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Charles Whitehurst

In Search of Davina Tuesday Mid-Morning

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His duty done with York quickly enough, Charles rushed to the Queen;s suite to visit Davina.  He had not received her urgent note until early this morning and he sought her out.  It was a bit early for gentlefolk, but he assumed that Davina might rise early to assist the Queen.

 

Saluting the troopers guarding the entrance to the Queen's area, Charles sought to enter and ask a servant to tell Miss Wellsley that Major Whitehurst had come to see her.

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As was usual these days she, as well as most of her fellow Maids, had little actual contact with the Queen who it seemed much prefered the company of married ladies and those already having children.

She was well able to find things that needed to be done and so she was siting in one of the smaller side rooms surrounded by various articles of the Queen's that needed mending by a gentle hand when a servant found her.

He relayed the message and she nodded asking that Major Whitehurst be brought to her.

It was not quite the ideal place but then perhaps it was just as well. She had been over emotional and scared which was why she had sent the note to him but had heard nothing in return.

They had not seen the other in weeks and there was much unresolved between them. She was mostly over the hurt and anger yet some still lingered at how she had been used. Truth was that she missed him and her body was unsatisfied at the lack of physical contact.

He would find her alone and dressed in a pretty shade of pale rose with little ornamentation save for a pearl necklace and earrings. Sitting comfortably she had kicked off her shoes but did not look for them. She would not stir from her chair but would greet him as she was.

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It was to a side room he was led.  Davina was seated awaiting him.  It seemed as though she had been engaged in some knitting or needlepoint, but he hardly spared such implements a second look.  Instead, he moved briskly up to person so that he might be ble to lower his voice.  The walls of the palace were said to have ears.

"I am so sorry.  I just received your note this morning.  I had been out most of yesterday.," he tried to explain in a hasty way, making up for his slowness in action by speaking all the more quickly.  He glanced around to gain some measure of their privacy.

There was an awkwardness between them and he knew little better way that to try an engage in a bit of familiarity.  "It is good to see you again Davina, though I worry about the circumstances.  Are you well?  Are you in danger?  Tell me how I might help you."

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She looked up as he strood in very much the 'Military Man' his gaze looking about then began to offer up his excuses. She did not interrupt. He finished and she with head bent finished the few stitches left and then neatly bit the thread with her teeth.

"There is no need to worry we are quite alone. That is why I am here. This side of the Palace is usually like this now with few about."

She made a geasture for him to take a chair if he wished or he could stand.

"I am fine." She began looking up at him directly her eyes taking him in. "I was upset and so reached out to you without thought of how it sounded."

"There is no need to worry - I am in no danger. I am sorry to have caused you distress."

Her voice was so normal almost indifferent in its lack of her usual warmth to him.

"I had received some bad news and at that time had no one about me that I might seek help from. It has since been resolved."

"It is good to see you Charles. We have not seen each other since .... well in some time. You are well? You look tired."

She allowed for that bit of personal observation.

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Davina professed that she was fine; but, to his eyes and ears she did not seem "fine."  Though he was busy, he supposed he could spend a few minutes with her.  As such, he took a seat nearby but nothing so close as it would appear like intimacy between them if another maid happened upon them.  

"Bad news?  Might it be about your brother Richard then?"  He supposed she would go to her brother ordinarily if she needed help, at least male help.  Perhaps she needed female help, but then why write him?  Surely she was friends with Susan Herbert and the others.  She had written to him, so she likely needed his assistance with something.  "Would you like to talk about it?"

She said it was nice to see him, so there was some hope that she might not still be angry.  Still, he was learning that women could hide anger and spring it on you suddenly, so he could hardly lower his guard.

"I am well," he replied.  "I have been very busy these past weeks.  There are potential assassins, murderers, and blackguards at work in the palace.  I have been trying to ferret them out.  I have my men searching for evidence and I am under pressure to solve these risks and crimes.  That, and I arose very early this morning so I might get a head start.  So, that might explain why I look tired.  But it is all exciting work, so I am happy to have such responsibility.  It sure beats boredom," he offered on a lighter note.

"I hope you are happy in your responsibilities," he offered more quietly.

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"It was a ... misunderstanding steming from a note ment for another but was pased to me. It was worded in such an unplesant manner that I was taken by surprise and over-reacted."

The lie said with out a blink of her eyes.

"I thought of you naturally as the one to provide me with aid but in the end, well, nothing happened."

She set aside her mending and at his words of assassins murderers and blackguards she caught her breath.

"So there WAS something yesterday ....."

