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Still Bothered | Langdons Hse, quite late on Tuesday night

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Daybreak had seen her knocking at his door, and now she was here again.  It had been quote impossible to sleep. It was Frances Cavendish’s fault really, but putting such an awful thought in Darlene’s head. A thought that had grown and grown, so that prospect of an adventure to the docks was hardly even fun anymore. 

In Darlene's hand she held a note, hesitating from knocking she still toyed with just slipping the message under the door.  But she's not be able to sleep if she did that. She needed an answer, an answer now.

*knock knock knock* 

Cloaked in deep red woollen cloak, one that had been prettily needleworker with flowers edging the hood, Darlene stood very still and serious at Charles front door. 

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Charles was fatigued from a full day of excitement.  The combination of fatigue and lack of food had him feeling cold.  He had asked Amy to draw him a piping hot bath so that he might soak in it for its warmth.  The deep copper tub had no ornamentation.  Charles did not have the funds to be flamboyant about such things.  The fireplace in his room burned bright, with multiple kettles steaming with water to be added to the tub.

Elam had been ready to move upstairs to take over duties from his wife, but he heard a knock at the front door.  Since it was not the servant's door, it required his attention.  Opening the door, he identified Darlene immediately and ushered her inside without pause.  She had an open invitation to visit his master at any time night or day; Elam knew why.

"Lady Oakham, may I take your cloak?  His lordship is upstairs in his room about to take a bath.  Shall I fetch him for you?"

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"Good evening Elam." Darlene felt suddenly quite cold too, it was some sort of fright or fear of soon to be hearing the worst.  Not from Elam though, that man had been perfectly kind to her.  She gave he man a half smile, "If you could ask Lord Langdon to come downstairs - I've not the topic of conversation for steam and bathtubs." 

It was at that point that nerves got the better of her, it was so plain to her now that she was really interrupting Charles.  Charles likely was not even thinking about how to, or how to avoid getting married.   "Oh. Or. Can you just give him this please."

She thrust the letter at Elam.

"I can wait for his reply." 


The letter, written in Darlene’s dreadful hand writing, said



Dear Charles,

Frances Cavandish said that no man who actually cares for a lady would send them down to the Docks at night to hunt for villains, and she said, or perhaps she alluded, I cant remember, that perhaps he only did so to avoid getting married. Yes she basically said that I was being sent to my death.

Though I hardly expect to be killed, only wanting a little bit of adventure, I have to consider that you did not know that, and that really the Docks might be filled with any sort of miscreant.  That, even if I do take a whole legion of friends with me, well, actually just 3, there might still be some dreadful trouble.

For instance what if we come upon smugglers. Everyone knows those sorts are desperate. Or there might be pirates, who are always a blood thirsty lot. Or there might be Turks, you remember how nice Abdul was until we all found out he was not. Or there could be French, which are lily the worst of them all. 

In any case, I should like to know if you want to break off with me, for I'd rather know the truth of it now. Before a ransom note goes rejected, or I find myself standing in lead boots on the bottom of the Thames.




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"Of course milady."  He turned towards the kitchen.  "Amy!"  Turning back to Darlene, he apologized.  "I am sorry.  That was louder than intended."
His wife, the upstairs maid of the Langdon household, popped her head out and then moved to join her husband.  She had been boiling additional water, some of which could be used for tea.  "I must see to the master.  Could you take care of Lady Oakham?"  With a ready nod, Amy wiped her hands on her dress to dry them.  "Milady, can I fetch you some tea and biscuits perhaps?"

Moments later, Elam was handing the note to Charles.  The smile that Charles had for the announcement of Darlene's arrival began to fade slowly as he read the letter.  Was this why she had been so upset earlier?  Blazing cannons!

When he had to have the difficult conversation with Davina, the lady had taken it too well.  In contrast, Darlene seemed more of a mess.  The culprit was Frances Cavendish.  Had she been a man, Charles would have owed him a good thrashing.  Sadly, he could do little to the Cavendish debutante other than determine that he should see her shunned for such unwelcome observations.

