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Victorine Folle

On the immortality of a crab (12 April, Mid Morning) OPEN

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Posted (edited)

Victorine believed the portrait gallery to be empty: or rather that she preferred to wish it were. The footfalls she heard were surely only echoes of her own, likewise moving from steady to slow and soft steps while taking in the beauty of technique, mastery of style and splendour of subject of the works around her.

Her voluminous skirts of indigo were washed a rich ink with shot of blue luster by the interplay of shadows and light as she slowly moved from here to there: between portrait frame to a nearby window. While this fabric itself was luxurious and very fine against her skin, it could never hide the old-fashioned style it was made up into; the dress being made for her grandmother. Victorine knee it had been a very long time since this silhouette had been the one of choice for a fashionable young lady.

As her light grey eyes moved over each detail, luxuriating in it; her thick apricot curls swept themselves into an artless bevy about her shoulders, with the larger coils winding their way down to her midback. Victorine had hoped to distract from it all with the extravagant Ballater hippocampe at her ample bosom.

As she moved to a new portrait, she mused upon her last few months. She recalled that this year carême had been unusually taxing upon her spirits: by Holy Saturday she had found herself tangled up in her own thoughts, so much so she had not even felt the prick of her needle nor had she noticed that her finely embroidered white cloth was slowly turning pink. And by Holy Sunday Victorine remembered being convinced that her landed inheritance - Ballater House - had finally beaten down her last defenses. And as soon as she had made her confession was made to God, the day's significance was restored. But, in truth, it was not just loneliness that she should have confessed. Her prime sin was a desire for an even greater want of worldliness; after all, she had been titled and landed for near on a year, and she was also in severe need frivolity.

At last, she moved to the biggest portrait of the gallery. It was magnificent, and she felt compelled to speak. Her accent was evidently French (with a small Picard spice and a shortened vowel here and there, if a talented ear was nearby) but her English did seem to flow somewhat naturally.

Lady Ballater spoke to the figure in the picture with a small smile:

'indeed, you are a beauty.'

Edited by Victorine Folle
Grammar errors :(

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It was so quiet. That was the attraction.

For Frances the very place that held such memories was bittersweet.

She had gone to that portrait of her own Ancestor and even tho she knew there was nothing hidden behind the corner she had looked anyway. Felt the sharp pain of disappointment. Memories only remained and she was to become another man's wife at some point. She had not been included in much of the contract talks between herself and the Earl of Dorset as was proper but she knew that her father the Duke would ensure that she was not cheated and her Jointure would be enough for her comforts and any children she might have if she were made a Widow. She had continued to go about in Public a smile firmly in place and if her manner was perhaps a bit too bright none of her set remarked of it. But she knew or rather she imagines that there was Pity for Everyone at Court knew of Dorset's reputation as a Libertine. She would be a double Countess after all so what did she have to be miserable about?

She was simply walking the rooms a lone figure dressed in a closed gown of blue/green taffeta with its yellow undertone indicative of a pear. Lace of tripple edge at each elbow. Her stomacher was beaded with blue glass and pearls in a swirling pattern that was delicate and not ostentatious yet the sparkle and quality of the fabric ensured that its wearer was a Lady without a doubt. Her brown hair was tied up off her narrow neck where a circlet of sapphire and pearls was tied with a small black ribbon. Matching earrings and her Grandmothers sapphire worn on the little finger of her right hand. Her scent was a light floral of several mixes - she could not bring herslf to stop wearing it despite the fact she and George were no longer together.

Continuing on she heard a voice with its clear French accent and stopped her eyes finding the figure of a woman. Frances took in the brightness of her hair - suruly that could not be real - to the somewhat outdated design of her gown. She was also older than Frances but by how much she could not say.

"I have also thought this yet I am somewhat biased to that of my own Ancestor."

Said as she came further into the room and drew closer to the other woman. 

"Lady Frances Cavendish. I have not seen you at Court - you are newly arrived? And French."

Added as if there might be some slight but not intended as such.

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Posted (edited)

Astonished grey eyes slid towards the approaching brunette. These portraits had completely drawn her in, and it seemed she had failed to realise she was not alone. And for the lady who approached, she surely must be as spry as a cat.

Lady Frances Cavendish was a lesson in understated charm: Victorine's eyes ran swiftly in appreciation along the gemmy blue and pearl pattern on Frances' stomacher, the brunette hair swept up of her shoulders to reveal a delicate neck and when the lady spoke her tone was not exactly pointed, but Victorine suspected it was not exactly approving either. It was likely, however, a suspicion was more revealing of Victorine's experience of England rather than of Frances herself. Often this remark to her nationality had been an accusation rather than a statement of fact. But either way, it still caused her a start of merriment.

'Victorine Folle, Baroness Ballater,' the gaudy haired lass replied, her eyes twinkled as a smile unfurled along her lips 'and I am indeed as you say, lady Frances.' She made a small curtsy.

Except, that she was only half French she supposed. Victorine assumed the Ballater family would be little known at court. While she had no evidence of this; she presumed that the reclusive life of her grandfather spoke for itself. And yet, after all these presumptions she knew so very little of court herself. What she could divine, however, was that to have ancestor amongst these beautiful pieces meant that Lady Frances was indeed an interesting, and fortunate first encounter.

