady Newcastle wouldn’t rule out these young gentlemen as long as they were found suitable to marry one of her daughters. They would need to be investigated covertly and thoroughly but that was not a lady’s job. A lady would simply analyze the results.

 

She smiled when Lady Lucas noticed Margaret’s interest in plants. “Since she was a child, she has been fascinated with plants. I think she has studied every book on the subject in the palace library. She knows quite a bit about gardening and the healing properties of herbs. She often recommends herbs to the servants when they have some ailment or another, but she has, of course, never been formally trained.”

 

The Duchess nodded. “Not as useful as it used to be, but still a good skill to have.” A thought popped into her mind, but before she could voice it, the maidservant returned with the list. Behind her were more servants bearing trays containing tea and refreshments. Once everything was arranged and the servants returned to the mansion, Lady Newcastle handed the piece of parchment to her guest and poured two cups of tea. “I hope my notes are understandable.”

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With the servants return the paper was handed back and she took some time to go through it completely before she spoke. 

"My listings were done simply to act as a guide as it were and so I am happy that you have added to it."

"Now ....."

She turned more to face the Duchess and lowered the tone of her voice - not for fear of being overheard but to better set the tone that this was after all Business.

"Shall we start from the top. I agree with Norfolks boys. Unfortunate. To tie a Cavendish to a Howard is not a bad thing after all. But let us leave that to the side."

Worcester. Charles is seventeen the other a year younger. The heir is Charles and marriage contracts have been arranged in the cradle so I do not think the Marquess will debate that."

"He will leave the negoations to his wife as all men do and will have his say once something is set in place."

"Have you objections to the eldest? What do you know of him - is he like to follow his father in thought and manner? We must address anything that will apply to make the right choice."

A pause to sip her tea and a chance to eye the other over the rim to judge her mood.

"Winchester is the same. The eldest is sixteen so acceptable. He too must be looked at - sons follow fathers in general and I do not want to subject your daughter to ill treatmen beyond that which is normal."

"Rochester. Such a marriage would be difficult for her. She has not the years or wisdoms to manage a Life on her own terms despite all that you have taught her. Yet .... being a Countess and then a wealthy widow (if said rumours are indeed true) would that be bad?"

"Bradford I do not know. You will have to send someone to investigate discreetly. His Family and financial position to begin with. Who is he related to amongst the other Peers?"

She skipped Danby for obvious reasons.

"Chichester. My objection is age related. And whatever in his Past that makes you hesitate well what Gentleman will NOT have that? He appears to be well liked and I have heard he is to have an exhibition in a few days."

"He must be doing something well for that to be. Well known about Court. I do not think you should rule him out."

"Chatham. I think your daughter will be easily put off by his appearance. A Libertine?" A small chuckle. "He is far from the only Gentleman to be such and not a real reason for dismissal."

"But he is, how shall I put it, rough and pirate like and even tho your daughter has displayed spirit I do not think he wants anything but a wife who will be submissive."

"Aylesford. Well again a man into a brothel is not surprising. If he makes a habit of it that is different. What was this scandal?"

"Again making her a Countess is good. She will not be placed higher than Lady Frances - which we must avoid doing."

"Avon. For the same reasons."

"Herbert. Well a double Countess is aiming high. And do you wish to have your daughter in Limbo waiting to see if there is a child or have her married? If so then we should set his aside as well."

"Whitehurst. A widower. He is, if is recall, Militarily inclined and I wonder if he would subject his wife to that type of thinking? A 'regimanated' lifestyle so tightly controlled is not how I want her to be."

"Avalon. I know little. He is  heir to an Earl so he too should be looked into."

She looked up then adding

"I do not see the need to gow lower Your Grace. Not that a Baron who has good connections and Family ties should not be considered."

"Kingston has Buckingham in whatever form it is so that places him a unique position. Plus he also is near to the King."

With a sigh she set the paper on the table arching her back a little to shift in her chair.

"There is much to discuss. I must ask - how long of a time frame is this to be? In other words do you want her married before the year is up or contacted for the New Year?"

"That determines how we proceed."

"And of course we must figure Lady Margaret back into the equations once things are narrowed. She must have a voice but not the defining one. That rests with her Parents."

"I do not condone the forcing of marriages on daughters."

