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Charles Blount

A Mornings Ride, April 13

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April 13 Morning, Brook House

A Mornings Ride

 

The sandstone Brooke House on Pall Mall is the London residence of the Earl Brooke, Sir Robert Thomas St. Leger, and his family. Set on a few acres with a walled and tiered garden, the house sits on the rise of a small hill which slopes in the back to small fashioned pond. Climbing roses and berries grace walls and terraces interspersed with ivy with the occasional cluster of manicured fruit trees. It boasts a large royal oak just off the back corner of the mansion with two wide swings which used to be a familiar playsite of the younger Lord Beverley, Robert St. Leger and his sister Lady Doneraile. Now it is a frequent site of play for the lady's 3 little boys when they are visiting their grandfather although they most often stay in Battersea a few miles down the Thames. The garden wall and various garden half-walls are a familiar haunt for Lord Beverley to lay about and read or nap.

Brooke House itself is a large, thick rectangle. While wingless, the set of rooms on the second floor to the right rear, belong to Lord Beverley, the Earl Brooke's heir. The second floor to the left going down to part of the first floor are the rooms of Lord and Lady Brooke who traditionally keep separate bedchambers. Lord Brooke's rooms go down to his study and an anteroom on the first floor. Facing the garden between those apartments on the second floor is a garden room which is popular for a morning meal or tea. The rear of the first floor is dedicated to entertaining space with a large hall/dining room, library, and a gallery. Guest rooms are found on both floors but most specifically on the second floor facing the front of the property.

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The day, while still early was promising to be a sunny day allowing for the previously muddy streets to dry which would be a welcome improvement for a casual ride in the park.  Although he had spent the previous evening in the Queen’s chambers Mountjoy was engaged at the invitation of Lord Beverly to go riding with Sir George Legge and the Baron von Bruhl, a countryman and acquaintance of his wife Ursula, this morning so he had ordered his horse Roland to be vigorously brushed have its hooves lacquered (he thought about having them lacquered red as a fashion statement but concluded that doing so would be a bit too adventurous so stuck with the traditional black) and made sure that his tack was spotless and polished to a high sheen. Mountjoy himself was also brushed and polished in a tobacco brown coat with a green waistcoat with gold embroidery, chamois breeches, oxblood riding boots, a beaver felt cavalier hat adorned with pheasant feathers and a riding crop fashioned from a deer antler.

Thus kitted out he mounted Roland and undertook the short ride to Brook House where he was greeted by a blue liveried servant with a badge of the Earl’s arms who saw to his needs.

 

 

(OOC: A placeholder to reserve the timeslot so I can post later in the day. No need for an immediate reply if not convenient.)

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Beverley was awaiting his company in the courtyard on his seal brown horse, Fleet, who had nearly won him the races at Brighton. Losing only to the far more experienced Lord Newcastle had not been so very bad, and it had been a very close result. 

 

Unlike most horses used for racing, Fleet was not difficult to quiet or prancey as they waited. Instead the dark, gleaming horse appeared to be dozing in the brief morning glimmers of sun as his master sipped some form of drink atop his back, not even yet bothering to hold the reins. Having trained Fleet himself, the viscount was hardly worried that he might bolt, and as Lord Mountjoy entered the courtyard Fleet did little other than lift his head and open his eyes to get a good look. The horse gave a soft nicker of a greeting to the new arrival and then went back to his snooze. 

 

Beverley waved in greeting and said, "Good morning, my lord. I hope you are well."

 

The viscount was not as fashionable as Lord Mountjoy, who was always very fashionable indeed, but he did have an amply white plumed grey hat in the same cavalier style. His lack of high fashion was not for lack of desire (or for his family's lack of money), it was for his father not trusting him not to gamble away things of great value. So instead of any fancy brocades to get muddied up on a ride, he was dressed in a deep blue velvet coat trimmed in a bit of silver, grey breeches, and shined black boots. 

 

There were blue clad servants standing by with drinks and small tarts and pies should anyone wish fortification before leaving.

 

(OOC - sorry this got lost in the shuffle!)

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Roland, the Marquis’s stallion, was a black Andalusian and like most Spanish horses was a proud animal so gave a return nicker and affected an elevated gait into his step in acknowledgment of Fleet’s greeting.  Mountjoy, the stallion’s owner, gave his own greeting by touching his hat and responding “And a good morning to you Lord Beverly, I am very well thank you, as I hope you are as well. It does look like it is shaping up to be a fine day that will allow the mud to recede. In the country I do not mind a good gallop in the wet but I do have to say that I find London mud not quite as salubrious.”

 

He then noticed the blue clad servants holding trays of pies and gave the soft command “Roland” and made a clicking sound as he taped Roland’s shoulder with the crop causing his mount to cross step over to the servant in a show of horsemanship. “You know for some strange reason on the ride over I developed an unusual hankering for the pork pies that one can get for sixpence on the Strand. These look most splendid and I shall avail myself of one if there are no objections.” He said as he helped himself to one of the pies with one hand and accepting a cup in the other. Thanking the servants, he then realized that he had to relinquish the reigns and muttered something that sounded like ‘bugger’ but which of course was not. He tapped the horse with his heels who obediently returned to face Lord Beverly. ‘… good show darling.’ He said as he completed the maneuver. Beverly could be reasonably certain that Blount was speaking to the horse and not him.

