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Davina Wellsley

A Matter Of Importance Tuesday Afternoon - 1pm

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The Duke's servants began laying out some food buffet style whilst Tom and Davina spoke about his early ship experiences, the smell wafting generously under their noses. 

 

"Ladies first," he said, with a lop-sided grin and a similarity of manner to Kingston, which was unsurprising given that Tom had just revealed he had spent almost half of his life very closely with Francis. 

 

"I saw the wilds of the Colonies, though south of where much of the activity is around the Hudson Bay and that. So very many trees that you would not believe. Like a land of endless forest. And to Italy where there is so much sunshine, and it is full of churches and books, as well as the most vibrant glasses and mirrors."

 

He took a pause, for he next bit was not so savory. "Lord Kingston pledged his ships in the war privateering, so there was always much excitement and fighting." He, of course, had to tone such done for feminine ears. "But the ship with my father and brother on it was lost toward the end of the war, so it is now just me."

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The King looked visibly relieved as Lady Mountjoy said that nothing had appeared amiss and that it was unlikely anything had happened to the Queen, so it would seem that they were in time.

 

"I knew that you would be most assuring to my worries, far more than any frightened flock of physicians," the King said, abandoning his formal "we" without much thinking about it. In these private, closer settings, and among such persons, his preference was not to use it. The situation was trying and weighty enough without adding to it extra burdens of kingship. "All I know of the girl is that she had stood Herbert up twice---or is it thrice---which has provided a good deal of talk amongst my gentlemen, as one can imagine," the King volunteered.

 

"Well, there's no accounting for taste," Buckingham volunteered of the girl's toying with his young cousin. Or seeming to. 

 

The King chuckled just ever so slightly at George, who could generally be depended upon to make him laugh. He then added to Lady Mountjoy as if he had not even heard Buckingham's joke, "And the demeanor, as you say, one would think too prim for a murderer."

 

"Murderers who seem like murderers do not make very good surprise assassins. Lady Jane comes to mind, who Jack crushed on so madly, did not seem a secret spy," he reminded the King (gasp!). 

 

"So, we shall leave it until after Lady Mountjoy speaks with her, then," His Majesty decreed.

 

"There need be a learned opinion from someone who knows the girl," Buckingham needlessly agreed. 

 

(OOC - unless there's something else you want to ask the pair together, you can get Bucky and LM back to his house. The King would provide her with a carriage at the ready. I'm going to PM you about something too)

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His Majesty digested the situation, Lady Mountjoy at that stage had little more to add, it being that they were agreed with the apparent situation. Then Buckingham's point was succinct, "Mistress Wellesley was an apt mark since she was above our suspicion." Ursula commented. (Meanwhile it was news to her that Jane was a spy! But this was information she was privy to in an accidental manner, it would go no further) 

"Indeed it is a business that must be resolved as swiftly as possible, in the best interests of the realm." She further accepted her part in this, and none of the three dilly dallied in pressing on.

                           ~//~

Still it likey seemed a long while to Davina, the meal was  long eaten and already cleared way before the sound of footsteps nearing told her that the decision over her fate neared.

But the steps did not hold the weight of Lord Buckingham? It was a person of much less a height who walked through the door: the fearsome Lady Mountjoy!

Ursula walked into the room like she owned it.  It was just as well that the trip from the Palace to Buckinghams had given her temper some time to settle, though she did not know if she would manage much eloquence during this conversation!

"Ahh, how good of you to keep the lady company please accept my thanks, and might we have some time alone." She thanked and dismissed Tom with a small smile, the lad probably had no idea what was going on.

After the youth left she looked squarely at Davina, directing to a pair of chairs across the room near a tapestry she uttered "Sit." While taking the chair directly opposite.

Drawing a long breath she then spoke "Mistress Wellesley I have never been so disappointed."

 

 

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Tom, with not much storytelling skill for a lad of sixteen or seventeen, regaled her with tales of Italy and the Turks too as he repast provided by His Grace was ate. 