'But I am also a daughter of an Englishwoman,' Victorine continued, still smiling at the younger woman, 'although I am still a stranger to this country.' 

'I apologise' Victorine said, 'if I have disturbed your morning quiet. But I would have great pleasure if you were to share my morning with - if you are also agreed?'

The frenchwoman paused, then spoke: 'perhaps we could both admire your ancestor?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Frances' assessment continued as she made her own replies

"Welcome Lady Ballater to Court." She gave a slight curtsey in return to reflect what she assumes is a married woman. "Ah so your father was French - I intended no slight so please do not misunderstand. Tis just the current Political times here in England bode ill for any that hail form that Country."

"You have come alone then? No Family in England or at Court?  Tis a brave thing then to travel here with no connections if that is so."

"There is no disturbance" She gave a small smile. "This place is usually quiet for not many Courtiers frequent."

"I would be amiss if I did not see that you are made Welcome. I shall be happy to try to answer any questions you might have."

"There is much that will be unfamiliar to you. Tell me did you frequent the French Court?"

"My ancestor?" She paused a bit then added "Yes why not. She is but a few measures back the way I came."

"Shall we?" She half turned gathering up some of her skirts to lead the way.

Frances was not usually so foreward in her take ups but this new arrived Lady had tugged at her sympathies.

Perhaps it was just her current state of mind or even the small thoughts she'd been having that it was time for her to alter her current Style - both in manner and practice.

And this might well be a new person who could help.

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Posted (edited)

'I-I thank you for your warning,' the gaudy haired frenchwoman stammered, a little surprised that Frances sounded prescient. Was she an oracle of sorts? Lord Ballater had never mentioned a specific cause for the suspicion she encountered. And she had imagined the animosity simply historic...

'Your kindness to me now Mistress Frances,-' Victorine said, feeling an eager gratefulness settle within her '-is surely a balm to any ill winds that will blow my way. A kindness I wish to repay to you?' Victorine wondered what Frances would wish for, if she did so at all. 'Please allow me the privilege for I have no family nor connections to do so with.'

As to her life in France, she had meditated on what exactly she should say. It was certainly not that her Father was a rich theif, her family cheated on tax and all of them were now likely to be in a debtors prison - or worse. There was no pretense of nobility in any of them, yet she loved them all the same. Due to this Victorine naturally played her cards close to her chest. In France, these secrets were stones scattered along a path: easy to turn over to reveal their undersides and they all lead back to her. But in this new patrie, some secrets that were hers could - she hoped - be shared in small parts without fear.

She almost gasped in amusement at the thought of her attending le palais des Tuileries or St Germaine-en-laye, being in the midst of le cour royale de Louis le grand, par la grâce de Dieu, roi de France et de Navarre. While it would have been for all the wrong reasons; she surely would have stood apart from the rest. Even had her Father paid enough coin to present her at le cour royale for some trumped up reason, she had no grand talent and while her face would not curdle milk, it would hardly set sail to a thousand ships. 

Victorine started to reply to the question as her mind worked to knit together two ideas to form a convincing lie, then she faltered. And changed tact: 'I was too afraid,' Victorine admitted, 'to wish to go to le cour royale. I would feel a duck amongst swans....' As the elder lady drew nearer to Frances, her hand twitched at her skirts. But there was no outward sign of despair, la baronne was still all ease and her eyes danced merrily. 'Besides I was in love-,' Victorine whispered to Frances, her words soft and sibilant but perhaps still able to be overheard outside the pair, '-with a boy from my home town.'

'La, but she is lovely,' la baronne exclaimed softly as they rounded upon Frances' ancestress. And then the Frenchwoman turned to her companion, her eyes were steady while they took stock of the fine points of Frances' face. Then as she finally looked back the portrait, Victorine continued: 'I believe I see a likeness-,' an outstretched finger drew to Frances' temple but dropped away before brushing her skin, '-perhaps it is in the beautiful softness you share about your eyes?' Then Victorine reconsidered, before continuing, 'or perhaps your shapely cheek?'

'What do you make of your shared beauty, Mistress Frances?

Ooc: I'm assuming mistress is correct address? Please forgive mistakes if not. 

Edited by Victorine Folle

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"My remarking about your being French was not a personal refelection as I have said. It is just that the Political climate does not favor France or those from there yet so many of us can not help but be influenced by its fashions."

"And there is hardly anyone that would say "why Lady Frances YOU are wearing a gown after the French cut"  to my face so I do not think you have to worry. Unless you are perhaps a spy?"

Frances did not correct the form of address outright but yet did so in a kind way for she now thinks that this Lady has no real experience of any Court and all it entails. After hearing the reasonings behind why she had not ventured into the French Court she was rather saddened.

"For Love? And did you marry? I am curious if, as here, marriages are all arranged and you were given the chance to chose. That it most unusual."

They reached the portrait of her own ancestress and Frances looked up at her.

"She was from the Great Elizabeth's time. Born Elizabeth Hardwick of some humble but good origins she married four times and each made her richer and richer. The last husband was George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewssbury."

"She was a formidible woman. Bulit a family fortune as well as some of the most famous houses of that time. Yet she was known as a woman "of devices and desires".

She gave a small shake of her head. 