 

“Just the thing to hit the spot on a fine morning.” He said complimenting his host’s hospitality. This time Beverly (who could be forgiven for thinking of ways to ask his guest if he had just called his horse darling without being rude) could be certain that Mountjoy was addressing him and not the horse. “I hope I am not early.” A valid question given the lack of other mounted gentlemen. “I did not take my morning walk today so this outing will be a welcome exertion.”     

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Beverley laughed at the mud of London being less desirable to wear than that of the country. It most certainly was! One would end up smelling like a farm animal or privy if one chanced any mud, especially on the lesser streets of Town. It was not so very far to get out of the city into greener areas. 

 

"Help yourself, rest assured that I have sampled them too," Beverley said. 

 

The viscount could appreciate good horsemanship, for it was one of the few things that Beverley himself did exceedingly well. It was a grand pass-time of their family. He might not have the most skilled ability in court conversation, but he very much so shined on horseback. Like Beverley, Fleet was something unexpected in ability for having a somewhat lazy disposition. 

 

Had Lord Mountjoy just called his horse darling?

 

Now, Beverley knew that Englishmen were said to be fond of and show love only for horses and dogs by those on the continent, but...darling? He grinned a bit but did not comment on it. In truth, Beverley was not funny enough to come up with anything good to say! He wished that he was, because he recognized it as a good opportunity, but it was simply one he could not fulfill.

 

"You have a very soft-sided horse," he complimented instead. "A very fine side-pass and pivot." He pat Fleet on the neck, "I assure you, Fleet is really quite impressive, despite appearances, as is his rider. He waits to showcase himself on the actual ride."

 

 Beverley shook his head, perfectly kept brown locks brushing over his shoulders, "Not at all. As you see, we are fully ready. All the better to sample the pies." Then he added, "There have been several odd things in the last many days, so hopefully there is no reason for the others not to join us that has come up at the palace. I know Sir George is quite depended upon by the Duke of York."  

 

Whilst Beverley knew of the Dutch plot's existence, and that they were not actually preparing to join the Dutch in war against the French, he was not privy to either the murder in the gardens nor the potential poisoning of the Queen. He simply knew that rooms that were not generally closed were closed, and because he knew of a plot against Their Majesties, he assumed the two events might be related. Their King did not generally close himself away, and the Presence Chamber was rarely cleared out and closed entirely. 

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“Thank you very much indeed.” He replied enthusiastically to the compliment of his horsemanship. Aside from discoursing upon the hunting of bear, or deer, or boar, or fowl, or of the hunting anything really (except for fish which could not be considered real hunting due to their unsportsmanlike proclivity of hiding in water) horses were his next favorite subject followed closely by dogs, especially dogs that hunted bear, or deer, or boar, or fowl or anything really. Dogs were also smart enough not to hunt fish.

 

“I have hunted with him for years so we have developed a great understanding of each other. It is a great advantage when hurtling thru the brush to be able to guide one’s mount by more than one’s reins. Andalusians are an intelligent breed if somewhat headstrong.” Roland tossed his head and snorted as if in disagreement. “Although not the swiftest of breeds they are athletic, nimble and have great stamina. The perfect traits for a hunter. I remember Fleet from Newmarket where he easily outpaced my Roland but I would wager that if the course was for distance rather than speed the advantage would flip for Roland can trot from here to Oxford without slowing his pace. In fact it is usually my backside that gives out before Roland’s stamina.” He jested as he thumped the muscular shoulder of his mount. “I fear it is a trial for him when I am in London for he likes to be active and I am not able to go riding as often as I would wish.” Then turning his attention to Fleet he added. “He looks as if he could have some Barb in his pedigree but appears rather serene for a hot blood.” Fleet looked to be a fine horse but Mountjoy’s taste in horseflesh gravitated more to heft than lightness. “I have recently purchased two rather fine Suffolk Punches as workhorses for Epping and have been contemplating breeding them with a finer breed for the cross may make for a fine hunter. Perhaps even covering them with Roland here.” Roland perked up his ears at that and whinnied  in encouragement.

 

“Ah… yes…” He said when Beverly mentioned the unusual goings on at the palace, his jovial demeanor somewhat dampened. "There has been a minor kerfuffle that will soon be sorted out, nothing much to worry about I think so hopefully we will not be denied Sir George’s company.” With a Catholic plot uncovered against the Queen, York would be well advised to stay as far away from the matter as possible. If, and he thought inevitably when, the plot was exposed there would be enough fodder given to the exclusionists without the good old Duke of York making it worse.” He did not elaborate as he did not feel he was at liberty to reveal any details of the matter even though if the Prince had been informed Beverly would have been as well for the Prince relied upon St. Leger as much as the Duke upon Legge. “I do not know if there is anything that would keep Herr. von Bruhl from joining us but German’s are usually quite punctual.”

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A clatter of hoofbeats beyond the gates slowed then reverberated in staccato upon the cobbled drive of Brookfield house. There arrived the sober form of Sebastian, clad in dark umber riding costume, broad brimmed hat and bucket heeled boots with butterflies*.  He rode a sturdy roan mount.  

Seeing Beverly and Mountjoy he gave a nod on slowed approach, while his breath was strong still of movement he called, "Good morning fellows! You have not been waiting long?"  Punctuality, whilst important, was less of issue the further from a clock one was.  And fortunately for Sebastian there was none in sight.

   

* ref:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Danckers_de_Rij_Władysław_IV_Vasa_(detail)_02.jpg

 

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