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What a View! (Wednesday, April 13th, midday) Caroline OPEN

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It was a beautiful spring day with something the English did not see enough but most craved, a bright sun in an almost cloudless sky. So Caroline had decided she just had to get out of that big house of hers and do something with her day. London was a large spread out metropolis and she had not actually seen much of it though she was starting her second year in the city. So the decision was made  (by her of course) to go see some new part and enjoy the adventure of new sights. It was that decision and the carriage ride which followed which brought her to the magnificent monument to what they called the Great Fire. Caroline was amused that these English would go thru all this work and expense to build something about a fire?  Still, upon further pondering she realized it was really more to honor the dead. And judging from the massive towering column, there had been a lot of dead. She imagined it had been mostly poor folk, they always got the short end of the stick in life.

Alighting the carriage and holding a small parasol in one hand, not that she worried about rain merely to keep the sun out of her eyes. She did like the sun and the warmth it brought too but she didn't want it blinding her when she was trying to take in the sights. There were quite a few people out and about, she was not the only one who was going to take advantage of such a gorgeous day but she ignored them all for the moment and she gazed up at the structure. Amazing! And it was then that she realized one could actually take an internal stairway and climb all the way to the top?  Now that was intriguing.

She turned to her driver, actually he was her long serving Irish bodyguard, and informed him to stay with the carriage while she "stormed the tower" as she put it with a grin. Caroline often spoke in military terms, it was the product of being raised in the household of a professional soldier, her father. The man was French born but had spent the vast majority of his military career in various states' armies, even commanded a fortress once for the Danes in a long lasting siege. Probably his main claim to fame. Caroline had been inside those walls too, as a young child. It had not been pleasant.

But enough about the 'good old days', it was time to have some fun! Caroline was going to climb all the way to the top and see what the view was like. She figured it would be simply incredible.

Edited by Caroline Despanay
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Amongst the mileu that washed this part of the City was Lady Ballater. Of a mind to take a full day in it's measure, Victorine had already spent enough coin for a new wardrobe and it's delivery to the Red Lion. It had taken a whole morning to discover her particular colours. Colours, she was told would dampen the colour of her own hair. But against their wiahyes she had taken a fancy to a small parasol of red with a decorative ribbon and decided to take it out to air 

Victorine was strolling nowhere in particular, and was wholly without design for her ventures - that is until she noticed a small group of people go in and out of the base of a large fluted column structure. This was rather intriguing as Victorine had considered it when she first passed it that it was merely an inanimate statue, or had perhaps merely looked without understanding. She entered behind another lady (Caroline), one who appeared particularly well dressed. 

Victorine was not quite expecting the inner staircase. 'Milady,' Victorine called out to the other in front, hoping that she would be heard, 'may I borrow from your courage and come with you to the top?'

Victorine had never recently been off the floor to any height. As a child she had skittered across roofs without concern but as an adult full grown, she did wonder if she would suffer from la vertige!



Edited by Victorine Folle
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Entering the structure, there now was a formidable looking staircase to tackle, this was going to be a lot of steps!  And anyone knew it was always harder going up than down. Still, undaunted, Caroline  closed her parasol and now was just about to start the first of many many steps when there was a woman's voice behind her? She turned to see if indeed she was the subject of that inquiry and if she knew the speaker. She definitely did recognize this individual. There was something about the words though.

"Borrow? If you need it that badly, mayhaps I should charge for it's use?" she replied but the grin that followed showed she was simply attempting a little joke.

"Seriously though, you are more than welcome to ascend up closer to the heavens with me," she added quickly in the hopes the stranger had not been offended.

"You are French are you? Or at least of French ancestry? I can tell by your accent however slight."

"It is the same with me you see," there was plainly delight in those eyes of hers not disdain even though England and France were tottering toward war.

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Victorine found herself rooted to the spot as Caroline responded. She felt a small sluice of fear before it melted away, and mirth arose to replace it. 'I may very well pay this charge of yours,' la baronne chuckled as her eyes twinkled with mirth. 'I doubt I will 'ave ever been so 'igh in my life,'  Victorine turned her apricot coloured head towards the aforementioned heavens and squinted slightly,  before returning her impossibly light blue eyes back to the brave blonde: 'I think this will be a great adventure.'