With a sigh, he moved towards the stairs,  He had no shoes or socks.  His shirt was in place but unbuttoned.  Grabbing his wool housecoat, Charles made a bow of the ties and moved downstairs.

"Darlene, my love," he greeted her softly as he approached.  "Such venomous nonsense from the Cavendish girl that cannot abide any happiness in others.  I love you and would not put you in any harms way that you were not perfectly capable of overcoming."  He moved to embrace her.  "You and I belong together and I would never wish to distance myself from you.  Come join me and let us have a good talk you and I."  He looked to the dark parlor, but it looked too cold and uninviting.  "I have a roaring fire upstairs."

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Darlene startled at Elams shout, but adjusted as she understood what was going on. If this was her household she'd have said something about it, but it was not.  "No thank you Amy - why any moment you might be told to hand me my cloak."  

Which was overly dramatic perhaps, but Darlene when upset, was inclined to unbalance views.  The widow clutched her hands together, to try calm her anxiety.


It was not a long wait, till she heard the rattle of feet upon the stairs, and looked. It was Charles, his expression - angry? As soon as he spoke she understood why. 

"Yes it was a horrible thing to say wasn’t it!" Darlene practically sobbed, throwing herself into his embrace. He'd said the L word, that was all that really mattered. "Charles you must ban me from going to the Docks, to prove you love me"  Hugging him he smelt so good, and she knew everything was going to be all right. 

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Charles had arrived at court knowing very little about women, let alone ladies.  He still had a good distance to travel before he could claim to have gained a good understanding.  Yet he knew three truths about ladies.  One, they enjoyed flattery.  Two, the word "love" meant everything to them.  Third, no lady could resist a man in uniform.  Since he wore his uniform most every day, the third truth was always on display.  He was gifted with flattery, so he was well-armed for that battle.  As for the mention of love, he felt more judicious about such things.  He had used the word with Darlene and Davina.  He had playfully avoided any such proclamation with Catherine Sedley, and the other ladies in his life to date had been little more than friends.

He had no hesitation with the term with Darlene because they had a connection ever since they first met in 1675.  She had demanded that he write her a love poem.  He had dutifully complied.  While they were both married to others, she wrote him a letter saying that the two of them should have married.  Who would have thought that the deaths of both spouses would have made that possible?  They were not alike at all, but they fit well together. 

"Very well, you are banned from visiting the docks unless in my company," he pronounced as some sort of solemn judgment.  Frankly, he had never thought she would go at night.  Rather, he imaged that she would wander about aimlessly until she tired of negative responses, and then go home, having felt that she had contributed mightily to his investigation.

"Now that I have given you an order," he asked playfully, "what command do you have for me?" 

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"I am so relieved!" Darlene gushed with her trademark melodrama, "Though I don’t know how I shall explain it to the others, they were so looking forward to the excursion. I am sorry darling, but you are going to sound like a real party pooper when I tell them you have forbid it."

But she would tell them so with pride, for it proved Francis Cavandish had been wrong all along. "I would ban you from forbidding anyone except for me." 

"Though I fear it might alert the others that I am special to you, next thing you know, gossip that we are a couple might get out. I wont actually tell them of course, don’t fear, because that was our games rule. I didn’t tell Francis Cavandish your name either - in case you are worried. I have been very good keeping our secret.  In fact I've been even better at it that you could have imagined I would be..."

Which had her smile at a hunch, "... Charles, did you think I would accidentally tell everyone?!  Because -" Darlene cosied closer, " I still could?" perhaps that had been his plan all along!





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Charles was learning from Darlene.  "The answer is obvious," he announced as he was trying to compose one.  "You have been given a more secret assignment.  Investigating the docks is hardly worth your talents you could explain," he offered, hoping she would pick up on the story and finish it.  "Tell them you are sworn to secrecy so you are unable to tell them.  Embellish the importance if you wish, but avoid anything that could be proven untrue."  She loved the theater and Charles supposed this would be a role she would relish.