 

He was, indeed, very surprised by the arrival of this imperious lady, for he had never seen Lady Mountjoy close enough up to recognize that as the entrant into their realm. However, he was intelligent enough to know the manner of a great lady, and he didn't hesitate to quickly bow his retreat and exit the room.

 

(OOC - I shall hand things over to Hope for the time being! So I am out of the scene with all my NPCs for now!)

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If she was surprised by the appearance of Lady Mountjoy she hid it well.

Her eyes followed that Lady but she quietly gave her thanks to young Tom adding a smile as he took his leave. She was then bid to another set of chairs and so walked the few steps.

"Madam."

She gave a deep curtsey then sat as instructed. 

Her head was up and she met the other woman's gaze squarely as she answered.

"And for that I am truly sorry. Believe me when I say that my desire to help was indeed that and I have never had nor do I have any intentions of something nefarious."

"Will you hear me out? Then if you think me still full of guilt and desirous of causing harm to Her Majesty I am indeed at your mercy - or rather The Kings."  

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Ursulla smoothed her skirts, her eyes slipping downward in thought with Davina's petitioning tone.

Drawing a slow breath she settled her hands on her lap, " 'Hearing you out' is precisely the reason for this meeting. Mistress Wellesley you must be sensible to the fact that you are in a rather precarious situation: it is best that you explain all and any mitigating circumstances to the events surrounding this."

"Please speak most plainly to me, without nerves that perhaps shaded The Dukes impression. You surely know me well enough to appreciate I do not shy at the vouching for truth."

"Now how about you tell me exactly what happened from the beginning.

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(ooc: I'm not going to repeat the whole scenario but will just add in)

IC

"I understand fully Lady Mountjoy."

She then did as asked. Adding here and there .......

"As I said I was simply curious in the beginning as to WHO the identity belonged to and why, of all places to meet, there was chosen. Yet I was unsure enough and also sensible as I brought two Baintrees men and my maid already seated. She looked and sounded like a Grandmother - I suppose that was deliberate - and as I listened to her words I did not at first understand the meanings. The discourse of how I was such a good daughter of Mother Church and how I should be affronted by all that is happening to Catholics and how I had held out to remain faithful unlike so many caught me up and it was then that I began to suspect."

"She then began to revel her true intent - that of wanting to 'use me' to harm my Mistress and how it was all for the good of The Cause. I was scared and could not think and so her words repeated and I knew that I was in the company of evil."

"And this is where my own sense of accomplishments - based on some things that Her Majesty had asked me to discover a season or so ago now - I thought myself able to play 'spy' and thus make efforts to find out more and then the identities of those in charge."

"I was vain enough to imagine that I was able and with hindsight can see the folly of that decision. I was and am incapable of such deceptions." She gave a shake of her dark head. "And yet I thought I was convincing."

"The plot held holes as I explained - I was not close enough being but a Mind of Honor and not Bedchamber and of late very few were called up as Her Majesty kept only those Matrons about her. And I of a certainty had no access to food or drink!"

"It was then made clear that there were already someone in place within the Queen's side but no names were ever said."

"She seemed to not like my words and then said that I would continue to be watched."

"She then took her leave and as arranged Baintree's two men followed and she was seen entering a blue carriage but was lost amongst the throng of traffic."

"And that is exactly what happened."

"I heard nothing for several days and then a brown bottle - which I am sure you have seen - was delivered but who put it there is unknown. Yet the fact that they could come into my rooms and then go out undetected gave me a fright. It still does."

"I knew that I must report everything but I could not determine WHO I should go to. So I sent Kingston a note hoping that thru him I could get to Buckingham for He alone has enough power and connections as well as his nearness to His Majesty."

"And now here I am. My delay in doing it has caused me to fall from Grace assuredly. But Lady Mountjoy I WANT to see them all caught! That was my desire from the start. To try to draw them out and once more was learned I would then report ...."

"But there too I was wrong."

"What will happen now?"

She stopped and let out a breath. 

There was nothing more to be said.

Her delivery was all Sincerity and she could only pray that Lady Mountjoy, from her years of knowing, would believe every word as Truth. For they were.  