Victorine visibly brightened as a shared commonality was revealed, and she clasped her hands together - both in relief and in intrigue. As to her own lineage, Victorine said: 'my mother was English, and my father français.' While she had french heritage, she had a new English title and estate. That, the frenchwoman considered, should topple her into the English basket surely? But it was surely her accent that gave up the game and set her apart, despite her efforts. Victorine spoke with a slight Picard accent, so very different from the courtly Parisian French. Being of French descent herself, perhaps this would be something that Caroline would notice. But it did signify little in the end.

It was time for a formal introduction: 'I am Victorine, Baronness Ballater. And I am very pleased to go to the 'eavens with you.'

'Do you 'ave a 'usband or family here,' Victorine asked, curious about her companion, 'or a friends at this English Court per'aps, milady?'

As she turned towards the steps, ready to ascend with the brave blonde in front like a Viking princess, Victorine started to think of the grand tableau of the City that would greet them and the very tall height they would be at. He knees had yet to falter, so she decided she was all in. Like if she were playing cards. The Frenchwoman did have a fancy for wages, and was considering how to achieve one with this very structure. 'We shall have the City in our 'ands I believe,' the apricot haired lass chatted lightly, 'are you curious to find out what should happen should we drop an item over the edge?' She had a few coins, but didn't want anything quite so dangerous to the below passersby to be used. Perhaps a button, or even her parasol? Floating it down over the edge with a cryptic message did seem rather enticing, but alas, her hand was poor enough to render cryptic messages complete absurdities.

Edited by Victorine Folle
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"I was simply joking of course. People learn quickly not to take things all that seriously that I say....well, unless the moment is a solemn one," Caroline easily confessed that part of her. She did not add that there were those who truly were shocked at some of her pronouncements but then there was a part of her who enjoyed riling up folk.  It was certainly one the major influences in her falling easily into the court libertine crowd. She had built quite a reputation amongst that bunch, one she was proud of even. But for her, anything was better than being......boring!

"But yes, I am quite certain I too will be higher than I have ever been before. Best I have done previously was standing upon the battlements of a fortress wall. In Denmark. But I was a child then," she revealed even as they continued to put one foot ahead of the other in their steady climb. The other now revealed the reason for the French accent, her father was French.

"Ah so is mine," Caroline smiled.

The woman followed with an introduction. So she was a baroness too?

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, baroness. I am Caroline Despanay, Baroness Kendishall. Well, actually that is not correct anymore. Long story."

"Oh and I am afraid this will be about as close as I will ever get to Heaven," she quipped with a grin.

As to the other questions of the woman, Caroline tried to answer as best she could without going into too much detail. Besides both climbing and talking was getting rather stressful, she was breathing more heavily she noticed.

"I am a widow, my husband ...well, I do not mourn his passing...a barn fire. We were not a fitting match is all I will say on that subject. My father is still living, in England actually. We do not see each other very much, I suppose I do love him still but he was the one who arranged that marriage over my objections. It does still hang between us."

"But I do not want to burden you with such a tale of woes, truth is I am about to be remarried. One of my own choosing too. He proposed and I gladly said 'yes'."

The other lady had a strange idea then.

"Drop something over the edge? Oh dear, whatever it might be, it should be very small and light. We would not wish to injure or even worse, kill some luckless sod down below afterall. I am quite certain the local authorities frown on that sort of thing."


Edited by Caroline Despanay
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Her nerves were pinging from the effort of the stairs. But they were also were filling her with a wonderful, thrilling feeling that came from being so high up. It was a near perfect day for viewing the panaroma of the city. She could view the housetops, the long shadow of the tower like a sundial and the busy streets below. Victorine had rarely passed over so many stairs in one go; and she felt that if she was able breathe long enough to satisfy the heave of her lungs, she might pop. But after a few moments her pulse had taken up its normal pace and she gained mastery over her breath. Denmark? This certainly did nothing to dissuade Victorine from imagining her fellow countrywoman a Viking princesse. 