"I am sorry. I dragged on so. But I have much admiration for her."

"Do I?" Asked in some surprise. 

When the other reached up a hand Frances drew back a little unused to such forward gestures. But there was no actual contact so she did not make an issue.

"You flatter most excellently well Baroness!" She gave a small laugh. "I think you shall have no need to fear at this Court."

"Tell me - where are you lodged? You are not traveling alone I hope?"

 

(ooc: no worries!)

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Posted (edited)

'Of course,' Victorine remarked upon a small shrug, 'exquisite taste rises above politics, I think?' Victorine knew the French believed their silk and patterns to be the most elaborate and beautiful; and they expected they would be in demand in all cultured places. 'I do not judge your words to be more than a kind warning, lady Frances. Tell me, has something happened recently you believe I should know?'

She wanted very much to respond to Lady Frances' jest, that she was a spy. However, what could she say? So she said nothing, and continued their conversation and very short stroll. 'I am sorry, Lady Frances,' her apricot-coloured curls rippled as the Frenchwoman shook her head. 'It must be the same for a lady everywhere. Georges, he-' a passing memory of a happy moment drew a smile across her face as she faltered, and sighed, '-married another.' And so did she. 

'But I believe love,' Victorine said, at last, 'can be found, even where it was not expected.'

The frenchwoman enjoyed very much to hear this lady praise her forebear as she knew so very little of this history, these people. It was an education. And all proof that her initial assessment of this lady was true: she was a fortunate and interesting first encounter. The Great Elizabeth was, ah yes, Elizabeth d'Angleterre. The name Talbot was known in France but that was from a different era, a different man. 'You admire your ancestress for her,-' la baronne paused to pick over her choice of words, '-wise and bold choices? She didn't understand exactly what devices and desires meant but it sounded something that should be shocking, and greatly appealing.

Victorine wondered if she had inadvertently embarrassed her companion as Frances recoiled, then laughed. It was not frivolous, this flattery. But she ultimately decided not to press it. 'I confess there is one thing of which I am uncertain,' Victorine said, upon a whisper, 'I am great need of a refreshed wardrobe but I do not know from who to purchase nor the style, or colour. I have no sensibility of how to dress well for my person.'

She had travelled with the stalwart Alexander and Alice Crupper from Ballater to London to settle Thorpe's accounts but she had no desire to keep their company beyond what was decorous.

'I have a cozy private room in the Red Lion,' Victorine replied, eyes twinkling 'and I employed a maid to assist me when I arrived. This is the correct thing to do, yes?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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"Well you should be aware of the Political as well as Social climates here in London and I am sure that your husband will speak more upon things that need be learned."

Frances assumes that she is married for she had said she married another.

"Can it? I mean to marry 'for love' is not something expected. Yet to have a sense of 'like' from the start might well make it possible for Love to find its way in."

"Well Baroness THAT is a thing most easily rectified." She whispered back.

"There is an Establishment that is well known and has quality things. It is not hard - you go and sit and look thru the sample fabric books offered by various Merchants and then chose what you want and like."

"Then offer designs of your own or ask to see the fabric Dolls fitted with the latest styles and colors for whatever Season we are in."

"Some Ladies like to plan ahead to have first choice at fabrics and the right colors that suit."

Here she paused to look the other over again this time with an eye for Fashion.

"Here I must say - I think perhaps the color of your hair might well be either a help or hinderance - and fabric colors that best suit might be as well."

"But do not be discouraged! You yourself know what suits and does not. The color you wear suits. You shall have to experiment."

"The Red Lion? But that is an Inn - and a maid is all well and good but you needs must tell your husband to find a better place."

"St Mark's would do nicely. Unless there is a plan to purchase a Residence?"

Said from one who could not imagine actually residing in a Coaching Inn not matter how well kept.

"You did not bring a maid with you but took one here - I do hope you were careful. An unknown might well steal under your nose."

"You must think it over and if I can help I will - I can send one to you that will obey and be discreet and care for your person rightly."

Frances was serious on this topic of Maids. One had to be selective and set the tone from the start.

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Posted (edited)

Lady Frances Cavendish did not point out anything in particular to mind. As for the social climate , the frenchwoman knew only what she had experienced, and that had sufficed - until now. Victorine would become au fait with these English weathers.

'My 'usband is not alive,'  la baronne confessed, 'there was not much love, nor like, I suppose. But he brought me to this country, to Ballater.'  A year after he had left her at Ballater, Victorine supposed she could have even passed her husband in the street without recognition. Her head perked up as the brunette spoke of the requirements of 'love,' and believing not unreasonably that the like of a person would make the love easier. 'Si, but Lady Frances,' Victorine whispered, turning a small smile towards her companion, 'there are a great number of people I like and a small amount of people I love. But I will never love some of those who I only like....' she paused before continuing 'but yes, but you are as correct as you are sensible of this fact.' Victorine's answer was perhaps more philosophical than a personal reflection but Lady Frances could interpret as she wished. 

Victorine touched her hair as Lady Frances spoke of its colour. 'A 'inderance,' Victorine interrupted, slightly flustered 'always.' Her touch freed up another coil from the jewels about her hair. 'I will take your advice, Lady Frances, and experiment.' As it seems I must

As for her maid, Victorine's needs were met. But perhaps she had not yet the truest understanding of what her needs were. 'I see you are right in so many things,' Victorine smiled, 'perhaps it is not just the likeness in beauty you share with your Elizabeth de Hardwick?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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She had not expected to hear that so she was quick to offer her sympathies.