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Lady Newcastle sipped her tea as Lady Lucas looked over her additions to the list and she appreciated the feedback. The other woman’s opinions were quite different than her own.

 

“Norfolk’s heir is already married. I think he was wed during recess. I’m not sure about his younger son. Perhaps he will eventually convert like his father did, but he hasn’t done so yet.

 

"If Worcester or Winchester don’t mind betrothing their heirs at such a young age, then they would be tied for first choice. They’re right around Margaret’s age, which is definitely a plus. The only thing that concerns me is that the boys themselves might object to an early betrothal, and if they do, they can make Margaret miserable for the rest of her life. That is definitely not what I want for her.

 

"I’m not sure what they’re like in personality, but all candidates will be investigated thoroughly before a decision is made, of course. If they are cruel, prone to anger, or possess other disagreeable traits, they will be immediately eliminated from consideration.”

 

The Duchess’ eyes narrowed at Cordelia’s view of Rochester. “Absolutely not!” Her tone of voice was adamant. “If the rumors about him are true, then she will not live along enough to enjoy being a wealthy widowed Countess. I will not compromise my daughter’s health. Besides, we’re going to have one member of the Merry Gang in our family already. We don’t want to be overrun with them.”

 

She said nothing about Bradford. That he and his family would be closely scrutinized was a given. It was possible that he would turn out to be the perfect match, and equally possible that he would be scratched off the list.

 

She sighed at the mention of Chichester. He was handsome, elegant, fashionable, and a perfectly proper gentleman. And he had overcome the obstacles that were stacked against him. He was also a fantastic artist and might encourage Margaret’s own artistic tendencies, if she had any. Lady Lucas seemed to find him suitable. “There is a larger age gap between Dorset and Frances. An experienced gentleman might be just what she needs if she showed her true colors at our last meeting. He is, so I have heard, very charming and eloquent. But he has only recently converted to the Anglican faith and I fear he might revert back to Catholicism. I will not rule him out and Margaret and I will attend his exhibition.”  With Frances too, if she chose to accompany them.

 

As to Chatham, Lady Newcastle was impressed that Lady Lucas had no problem expressing what she had declined to mention … his roguish appearance and the lack of one eye. Margaret would probably run from him if he approached her. “Very true. The reason I don’t want her to marry a libertine is because, as I said before, I don’t want too many of them in the family. So far, two out of my five daughters is … or will be … married to them. They could hurt the Newcastle name if they cause too much mayhem. I’m hoping the next three will be of a more proper sort.”

 

The Duchess shook her head when asked about Aylesford. “All I know is that he was previously betrothed but it was canceled. As betrothals are very rarely rescinded, there must have been a good reason for it, but I don’t know if he or the lady was at fault. I’d rather err on the side of caution for Margaret’s sake.”

 

They both agreed on Avon but not on Herbert. Lady Lucas made some good points. If his brother had a son, then Margaret would have no title at all unless the King presented him with one, which was possible. He was a part of the Villiers family, after all. Pembroke’s wife was young and had already given him a daughter. A son could well follow. Then again, he had a foul temper and could do something stupid that would cause his exile or even execution. Or one of the men he angered could kill him. Herbert would then inherit everything. “I still think he is worth considering, but thanks to your advice, he is no longer my first choice.”

 

Lady Lucas’ thoughts on Langdon were valid reasons to dismiss him, as was the fact that he was a widower. That tidbit of information had skipped the Duchess’ mind. As to the other gentlemen, both ladies were in agreement. Pouring her guest another cup of tea, she was ready to set the list aside for now. When she was alone again, she would make a new list with all the prospects in order of preference. The next step would be studying the results of the investigations into their backgrounds.

 

Lady Newcastle plucked a sweet pastry off the tray and set it on her plate, halving it with a knife and spreading butter upon it. “We’ll be having two weddings sometime this year. I would like to have her betrothed before the end of it and wed next spring. That gives us a lot of time to work with.”

 

She was pleased that Lady Lucas was willing to consider Margaret’s own feelings, which gave her an opening to present her idea. “Margaret is an enigmatic young lady. Even I don’t know what is going on in her head.” The Duchess leaned forward. “Would you mind spending some time with her? She may be more willing to speak with a stranger than with her own mother.”