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So Ursula listened quietly to Davina's accounting, it was mostly the same as what Buckingham had said, though her ears caught hold of some alarming details that were new to her.

"So you knew that there is a further individual intent on harm to His Majesty's heir." The fair woman had further paled. "Did you at no time consider that I was the correct person to report to, and the report should have been made as soon as you got a message that roused your own suspicions."

Meanwhile Lady Mountjoy wracked her brain to think of who was attending Queen Karoline right at this moment. Davina had seem above suspicion, but were those others any better! A vile hue descended upon all the ladies in the household.

"What will happen now?" She repeated Davina's plaintive question,  "There shall be a purge of Her Majesty's household, I will oversee personally if I am allowed... Ah but do you mean what will happen for yourself - at the very least I expect you have learnt something from this?"

 

 

 

 

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She shook her dark head at the question.

"It was made clear by her that 'they' has someone placed already in the kitchens. And again as I have said I made it plain that I had no access to there and so there was nothing that I could do."

"Of course I thought to come to you! Yet in my Pride I wanted to find out more and thus once better armed of what the plans was then I would seek out help."

"The Household? But they are innocent Madam or at least her Ladies are. You must not think to sacrifice the greater for the loss of myself."

"If you are set upon this course then begin with those that attend to her food and drinks - outside her immediate circle I mean."

"Yet no outward show must be displayed. If Buckingham is correct then it is very possible that I am still being watched. I am afraid of that."

"Yet my desire to have them caught if at all possible is far stronger. If that woman took note of what I said it is entirely possible that some other plan has been thought of for future use."

"Her Majesty is Safe this I believe Lady Mountjoy. The babe is soon to be born so there is nothing that 'they' can do now."

She left the chair to sink to her knees before the other.

"I swear to God above that I have never sought to cause harm. I shall accept whatever punishment is delt out."

"My brother is like to kill me so even there I shall accept it. Or shall send me away to a convent to live out the rest of my days in repentance and solitude." 

"What I have learned Lady Mountjoy is that I have indeed sinned. I am guilty of Vanity and Pride and it sits heavy in my heart."

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"Hush child," Ursula practically soothed with Davina on her knees uttering her list of sins, "that all sounds woefully Catholic. It is not my job to decide your punishment, your penance."

That would be the king's decision.

"I can imagine you may spend a term in the tower... life will ultimately carry on, but it is this moment right now that we must concern ourselves over."

"So the Duke also thinks you may be watched over. Then what is done visibly needs to be plotted over strategically."

"By thank you for your explanation, I do not wish to be unapproachable to the Ladies in the Queen's household, and would hope that any would come to me in the situation. Prehaps you wanted to impress me,  Mistress Wellesley, with more information. But ultimately a wiser choice would have been to draw others in to assist you." 

"You have been privy this information the longest of us all, have you come up with any ideas where the plotters behind this conspiracy might be drawn out?"

Which was the opening she had promised to provide, incase Davina was inclined to going 'double' (as Bucks had called it)

As for the others ladies waiting (that Ursula in distress had said she would interrogate!) Davina's reassurance on that part had some impact. (There was also the point that the those ladies families would be really upset if that happened!)

"Then the kitchens would be the best place to begin." She sighed, today was much more dramatic than she had anticipated. Was it selfish of her to think of Charles at that moment? They were planning to take dinner together, and she had been looking forward to it.

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If it was possible she went even whiter at the mention of a possible Tower imprisonment but her gaze did not waver from that of the other.

"I am glad that you are able to see the Sense despite the obstacles. To lay blame at the Ladies about Her Majesty would cause upheaval and as well as many injured feelings that might be hard to fix. And it would only startle the Queen and now is not a good time."

She sat back on her hunches as the question was put.

"It has not occur to me that that was a way forward. I could be watched but as to what is further planned .... "

A small lift of one shoulder

"I can not say."

"Are your words to imply that, given a chance, I might be allowed to seek Justice then? "

"If such a thing is offered then my answer is YES. I would much like to find the one(s) behind it all and see them brought down."

