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Defiance

Whose Resignation? | CB Thursday late morning

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King's Presence Room

  • The Kings Presence Room was the first room of the Kings Apartments, and open to all those of the gentry and even well respected merchants. Built in Tudor style the room had a vaulted ceiling and lovely Gothic windows. More modern paintings by Lely among others graced the wall. The room easily held over 50 gathering courtiers and seating, lovely plum coloured chairs and couches provided for their ease. Here one waited, hopeful to catch a glimpse of the King. To guard what little was left of his privacy, Charles Rex had ordered that none may enter past the Presence room without his personal permission, save for those he considered family.

[*]King's Drawing Room

  • The Kings Drawing Room, just beyond the Presence Chamber, was also sometimes referred to as audience room or even throne room. The only chair in the room was put on a levee with a large burgundy canopy around it. Chairs could be provided for the princes of the realm, but save for the elderly and the pregnant all were supposed to stand in the Kings Presence.
     
    This is where private audiences were held, hidden from public view. The reception of Ambassadors and other official happenings were more likely to take place in the Banqueting House.

 

 

His Majesty had received Lord Mountjoy's request for a private audience, and it had finally been granted for late Thursday morning. Mountjoy's duties guarding the Queen interfered with it occurring on Tuesday, and His Majesty had other engagements on Wednesday and was secretly away. 

 

The Presence Chamber had been opened up again on Wednesday after being curiously (to most courtiers) closed Monday and Tuesday. 

 

Annoyed to the last end with being watched as if assassins were going to pour from windows, Charles had sent Arlington on something of a fool's errand just to be rid of him for the day. In fact, his only attendants in the Drawing Room were Captain Herbert and John Ashburnham. He had needed some younger blood around him. Unlike some of the older lords, who had known him when he was a youth, the younger ones never tried to schoolmaster him in such situations. They were far more likely to keep him in good cheer or stay in a companionable silence unless needed. Both were standing respectfully and handsomely at the ready to his side. And they were far more handsome and nice to look at than Old Plaster Nose (which was how Charles was - for that moment - referring to Arlington in his head). 

 

At the appointed time, that was how Lord Mountjoy would find his sovereign, sitting comfortably in an ensemble of navy blue brocade, his most expensive and fancy accoutrement was his shoes. 

 

Shoes were the King's favourite indulgence and the only thing about his own clothes he cared much about; his feet had not fared well in his younger years of flight and exile, and he had vowed never to allow them suffer any abuse again from too small and ill-fitting footwear! He was almost obsessive about shoes and preoccupied with choosing the most comfort for his tasks of the day. Charles was not a King who had brought several coats or sashes before allowing himself to be dressed, but he was known to refuse shoes and boots with regularity. 

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The delay in the granting of the audience was, considering the recent happenings, not unexpected. It was in fact welcome as it gave Mountjoy time to reflect upon the possible ramifications of his lady’s insistence on assuming guilt and what might be done to mollify her concerns. It had always been Blount’s practice to associate his encounters with the King with the subtraction of, rather than the addition of, problems that Charles Rex needed to resolve and to offer palatable alternatives to unpleasant decisions. This would not be one of those times however for, although it was well known that His Majesty was a gallant man who was loathe to distress a Lady, Mountjoy would not make it easy if His Majesty chose to do so in this case.   

At the appointed time, exactly, as Blount was unwaveringly punctual if at all humanly possible, the Marquis Mountjoy was announced and Blount advanced into the Drawing Room and bowed to the King. He had chosen one of his German suits which was of fine material and cut but otherwise stoically plain with only the barest of gold lace to catch the candle light to differentiate him from a cleric or well to do merchant. Like the King he also put great store in his shoes which were black leather with modest gold buckles each set with a table cut onyx. The heels, in light of the diplomatic state between France and England were not the gallic red of the French court but a deeper shade of red befitting St. George and England. Also, curiously enough considering the general somberness of his attire, the Marquis wore a royal blue ribbon upon his breast from which hung the Thames Medal which the King had awarded for service during the assassination attempt upon his life not so long ago.

Blount was not above subtle (or not) iconography.

Recovering from his bow he glanced upon the sparsely inhabited room. Again this was not unexpected given the sensitive nature of the likely topic. Noting the King’s two attendants, younger gentlemen than the usual bevy of advisors. The king was probably chafing at the protectiveness of his household and this was likely the minimum escort he could reasonably get away with. He was a bit surprised that Arlington was not in attendance and wondered if the King had him sticking his plastery beak into other matters.

“It pleases me to inform Your Majesty that Lord Kingston and I have passed the past couple evenings at cards with no more excitement than poor Kingston’s purse being a trifle lighter than before and that nothing occurred to cause us trepidation or hinted to any overt threat to the Queen. Your majesty may rest assured that Her Majesty is attended to most diligently and protected most discretely.”

That was not the main reason for the requested audience and the King doubtless had already been informed but he though it prudent to begin with what was surely uppermost in the King’s mind and offer reassurances to quell any anxiety.

“It is fortunately not a matter directly concerning the threat to Her Majesty that brings me here today but that of another exalted Lady. When the nature of the plot became known and the… decisions… of the Lady approached to carry out this treason became known we were all shocked to the core but no one more so than the Margravina, Lady Mountjoy is so devoted to Her Majesty that she has taken the occurrence of those decisions as a personal stain upon her honor and upon her conduct as Mistress to the Queen. She feels that she ultimately bears responsibility for reluctance of the Lady to come forth and expose the plot and that the Lady’s actions are a result of a failure on her part to perform her duties and protect the Queen.  While her devotion to Her Majesty remains steadfast, she is convinced that she has somehow failed in her charge to the Queen and no longer has the trust and confidence of Your Majesty.”