 

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Cordelia thought a few moments before she offer her rebuttals.

"Worcester and Winchester as I said will have no issue with it. Many Noble families have done cradle contracts between their children with the daughtes at seven or eight sent to be educated and taught the runnings of the House by their mother-in-laws."

"And why would you think that a son's objection would matter? They will do as told and it will come as no surprise that marriage talks are in process - each knows he must wed espically Charles as the Heir. If some objection arises then we must find the cause - perhaps there is some 'attachment' that is fruitless and if so then that must be talked about. Do not think that your daughter will suffer. She knows full well her Duty and if she does not then that needs must be addressed at the start."

"I think they each have merits and should be seasoned out. And be shot-listed."

"Rochester." She smiled a bit then. "Of course I was not serious Your Grace. He is a Peer and unwed so I must include him."

"I think that is wise of you - to see him up close and in an Element that he is familiar with. Perhaps Chichester and Lady Margaret will find common interests. He is older yes but that could well be advantageous could it not? She is young amd malleable and he might well want to see his wife as HE would wish."

"I do not mean that she would lose all her own charms - rather she would aquire the polish that befitted her Rank."

"As to religion ... Well I can not speak on that."

"It is a fine line is it not Your Grace? You wish to have your children suitably wed but the selections are limited so allowances have to be made."

"I see no reason to think any more regarding Chatham. I think he is far too ambitious a man and when he weds he will look for the one that brings him the most. The Gains as it were."

She paused to sip her tea.

"Aylesford was to wed? Why was it broken off? Well they are if there is an impediment - some physical or mental infirmary or illness or the girl died. Which one I wonder ... This should be looked into. If the fault lie with the girl or her family then we can hardly discount him can we?

She nodded in agreement regarding Herbert.

"Since there is no way to predict what will occur or not it might be best to hold back."

"So Lady Margaret will need to be done before years' end and then wed in the next. I do not think that is unrealistic. Once it is decided then His Grace must then step in - he will provide her dowry of course but he must ensure that her Jointure amount is fair and that her in-laws will not withould it if their son should die. As you know this is a cause of many a heart-ache and I would not wish to see a law suit tied up in the Courts. Espically if there are children involved."

The Duchess then asked if Cordelia would be willing to spend some time alone with her daughter. That she clearly did not quite know how to deal with her daughter Cordelia already guessed at and she had also see first hand how clever Lady Margaret was. Did she believe the tears and confessions from previously? No! She knew that there was much still not on display but she was also curious.

"Well. If it will help to ease your mind than of course I will."

She leaned a bit forward in her chair making the space between them more intimate as she answered making the other feel that a closeness had been achieved. It was after all important to have the other be relaxed.

"I shall take my time if I may? I shall not push for that is the surest way to not find out anything."

"Perhaps an outing might be arranged ..."

Her gaze went back to the outside and she smiled.

"A nice garden or some like place. Where she can feel relaxed and less inclined to be impetitious."

"What do you think?"

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“Margaret knows what will be expected of her. But a man who doesn’t like the match arranged for him can make his wife’s live hell. He can abuse her, beat her, or lock her up in some house in the middle of nowhere where she won’t get in his way. He could even arrange an ‘accident’ that she would not be able to survive. She will belong to him once she is wed. Her lord father and I will have no say in how she is treated.”

 

Rumors abounded about abusive and neglectful marriages, particularly when the new wife did not return to court. Perhaps it was just malicious gossip, but even gossip occasionally contained a pinch of truth. “That said, I don’t really think that either young gentleman is cruel. That is one reason for the investigations. All of the others have the potential to hurt Margaret as well. I will not send her … or any of my daughters … to an early death just for a beneficial alliance.”

 

So Lady Lucas had been joking about Rochester? It didn’t sound like a jest to the Duchess and she felt that even pretending to consider her daughter as a wife for a notorious rake with the pox was in very poor taste. Perhaps the lady had a morbid sense of humor. There was no reason to fault her for that unless she made a habit of such crass comments.

 

She agreed with her guest about Lord Chichester. Lady Newcastle would make his exhibition into a family outing. All of her daughters would attend except four-year-old Arabella. Young children and fragile art did not mix well. She would introduce her daughters to him and see how he reacted. He was definitely at an age where he should be looking for a wife.