"I am sorry for your loss. Please forgive me for assuming that you traveled here with a husband."

It was a natural assumption most would have but it was still an oddity for a woman to travel alone.

"Well ... Yes I suppose I have to agrre with you. There are many I like as well but not Love. And the opposite is equally true."

 She had never looked at things quite like that but it made sense. There were many in her Family and Circle that she liked but few that were Loved. 

Save for one but that was in the Past so best forgot.

"But do not misunderstand please. Tis such an unusaul color to be sure and I know many will think it so and some will be ... less than kind ... but pay no mind. It will be a jealousy I am sure."

She noted how another strand seemed to drift down at her touch. Deliberate or not it caught ones attention!

"Well it is not a matter of being 'right' but about getting the best servants. I hope that whoever you have engaged she will turn out to be Loyal and Trustworthy."

Frances looked to the portrait a soft smile playing about her features

"I shall accept that complement Baroness. I would like to be so indeed."

She turned back round

"Now. I would be lacking if I sent you away without some refreshments. I can show you the Dining Hall where meals are provided daily to anyone that looks presentable."

"Or I can make use of my Father's rooms here in the Palace. He is not in at the moment but there are servants and a warm fire and food and drink."

"Might I tempt you?" 

If she were to stop and wonder at her actions what would be her conclusion? Rarely was she so free with her person or privacy. 

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Posted (edited)

'Jalousie?' Victorine queried, and then started to laugh. 'That is a very pretty lie, Lady Frances.' 

Her laughter served only to release some of the remaining coils from the rest of her hair clasps. They did often seem so pointless.

Victorine was curious of this new acquaintance. Victorine knew her responses to these questions had been revealing. But Lady Frances had been kind and forgiving, even when parts of her tale revealed an oddity. But the frenchwoman has hoped this meeting would serve for much more than a test of her limits; learning what to change of her little histoire, to divert around what she could not change and of course, making use of the kernels of wisdom generously given to her by Frances. 'You tempt me Lady Frances,' Victorine replied with a little chuckle, 'and I should very much enjoy to take our petit dejeuner together, perhaps where we may warm ourselves?' 

'I 'ave so little knowing of your family, Lady Frances-' Victorine began, before pausing mid-step, '-are they as kind as you 'ave been to me? I suspect your family is réputé to 'ave rooms at la Palais and a portrait?' She hoped Frances would take up her question with as much indulgence and kindness as she had already shown to its giver. 

'I 'ave been told,' Victorine smiled at her companion as they walked, seeking to make use of her own small device to learn more of the character of her fellow lady, 'that a lady 'as a special gift. My mother 'ad beauty; your ancestress, devices? But do you not think this theory underestimates a lady?' 

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Frances was not so in-experienced about many things and she suspects that this new arrival had been padding her tale and she could not fault that as many did so when first come to Court. She was by guess some five to six years her elder so it was only natural that she would have seen and done more plus she had traveled from France to England and that alone must hold much. That she was quite talented in other ways was also apparent. Her manner of speech and mannerism caught at ones attentions and served to distract as well. So it was on those thought that Frances reigned herself back a bit.

'Well that is good. It is much better there then in the Great Hall but you should also familiarize yourself Baroness on how things are done abd where they are located. You can not depend upon the kindness of stranges always."

"My Family? That Lady in the portrait is my Grandmother thrice times removed and she was, as I have said, from a humble but well placed Family. It was thru her second husband a man called Sir william Cavendish that we descend from. And they had eight children that survived"

Frances continued the pace heading to where her Father had his set of rooms telling her story quietly as the went.

" My Great Grandfather was the fifth of those children and his son my Grandfather William, the Earl of Newcastle, then the first Duke of the same name."

"My father is the current Duke of Newcastle. With such a large Family I am blessed with many Aunts Uncles and Cousines."

"Kind? That is not the first word I would have thought to use. I am an oddity to be sure."

She smiled to show she teased but there was Truth behind her words.

"As for having rooms .... there are only some that have that entitlement. There is a set number of Peers that are premitted to have rooms at Court. My father happens to be one of them."

"It is just a few ways more to go - we shall turn right after the next archway then up a staircase."

"In my ancrestress time 'devices' were used everywhere. And what is a device? A trick or invention that is designed to intrigue and amaze, the harder to decipher, the more worthy of admiration."

"Artists scatter their portraits with emblems and symbols; letters obscure actual meanings; houses are built in the shape of a letter. They are all around even now."

"But my ancrestress had more than devices. She must have been quite tough as well as ambitious. Scheeming too as well as a firey temper. Yet she also inspired devotion."

"A Lady should not be underestimed by any means. Yet that goes against what is taught."

"I should like to think that I have inherited some of those qualities from Her. A 'special gift' you say?"

"What then is yours Baroness?"

