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Darlene Hamilton

Idle fingers do the Devils work | 12th late afternoon

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Posted (edited)

Darlene was in a very restless mood following the Duchesses visit, she had read the letters at least five times and still had no idea of what to do. Having no idea of what to do was a very unpleasant sensation, and not one she was accustomed to at all.  For the umpteenth time she sighed of it.

"Send for a carriage!" she called as she whisked herself up stairs. 

What 'sending for a carriage' actually entailed Darlene hardly knew, but by the time she'd finished revising her look, there was a city carriage awaiting her outside the front gate. 

There was a petite dinner party to plan afterall, she was to entertain her new dear friend Lady Toledo, and later Lord Chatham also. Foodstuffs were required, and everyone in London knew the best cook in town was down at the Red Lion... "To the Red Lion' Darlene called to the driver, relieved to have this matter at least under control! 

Quote

 

The Red Lion Inn is located at Charring Cross. Solidly built in grey stone the inn has an air of permanence and protectiveness. The three storied building displays a shield-shaped sign of a red lion rampant guardant on a white ground. The legend above the door reads "Red Lion Inn. Hezekiah Golightly, lndld."

At the eastern end of the building is the great arch, twice the height of a man, giving on to the coach yard. Sturdy wooden gates stand open during the day but are locked with the coming of night. The main entrance can be accessed from the street or from the yard.

The main entrance is situated at the eastern side of the building. A room of whitewashed walls and dark oak beams, a cheery fire burns in the fireplace on the west wall. A desk is located here, behind which sits a tall, thin blonde lad with merry eyes and a ready smile.

 

So it was with not much ado that Darlene managed to take Mrs Golightly from her Kitchen breifly. 

"Three courses shall do adequately, and it needs to be something light upon the digestion for we are daring out into the town sometime after. Oh do not ask me where. I am pledged not to say a word - but if you must press, then I can say that we shall be in the proximity of the wharves. Upon Lifeguard business.  It shall be utterly fascinating. Ooo! Perhaps we should have a nice fish for the main in that case, but not flounder, I cannot abide the way those lay on the plate looking at you."

The young Viscountess chattered away far longer than Mrs Golightly really had the time for.  But finally it was all done, the cook returned to her stoves to the well wish of 'God speed!' from the Lady.

 

Darlene turned from the farewell, and looked about the Inn, reluctant to leave the bustling scene... and she, so prettily dressed in a light green day dress with snugly fitting sleeves to her elbow (where upon they flared out in a volume of cream lace). Her bodice worked in red embroidery of poppies, it's squared neckline deeply cut (with cream lace trim to preserve modesty) About her neat waist was a broad dark green ribbon, beneath which great volumes of silk cascaded, with further embroidered poppies ran about the hem.  She was all dressed up, but with no where else to go.  Loosing a sigh, Darlene was upon the lookout for a diversion...

'I should have invited Lord Churchill to take me to the Green Ribbon Club' , but she had not, and now her eyes turned towards the rowdy Tap room.  There was adventure to be found in there, she was practically certain of it.  

Edited by Darlene Hamilton

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Posted (edited)

Thé, with a splash of fresh milk.

Then, a few more drops of brandy.

Victorine reclined in her seat, in a sea of indigo. The years she had spent in England had informed her that the English did not attend to their afternoon like the French. At Ballater she had always taken her tea and lemon cake alone. But now in le lion rouge, her goûter was taken amongst the dizzying number of people, no doubt the sound of clientele well served. She was very lucky that Mrs Golightly understood the tradition, and it was offered to her without a fuss.

The brandy created a delicious haze, and added to her relaxation. Her morning had been well spent: practicing her singing and her encounter with Lady Cavendish, a lady who happily took her up. Hélas, she was not yet ready to retire to her rooms after such a good day. While her new maid was replete with gossip for their evenings, Victorine still did not understand most of it. 

Looking down at her plate, she saw it was empty. With a little moué, she realised she had already devoured the delights upon her plate. And then, as if her eyes had already been seeking beauty - the the most wonderful dress entered the Inn: light green (one of Victorine's favourites) patterned with a stunning red coquelicot. But she was even more intrigued by the lady when she began to look about herself, as if she was seeking something. 

Surely there was something French about this lady? 

She took her approach.

Victorine approached the lady with a grand smile. She gave an elegant curtsy, and her impossibly apricot coloured curls swung about her face. 'Unlike you, I 'ave only just discovered the delights of Mrs Golightly's cuisine.'