She then went on to explain about being summoned  by His majesty to the garden but then being taken inside and then thru the Presence to the Kings Privy Chamber. That alone had made her suspicious as had the presence of extra guards.

"I thought it odd to begin with and then seeing the guards there .... why even Lord Chatham I think found it off but I said nothing for there was nothing. His Majesty by way of word or action betrayed nothing   ..."

"What happened? I know that something has."

and does it tie in with what I am involved with I wonder? Yet I am unwilling to involve Charles now as I shall to the Duke later this day. 

As to his last question she gave a small shrug.

"Happy? I do no think that is the word I would apply. I am as always delignet and no faults can be found. I bear my 'responsibilites' well enough. What else is there?"

That some of her unhappiness crept out she could not stop. He must suruly understand how hurt she was by him. But she had avoided him altogether and so what needed to be said had not.

She understood that as a man he did not think as she so what she saw as 'hurts' he may not. 

"After this child is born things will return back to normal I hope - tis been frustrating to simply wander about without any Duty."

"Do you want a puppy Charles?"

She gave him a half smile for the first time.

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There was no reason to doubt her words about the note.  She seemed embarrassed by it.  Yet, it was interesting to him that, when she faced trouble, she thought to turn to him rather than another.  That likely meant that she did not hate him, so that was good.

"Yes," he confided.  "A murder in the garden.  It has all been rendered a secret now, so you need to tell no one," he warned.  "It could have been a Frenchman that killed a Dutchman," he whispered.  "I don't think there was a plan to attack the King or Queen, but it is a mystery for me to solve.  There may be other skullduggery afoot as well.  I best say nothing more on that.  It means that I shall be busy on the hunt in the coming days and weeks."  He enjoyed chasing villains.

In contrast, Davina seemed to tolerate her duties.  It seemed to Charles that she was very unhappy, but he did not know what to say.  Maybe he could send her an anonymous gift to cheer her.  Ladies liked that.  "With no duties you can spend time in the library or explore London.  That is a good thing to have free time,"he attempted to assure her.

"A puppy?"  That was a surprise.  "I admit that I have not acquired any hound for my household here."  He thought himself too busy to find a suitable one.  "What palace dog has had puppies?" He offered a smile as a way to change topics to something more light-hearted.

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"I knew it." She leaned forward in her chair looking up at him. "Things seemed somehow different .... So you do not know the Nationality then? But what if that were a ruse? I mean this done to make another thing happen?"

"And why there as the place for it. And is that why Lord Mountjoy and Kingston came here last evening?"

"Poppy heard it being talked about as she came thru." She offered by way of explanation. "Servants see everything - the more so here!" 

"Mountjoy is not so unusal as his Lady is here but Kingston is. So Lady Mountjoy must know as well but I doubt she would tell the Queen, especially now."

"Do not worry. It does not go beyond this room."

She quietly told him. 

"Even tho I may have no Duty I still must attend that can not be helped. I must ask for leave for a day to do that. But there is not much about London I wish to go."

"I shall be glad indeed when things liven up!"

She sat back relaxing a bit into the chair.

He asked about Palace dogs and she had to stop herself from replying

that there are any number of bitches about .... you yourself have one to heel and ready to birth in the form of that Sedley

"I was given one by His Majesty - that was the reason for the summons early yesterday morning - only it was not from HIM as he was quick to say but from another 'Gentleman' who's name he declined to say."

"So I think I shall have to keep it until I am able to know the sender. I wonder just who it could be ..."

She sighed.

"I am sorry. I do not think I can give her up just yet. Will you accept my apology?"

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"We did worry about a ruse or another attempt against a royal," Charles replied, finding it interesting that Mountjoy and Kingston thought to protect the Queen.  Was it jealousy that he felt that he or his men were not there instead?  He supposed it was for the best.

"We are still seeking to confirm the nationalities but the killer escaped.  We shall find him in time."  Charles kept telling himself that it was but a matter of time.

Davina seemed as though she was in distress.  She sent a message and then quickly changed her mind.  She offered a puppy to the Earl and then quickly changed her mind.   It was unlike her.  What was he to do to help?  

"The King gave you a puppy on behalf of another gentleman?"  That seemed strange.  Perhaps the Queen, but not the King.  "He must be high placed for the King to act as the go between," Charles speculated.  "Have you been receiving attention or other gifts anonymously?" he queried.  He had thought to send her something to cheer her.

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"This all sounds so dangerous. I hope nothhing bad will happen."

"And I know how you are - you will hunt tirelessly until found either alive or dead. But even then you will continue to have suspicions." 