"And clear my Name and Reputation." 

Her answer came without a moments hesitation and Lady Mountjoy would understand that it was heartfelt.

"Honestly I do not think that any trace will be discovered even if you planned it well. Whoever was there has now been drawn back as the plan failed.

"The Lord Steward is the man in charge of all the service departments - there must be some 500 staff there give or take and the departments number twenty and more. He as well as his officers occupy good lodging in the service area. But I do not think that he would do the hiring directly. And to involve him will involve those below him and soon it will be impossible to hide anything. Perhaps tis best to abandon this direction for now? But still you might advise The Lord Steward of your displeasure and he needs must see that those he gives tasks to do a better job in the taking up of servants?"

"That is a common enough plea from both sides of Whitehall and as you are the Queen's Side representative he will surely take note."

"And perhaps that will in some measure tighten up things? But in all honesty if these people wish to gain access it will be found."

She had said it all to match what Lady Mountjoy had referred to as Strategically plotting.

"Will the Duke return then Madam? How long am I to reside here before being sent  .... elsewhere?"

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Davina was opening up, which was the purpose of Ursula's conversation with her. The more the girl said, the more her motives and manner was apparent. 

"You say things I might request done, though more correctly at this stage it would be at His Majesty's behest, but how much you see yourself assisting? How might you draw out these culprits - and thus ultimately  redeem your actions."

"As to how long you will stay here today, it has been but a few hours sofar - I don't think you could yet call it residence," Lady Mountjoy smiled at Davina's dramatic view.  She was so young, and still to learn perspective.

"Final decisions are yet to be made, I don't think you should yet be in a rush for a final verdict. Though no doubt Duke Buckingham shall be the one to relay it."

"Is there anything else you would like to add in support of your previous statements?"

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"Naturally His Majesty is the one to make any decision but you Lady Mountjoy would not have come if His Majesty had not allowed it and as for investigation that too falls within your area."

"See myself?" 

For a moment she was confused and then it became clear.

"Are you asking if I would continue to 'play along' and also keep to my usual manner and be a pawn for His Majesty?"

"I believe I have just said I would. As to drawing them out .... I suppose to place myself back in the Chapel and thus make it clear that I can once again be approached?"

"That the plot contrived has already failed is clear all round by now but it may also be that they have no knowledge that I have confessed their plot."

"That is believable Lady Mountjoy for if I was discovered then tis certain I would be sent down or worse and that is not a thing that can be kept quiet."

"Everyone has spies at Court Madam as you well know so my Fate would be easily told to those that wished for it."

She sat herself once again.

"I did not mean that I would be placed here but rather how long until some decision is made."

"Only a few hours yet it feels a Lifetime."

"I have nothing to add. It has all be told twice now and it all remains the same."

"I can make it no plainer than I have - I will do what ere I must to redeem myself."

Quiet conviction without any other motives. Was it enough to make them all believe it? 
 

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"Perhaps I should clarify, that I am not seeking your advice of what I should do." There were times when Ursula thought she had the patience of a saint. "As for your vision for yourself in this saga, it is plain enough you see no untapped avenues to pursue." 

The great lady sighed and glanced towards the tapestry, while Davina lamented that she'd already told this tale. Ursula held her tongue from telling the girl she would repeat the tale as often as was asked of her!  It was but the arrogance of youth. Instead the elder sat in silence for a moment, mulling over the next step. 

"Would you like me to send for Baintree, or some other?"

"No doubt it seems like ages, and you've been carrying this burden for a long time now." Ursula stood and smoothed her skirts,  "I shall go see if we have any news yet."

 

 

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Davina's chin went up a notch.

"So there is no misunderstanding I did not say what you should do Lady Mountjoy. I answered back to the question you put - you asked how I might assist or even draw 'them' out."

"And it was thru the Kitchens that someone was planted so it made sense to start there."

"I have no wish to anger you as well Madam." Said on a small sigh. "But it seems I have."

She made to rise and offer a curtsey this time her head lowered. Things were going badly no matter how she turned.