She had understood Caroline's little joke, and had found it rather funny. Perhaps even moreso for the sluice of fear that had threaded through her - that her request was denied, even shunned. But Victorine was a little shocked her blonde companion would talk in such a manner about her soul and the heavens, surely she could not really mean her immortal soul. It was likely another little joke. As Caroline spoke of little glimpses in her life, Victorine understood there were many cross threads in hers. She too, a widow. Although she could not have spent more than a month within her the company of her Husband, scarcely enough to matter or to mourn. 'I am a Widow also,' Victorine replied upon a small thin smile, and gave the only detail she knew of her husband's life and end: 'not such a fiery end with mine, just the slow burn of drink.' Fire had been the end of her family's fortune, as Victorine understood. It was thought to be an accident. A little ironie, to be standing within this very monument. 

She slanted her light eyes towards Caroline, assessing. She could empathise with Caroline's feelings towards her Father, but also felt a small budding of envy. Her own Father was lost to her, and in many ways even if it were not true that he were dead, it would have to be the case if he was indeed a fugitive from the law. It would be better to think him in Nouvelle-France, selling beaver furs. 'To remarry after such a thing is very brave,' Victorine replied, although she understood it was in some cases a very necessary, 'I wish you much joy. Félicitations. And who is this man of your choosing?' From what Caroline had said, it could be possible she was marrying for love. But la baronne could not rule out that it was also for comforts, such as opportunity or money. Hopefully it was a pleasing mix of all things a lady required.

'Your father was in the military?' Victorine assumed that he had been fighting for the French. Though why he would be Denmark, she had not a clue. She had absorbed what she knew of these wars from daily life around her. Victorine had no personal understanding that Caroline would. 

'La,' Victorine posed her parasol so she could thread a pearled button from her matching pairs along a long red ribbon. Besides she could buy another if anything went awry. Thorpe's money was more than enough. 'I wish 'arm to no one, only good fortune, and maybe a button. Or?' She looked towards Caroline, and arched her brows. The lady did not seem enthused, nor even unenthused by Victorine's whimsy. She could attach it to the parasol to make the landing a little softer, but she could not be sure it would not end up too far away in the muck, or a tree.

'Maybe this is a stupid idee,' Victorine asked, smiling towards Caroline, holding the ribbon out to her in case she wished to add her own item, 'but if we cannot find these fancies on our descent, I will make sure you 'ave another in its place.'

Perhaps it was her own restlessness that toyed with her. Yes, she was also overwhelmingly lonely and the intensity of it compelled an intensity in her actions. Here she was, about to figuratively cast her bread upon the water in the hopes that a little secret might be shared with this blonde companion, or even a stranger below in the streets. Surely it would just blow into some muck, and then not even she would retrieve it. 

However, firm in her path, she wound the ribbon around the handle of her parasol. 

Edited by Victorine Folle
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Turned out she was chatting with another widow, whose husband apparently drank himself to death. Well, she knew that problem quite well. Her mother died of it. Oh, she had fallen into a pond and drowned but the reason she had ended up there was because she had been drunk and wandered out toward the water, Caroline was convinced of it. Her father drank heavily too. And, to be truthful, she drank far too often, too much. It was almost as if it ran in the family. As for Victorine's circumstances, Caroline felt she better say something at least.

"I am sorry to hear that," she had to work to make that sound sincere at least.

The other woman thought her brave to venture again into marriage. Was it that? Caroline doubted it. Oh, she always thought herself brave enough but courage had little to do with her accepting George's offer. She was, afterall, improving her financial position - critical after losing her own baronial title. La! This would be an upgrade, really. The woman wished her well.

"Thank you, my future husband will need all the luck he can get, dealing with me," she grinned.

Of course the woman was curious just who this new husband to be was, a fair enough question and one Caroline was happy to answer.

"George Lord Chichester, quite a catch, let me assure you."

It seemed Victorine was fascinated for some reason with dropping something at least down from the top of this magnificent edifice. Caroline did not get it but then all people were mysteries in their own ways. She would include herself in that of course.

"I did not say it was stupid. Go ahead and do it, I will neither stop you nor tattle on you should someone down below take umbrage as to who threw that, whatever that proves to be," Caroline assured her.


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  • 2 weeks later...

A smiled curled in the corner of Victorine's mouth as Caroline uttered her condolences. La baronne watched Caroline with her careful pale blue eyes for just a moment longer, before replying: 'mais non, there is no need. By all accounts he enjoyed 'imself. At least until the very end.' There was a lot of pleasure to be had in a cup of wine; and trouble if one enjoyed the pleasure overly much. But such was life.  She had no torch to take up against drink. She rather enjoyed a cup or two, or three or four herself. 