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Posted (edited)

Victorine continued to listen and observe Lady Frances as they walked. She absorbed the recommendation to be more self-reliant with a small insouciant smile. Lady Frances Cavendish was quite correct, again. The apricot-haired lady was now sure she had overstepped somewhere in their conversation. She was unsure exactly where she had done so, or perhaps she had been overly effusive? La baronne contented herself to ponder upon this later. 

'An oddity?' Victorine caught the jest but believed she heard a a piece of the lady's heart, 'is not always a bad thing to be, non?' As her indigo skirts swayed with her step, she was reminded that it was certainly not Frances who was the oddity between the two of them. A queer little irony. Noting that Lady Cavendish only spoke of her fathers family, she asked: 'and your 'usband? He can not think you are an oddity.' Then she found the word she sought to use, and smiled as she turned a little closer to her companion with an air to invite conspiracy, ''from my eyes, you are no oddity, rather an incomparable.'

The Elizabeth of Hardwick sounded like she had the appetites of a spy. Just as did Louis le grand -  at least from what she learned. Victorine had not experienced it first hand. 'I was not aware of such things,' Victorine replied at long last, 'this is remarkable. These artists talk to us through their paintings as well as their, devices.' Unaware she was misunderstanding the finer point of Frances tale, Victorine now believed she understood the reason Frances was in the gallery this early in the morning: the lady was seeking assistance from this device from her ancestress. An answer for an inner worry, perhaps? A desire to change her current course?

La baronne closed her eyes against the small welling of wetness at her eyes. The rise of feeling also swelled in her breast, and she felt ashamed she was so easily affected. She had spent too long at Ballater, not able to speak of herself. Victorine knew the question was out of mere curiosity, or even courtesy. And she noted that the Lady Frances did not answer. 'My talent,' Victorine replied, upon a smile, 'is so secret that I do not know what it is. I like very much to match things together, like a wine or food. Anything except my 'air.' 

Edited by Victorine Folle

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"Is it not an 'oddity' then for us, two strangers to be thus as well? You again complement Madamé."

"Yet there are those moments for what ere the reason that people are brought together. Perhaps that is so with us."

"I am not one for the sharing of Tales at first meeting yet I have done so with you."

She paused in her steps to face the other with some seriousness.

"So I shall hope that what I have said has not offended you and if so I shall beg forgivness. By Precedence you outrank me as a married woman and so tis my obligation to remember that. Not to lecture."

"And yet again you have been shown a side that I do not present often."

She gave a small shrug of one shoulder as she rseumed walking.

"I have no husband. Well at least not yet. I am to be married whenever the day is choosen - sometime soon I believe. My husband to be is the Earl of Dorset. And as his wife I shall be a 'double Countess' a thing I am forever being reminded of." 

She could not help that bit of sarcasm from creeping in.

"But that IS a Talent! It takes skill. Not everyone can do that."

"And now you are here at this Court. Who is to saw what things might be accomplished?"

She lifted her skirts to climb up a few steps and walked a few more to where a man stood next to a closed door.

"Here. At last."

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As they walked, Victorine undertook Lady Frances' reminder. With each step she practiced embedding their path into her memory. It really would pay to familiarise herself on how things are done. Victorine could not blame Lady Cavendish if she blew a little warm, and then a little tepid; c'était tout naturel. Perhaps in time, they could share more positive things in common than being an oddity. 'Que se ressemble, s'assemble...'* Victorine replied, giving a small laugh at Frances' beneficence. La baronne assumed her companion would have an ease with the language, and so she continued without pausing for a translation. Then she ventured: 'or maybe more of a serendipity?' 

'Mais non,' Victorine countered at least, finally addressing the offence Frances believed she could have caused. The Frenchwoman knew she had been encouraging of the frankness of her companion, and perhaps this made her complicit also? 'Please, believe that I 'ave no offense in my 'ead-,' she touched her temple, and then the middle of her chest just above the Ballater hippocampe, 'nor in offense in my 'eart. Besides, we are in England. Surely as myself being French, you are the 'igher ranking lady between us, married or celibataire?'

So it was marriage upon this lady's horizon. Victorine wondered if it was not exactly the sunrise Frances wished to see for the rest of her life. 'If the titles do not excite your passions,' the frenchwoman asked, 'does not the man?' 

Cavendish Apartments

Perched on a chair, Victorine took a sip of the beverage of choice. It was particularly delicious, and so took another. 'I would like to know a little more of this English Court I am yet to brave,' la baronne eventually said with a content smile 'I would be very grateful if you were to share your mind with me?'

Victorine assumed that Lady Frances would do such a thing naturally, but did not want Frances to later believe their talk to be an interrogation. 

'I wish,' Victorine began, hoping Lady Cavendish could understand 'very much to learn not to offend with my Frenchness, or my...oddity. Think you this can be done?'

*Birds of a feather, flock together

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France had quietly sent the two retainers that belonged to her father to fetch refreshments and food - samples of small things easiiy eaten at leisures for them. She then bid the Baroness to sit where ere she wished.

"I am sorry for the unkept appearance - the Duke has been in and out so I have heard these last few days and his Secretary as well."