"My brother? No. Time enough for me to be battered about and I have no wish to have it done here."

"If you will allow my maid waits for me somewhere. Can she accompany me?"

Lady Mountjoy it appeared was thru with her interrogation and made to leave and would return no doubt with the news.

Davina slowly sat back in the chair and now alone she allowed her tightly held in emotions to bubble up. One fist to her mouth to stifle her cries the other wrapped up the the fabric of her skirts.

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The Duke of Buckingham met Lady Mountjoy outside the door, ginger boy just behind him off his right shoulder. He was surely getting a court education today, rather than books and tutors. It was necessary if he was to ever be of any real use to them.

 

"I do not suppose you made any more sense of that than I did?" he asked the lady very frankly. "Although, I do not think she is any criminal mastermind!" For, truly, the poor girl was a bit defeatist and did not seem to have the sharpness of a spy. 

 

"This is a mess, Lady Mountjoy, and I do not like messes around my master the King," Buckingham said, with a exhale of exasperation, not at the lady in front of him, clearly, but of the situation brewing even more in the other room. "Nor do I like them in my house," he added, in a gruff whisper. 

 

This made the ginger boy go pale behind him, though Buckingham could not see it. Tom was thinking he never wanted to be or make anything of a mess in the Duke's house! 

 

"You are, no doubt, aware that His Majesty...does not enjoy causing the hardships of a lady," Buckingham said, for there was no wholly politic way of saying it. The King did not oft like punishing anyone, oft being more discountenanced of it than the wrong-doer, and the King had a soft belly for women. "I do not wish to bring him back one decision to make, for he will not like it." 

 

He hmmed as he thought, also allowing the lady to express her own thoughts on the matter where Davina could not hear them.

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Lady Mountjoy did not respond to Davina's amendments. There were many details she was digesting, and the tone of the Davina's opinion was another of them.

"Very well, I'll only have your maid sent for." She was not overly surprised that Davina did not want to own brother sent for, the Baintrees had never seemed to be a very close family. Whether Richard rallied to his sisters aid would remain an unknown.

But before she could send a servant in search of the maid, Ursula was pleased to find Buckingham already arriving beyond the door. The Dukes exasperation was spoken plainly by word and manner, with a frankness that she did not know him for. Today was extenuating circumstances indeed.

"A limp leaf I agree. If I'm uncertain of her crimes, there is one that is irrrefutable - her keeping a secret of this magnitude while surrounded everyday by persons she should have reported to. I think a firm lesson needs to be taught.  His Majesty has heard a confession with his own ears now - the tapestry did not muffle her voice too much I hope, there were moments where I fully expected him to burst through the hidden doorway in anger of her carefree attitude of the threat to Her Majesty and the baby."

"She is undeserving of Your Grace's charity, and I fully understand that His Majesty should not need to perform the role of prosecutor. If you wish I will escort her personally to the Tower this instant - infact nothing would give me greater satisfaction."

Possibly Buckingham had never seen Ursula thus unmasked either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(OOC - It was just Ursula and Bucky that went back to his house...I must have confused you when I had Bucky say what he said ;) Sorry about the confusion)

 

"Yes, that is the most troublesome part, that she did not report it immediately to someone in either household," Buckingham said. It seemed dim-witted, but then again women in his family were known for an excess of brains and daring, so perhaps he was a poor judge.

 

"If she was a poisoner and a spy, trying to get to the Queen, she would have tried to gain closer access to Her Majesty, which it does not seem that she did. Such a thing would be noticeable and memorable. If you do not recall Mistress Wellsley trying to do so, then her crime is not putting her royal mistress first and being a foolish girl." He took a breath in and then added, "It was far too careless for any servant of a royal household."

 

He thought about the options. Preferably, he had more time to plot, but c'est la vie. 

 

It was tempting the let Lady Mountjoy have at her. The ferocity of the lady was what he would have expected for any lady close to Her Majesty, not just one as close and important as Lady Mountjoy. It was refreshing in the moment.

 

"I wish to speak to her once more. Then we shall see." He gave a pretty dip of the head as he departed her for the moment, leaving her in ginger boy's care. 