Lord Chilchester. Prior to escaping from Ballater, Victorine had made a grave mistake learning so little of the cast of characters who made up English court. Kindly, Lady Cavendish had spent her part of her day rectifying Victorine's ignorance, and they had covered most of the notable peers of the realm. An Earl was a lucky fish to reel in should a lady cast her bread upon the water. 'An enviable match,' Victorine smiled brightly towards Caroline, who was proving to be lady with a rigorous spirit and an unaffected air. Both very enjoyable. Victorine grinned also as Caroline declared her husband would need luck. Was Lord Chilchester a man eager for a challenge then? ''When is the happy occasion to occur?' Victorine asked, wondering if Caroline was in the midst of organising such a grand show or whether this was fresh news. 

As for her striking parasol and its little pearled button, Victorine stood on her tippy toes to leverage a better range to launch it. After testing how the wind caught in its underskirts, she finally let it go setting it to sail upon a little eddy of a breeze. Her gaze followed it, peering over the edge of their viewing platform until it disappeared out of sight. She stayed there, watching for a bright scarlet dot. Satisfied she could no longer see it, her face traveled up to seek the heat of the sun. Victorine closed her eyes against the warmth, smiling. 'I thought I might have been afraid of these 'eights,' she said, hoping Caroline was still within earshot, 'but it is, refreshing? Exhilarating, even.'

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"Well then, tis good he enjoyed the time he had on this earth," Caroline commented, while at the same time thinking only hateful thoughts about her own deceased husband, good riddance to him!

Victorine remarked that her fiancee sounded like an enviable match. Caroline nodded, "Well we both think so. Though it was admittedly very sudden. There was certainly none of the more usual sort of courtship to it. But we both knew what we wanted."

The other lady had a question too, as to when would the marriage take place. Fair enough but one Caroline could not answer.

"We have not decided on the final arrangements but with me being a widow, I highly doubt we will bother with much of a large fancy wedding. I certainly do not care about such a thing. Besides, while I do like festive occasions, I prefer my parties a bit...............wilder," she grinned, a hint at her already notoriously known libertinism in the court.

And then it was time for the launching....well, more like descension as Victorine tossed out her parasol and both watched it until it finally landed out of sight. The wind gave it a pretty good trip to be sure. Caroline had to chuckle.

"There now, did you enjoy that? You may well be out a parasol you realize?"

Victorine now addressed the heights they were at, indeed most impressive and a bit daunting if one thought on it. Caroline had never been on battlements this high that was for certain.

"I do enjoy the view. But I am a wee bit uncomfortable at this soaring height. If God meant us to be up this close to the heavens he would have given us wings, eh?" she smiled.


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Margaret knew some of the best gossip could be found among the tradespeople of a town.  Of course, as a well dressed lady, they wouldn't feel free to speak to her, but her maid was able to slip easily under people's notice and hear tasty tidbits that could be used at a later date.  So, at what could only be described as a slow ramble, Margaret walked down the street, pausing to glance here and there, as though she was looking for something particular, giving the maid time to listen for anything good before moving on.

It wasn't as if she missed the large construction, but such goings on were nothing new to her.  New York City was constantly under construction.  That's what happened when more and more people arrived, looking to build a new life.  That new life required housing and store fronts and wharves and ships and bigger buildings and grander homes.  So, instead of stopping to stare in wonder or wander up the stairs, she stepped on by, her own parasol up to protect her fair skin from the sun. 

"OW!," her maid cried out, the loud squall causing Margaret to turn around to see what all the fuss was about.  She found her maid rubbing the top of her head while glaring down at a parasol on the ground.  An almost expression (a single eyebrow raised) crossed Margaret's face.

"Where did you get that?," she asked as she pointed at the fine lady's accessory.

"It fell on me head, m'lady," the maid replied, looking skyward, as if she would find a lady standing above, searching the sky for her lost item.

"What do you mean it fell on your head?  Parasols don't just drop from the heavens."  Her speech was obviously not native English.  The tone had a base there, but due to her interactions with the Dutch who had formerly called New York New Amsterdam, there was a broader tone with flattened vowels.  Margaret looked up herself, looking to see if she could find any explanation for the parasol attack, her eyes straying back towards the new construction, based on the way her maid rubbed her head, giving a basic direction the item would have come from, motioning for the girl to pick up the parasol so it wouldn't get any more dirt on it.