It was a double lodging consisting of two rooms with a fireplace and a seperate guardroom (privy) and this room in which they now sat. Of medium size and paneled with wood. A floor carpet covered some space with a round 'breakfast' table set upon it made of walnut and covered with a linen cloth. Pewter plates and a set of crystal long stemed glasses rested on its top. Another square table againist one wall held various glass bottles and decanters as well as pewter tankards. There was a cupboard, three stools and a tressel table as well. A clock sat upon the mantle and two high-backed wooden chairs with scroll work sat before the warmth of the fire. A fire fork and shovel resting inside a pewter bucket sat close at hand. A desk was nestled between the only double windows and it was covered with papers and other such things. Two walls held a tapestery each and there was another door set into the walls that was closed. The room smelled faintly of lavender.

It was not the grandest of apartments and not as near to the King as Frances suspected her father wished but it was better than many.

"I am glad then that you have taken no offense. And I hope that you shall continue to do so. Weather in France of Here it makes no difference. Rank and Precedence govern all. I am an unmarried woman and you are a married one. So I needs must acknowledge that."

"Just as one that Ranks lower in status must acknowledge You. It is a complicated arrangement but make no mistake EVERYONE knows their place and where they belong."

Then it turned to her own upcoming marriage.

"Oh do not mistake. Being a double Countess will be of great advantage and place me above some of the other Countesses."

"As to the man  .... he is a Libertine. A Poet and holds a place here at Court as a man 'of wit'. We know nothing of each other."

She took a deeper drink than intended of her red wine but did not offer further descriptions.

"It is much like any other Court - tis the place for those who desire Royal Favor and High Office. Tis a place not for the timid or faint of heart."

"Since yours is a new face you should expect curiosity. You will be asked about your Family - your husband's that is since you take your own Rank from his titles."

"The Ladies will want to know when your husband received his title - meaning in what year - that way Rank and Precedence is established."

"Think of it as who stands ahead of you and who is below you if you had to stand in a line. With you in the middle. But do not worry over much. That is only really used at Important Court Functions."

Frances again had the feeling that the other really did not know anything and how that could possibly be.

"The Gentlemen will be Enchanté of course!" She smiled across to the other. "And will sniff about trying to determine if they stand any chances."

"You have a fellow countrywoman already placed in this Court - Mademosille Nicolette Vauguelin - a relation to the Earl of Basildon. She has done quite well for herself since coming here."

She reached for one of the little pieces of bread and cheese hiding the fact that the bread was going stale - a sign that the servants were stealing perhaps   .....

"I do not think there is more that I can tell you. You shall have to find your way.

"But have you come alone then? No family in London or even a Sponsor here at Court?"

"Your husband did not speak of his familay then? Was he perhaps not much inclined to Court and thus prefered the countryside? There are many that are such."

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Posted (edited)

Victorine had spent a great many years of life surrounded by men that could be called Libertine. And, she supposed, her father exemplified a life lived with les mœurs très libres.  Frances' earl sounded an exciting match: what great conversation could be had with a poet and a wit, and what loving to be had with a libertine. But as she listened to Frances, la baronne believed she was able to understand the pause Frances took. Although she had no reason to know exactly how Frances felt, Victorine considered Lady Frances to be an assiduous person; astute a meaningful way and kindly, taking up a stray because it was generous to do so. A man such as he, Victorine assumed, would surely not be of an assiduous character and perhaps even resentful of someone who was. Yet to her own mind, such a man sounded exciting.

Victorine gave a little chuckle as Lady Frances said she knew nothing of him. It sounded that Frances knew more than she thought, and she interrupted her companion's appreciation of the red wine. 'But I think a poet must be observant, and clever. A wit, non?' That particular word had been difficult to grasp. Her grandfather had often used the word in an unflattering manner. 'A libertine-' Victorine mused upon her words, humming slightly, '-my father was a libertine I think, and also a kind father. I loved 'im very much.' Still she had not heard any news, so she had decided to assume the worse had occurred. It was easier than not knowing. Her thoughts took her back to Frances and her Earl, and so she asked: 'but what more do you wish to know of 'im?' Victorine posed the question of a slight uptilt of the glass, and then she lowered it without taking a sip, and asked 'and what would you wish for 'im to know of you?' 

As Lady Cavendish continued about the matters of rank and precedence. She painted a picture in Victorine's mind of her being inspected like an animal for the slaughter; a bell around her neck and scrutinised by a crowd of ladies from her head to haunches. Her heart began to canter, then gallop as she took onboard the custom that English ladies settled with each in such a way. They were pruning their garden she supposed, and her fear came from her knowing that she was very much a weed. Coughing delicately, Victorine breathed as deep as much as the whalebones would allow and prayed to the Virgin to still her heart. 'You are good to mention la madamoiselle,' the frenchwoman said, ''just as you are kind, you are a remedy for my 'eart. I confess I am often 'omesick.' The tidbit about the Earl of Basildon was left unremarked upon, but even Victorine knew the power of an English relation, and an Earl no less. She decided she would try to seek this lady out. 

As the conversation drew to her own Husband, Victorine realised she could not even summon an imagined shape of this man. Let alone any talk of his family. And she had rather always surmised, had been very much the same on his side. 

''E did not speak of very much at all,' Victorine responded after a few moments, 'he would have rather filled his mouth with whiskey than words.' Perhaps it was a little darker than she felt, about the matter, so Victorine gave a little faux laugh and then leaned back into the chaise. She wondered what Lady Cavendish would say upon hearing Victorine's complicated history, and so continued to speak a somewhat cultivated confession: 'I did not get the title from my 'usband. Ballater is from my grandfather.'