 

Tom turned to the grand lady and said with a bow, "If you wish to watch and listen, Lady Mountjoy, this way." He thought it is what the duke would have wished, and Buckingham was a man of little tests. Constant little tests. 

 

***

 

Buckingham entered the parlor again in grand fashion. "I fear you shall have to wait awhile longer for your maid."

 

He stood with one long-fingered hand on his hip, not far from her. 

 

"If you are telling the truth and correct that the group would know their plot has failed by now, it is highly likely they will kill you the moment they have a chance. There has already been one dead body of a spy found at court this week," he revealed pragmatically and strategically. He wanted to see her reaction.

 

 

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She had been expecting Poppy so bothered not to wipe her cheeks nor ease her emotions. Comfort is what she needed so she had no time to put the mask back on as the Duke came again.

"Your Grace." 

She stood and curtsied and with a quick hand tried to hide the traces of her emotion but nothing escaped from him of that she knew full well.

"It is of no consequence." She remained standing and would do so until told otherwise.

His words chilled her to the bone and one hand went to her heart as she whispered

"Not the Queen's side! Please say tis not so. .... I had thought nothing would happen now .... Her Majesty - she and the babe are Safe?"

She had said that she thought any further plots were not coming and so his words about a spy who was now dead filled her with dread. She took a moment to take a breath and try to regain her composure as she answered him about her own safety.

"Every word I spoke was Truth. I left nothing out save for the identity of that woman and the owner of the blue carriage."

"I knew I would be in jeopardy but the desire to weed them all out is far greater. And it remains so."

She now needed to regain control. The time for tears and sighs and unknown future had passed. She understood that IF she was to escape relatively unharmed then it was imperative that not only the Duke but His Majesty understand that she was of a mind to do whatever was now asked of her.

"I am afraid - who would not be - yet to draw 'them' out I will do what ere is necessary."

"And that is Truth as well."

She stood a bit straighter and raised her head a and her blue eyes which looked back at the Duke held a new determination.

(yet she was not so skilled an actor that He would not see it as Bravado that she was indeed still much scared of whatever was yet to come)

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Buckingham raised a blond eyebrow at the young lady. He was certain she had to have noticed the change of things Monday morning when the audience had been altered, so it should have seemed obvious that it was not anyone on the Queen's side.

 

"No, a spy killed by another spy, though not English. Such is the danger of intrigue. One oft winds up dead when one gets in over one's head," he replied. If she could not handle such talk any thought of anything else was rather moot.

 

"The only option which preserves your life for any length of time shall mean a stay in the Tower, which you fully deserve you foolish girl, and it would mean you would need to convince these Papists - you say you have no love for - that you were suspected. If you cannot, they will likely kill you, Tower stay or no," Buckingham said. 

 

"And, if they do believe you, we will expect information. Good information, or it will seem that you were willingly in on this plot to deliver poison to our Queen and went through this charade to try to save yourself."

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She sat abruptly but her gaze never left his.

"So there WAS something amiss ... I thought it odd to of a sudden be taken inside and then to His Majesty's Apartment where even I noticed the extra guards. But I had no idea as to cause as there was no agitation shown. Chatham I think took note as well but he too was unaware."

"And then everything was taken up by those puppies."

"And that death is timed to pair with what I am mired in?" She shook her head slowly. "I do not think it so. But then I am not so well versed in these matters as you Your Grace."

"A spy kills another spy and escapes but leaves a body for discovery ..... Someone wants to harm the Queen and her child and makes use of ME as well as that person placed in the household kitchens which was to aid  ........"

She was thinking out loud not realizing it a small frown burrowed between her brows.

"To preserve my Life then I must be as you say. How is this to be done? I have no identity or name only a blue carriage of which now must be the focus."

She tilted her head slightly as she asked next

"Will I be moved  privately or with enough noise to make it, as you said convincing, and for how long? Once there I want Poppy for she can run in and out. And can I have use of my own people to investigate in secret while I am there?"  