 

“It shall be looked into,” was her only comment about Aylesford.

 

Thankfully, Lady Lucas did not protest when the Duchess suggested that she spend some time with Margaret. She believed that her middle daughter needed a bit of guidance from an intelligent and respected lady who was not her mother. In fact, she seemed quite pleased with the idea by the way she leaned toward her. “Yes, that would be ideal. She adores the palace gardens. Perhaps you might ask her to show you around.”

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Cordelia had not intention of arguing about anything yet she was becoming impatient at the way the others' thoughts were going.

"You know as well as I that a 'boy' will do as he is told and once his Majority is reached he is no longer thought of as that. He will be a man who makes his own decisions yet stays within those guidelines taught to him."

"Any of our sex has and will always be subjected to the whims of husbands be they good or bad. And Lady Margaret is no different. She must Obey her husband in all things and if she is as you say then she will not instigate."

"You paint a picture of her married life based upon what - gossip and the few known cases of abusive marriages?"

"An early death? Do you not think that tis rather dramatic? Why I would wager that even you and I have suffered at times and yet we are still standing."

"I am glad to hear that Your Grace. I would doubt that they are capable of such things as you have painted." 

Cordelia looked back to where Lady Margaret was her eyes narrowing a bit in thought.

"Yes. I think that is a good idea. The gardens there are plentiful and everything is in bloom."

"Let us summon her and see what she has to say. Will Your Grace permit me to extend the invitation?"

She took a sip of her now cold tea then set it back down. She gave nothing away as to her inner thoughts. This was gong to be a draining task.

Between the Duchess and her fanciful thoughts and the daughter determined to have her way.

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Lady Lucas had no daughters. Lady Newcastle had five, and she was fiercely protective of them. Any man … she hesitated to call the kind of person she was thinking of a gentlemen … could make his wife’s life hell if he felt forced into a marriage with her. Perhaps the other lady did have a point about the two heirs. They were young and were still accustomed to doing as they were told. Margaret was not only a prime catch; she was also very pretty. They would certainly find her appealing.  Most teenage boys didn't think with their brains.

 

Perhaps she was worrying for nothing. That was just what mothers did. The Duchess was concerned for Frances as well. She didn’t think that Dorset would be cruel to her but he would most likely have a long line of mistresses she would be forced to endure. That situation was so common that most ladies expected their husbands to stray. Lady Newcastle just hoped he would be discreet and not embarrass Frances by parading them publicly all around London. Her daughter … all of her daughters … deserved better than that.

 

The Duchess said nothing to her visitor’s tirade. As it drew to an end, the Duchess placed a scone on her plate, buttered it, added a dollop of cream, and took a bite. She didn’t want to argue with Lady Lucas and chewing prevented her from expressing her own opinions, which wouldn’t change either lady’s views. Sometimes, one had to agree to disagree, especially when one needed the services of another. Lady Newcastle had no doubt that she could find a husband for Margaret on her own, but Lady Lucas had already suggested some candidates that she had not thought of. Her daughter would find a better match with the other lady’s assistance.

 

Lady Lucas was still interested in speaking further with Margaret. “Of course you can extend the invitation.” Lady Newcastle sent one of the maidservants to fetch the girl, who was traipsing from bush to bush gathering a bouquet. The gardener was nowhere in sight. She watched as the message was delivered. Margaret immediately headed for the gazebo. When she arrived, she presented the bouquet to Lady Lucas with a shy smile. “These are for you, my lady. I apologize for the way I acted when we first met. I have no idea what came over me, and I deeply regret the poor impression I made on you.”

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With an inward sigh Cordelia was relieved that the topic seemed to have been diverted, at least for the moment, by the arrival of Lady Margaret herself. She watched in some amusement as she was offered a bouquet accompanied by just as sweet a turn of phrase.

That there was still some rebellion inside was made clear by the absence of a curtsey however small as accompaniment. In Cordelia's mind there was no exxcuse for bad manners and for Lady Margaret to not have given one led to that conclusion.

well two can play at this Game and I am an old campaigner my sweet so let us see how long you can last

"Why how charming! And such an honest confession as well!"

She exchanged a look with the Duchess and then smiled at the daughter.