Victorine assumed Darlene to be a long serving noble customer of the Inn. 'But I see you take her meals elsewhere? Mais bon, what a clever idée!'

Then her brows knit together, and said with slight astonishment: 'but you 'ave no wine, milady?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Fair fortune, saving Darlene from a perilous venture into the common rooms rough and tumble, appeared in the shape of a woman - a French one no less (Victorine's accent was clear). 

"How astute of you!" she beamed 'neath the compliments, for while flattery was a second language to every courtier, it was enjoyable to accept praise when it was so deserved.  "I do take my role as hostess dreadfully seriously, and am having a friend to dinner tomorrow evening."

Already Darlene was sizing the other lady up, possibly to invite her along, just in case she might be an adventuress also.  Like a clucky chook Darlene was always quick to take such persons under wing.

"Hmm." pressing a finger to her lips she repressed a pleased smile, "why you are right, and I dare say by your heritage you shall know exactly what a lady should pair with a pre-excursion dinner party, why without your help I would be pressed to choose between white wine or red. What would you suggest? 

"Oh! Pardon me, but my name is Darlene Hamilton, or Lady Oakham if we are being all proper about it."  Darlene’s eyes were bright as she tried figure out this lady, who was without a gentleman escort but plainly a woman of quality, while was of an age to suggest some worldly wisdom. 

“May I ask, are you staying here?”

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Posted (edited)

Not French. But very winsome.

Lady Cavendish had been a lesson in understated charm, but now this lady presented a whole new opportunity. 

'Ah,' Victorine slanted her impossibly light eyes towards Lady Oakham. Perhaps it was the kindness from this morning, her brandy-tea or the vision of the coquelicot about this lady's person but it seemed Frenchwoman was all to happy to help as Darlene suggested.The words "pre-excursion dinner party" caught her attention and her brows lifted up into their arches. But there was no shock in her face, rather amusement and intrigue. Just what was the late night excursion this lady was to undertake?

As if she was involved in a conspiracy, Victorine pitched her head towards Darlene. 'it is convention non?' she commented upon a small shrug, eyes watching Darlene 'to partner wine by colour. But my secret Lady Oakham,' Victorine said, 'is to break these rules. What fine food do you serve for your friend, Lady Darlene?'

'I am Victorine Folle, Lady Ballater.' Smiling at the question from Lady Oakham, Victorine fought an urge to bite the inner of her cheek. Lady Frances Cavendish appeared to have found the idea bizarre that a lady would reside in an Inn without a Husband. Her maid also, and now perhaps Lady Darlene.

'Yes,' she looked about the busy nature of the Inn, 'is it very odd that I am here?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Following Victorines cue Darlene leaned forward, flicking open her fan behind which to whisper, her eyes flaring in appreciation of this show of secrecy (Darlene loved little more than a bit of drama!). 

"...please, just 'Darlene'.  And you might have guessed, that I love to test the boundaries of convention also."  To ham it up a little more Darlene glanced around the room to check for wagging ears (& refusing to be disappointed at nobody paying their show any attention at all) she then continued,  "Leek and potato soup with capers, and for our main: potted veal." 

Secrecy of her intended menu aside, she returned to natrual posture to greet, "Delighted to meet you Lady Ballater, Victorine.  But which rooms are you staying in?  I wonder if it might be in my old apartment even. My Brother the Earl Chichester resided here some years ago, we had the very finest time." No judgement here.  "Oh, that was until my poor rejected suitor shot himself in the foot. It sounds amusing now, but at the time it was all rather ... mmm, a bad day. For him at least."  She flashed a grin, and then quizzed.  "Who on earth told you it was odd to stay in an Inn?" 

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Posted (edited)

Happily playing the game with Darlene, Victorine tapped her lips with a finger as if she were sealing State secrets behind them.

Then again, after having a little pride in her own hostess abilities she understood the craft and the sanctity of the menu. And what Darlene described did sound particularly delicious. Victorine knew instantly what would add the final flourish to this very fine meal: Beaujolais, followed by Primitivo.

La baronne didn't immediately reveal her recommendation. Distracted by the talk of a possible commonality, Victorine gestured to the far northeastern corner. 'Then come, please find your answer, Darlene,' she said, recalling her favourite elements of the comfortable room, 'there is a 'oney-coloured chair in which no doubt you would look excellent seated. With a full glass, per'aps and some bonbons?' Victorine would happily retreat to her, or perhaps their, chambre should Darlene would wish it. 'But,' the apricot haired woman eventually said, 'I am told Smithe-Higgins - or is it Higgins-Smith? - has some of the finest: vins français, vini italiani, portugais....saca? As my gift to you, I can send the wine to your soirée. But if you must taste the wine before serving, we would have to venture there ourselves.'