"And the reason will be that I am suspected of having knowledge or being involved in some Plot and so am being held there? What of Baintree then? He will like to kill me but so be it. I can hardly tell him now can I?"

"I may be foolish Your Grace but I am now wiser. And I shall do as I have said already - whatever I needs must do."

That she was asking for conditions to her incarceration she was full aware but then the Duke had made it clear that she had to deliver.

"I suppose I should give you this ....."

She turned her head to her left shoulder to where a silk ribbon was pinned to her dress and upon that a small round brooch with a blue enamel back and the Queen's cypher (initials) in diamonds. It was her Household Badge of Office and a thing of great personal value. 

She unpinned it and then reached up to hand it to him.

"How I Hope it comes back to me."

She did not allow herself to cry. But her reputation - which was EVERYTHING - was about to take a great hit and one she just might not recover from.

Edited by Davina Wellsley

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The Duke of Buckingham nearly blinked as she suddenly vomited all sorts of words to him. In fact, she sounded more passionate about knowing things and being right than she had about anything else which was slightly disturbing. He truly doubted she had the temperament for spying, for she simply had little compass for what should be said and what should not. 

 

Indeed, her compass seemed more than a little off in general with this situation she had found herself in...

 

So it was that an exasperated George Villiers said, "It was your thinking that you could understand how these events are masterminded that has landed you in this precarious position. So, let me make this abundantly clear to you. Nobody has decided whether you are guilty or innocent; that remains to be proven by you in how you conduct yourself if you are given an opportunity to spy on those who recruited you - willingly or unwillingly recruited makes no difference. Keeping any of those things secret as you did is a serious offense, whether foolish or intentional. You swore oaths to the Queen, did you not? You put your desire to ferret something out above your Queen's safety and that of the King's own legitimate heir, and that is the best case scenario. The other is that you were complicit in the entire plot and that this is just a concocted story to save yourself. If you think anyone has made a final decision about which is more likely, you are wrong. Having Catholic ties and sympathies should have made you even more careful about reporting such things, but it did not."

 

Her conceit of herself needed to come down a few pegs. She seemed more concerned for her own situation than anything else. And how much she wished to know set off red flags in his mind. Either she was a total fool or she was mining him for information (which was utterly daft, he was the bloody Duke of Buckingham). 

 

The Duke took and breath and continued, "So, no, you will not use your own people to further investigate a thing. You have no people. You have nobody trained for such things. This should have been obvious in the beginning, and from now you will receive instruction from professionals who are schooled in such intrigue and heed it well if they will have you. And at this point, you are not trusted to be doing anything on your own. You can have your maid with you, but it is not up to me what is allowed or not allowed." He was on good terms with those who governed the Tower, for being a semi-frequent visitor, and he was well aware that a good portion of the benefit of their position was in being paid to allow such benefits; the Duke was not going to step on such a tradition. 

 

"If your decision is to go to the Tower, in the hopes that your Papists will not think you betrayed them and come after you to end you, and that you might prove use to His Majesty as a double agent, then you will have to abide by the consequences of that decision. Your life will be in peril of them either way with what has been done." As he had said, spies did not oft leave loose ends milling about. And the Jesuits and other Papist groups were some of the most violent in his estimation. 

 

He also did not wish her to be aware of any of his doings or what his involvement was in confronting the intrigue afoot; the less said by him the better. She could deal with the Northern Secretary. 

 

"And you will not forget that I have given you this opportunity," he added, since she seemed like she might be daft enough not to realize she owed him greatly for entertaining that she could perhaps prove herself not complicit in the plot. He had other reasons of convenience for that too, but he was a man who knew the benefit of not letting others know what he thought.

 

She attempted to hand him her household badge, and he held up a hand, "You can give that to Lady Mountjoy. It is not my proper duty to deal with such things."

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She had thought she understood it all.

But it was now being made crystal clear that she was indeed in way over her pretty head. The Duke was direct in his words and clear in his manner that He was ill disposed to her despite her revealing everything and proclaiming her innocence. 