"Her Grace and I were discussing many topics but we have put them aside and I have asked for permission to take you away for the Days are brighter and as I have observed you seem to have a great love for flowers."

"An outing arranged to walk in the Palace Gardens to take in the beautifications of Nature - does it appeal to you?"

"Tis understandable if you are surprised at my offering for no doubt you thought I may harbor some ill feelings."

She smiled adding

"I thought perhaps Saturday if the weather is good. I shall fetch you myself in my carriage and we shall go. Eleven of the clock."

"it will give you an opportunity to wear something Spring-Like and to show off a bit to others'. There is no harm in that."

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The Duchess also noticed Margaret’s lack of proper deference. She would speak to her about it later. The girl had probably forgotten in her eagerness to present the bouquet and ask for forgiveness, but such mistakes could be fatal to a young lady’s reputation.

 

As if she had read her mother’s mind, Margaret blushed and curtsied but offered no further apologies, only a sheepish smile. She seemed quite surprised … and a bit confused … by Lady Lucas’ offer. Her eyes sought her mother’s and Lady Newcastle nodded her approval.

 

Margaret's gaze moved to Cordelia.  Her smile brightened. “I would love to stroll in the gardens with you, Lady Lucas. The day and time suits me well, and I have several new spring gowns I haven’t worn yet.” She had gone shopping  a few times with friends before Easter, but other than that, there had been no other occasions to dress up. She curtsied again, as if multiple acts of deference would erase her earlier faux pas. Or at least that was how it seemed to her mother.

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Posted (edited)

That she was quick to note her lack of a reverance and then added two made Cordelia smile a bit. It also spoke that her assumption about Lady Margaret was proving correct.

"Excellent. Well catering to your needs is nothing and every girl who is headed to marriage should have the chance to show off somewhat - let those see what might be missed."

She turned her gaze to the Duchess adding

"I am glad that Your Grace agrees to this outing. Fresh air, one hopes, can clear the mind and allow for many things to be learned. I wonder what discoveries shall be made?"

She smiled at the younger girl then sniffed at the bouquet.

"How pretty it is. You are clever indeed. We shall have to make sure to find the right Gentleman who appreciates it."

Edited by Cordelia Lucas

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Margaret’s smile widened. Lady Newcastle wasn’t sure if she liked the idea of showing off or if she was just relieved to receive a chance to redeem herself. The girl did seem to visibly relax, so perhaps it was the latter. Of all her daughters, Margaret was the most enigmatic. The Duchess could read little in her eyes or her expression unless she chose to reveal her emotions. Even when she was punished, she did not protest. She laughed and joked with her sisters and had quite a few friends. Perhaps she only hid her feelings in her mother’s presence.

 

“I think it will be good for the two of you to get to know each other better,” the Duchess replied.

 

Lady Lucas sniffed the bouquet that Margaret had picked for her. “Thank you, my lady,” the young girl said, curtsying yet again. “I selected flowers with scents that compliment each other. If my future husband does not have a beautiful garden, then I shall create one at our residence.”

 

“You may go now, Margaret,” her mother instructed. The girl curtsied once more and walked back the way she had come, a spring in her step that had not been there before. Once she was out of earshot, Lady Newcastle smiled at her guest. “Is there anything else we need to discuss,Lady Lucas?"

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Cordelia smiled at Lady Margaret as she offered a curtsey then two before she took her leave.

She answered the Duchess still smiling 

"Well Your Grace I think all that needs to be begun has been and now we shall move onwards to Saturday."

"For now I have hopes for a pleasant  hour or two and perhaps even some revelations - of which I shall pass onto you naturally."

'We had discussed the candidates and I think you should start whatever investigations are needed for those you wish to peer at. Tis far better to be well armed than to have to wait and suffer frustrations!"

"I do no think we can progress further until all information is in hand. Shall we instead turn attention to your daughter herself?"

"Saturday is but the first of many outings I hope and each time sees Lady Margaret more comfortable with my Company."

"Shall we set a time to meet again - say in a months time?"

"That will allow time for investigations and your daughter to warm herself to the idea of marriage."

She would not linger much after the Duchess offered up her own replies. 