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'To be of such similar mind,' Victorine mused, 'on such matters will be your good fortune.'

Victorine was not so green to misunderstand that the staid formalities and faux innocence of a wedding ceremony might not to be the widow's tastes but what exactly did the lady prefer at these wild parties? A lady with a great imaginative mind such as Victorine could start to wonder. As it was, Victorine had been to several rowdy weddings but none in the sense at which Victorine imagined Lady Kendishall hinted. Nevertheless, a wild wedding or no, a gift was always wanted - so a gift would be sent.

A descension indeed. Victorine chuckled, a hand upon the front of her stays. Then she responded: 'it is true, I am very much without now. But it was worth loosing the parasol, I think. Besides I was told it was not my couleur.' Delighted to know that she was not a victim of la vertige Victorine was ready to move her way down the very many stairs, and thus Lady Kendishall's words did not mean an unnatural end to their sight seeing. 'Si,' Victorine said, upon a small smile, 'and very clever. Then, shall we seek out more earthly comforts below, hien?' 

Taking us down

Victorine had no clear knowledge of what had become of her little parasol. And her thoughts were rather on something else as they wound down the corkscrew stairs: how masculine such a monument was without homelier, softer touches. There was no lace in the room except for cobweb. Once Caroline and Victorine had safely stepped off, and out of the grand building, Victorine looked up for her own measure of the height. It was great, indeed. 

But as she turned to view Lady Kendishall for a moment her mind burst with curiosity but she found herself pausing before addressing them directly to Caroline. 'Will you join me for a cup, Lady Kendishall? I find myself thirsty for wine and to satisfy my curiousity.' 

Victorine slanted her careful blue eyes towards Caroline, and whispered: 'what does a wild party look like?' 

Edited by Victorine Folle
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It was time to head back down then, they had enjoyed the view and her fresh acquaintance had tossed down her parasol, time to move on. So the two ladies then began the long descent. At least it was easier on the lungs then climbing all those stairs had been. Busy paying attention to the myriad steps as they worked their way down the winding staircase, they did not converse. Until they emerged from the monument and in the park once more.

"That was fun!" Caroline announced with a smile. The two of them both seemed to take one last gaze upward as if perhaps to seal the memories of this event in their minds forever?

Victorine spoke first asking if she would care to join her for a drink? Why, Caroline was never one to turn down a drink. Why she might even accept a drink from a Spaniard? No, perhaps not, that would be going too far.

"Yes, a lovely idea! Do you know a place?" she was quite aware most drinking houses were frequented only by men. So unfair of course!

But then the other woman leaned in to whisper, 'what does a wild party look like?' 

Caroline chuckled, "Well........they look like MY parties. You must come to one sometime. If you like I shall invite you to my next one."

"However of course there are other courtiers who share my .........taste for such occasions. I can also make sure that when I am asked to the next one that I make certain you too receive an invitation. You know I fear my husband to be will not be attending such parties, he does not seem the sort to enjoy such things," she shrugged.

ooc: Feel free to approach anytime, Margaret! 



Edited by Caroline Despanay
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Based on the fine quality of the fabric used, the ribbon tied to it and the pearl button, Margaret figured the owner of the item must be well-to-do.  With that in mind, she turned and headed back the way she came from, not bothering to check if her maid followed.  It was a given.  Still attired in the light grey walking dress she had donned earlier, her own parasol protecting her pale features, she slowly made her way back towards the construction.  Margaret was never one to move in haste.  Speed tended to apply to those with more intense emotions, of which she was rather lacking.  It wasn't as if she thought she would never be excited.  She just hadn't found anything that moved her in such a way, besides play with her father's then husband's funds.  And even that was mostly coolly calculated.