Victorine tried to recall the exact words from Lady Cavendish about living in the Inn. But all she remembered was the feeling upon her at that very moment, and that she felt odd. Had she misunderstood the meaning of Lady Cavendish? It seemed possible she had. But it did not seem important nor kind to make mention of it. While Lady Cavenish was a little unsure of Victorine, the frenchwoman believed she could win the lady over in time. So she skipped over the person entirely. 'I am so glad to 'ear you say so. I like this bustle. And the menu of course-,' she laughed, and tucked a straying apricot coloured coil behind her ear, 'but if I am to stay in London, I thought I might eventually rent a 'ouse eventually.' It was not precisely a truth nor precisely a lie.

Quite astonished at the image of someone's foot being shot, Victorine gave a little start of surprise. A bad day indeed for her paramour. 'But this is an English saying, non? Was he truly so 'eartbroken that he shot 'imself?' Her once lover was far more fickle in his attentions to bother with such displays.

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Darlene's eyes flared a pleasure as Victorine played along with the melodrama - and played coy! So that each moment she then digressed about her particular room, the only thing her companion was thinking about was 'what wine ought it be!?"

"A honey coloured chair, that does seem familiar. And have you a view of the courtyard below? Mine did, my brother spied upon me through it, so that I learnt quite quickly not to dilly dally there." Darlene would be quite happy to the room and to see if it was the same in person, just to tread the hallway again would be a walk down memory lane. 

Raising to Victorines unspoken challenge, Darlene pretended she'd no interest in wine at all.   Except that Lady Ballater kept on mentioning filled glasses ... then finally , at long last, Victorinne did her reveal, and named the wines.  If those were indeed wine names, Darlene only recognised that the shop they came from was a wine merchant.

"I've never heard of wines with those names." Darlene freely admitted, and smiled, "they must be especially special and rare, why I am quite honoured that you recommended me such. Even more so as a gift. But please, you must come to my dinner party also. It is a very small affair, I am sure that my lady friend shall delight to meet you. Besides, if you are newly arrived you shall want for introductions." 

This Vicountess was a welcoming woman; after all didn’t the good book say to treat others as you would want to be treated. 

"I do not know for certain, I felt terribly bad about it." she said of poor Jerome, "I don’t think it was heartbreak so much as thwarted ambition though. I hardly knew him, and he'd have been miserable if we'd married. I've not seen him since, I hope he doesnt have a limp."  

 

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Victorine gave a little spurt of laughter at Darlene's rather shocking story. It was such an odd yet wonderful little detail to enjoy. On reflection on the exact words, Victorine wished to believe Darlene meant a blood brother, a man impervious to her obvious charms. At least, she hoped that was the case. ' 'e spied you?'

Victorine could have kissed Darlene for such a warning. Colour rose in Victorine's cheeks, scandalised by the thought that someone could just look up, and see her. But, alas, she was not the sight of beauty that Darlene was and quite passed the blossoming of youth. Although those years of life between Victorine and Darlene were stuffed with nothing of consequence: no fun, no lightness and no beauty. Thankfully, no one would willingly dilly dally underneath her window surely. 'But now, I am more than intrigued by your memory. Shall we discover together?' 

'These wines are not rare,' Victorine said, 'I confess. But they are special and will be very delicious at your soirée.' As Darlene extended the invitation towards her, Victorine broke out into a genuine smile. 'I am delighted to be asked,' she said, 'if your party can accommodate me, I will be delighted to attend. My gifts shall prove my company worth it, I 'ope.' Darlene had the right of it, she had much need of introductions. She had yet to come up against someone decided to take against her, and she indeed was lucky for these little stepping stones into polite society.

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"Yes." Darlene answered simply enough, she had the manner of a woman with no secrets. That of course was not the case.  "But have you brothers too, and perhaps a husband here also? Your Lord Ballater is not the jealous type I hope, that is the worst sort of husband I found." 

Truth was she's have loved her dear departed to have been more jealous of her, Thomas would have looked magnificent in a duel, there ought to have been many of them.