'It is an oddity I think,' Victorine said, smiling doucely at Frances, 'for a lady to have such a thing.'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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"I do not think you know the defination of that word Madamé." Frances said quietly.

"A Libertine is one who is devoid of most moral principles, any sense of responsibility and favors undesirable traits. They go aganist the accepted morals and forms of behaviors. Physical pleasures are valued."

"And that is the type of man that I am to marry. I doubt that I would find anything that is acceptable in him. But I can not say that for certain as he has not said or done anything to me personally."

"As his wife I shall run his household as I have been taught. Bear his children. Be expected to turn a blind eye to his 'other pastimes' and say nothing."

"in return he will keep me in the manner in which I have always lived and once he inherits I shall benefit as well."

"And ALL of court knows who he is and I shall have to endure the Pityious looks and stares and smirks and whispers wherever I go." 

She too drank her wine draining the glass. She took a calming breath then noticed that the other had done the same.

"I have yet again managed to give the impression that this is a place of bad things and people. That is far from true!"

She nodded her head as it was revealed about the others title.

"Ah. So you are your Grandfathers heiress then. Well, that is not a usual occurance, but it just means that there was no son to inherit or other male relative that could be found."

"You are Baroness Ballater in your own right so that is a thing to be proud of."

She rose and went to the side table and took up a decanter asking over her shoulder if the other would like more.

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Posted (edited)

The frenchwoman nodded as Frances' talked, and described her 'lot' as it were. Her apricot coloured curls rustled and swung to and fro as she nodded. 'I do know very little,' she said, frowning slightly. La baronne felt that now it was her that had caused Lady Frances offence; but thought an apology would merely underline her companion's pained feelings. As to her future, Victorine understood the tableau painted by this lady; but it felt ugly to have it summed up in such a way. And while Frances had said nothing as to her feelings on the matter of her life, Victorine believed she was not enthused. Or perhaps even believed that her husband to be and herself were incompatible. 'Helas-,' Victorine said at last, touching her hair with her fingertips. She knew very well what it was like to be jeered at, 'my face will never give such things to you.' 

'I think you 'ave un esprit,' the frenchwoman whispered, 'of fortitude. Of all these things in this future life of yours, is there time for any passe-temps to bring you a little joy? Per'aps you are fond of music?' Victorine hoped this would be the thing to draw the conversation away from thoughts of the Earl, if it were at all possible. Moreover, Victorine thought to find a lady who might enjoy similar pursuits. She already knew they had painting in common, but they were also not so in common that things were banal.

After Frances expressed no suspicion or doubt as to how Victorine received her title, the frenchwoman felt relief. The weight of her farce lifted from her shoulders. So it was not uncommon, but neither unusual. She breathed deep, and gave a little sigh. She could relax. Smiling with thanks, her cup was offered in response to Frances wordless query, hoping to catch more of the delicious drop. 'I 'ave no great affection for Ballater 'ouse,' Victorine confessed, 'it is dark and cold. I would like to bring it alive with colour, per;aps beautiful plants or fabrics. But per'aps a first attempt at something smaller would be easier, like a 'ouse in London. More so I could prepare a menu for you, maybe to match delicious wine with meats or even les patisseries for us to enjoy...'

Victorine was comfortable at the Red Lion Inn, but Frances' earlier comments were coming to the fore of her mind. Given she was going to invite curiosity, why not use it? It was surely not going to continue to serve her for much longer. 

Edited by Victorine Folle

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She took up the decanter bringing it back to where they both sat and pour some into each glass before she resumed her seat. She sat the bottle on the floor beside her chair for further use.

"I never imagined that you would do so Baroness. You seem a kind person."

"Once I am married then I shall have the freedom to do as I wish. As long as I repect the boundries and rules."

"And I shall indeed do just that."

Frances smiled a bit cheerer than previous.

"As the Countess of Dorset I may indulge as I will and send my husband all the bills!"

She wished to change the somber atmosphere and so with her practised skills did just that.

"Music? Well I can not sing but play marginally well. I like very much to dance."

"Last Season there was a 'Garden Society' but I never looked it up. I have heard it might come again now and if so then I sall."

"My father's country seat I have a fondness for - I like the forrest and cleanness but I much prefer London - yet I suppose I shall have to see how Dorset's is and what needs to be done there."

"I do not however intend to be one of those wives that is sent away from Court once married. Of that I am sure."

"But now that you are the owner I think you will change it. And I agree - tis best to start small and once proficient then move up."

"If you wish a residence then you must be careful where that is. There are many unsafe areas."

"If you need help I will ask the Duke's Steward for a responsible agent and one that will not cheat you in regards to a lease."

She made the offer a bit shyly as she was not used to it and unsure if she would even be listen to much less helped.

"And I think I would like to see how you have settled in."

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'To a 'usband who grants you comforts, freedom-' Victorine raised her glass towards Frances, a sly smile curling across her face, '-and pays the billets!' It was an invitation to join a very pragmatic toast, and it rubbed her a little amusing. 'Per'aps I might one day toast to your children?' On the brink of her first marriage, Victorine had not yet acquired the desire for children. But neither had it ever been her duty to produce any. But now at five and twenty, Victorine wondered if she was this chance had long since passed her. As she took in what Frances said, and from the way she spoke about this Victorine felt comfortable assuming that Frances Cavendish would make a very fine maman. 