As she neared the structure, she noted two ladies emerge.  They were obviously ladies (or wives or mistresses of very wealthy men) and did appear to be missing one parasol among them.  "I beg your pardon, my ladies," she said, her accent definitely not pure English, "are one of you missing a wayward parasol?  One seemed to find the head of my maid an appropriate landing space.  No damage done," she said, waving vaguely over her shoulder at her maid, who bobbed a curtsey as she dropped her hand from the back of her head, hiding the spot of blood on her palm in her dress.  "I just wish to return the rascal to the rightful owner."  All of this said with just the barest smile on her lips that, if one looked closely, didn't quite make it to her eyes.  "Who know what sort of havoc it could wreck if allowed to run free?"  Gah, how annoying it was to have to act like she cared!  Really, emotions were wastes of energy that could be put to better use.  But, Papa said people liked emotions in others.

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'I see you would 'ave my curiosity satisfied,' Victorine replied with a wide smile upon her lips. La baronne rouged a little under Lady Kendishall's indulgence and instinctively she put a hand to her cheek, cooling what was starting to bloom there. 'And I thank you greatly for it. It would be an 'oneur of mine to attend.' While Victorine was not a merry widow in her actions; could she be in danger of earning the reputation?

As to the question as to where they should seek a refreshment, Victorine was thankful for the opportunity to quiz her companion. 'Is it true that ladies are barred from some établissements; like Eve from le jarden d'Eden?' Even in France, the salons did not occur without the salonnières. 'Per'aps the Lion rouge?'

Margaret, approaching

The approaching lady struck her bulls eye. But then Victorine supposed,  for a stroll in the Sun it was odd to be without a parasol. Catching sight of the scarlet material, Victorine slanted her careful blue eyes sideways towards Caroline. Her impossibly blue eyes rested there for just a moment before she moved her gaze towards Margaret as the lady spoke.

La baronne had never heard English spoken in such a manner. Low, flat, arched short vowels, very much like what she had heard amongst the Flemmings quarter at Calais. It took Victorine a moment to catch the meaning of the words. 'I am Victorine Folle, Lady Ballater; and this is Lady Kendishall,' a flattering gesture was made towards her blonde companion, 'you 'ave saved London from further chaos I think. I am very grateful that you brought 'im back to me.' If the sullied, errant parasol was offered back to her, Victorine would take it into hand to inspect the damage. However, she did not seek to explain the reason as to why it would in flight after all. Victorine hoped Margaret would draw her own - false - conclusion. Assured that the maid was not harmed, Victorine gave a little sigh of relief.

This new acquaintance seemed well to do, fashionable even. Amongst these two fashionably dressed women; Victorine felt like she was an odd fish. While she had just spent ample coin that morning on a wardrobe, she had yet to be garbed in them. Her current ivory dress had a higher neckline than was fashionable, with a decidedly old-fashioned cut and lace, arranged in a very common fashion, at the sleeves. it made her seem more matronly, beyond her twenty five years. 'Will you join us for a cup? Lady Kendishall and I wish to revive our spirits?'

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With Victorine

The woman seemed quite interested even grateful for Caroline's invitation to her next party, exactly the reaction she had hoped for. Although, to use the English saying 'proof is in the pudding', this Lady Ballater would only truly find out if such wild occasions were really to her taste once she experienced one. Caroline felt it her libertine duty to give her that opportunity.

"Very well, I cannot promise when the next one will be but I will definitely keep you in mind for my guest list. Oh and if I hear of any others throwing such parties, I will of course let you know too," she added.

Margaret, Approaching

Their discussion then of where to go to quaff a drink was suddenly put on hold with the approach of another well-dressed (and unrecognizable to Caroline) woman with a trailing servant. Oooh, she liked the woman's dress. Then she saw her companion's parasol in the other woman's possession. And since they were coming right toward them, Caroline figured the newcomer had noticed that of the pair of them, only Caroline had her parasol. Given the sun of the day, ladies needed their parasols so she must have put two and two together.

Since Lady Ballater did a quick introduction, Caroline merely smiled politely and nodded acknowledgment of the newcomer, "That is a fine dress, I must compliment you on it."

"Aha, there it 'tis. Your naughty parasol, it flew away," Caroline declared to them all, "and right when we were all the way on top of the memorial. How fortunate it has been found."

Victorine then invited the woman along for their planned drink, which was fine with Caroline. The day had started out with a solo outing but now was becoming quite social. She thought that a good thing. Oh wait! She turned toward her Irishman standing off to the side, no doubt unnoticed amongst the rest of the commoners milling about the site.

"We are leaving now, bring the carriage!" she commanded then turned back to the ladies, "I can provide us our ride unless someone objects?"


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