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Margaret Sinclair

Emerging-morning 13th of April (open)

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After driving through the night (the inn she was supposed to stay at was deplorable in her opinion) and getting settled in her suite at Dorchester House, Margaret felt the need to stretch her legs.  Even though the carriage was well sprung, she had no desire to sit down in the near the future.  So, after getting directions, she found herself walking down a lane in St. James Park.  Dressed in a light gray day dress, with just enough lace and embroidery with silver thread and a few small cabochon amethysts used as decorations down the front of her stomacher, she carried a parasol of a similar shade as her dress.  Gloves of silk completed the outfit.  Her blond hair was done up in a coronet style, keeping it nice and tidy.  Several feet behind walked her maid, an woman who looked like a stiff wind would shove her off her feet, but would battle a raging wolf for her mistress.  Mousy brown hair and eyes and freckled face, she would never stand out in a crowd.

The sun was shining, which she had come to find rare in her new homeland.  All the tutors and teachers she had had, none had warned her of how GRAY England was.  At least the park made her feel a bit closer to New York.  She didn't really miss it so much as the familiarity of it.  She'd had another letter from her mother that required response as well as her father, but his required her getting her man of affairs to check with the manager of his London shipping office concerning some discrepancies with a few bill of goods that had run a bit short.  She also needed to have her man also see about finding more permanent residence.  Margaret was rather used to having autonomy in her movements and with so many people around in Dorchester House, she would never truly be private. 

None of these thoughts appeared on her face, since none of them elicited any true emotional response.  They were tasks that needed to be done, but not the main reason she was here.  Now, she had a freedom she hadn't thought to have for at least another decade.  After all, Sinclair was old when she married him.  Older than her father, in fact.  But he had been in good health.  Ah, but now he was gone.  Thoughts of her dead husband easily disappeared from her mind, another completed task.  Onward.

Taking a deep breathe, she continued on her walk, heading towards the sound of ducks.

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So far so good.

 

Except for the stares. Sophia didn’t mind them, though. She would stare too if she saw a lady walking a puppy and a monkey at the same time. With Aurora’s leash in one hand and Diva’s ribbon wrapped around the other, she strolled down the path toward the duck pond. She was curious as to whether she would be able to handle the sight of water now that she was on her way to overcoming her fear of it. The last time she had been there was last spring and she had been so terrified that she had nearly fainted long before the pond came into view.

 

This time would be different. She felt that it was important to expose herself to water more often so that eventually it would not scare her at all. It would probably be close to two years before she traveled to Spain again.  There was plenty of time to completely conquer her fear.  She would have a child then and it was imperative that she was no longer anxious around large bodies of water.  If possible, she needed to learn to swim, so that her fate would not be the same as her poor mother's. And today she would be distracted by her two pets. Since both of them needed walking, why not take them out together? Diva’s collar and leash was not ready yet, but the braided ribbon she had brought when the King had given the spaniel to her would suffice until then. It was tied securely around the puppy’s neck, but not so tight it would choke her if she pulled at the end of it. The petite singer would not let her go like she had done yesterday, giving her no opportunity for mischief.

 

Sophia kept them on either side of her, not yet trusting them to interact. She had only received Diva two days ago and Aurora was a bit wary of her barking and boundless energy. The golden lion tamarind spent most of her time up high, generally perched upon the beams of her canopy bed, cautiously surveying the newcomer. They had both behaved themselves in the carriage. Diva had sat on Anna’s lap while Aurora draped herself around her mistress’ shoulders. Her maidservant walked behind her now, ready to take one of the leashes if either puppy or monkey got out of hand.

 

It was a slow walk, as she had to stop when either animal found something interesting to sniff. The young Countess smiled at the people who passed her.   Some of them looked at her instead of her pets, hopefully admiring her sense of fashion. Today she wore a gown of lavender and blue striped silk, adorned with pink fabric flowers around the neckline, the bottom of her elongated bodice, and below each of the three puffs of her long sleeves. A wide pink ribbon encircled her expanding waist, tied into a bow with its ends trailing to her hemline. Atop her flaxen curls, she wore a cream-colored wide-brimmed hat, decorated with pink flowers and blue and lavender feathers.  A simple necklace of pearls and a pair of matching earrings comprised her jewelry. Hanging from the center of the necklace was the cameo featuring her own profile that Juan had commissioned for her last year.

 

A lady and a gentlemen on horseback galloped past them, startling both animals. Aurora hissed and leapt to her shoulder. Diva slipped out of her collar and darted ahead, running straight into a blonde lady wearing a gray dress. The spaniel landed on her butt, gazing up at the woman with  big bright eyes. Sophia hurried over. “I’m sorry, my lady. I hope my puppy did not cause you harm.”

 

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The galloping horse rushing past gained what would be classified as a frown as the kicked up dirt most likely landed if not on, than in the vicinity of her dress, and that was terribly rude.  As was the sudden thud to her shin!  Looking downward, violet eyes met those of a young canine.  Long silky ears and coat marked the creature as a spaniel of some sort.  Squatting down, she said, "Well, at least you ran into me and not into those horses.  I don't believe you would have been the winner in that contest."  Still in that position, she looked up at the other blond lady speaking to her, tilting her head slightly as she noted the creature sitting on the woman's shoulder. 

"I should hope my shins are made of sterner stuff than to take damage from a small puppy's head.  Against your shoulder adornment, that I would not take bets on."    Before the puppy to make a mad dash away, as puppies are wont to do, she pinched the skin at the back of the neck where a mother dog would pick up her pups then slid her hand under the belly to lift.  Their nearest neighbors had been Dutch, having lived in New York when it was New Amsterdam, and they had a pair of Kooikerhondje which were similar in shape to spaniels.  She stood up.  "Do you have something that," she lifted the puppy for a moment to peek beneath, "she won't slip out of easily?  If not, I'm sure my maid won't mind running back to my rooms to fetch a large bracelet and long chain necklace to fashion a quick one to keep your escape artist from trying her tricks."

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At least the lady was not angry at Diva. She seemed a bit wary of Aurora, but most people were when they saw the golden lion tamarin for the first time. In Italy, monkeys were common pets, but they were practically unheard of in London. Sophia had hoped to start a trend with  Aurora but it had not worked out. Perhaps it was for the best. She could never be ignored with the brightly colored creature sitting on her shoulder or scampering ahead of her on her golden leash.

 

“She’s perfectly tame.” She reached up and stroked Aurora’s soft fur. “And much less energetic than my puppy. You have nothing to fear from her.” The other blonde was quite good with dogs, scooping the little spaniel expertly into her arms. Sophia chuckled when she peeked underneath to see if she was a boy or a girl. It was so much easier to tell with dogs than with cats.

 

“His Majesty presented her to me only yesterday,” she informed the woman. “I’ve ordered a collar and leash for her, but they won’t be ready until Thursday.” Her ice-blue eyes widened at the lady’s suggestion. “How clever! I wish I had thought of that. I don’t want to deprive you of your jewelry, though. If Diva pulls too hard, it might break. But I can use my own.” Turning to Anna, she instructed her to bring the pieces she would need.

 

“Will you help me make it, my lady?”

 

Remembering her manners, she smiled warmly. “I’m Lady Sophia de la Cerda, the Countess of Toledo and wife of the Spanish Ambassador.”

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