"I am not afraid with you in command." She told him quietly.

"Yes. But as to his position I have no idea."

"Of course I receive things why would I not?" She needled him a bit. "I am not in want of admirers .... something always comes at least once a day."

She lied but he'd not know it. 

"I think rather His Majesty is enjoying a Game, as He is known to do, and to tease and withold is also part of His Charm."

She smiled up at him.

"I am flattered naturally who would not be! So if you are desirious of a puppy then I shall have to look elsewhere for one."

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"All will be well," Charles assured Davina without a basis other than his belief in himself and justice.  "Thank you for your support," he offered quietly.

She had flattered him and it was his turn to reciprocate.  "Of course you have many admirers Davina, especially if they know what I know ... that you are an extremely charming and lovely person inside and out.  Perhaps this is so evident that even brave gentlemen dare not approach you openly for fear of your disapproval.  So, they send gifts and notes in hopes of warming your heart to their later approach."  It seemed plausible if people were hiding behind the King to woo her.  He felt more than a twinge of jealousy but he had no basis to object.

"A puppy shall have to wait, I fear, till when I have time to devote to it.  But  thank you." 

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how easily he flatters me  ....  so you think you know me that well  ....

She gave a small laugh then shook her head

"There is no need to fear disapproval. My heart is indeed warm and in all Truth I am torn between several Gentleman - so I needs must weigh all the merits and capabalities and chose wisely."

"And Court is the perfect place do you not agree? So many pass to and fro which provides opportunities yet also allows for reminders of those already known."

"Ah. Yes. Devotion is most important. It would be cruel to display it then of a sudden take it back."

"You are involved with so much of late so I shall do as you say."

She smiled up at him like she used to. Despite herself she could not keep her body from reacting to his presence .... it had been far too long!

Her nerves began to tingle and that slow burn deep in her belly was slowly spreading out as she held his gaze. 

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She was now relaxing somewhat and he felt some of the familiar warmth returning to her person.  Perhaps he could even tease her, a favored past time.

"Several gentlemen?  Oh do tell.  Do I know them?  I could tell you if they are cads or not," he offered in hopes of coaxing names from her.  His jealousy was starting to simmer, but he attempted to ignore it.  Should he torment her with soliciting her advice on other ladies?  That would be dangerous.

Charles held her gaze.  It seemed as though she was warming up to him again.

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"I never kiss and tell." Said as she stood up setting aside her needlework. "You know that."

She moved closer until she was near enough to touch. She could feel his body warmth, smell his scent. Perhaps it was those things together or something else that made her reach up and kiss him.

"Tell me you feel it too." She whispered aganist his mouth. "Tell me that this is not what you crave. Tell me you want it just as much as I."

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While many of the younger queens ladies were at loose ends with the Queen in her heavily pregnant state, a goodly number of them still attended her apartments, entertaining themselves as best as they could.

Not far off, the sounds of young ladies playing chades filtered into the room where Davina had been sitting... "Why spin your arms like that, is it a windmill? I do not know any plays with windmills in them! Choose an easier one. It has to be english." 

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There seemed to be a rainbow of emotions on display for Charles.  Davina had seemed so sad that he had worried for her.  Now she was standing and approaching him to kiss him!  Blazing cannons!

It was a surprise to be sure.  He had been expecting the worst and now ... this.  One might question whether Davina was toying with him, but that was not her style.  He returned the kiss but it was done briefly.

"Of course I feel it and crave it," he whispered back, though looking less comfortable than she given their proximity to a wealth of the Queen's ladies and servants.  "This is hardly the place and time," he added softly.

He had been rehearsing in his mind how he might tell her that he planned to wed another lady.  There seemed to be no good way to reveal it to her unless she no longer cared for him, but her kiss spoke otherwise.  "What would your gentlemen suitors say?" he offered with a brief smile, hoping that comedy would be one way to lessen the heat.  "And my lady admirers.  Should we not consider their feelings in our cravings?"  It was a step towards revealing his planned betrothal and it was offered with an almost humorous touch, or so he hoped.

He reached to clasp her hand and lift it to his mouth to kiss.  It was better to be discovered kissing a hand than her mouth. "It would be dangerous to you and your future," he added in a whisper.  Perhaps he could bring her around by portraying the caution was done to protect her.  Perhaps she would become sensible, though she seemed to be in a rather emotional state.

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He returned her kiss but then offered up a reminder which made her smile.

"Oh I have no intent to go any further so rest assured. All that noise out there is hardly conducive after all."