He refused her Badge saying it was for Lady Mountjoy to claim. She nodded her head and was silent drawing in a few breaths.

"I do not know what more I can say Your Grace. Everything has been laid bare. I mean no disrespect - I simply thought that it would be safer to use those that had been with me in the Chapel and then tried to chase after that blue carriage - as I must provide information to stay away my Guilt. How am I to do that if not in that way? Yet I can see that I am indeed Foolish and once again proved ignorant. You are right. I have NO skills or experience in these matter and indeed tis by the Grace of God that I am sitting here and not already dead."

"So I am to decide. Very well. Then I shall go. To not would be admitting I am Guilty and I am not. Once there I shall do as told obviously and follow whatever directive is made."

"If those involved should want me killed then there is little I can do. If I am contacted again with some other 'plan' and am to be used then I hope His Majesty will make use of me."

"The consequences will be the same either way will they not Your Grace?"

"To make myself into such a person ensures that I will have to learn to look over my shoulder and dampen down my fear."

"Yet I am afraid. Truly. I fear that I shall fail at learning this new facade and bring harm to others'."

She raised her head and her eyes met his knowing that she would find no warmth or any touch of compassion in them.

"And I shall always remember that it was Your Grace who offered me a means for Redemption."

For she was, for all intents and purposes, his creature now and free to be made use of.

That is IF she managed to come out clean on the other side and was still alive.

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Buckingham was used to ladies who were exceedingly capable, so perhaps that was where the Duke was being excessive in his expectations. Perhaps it was that ladies who were educated as obsequious, proper things were less educated in other aspects of court life. Some gentlemen found that preferable. He did not know the girl well enough to have any good idea. 

 

"You will be provided instruction and such persons will come to you, and all will be orchestrated in the proper way," the Duke said. "I shall leave it to such persons to give the specifics."

 

He was really being exceedingly generous, so he was not without compassion, but it never served to show it in such circumstances. It would be far easier to just send her away, to the Tower, to a countrified house arrest, or to exile, or to anywhere. Instead, she could have the opportunity to prove useful and redeem herself. Somewhat, at least. 

 

"And now I will leave you to your maid whilst the other arrangements are made."

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No words were necessary as everything had all now been laid bare and instructions given.

She rose and gave the Duke a deep curtsey that was perhaps lower than required but that too was necessary. Her Fate was decided at least for the short term and as to how and when she was to take herself off to The Tower she had no clue. 

But that too would be told to her so all she could do now was wait.

The fact that he was allowing Poppy to come to her she was glad for. At least it would be company and support for however long they would remain in the Duke's residence and then beyond.

****************

She remained standing after he had departed and that is how Poppy found her.

Straight to her Mistress did she go and without a word drew her into an embrace holding her tight knowing that whatever was going on was far more serious than she had thought.

"It is done. I have agreed. I have survived but to continue I must now become another 'Davina' and prove my worth. I am to go to The Tower ......"

Her voice caught and Poppy drew back with a hiss to stare at her with eyes wide and a face even paler.

"The Tower? But .... why? You told everything! Twas not your scheme and you caused no harm! You only wanted to ferret them out ....."

"And I was stupid enough to think I was equipped to do that. Stupid in that I did not go at once to Lady Mountjoy - but then I chose not to from the start as she has so much to mind with The Queen and the Household and then her own Life. But even that was held against me by that Lady."

"I shall never be able to explain to her that I just did not want to distress her. How much I admire Her - as we ALL do - yet I have lost my position I fear .... the Duke would not take my Badge saying it was Lady Mountjoy that must receive it." 

She broke the embrace and went back to her chair suddenly feeling as weak as a kitten.

"I fear that you too will suffer .... you are allowed with me and that is good for you can come and go freely I hope but that again is not up to me. And now we must wait here some more. I do know how long or what will happen next."

She rested her head back against the chair and closed her eyes.

"And God alone knows how I will survive the wrath of Baintree once he hears of this ....."

Poppy knelt beside her Mistress rubbing her cold hands with her own warm ones her mind a whirl of thoughts and wondering just how much worse things would get.

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