Dancing. Playing. Paintings. Wine. Indeed they had a few passe-temps in common. 'Mais voila,' she exclaimed, apricot curls dancing about her face. 'I sing a little but I prefer to dance all the night.' La baronne retrieved the bottle from the floor, and added more to Frances' glass, and then her own. 'I do not know any lady who is doing gardens. At least, I 'ave 'ad no thought look for one who does. But I 'ave seen 'edges cut into a maze!' 

The conversation swept towards the choice of housing.

'This is a useful kindness.' Victorine's impossibly light eyes swept up from her glass towards Frances. 'But I would also trust your opinion, just as I would trust any opinion coming from an agent recommended by your Duke Steward,' the frenchwoman took a healthy sip of the wine quite without recognition that she had said anything peculiar. 'As I am alone in England I cannot be too careful, non?'

'Then I will 'ost you when the time comes. I shall invite you. Are there any other ladies you enjoy the company of?'

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Frances smiled and held up her glass in response but did not comment. What she had said about her married life might well be so far from the actural truth that she did not want to tempt Fate by adding more.

"There is another here who 'sings' - tis the German born wife of the Spanish Ambassador to Court - Lady Toledo by address. She sings Operas which I think sound much like a cat being strangled but His Majesty approves so ..." A shrug of one shoulder. 

"I am sure there will be some event planned no doubt for the Season where she will be on display. You may see for yourself then."

"Hmmm. I shall have to seek him out first as he may well refuse. He will not go aganist anything that he thinks the Duke will not like. But if so, well, I shall ask a friend for he is most trustworthy."

"In fact I think I shall not involve any from my Family and go straight to him instead."

"Might I send him a note with your information first? He is very busy at present but will make time I am hoping. If not he shall no dount provide some good names for you to use."

"Have you a Steward of your own? That way he will handle all your business matters for you. Perhaps there is someone capable back at your country estate that will be acceptable?"

"There must be someone who oversees the running of things and reports back to you."

Frances made the assumption that the other was as she to some extent - used to servants and the daily runnings of an Estate and tennants etc etc.

"Well I have my circle so yes. We ..."

It was then that a discreet double knock was heard and Frances looked towards the closed door. A sigh followed.

"That is my signal to warn that the Duke may be returning here. I am afraid that we must continue this another time and place."

"Allow me to walk you thru some of the maze here at Whitehall and help you to find the best and quickest ways out."

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Victorine observed Frances' little witty delivery with an amused smile upon her lips. Lady Cavendish, perhaps, was like many a noblewoman who was able to hold her tastes like a barrier around her, like a shield. It was not such a bad thing; to know one's dislikes and likes, and to announce them with a little dry wit. Indeed, Victorine rather liked Frances the more for being so candid. Then, deciding to be brave, she ventured: 'I assume it is la manière of singing you do not favour,' the frenchwoman asked upon a whisper, 'rather than the lady 'erself?' Victorine had never heard an Opera before but she did recall the trill of the laughter from an opera singer from underneath her Father's door. Earthy, sultry and so very different from a strangled cat. But then, this opera singer had surely not been using that particular talent  at that time. As for Lady Toledo, if there was anything Lady Cavendish could tell her, la baronne was willing to listen. 

'I beg you to forgive mon subterfuge,' Victorine smiled languidly as Lady Cavendish discussed the steps of her plan, Victorine's grey eyes twinkling with amusement 'but I dare not alarm the Ballater steward that I do not intend to go back.' At all  The questions were natural, and it was kind that the lady thought to keep propriety for another lady's servants. 'I shall give my your details, for the note, if you will?' Victorine did not want to reveal her weakness by trying to write or read without the time to sound out the words and practice the words. Without the efforts to prepare herself Lady Cavendish would surely think she was an idiot - if she had not already come to that opinion.

'Oh yes,' Victorine agreed as their time drew near. She had no desire to offend anyone related to Lady Cavendish, Duke or no. 'I believe I should need your 'elp to navigate this labyrinth,' Victorine got to her feet and patted her skirts to rearrange them into their old-fashioned style. 'Yet another thing I am to thank you for.'

OOC: thank you for the thread! It was lovely!

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"Lady Toledo and I are friendly and so I must agree that tis her 'style' that I do not favor rather than the Lady herself."

"She does not have an easy time of it I think .... her ideas are oft times most unusual yet I do not believe she has bad intentions."

"You shall have to decide for yourself if you are a devote or not."

"But your Steward must do his job weather you are there or not. He is after all your representative when you are not there. It would be foolish of you to not outline your wants and expectations."

"He must collect the revenues from any tenants you have and see to repairs on the house and out-buildings. There is much that has to be seen too which is why it benefits You to have servants that you trust and are Loyal."

"That will be fine ..."

She rose and went to her father's desk took up a scrap of blank paper and a quill and pot and then came back ready to list what was said.

"I shall write them down so I do not forget ...."

Some time later they made ready to leave and Frances was quick to assure the other that they would no doubt meet again.

 

(ooc: Thank You too!)

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