"Teehee, yes lets traverse upstairs." Darlene was much taken with Victorine's flattering conversational style, and without further ado she took up a handful of skirts to manage her way up the stairs easily. Not certain of the others rank, she followed after upon account of Victorine looking a tad elder and being the Inns actual guest. 

Meanwhile she chattered, "My other guest is exotic also, she is from Germany really, but Venice too, related somehow to a Lord here who was her guardian, and now married to the new Spanish ambassador. But mostly she is known for her voice. On more than one occasion I've heard people say she sings like a nightingale. Of course, I am horribly Envious!"  It was a companionable style of envy though, laughed brightly and all with a broad smile. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Pleased to have found an adventure, Victorine likewise gathered her skirts and ascended the stairs. 'I 'ave no brothers, though I would 'ave liked many,' Victorine remarked, gazing at Darlene over her shoulder as she made her progress towards her rooms. But then she would not have inherited anything, so it was sweet sort of bitterness. 'My 'usband is not alive-,' Victorine said as they continued up the stairs, until they reached her rooms. Then, she whispered to Darlene, 'but 'e 'ad much joy of his last years. I am told.'  At least much more than she had.

She opened the door to allow Darlene to see if this was a memory from her past, in the room named after the Tree of Life. There were travelling boxes stacked on top of each other in one corner and a rather unfashionable evening dress laid out on the bed. Otherwise, there was ample floor space to move around in. The room smelled slightly of citrus, a perfume that Victorine was testing out sparingly. 'Make yourself at 'ome, Darlene,' Victorine said as she perched herself upon the edge of her bed, and opened a small box revealing a bevy of chocolate bonbons, sitting in delicate tissue. There was also a nearby crystal bottle of port. Her maids had kept the rooms tidy, but Victorine did spy an errant stocking perched over her room divider. But alas, it was too late to fix that matter. Darlene seemed kind enough to ignore it, or perhaps they could even laugh about it.

So, Victorine may have the chance to meet this intriguing Lady Toledo of whom Lady Cavendish spoke. 'It is such a beauteous thing, to sing,' Victorine replied upon a wide smile, 'this is Lady Toledo, non? I am told she sings Operas magnificently.' That was not precisely true, the report was more along the lines of the sounds of a royally approved strangled cat.

'I do not think I possess any talent in great remark,' Victorine replied ruefully. But she was not truly disappointed, having many years to come to reconcile herself. 'But, something tells me, that you do, Darlene....?'

Edited by Victorine Folle

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Posted (edited)

OOC: please accept my apologies for being absent.

IC

“Oh having many brothers is not so wonderful as that.” Darlene replied cheerily, “Though truth be told the eldest three were mostly away on their own adventures while I was growing up. And then there was Percy, who was just a nuisance.”

The narrow stairs were filled by the great volumes of fabric, lace and ribbons that the ladies routinely lugged about, so that any gentlemen who thought to ascend or decend at that time had to move back or forth to the landings and press themselves against the wall that the woman could pass!

“Oh but that is awful.” Darlene was about to reveal she was a widow too, but her companions whispered remark intrigued. “But do you mean he was a gad about?” the question was whispered, and spoke with a flare of eyes. “… and separate from you also.”

Darlene’s own Thomas had not spent much time with her, but she did not think he was having much fun during those boring absences.

She paused before stepping into the room, loosing a sigh. “Oh but yours is different.” Darlene’s old room had an adjoining door to her brothers, while Victorines was entirely contained. “Oh but beautiful, do you know I think that the Golightly’s have remodelled, everything looked far more tired when I stayed, O however many years ago.”

Moving to the window, Darlene looked out, before turning back towards her new friend in her fine surroundings. “I am properly jealous!” Darlene smiled in making this compliment, before moving to the bed to also sit. Especially as there were chocolates.

“Yes that is her, Lady Toledo, and she is also much fun.”  Darlene wanted a chocolate, but it was rude to take without it being offered. If Victorine was a male she’d have ate one anyhow, but women could be difficult about such things. (Darlene knew, cause she could be difficult too.)

“Oh yes, I do have a great talent, I am a wonderous hostess of parties.”  She had other talents too, though this was the one she wanted to become famous at.

“But I bet you do have talents, perhaps you just haven't found what it is yet. Like, perhaps you can…” looking at Victorine more closely then, Darlene tried to make an excellent guess, “…befriend just anyone you meet. Why look, I am smitten with you already.”  

Yes that was an excellent guess.  

Edited by Darlene Hamilton

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