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Lady Newcastle was pleased that Cordelia wanted to meet with Margaret more than once. Perhaps her daughter would be more forthcoming with the other woman and she would gain insights into her true personality. And it could work in Lady Lucas’ favor too, if she wished to arrange marriages for other young ladies. Being seen with with Margaret would show she truly cared about the girls and wanted them to be happy with the decisions made for them. The Duchess had heard that Lady Basildon wanted to meet with Cordelia to discuss prospects for her Dutch ward. Perhaps others would follow.

 

“Yes, please keep me informed of your progress. In a month, the investigations should be complete and the list of candidates will likely be quite a bit smaller.” Her husband might want to look into the backgrounds of the gentlemen he was willing to consider. It was much easier to investigate a gentleman if one was also of the male persuasion. If he asked to her handle it, she had many contacts she could call upon. Either way, no stone would remain unturned.

 

“The spring season usually doesn’t end until the His Majesty's birthday, so we should be able to meet before then. In case it ends early, you are more than welcome to visit our estate.”

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She smiled across at the Duchess pleased that things were ending on this positive note. It could so easily have gone the other way.

"A month is but a suggestion Your Grace. It can easily be changed. If you are fortunate in your investigations then let us agree to meet earlier."

"Much depends upon Lady Margaret as well. But I think, now that she is aware that we are aware of her 'ideas', she will become more manageable going forward."

"We have to take into account that she has learned things from those of her own sex - wrongly or rightly - and so it will be part of my task to ensure that she is better prepared and understands fully what will be expected of her.'

"And you must also see that she receives education is areas that she is lacking ..... beyond that of Dance and sewing and musical instruments."

"She needs must learn how to keep accounts and the managing of servants."

"This is vital for she is young and easly taken advantage of by those employed by her husband - they will assume that she knows nothing and so cheat at every turn."

"Let her learn by your side Your Grace. She will be an adpt pupil."

She gave her thanks at the invitation extended.

She would finish her tea and then take her leave.

Another such appointment was upon the morrow and she needed to rearrange her notes based upon the conversation here.

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Lady Newcastle wasn’t sure how long the investigation into the candidates’ backgrounds would take. First, she had to present her suggestions to the Duke, who would most certainly whittle down the list. It was even possible that a suitable gentleman had asked for Margaret’s hand or that her husband had already decided who she would marry. It was his decision in the end. She had not been consulted on the matter of Frances’ marriage and had no idea whether Dorset had approached the Duke or if it had been the other way around. The poor girl had seemed upset and disappointed and it had broken her mother’s heart. She wanted to spare her other daughters that torment by taking matters into her own hands.

 

“Very well,” she replied graciously. “We shall meet when the inquires are completed and when you think Margaret is ready.”

 

Lady Lucas had more sage advice. As Frances was soon to be wed, the Duchess had given her quite a few household responsibilities. Perhaps it was time to do the same with Margaret, though she would likely not marry until next year. Managing a household seemed to come naturally to Frances. It might not be so for Margaret. Catherine was the one she was most worried about. Her second-youngest daughter was free-spirited and capricious, but she was only thirteen and would likely become more mature with time.

 

“An excellent suggestion, Lady Lucas, and one I shall implement immediately. I have been concentrating on Frances. Perhaps learning along with her sister will be good for Margaret.”

 

Business settled, Lady Newcastle was content to converse amiably with Cordelia until she finished her tea.

 

 

(OOC: Ready to wrap things up?)

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Pleased with herself and the way she had managed to 'control' this meeting Cordelia was inclined to be generous.

"I see that you are already a step ahead of me Your Grace in Lady Margaret's further educations."

"Well tis understandable after all when one daughter is soon to be a wife while the other is not yet contracted."

"You might wish to keep an eye out for any signs of competion between them - Lady Frances is, after all, soon to be a Countess and has presumably already demenstrated her skill at learnings."

"Lady Margaret as we have both seen is prone to too much of a strong nature and the desire to have her own way. Not that that is a bad thing for she should have a mind capable of 'thinking' and not total dependance upon her husband."

"Do not hesitate Your Grace to pull your daughter down with authority if she shows sign of slipping into how she was at our first meeting."

She smiled and nodded to another cup of tea but would not over-linger. The Duchess was showing signs that this meeting was now done.

Plesentries would be exchanged and she would wait to see if the Duchess had any responses before she took her leave.

(ooc: thank you!)

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