She turned away from him then to walk a bit adding over her shoulder that

"Those Gentleman of my acquaintance would not be as you so I have no thoughts to them."

"Ah. Yes. How could I forget about your "Lady Admirers" of which you must have many no doubt. Was there not one who is in line to gain the most?"

She could not help that needle to his skin. She knew it was Sedley and that she was to have a child - either his or some other but he believed it his so ....

Circling back to him she found that the hurts she had held onto had somehow gone. Replaced with just a sense of sadness but also relief. Was that possible?

He kissed her hand but she did not let him lingerr slipping hers from his grasp and returning to her chair.

"My reputation is faultless. I would never do something to tarnish that. Which is why I am glad that you sought me out."

"It is good that we now understand each other. You and I made merry together while it lasted. All things I suppose must end."

"Which is why I am letting you go."

She gave a small sigh then looked up at him her mouth shaped in a small smile. 

"We could hardly continue and I am not such a person that would take amusement in greeting the wife of the man who is my lover."

"My future is my own to decide and if all goes to plan I too shall wed by years end."

She reached for her needlework again surprised at how calm she was and her words normal in their delivery. No hysterics. No angry words.

Did he she wonder understand that that kiss was the last to be given by her to him.

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Davina's emotional journey seemed to come full circle.  Charles was having a difficult time predicting her swings.  How could she seduce him in one breath and dismiss him in the next?  Perhaps it was driven by a deep melancholy or sickness.  Perhaps she was dying and did not have the heart to tell him.  To his inexperienced mind, something seemed wrong.  There was a certain doctor that had assured him that the best way to cure a lady of illness or melancholy was to have sex with her.  He was a man of science and the remedy rang true to his mind.  Perhaps that was why Davina had wanted to have sex.  Her body craved it.  It needed a cure.  If he could not provide it, she would find another, and risk her sterling reputation.  What was he to do?

He did not recall him suggesting that he planned to marry this year, but she assumed it to be so.  How could she know before he revealed his intentions?  It seemed uncanny.  This whole encounter seemed curious.

"Davina," he whispered as he followed her but part way.  "I am worried about you.  You do not seem as well as I knew you to be when we were together.  Are you ill?  Is there something you are not telling me?"  He was trying to feel as empathetic as possible.  "I still care for you and always will, no matter what.  We shared merry-making surely, but we also shared a love that may seem like embers now, but the heat is there though you may say you wish to extinguish it."  He wanted to let that revelation sink in.

"We may each marry this year, tis true, but neither of us is betrothed as of yet.  We can be friends and will certainly be so even after marriage.  You are in need of intimacy as we all are.  We could, if you wish it, be merry together until the day when we should not."  It was the nice way to tell her that she was ill and needed a good swiving to get better.  "There is that craving of which you spoke," he reminded her.  "But it is for you to decide on this.  I would see you smile again, with your eyes dancing and a laugh in your throat."

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Posted (edited)

"Me? Ill?"

Said with some surprise.

"Whatever do you mean? I was a bit Melancholic for a while tis true but I assure you I am fine now. Rather Phlegmatic at the moment. Whatever possessed you to say that?"

She teased a bit but then grew serious again as she continued.

"Well how generous of you - to care for me always no matter what. I shall not hold you to that for it may prove difficult for you to keep."

Where was all this coming from she wondered. Had he taken some misunderstanding in her owns words and so thinks that she would still lay with him?

"So allow me to understand .... you are telling me that tis an impossibility for me to NOT continue to offer up my body to you because what we share is too strong?"

She gave a small laugh then was quick to apologize.

"Forgive me Charles but you clearly did not take my meaning. I shall tell you agan - I am letting you go. We are parted now as Lovers."

Her next remark was to his one on not yet being betrothed

"Ah so she did not manage to get you to offer up marriage? Odd. I would have sworn that was what your meaning to me was."

"That and the fact you made it plain that if twas ME in that same situation  - being with child - you would not marry me."

"But you would marry her."

"In need of intimacy .... Who have you been with that puts such thoughts in your head?"

"So you are saying that there is something amiss with me and that I should give my body to you now and continue until we should not."

"And remaining Friends now and after we both wed - to some other and not to each other - is that you're thoughts?"

"How very sure you are of me Major Whitehurst."

"I kissed you because I wanted to hear you say you felt the same. It was an intellectual curiosity because I knew that it was the last one we would ever exchange."

 "You should reconsider and arrange your thoughts better."

"Very well - since you said tis for me to decide."