"Maybe a clue you are working with the Life Guard."  She was looking to reveal their relationship.  "Any good puzzle is solved one piece ay a time.  Let the court test their skill.  We have been seen together many times.  You visit my house and I visit yours.  You rode behind me on my horse.  We toured Dorchester House together and it was clear to the servants we are close.  You are the wife of my former closest friend,  If I escort you to church or a ball, even the slow-witted will come to see the evidence.  We act coy, like it is some royal secret until we find an event worthy to keep it silent no longer.  We make it sporting thereby," he attempted to explain.

"That assumes , of course, that you still love me."  There he had laid his own clue.  There were things he needed to confess.  They had always ignored the obvious discussion about former and current lovers.  Was it relevant?  Perhaps not.  At least he needed to tell her about Catherine Sedley.  She bore his child after all.

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"That's a wonderful idea." See this was why she loved Charles, he never flatly said no (even right now when she'd asked him to!) but was happy to help her put a new spin on things for their friends.  He was really quite creative even, but she'd learnt that about him early, had composed a lovely love letter for her that first spring of '75, even though he'd not known her at all. 

"And do you know Charles, that is even true. I would be far more suited to discovering a conspiracy at Court don’t you know. In fact, I even already have. Did I ever tell you about that horrible Mr Killigrew, why my rage at him was borne from virtue." 

Nobody had really listened to her side of things back then, but then it had not helped that she'd also been in a great depression at the time, and refused to talk.

"But lets not talk about that darling." for yes she wanted to talk about them, their hidden relationship. And why was that.

"Of course I love you Charles... and a royal secret... that does sound good..." but Charles had distracted her before with his sweet talking, and she was not sure if he was doing that to her again right now. "... but the trouble is my friends are really quite dumb, selfish also, and worst, they don’t even gossip amongst themselves." Darlene dramatically sighed. “But they are all I’ve got to work with.” 



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"I believe you," Charles replied, relieved that she liked his idea.  "If I had a conspiracy, I would definitely want you to play a lead role," he flattered.

On the subject of Killigrew, they had spoken about ways to explain her attack upon him, but she had never explained her motives.  "You never told me," he confessed.  "I should like to hear it."  Indeed he would.  It seemed a dark secret and one needed to learn all (or most at least) of the dark secrets of the one you planned to marry.  He had some of his own to reveal.

On the topic of her friends, Charles joined Darlene in finding it curious.  "Ladies that do not gossip?"  That was like a military man that never handled a weapon.  "How odd.  No one has gossiped about me to you then?"  She seemed to know nothing about Catherine Sedley, drawing into question her own capacity to learn gossip.  "Who are these friends of yours?  It may be time to add new friends," he offered mostly in jest.

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"I know that already Charles," Darlene sighed, "We are a Conspiracy."   Charles had cast them as secret lovers.

"Perhaps another night." She promised of her tale of Killigrew’s villainy, "I've other plans tonight, so cant really stay that long." 

Tonight was the night for the seance, she'd tried to take a nap before but her worry over Charles made that impossible.

Charles (correctly) voiced dismay that her friends did not gossip. "Oh I know it's the worst thing about them, and you can be sure that I have tried.  It's annoying really when people act too nice, and I am quite certain that even Davina has a dark side. Why doesn’t she just let it peek out now and then".   He'd asked for details of who these ladies were, and she generously provided. "Then there is Elizabeth Monck, well, to her credit she is most likely to gossip of any of my friends. Though mostly she gossips about her own husband, which grows wearisome fast."  Her eyes brightened "but I have two new friends, Sophia who holds potential, and Victorine who surely shall be an adept." 

Darlene was placing great stow in the French woman’s ability, after all the French were raised on the sort of pettiness that bred gossip.

"No body has gossiped about you Charles..." he question, however innocently spoken, cause Darlene to look at him differently. "What sort of thing would they have mentioned?"


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Charles attempted to disguise the disappointment he felt as Darlene deferred her story about Killigrew.  She mentioned another appointment, making him wonder what was afoot.

When Darlene mentioned Davina, a cold sweat threatened to appear on his brow.  It was but a matter of time before Darlene coaxed Davina's secret from her.  Darlene had a skill that way.  Yet Davina was a lady that did not seem to gossip or reveal secrets, so there was hope.  Charles told himself that he needed to encourage Darlene to expand her friendships in other directions.  Charles stopped himself from gossiping about Davina, revealing that she was likely dying.

"The Duchess of Ablemarle?"  He was impressed.  Her husband was the head of the Life Guard and his boss.  As such, he was intrigued with learning more.  Charles knew Sophia but did not know the French lady.  He found it odd that Darlene would want to have anything to do with anyone French.  It seemed as though he was doomed to wait for more details on that.  "I know Lady Toledo."

He had been attempting to reveal his affair with Catherine Sedley this evening, but worried that Darlene would rush off before he could allay any concerns she might have.  He preferred not to rush the story and wanted it to be part of a longer conversation between the two of them.  Charles had done many things that might shock Darlene.  He was still debating with himself as to how much he would reveal.

"Perhaps another night?" Charles teased back as she wanted to know the gossip.  "Or perhaps you come back later tonight, after whatever errand you might have?"  He was willing to stay up into the wee hours with her, if she was willing.

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  • 1 month later...

"Oh yes my friends are quite impressive, though do often wonder what they do when I'm not there to brighten their lives with something interesting. Except for Elizabeth she's always got something dramatic going on." 

Which was true.

"Actually Charles I'm going to be seeing her later on. We plan to wear silver tiaras, it shall be great fun." She grinned, "though I have no idea how long the evening shall go for. Don't stay up for me Charles I will see you in another night."

Her beau had seemed to not hear her question of what rumours might be drifting about court about him, but then perhaps he didn't know: it was usually yourself that was the last of find out these things! Unaware he was avoiding a topic she happily carried on.

"Charles thanks so much for talking tonight I do know I interrupted your evening. I feel so much better I rather think I shall sleep splendidly now." Darlene moved to embrace him, squeezing tightly and looking for a kiss goodnight.


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Charles smiled inwardly at Darlene's pronouncement of bringing light to the lives of her friends.  Given Darlene's gift for dramatic flair, she was probably correct, at least a far as he was concerned.  It seemed that her idea of fun was a dress up with silver tiaras.  Did ladies really do such things for fun.? He was so glad to be born a male.  "It sounds like fun," he agreed insincerely, hoping to make Darlene happy.

He was disappointed his love was unwilling to stay, but he attempted to hide it.  Of course he was far less practiced in the art of acting as was the lady opposite him.  She was gifted and he was still learning.

"I shall call on you tomorrow then?  Sleep well my love."  He moved to kiss and hug her tightly.  "And have fun with the Duchess."

It seemed safer to call on her than the other way around.  Better that she throw him out than she storm out in tears if she did not respond rationally to Catherine Sedley, and maybe the others. 

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Charles, correctly, was happy of her plans for the evening. Darlene knew better than to tell him what else they were going to do once dressed in tiaras, men tended to get nervous when one dallied with the undead, she'd found.

"Well actually tomorrow night I'm having a dinner party for my girlfriends." She explained but perhaps you can escort me to the art exhibition on Thursday? "One of the very best things of having a beau, especially one who wore uniform, is appearing in public looking magnificent at their side." This was spoken with a playful wink to Charles

Was Darlene possibly avoiding willy nilly intimacy? Very possible that she regretted being so (relatively) quick to hop into bed with him, when he had not properly proposed yet. She had plans to try force his hand!

But she was not thinking of that as she hugged him and kissed, her darling Charles Whitehurst or such passionate man! They kissed, and kissed again. "Bus stop darling before it is too hard to leave!" She broke apart, eyes sparkling.

And making herself ready for the footman to help her with the cloak she farewelled "Sweet dreams my love!" Before whisking herself away into the night. Hoping that she left him yearning for her! 

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It seemed that his intimate disclosures would need to await another night.  Darlene had other plans.  Eventually she would learn of Catherine whether he confessed it or not.  Maybe that would be better he mused silently.

He had not been aware of an art exhibit. They were stuffy affairs in his opinion; but, if Darlene wanted to go, he was willing.  "If I can get free of my duties, I shall be happy to do so."  Maybe he could meet her admirers there.

They kissed and kissed.  He was almost certain that he had convinced her to stay; but, she pulled away at the end.  "Have fun."

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