"Whatever 'desire' I might have felt is no longer present."

liar  .....  the hidden voice whispered 

"You may rest assured that I shall smile laugh and be merry without any aid from you."

Despite her best efforts her temper was warming up. She took a steadying breath.

"I have no wish to send you off with harsh words or feelings. You were the first man I layed with and for that I am grateful that you were kind and gentle."

"I shall have some fondness for you because of it. We played well together and now it has ended."

"And it is enevitable that we will continue to meet - London is large but Court is small - and I will never be anything other than 'friendly'."

Taking up her work she stood and shook out her skirts. She looked back at him once again calm.

"See." 

 She smiled up at him. It was a real smile and there would be no mistaking that.

Edited by Davina Wellsley

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Didn't sick people always deny being ill?  Charles was not so sure that Davina was telling the truth, but he could hardly deny that she was.  It was best to play along, he supposed.

"If you say you are fine, I shall accept it."  What else could he do?

She tried hard to appear aloof to him, but he doubted that as well.  She claimed that she was ending their affair.  It had been ended already, Charles supposed, and she was expressing no interest in renewal.  That was good because it would have required him to place himself in a precarious position with Darlene.  She might not be understanding.  Intellectually curious?  Was that a big-worded way of saying she was toying with him?

""I thought I had told you," he whispered, "that I have no intent to wed Miss Sedley, nor does she expect it.  It is ... an relationship of another kind."  That was his polite way of saying she was his mistress.  He wanted to reveal to Davina that he planned to wed, to explain he needed to marry an Anglican lady to offset the stigma of his last Catholic adventure with Jeanne.  He wanted to tell her that Darlene and he had an understanding that they would marry if ever they both were free again.  The problem was that, despite her protestations that she no longer had feelings for him, it did not seem the right moment, and he was not feeling especially brave or capable of explaining his situation without offending Davina, which he steadfastly wished to avoid.

Instead, it seemed best to draw their conversation to a conclusion.  "Thank you Davina for explaining your feelings to me.  I am glad that we will be friendly going forward.  I apologize for anything that I may have said or done to ever offend you.  And ... thank you for our time together. I shan't forget it."  It seemed rather formal, but Davina was acting in a dispassionate way, so he was left to reply in kind.

"I had best take my leave then.  There are villains to chase and riddles to solve."  He offered back a friendly smile and prepared to exit.

 

 

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She stared back at him as he spoke offering HIS explination to that hurt from months ago.

"Ah." She slowly nodded her head. "So it was I that was at fault -  I thought 'Wife' when you meant 'Mistress' so no wonder you reacted as you did."

"So I must offer an apology after all. And am I right in thinking that there is another who will fill that first rolé while Sedley waits in the wings."

(a delebrate play upon words in reference to Sedley's Father)

"Heigh Ho." She sighed on a breath.

She reasoned within herself that everything that had been left unsaid was now corrected. 

"I shall always wish you well Charles."

She gave him another smile adding that

"Well you must have a care of your person - do not chase those villians all alone. And for riddles, well, there are a few about Court who excell in that field  you should seek them out."

"I shall not walk you out. Best if you go thru the door hidden over there that way avoiding the gaggle of geese out there."

She gave a nod towards where the nosie was coming from.

"I am sure you can find your way to wherever it is you must be."

She walked to one wall and reached down to press gently against the gold moulding that decorated the wall and it opened inward.

"There you are. Tis just a short corridor and at the end you will be out of the Presence."

She offered him her hand to kiss in good-bye. 

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She apologized to him! Imagine that.  It was another unexpected move.  It confirmed his suspicions that she was ill and dying.  Why else try and end things in an amenable way?  Why else had he seen the mood swings and her defiant denial that she was ill in any way?  It must be serious.  He had been led to believe that ladies enjoyed laying guilt on gentlemen to get their way, and to use their anger and tears to ensure it.  He imagined that a suitable and fond farewell was most likely the byproduct of a deathbed reconciliation.  What could she be dying from?  She had not even coughed. 

Regardless, only a fool would linger when there was such a happy outcome.  Why linger and risk saying something stupid to upset the apple cart?  He did not wish to answer who was waiting in the wings and why it was not her for the same reason.  Best to beat a hasty retreat and save such a conversation for later, perhaps on her deathbed.

"It is I that is to blame for any misunderstanding," he replied.  Gentlemen never allowed  a lady to accept blame.  "Thank you Davina."  He knew the passage she opened.  He knew the passages well.  Taking her hand, he kissed it tenderly before taking his leave, hat in hand.  It was not long before the shadows of the corridor swallowed his image.

 

~finis

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