He paused for a moment and his hand absently patted his left pocket which contained Ursula’s letter. “Distraught with the prospect of harm being done to your Queen or your child she has written a letter of resignation as Mistress of the Robes which I am honor bound to present to you.” He stepped forward and drew an unsealed letter from his right pocket which he presented to Charles Rex. “Sire, I seek nothing more in life than service and loyalty to the Crown and to my family. If heads must roll I will spare you from punishing a blameless Lady and hereby offer my own resignation as Your Majesty’s Solicitor General and Master of Horse to the Queen.”  

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The King chuckled when Mountjoy said that the only happening was that Kingston had left with his purse a little lighter. 

 

I would not put it above the cub to lose on purpose, the King thought, and then idly wondered whether he had or not. 

 

"Then, my lord, what is said to that is nothing other than how fortuitous it is that Kingston has lofty patronage!" He snorted with amusement. Whether he was referring to himself or Buckingham was anyone's best guess. In this case, it was Buckingham, as he was now looking forward to telling George to recompense the boy. There was still some sibling-like glee that could be found with such things, and divesting the duke of his coin was always fun. 

 

The King then listened to Mountjoy's true explanation for his requested audience. At first, His Majesty was not completely certain he was following what was being said. It was only after a moment that he realized Lord Mountjoy was talking about the second plot, not the murder that had started their vigil, which was another plot indeed, but the whole Davina Wellsley business. 

 

Buckingham had filled him in on the goings on with that, twice, and had referred her use to the Northern Secretary, who would hopefully soon be giving her instruction through an intermediary of how to behave if she was contacted by these Papist plotters again. They would have close watch of her, and they would find the truth out one way or another. The thought of an attempted poisoning of his Queen and child made him rumble with dissatisfaction even though it had been thwarted. He could not understand why the silly little girl had not told a soul, immediately. There were many what ifs that Davina Wellsley was lucky had not happened. 

 

Then Mountjoy's speech came to a head. His Majesty was about to protest that when Mountjoy's speech came to a second head.

 

His Majesty blinked and then his dark eyebrows popped up, half of them now hidden by the styling of his periwig.

 

The entire company of the room was so stunned that two pairs of eyes instantly looked sideways at the King, which they generally never needed to do, to see if the King actually wished them to hand him said letters. 

 

Charles truly had to fight more than a chuckle at the extravagant display, so he was silent as he collected his sovereign words and bearing, understanding how very serious Lord and Lady Mountjoy must be. 

 

With the slightest gesture of the hand, he waved off Captain Herbert and Jack. 

 

Then he said to Lord Mountjoy simply, "No, my lord, we shall not have it." He had to take a breath and disguise it as a sigh to not chuckle then, too. 

 

When he spoke again he said, "So that the fears of your lady wife might be assuaged, what precisely is her reasoning for this action? In what way does she feel she has failed us?"

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It was fortunate that when the King refused the letters he took a breath to sigh as Mountjoy let out his own sigh at the same time. To be honest he expected the King to answer the way he did but it still was nerve racking as one could never be sure. He had the urge to say ‘A wise decision Sire.’ But felt that given the circumstances that would be a bit too cheeky given the circumstances. Buckingham might have been able to pull off such a comment but Mountjoy knew his place and kept the thought to himself. He did however bow again and state “As always Sire you are most just and gracious sovereign.”

 

The King’s next statement was a question not so easily answered and caused him to reflect a moment. “Well Your Majesty, I am confident that I need not explain to you the crotchets of high-bred German ladies and the Margravina, is nothing if not German and high-bred. The… Lady in question actions…” he chose to be cryptic regarding Davina’s name as he was not sure how confidential the King wished to keep the matter. “…was so past understanding in keeping the plot to herself that the Margravina, that is to say Lady Mountjoy, believed the explanation must be that she had failed to instill trust in the Queens Ladies thereby preventing… the other Lady… from being forthright and thus increasing the danger to her Majesty. She also indicated that some of the other Ladies may not understand or perhaps even resent the need for the strictness and probity she demands of the Queen’s Ladies.” It was well known that the King himself preferred his ladies to be less strict and proper but Mountjoy also knew that Charles Rex was astute enough to allow for double standards in his desires as a man and as a King.

 

He took a breath for the last part was venturing into perilous waters for woe betide a man to get between sparring women.

 

“She convinced herself that such a lapse betrayed the trust Your Majesties had placed in her and that you no longer had confidence in her ability and judgement. As this was a situation she could not bear she thought the only solution was to tender her resignation. As she was distraught at the thought of facing you in person and would not burden the Queen at such a time, I promised that I would deliver her letter to Your Majesty. With the Queen in confinement the Margravine has been consumed with caring for her charge and I believe this added burden has pushed her to the limit. If that is indeed the case, I know it would reassure her to no end if I, on your behalf, can explain to her that you do not hold her to blame and that she still retains your trust and respect.”

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"Ah, yes, the highborn German ladies. We all know too well," Charles Rex said, chuckling despite the gravitas of Lord Mountjoy's wife.

 

There was an aspect of this that was pleasing, for it was true that the tendering of such a resignation was traditionally expected for any failing, but Charles had never aspired to be like his father (or his mother) in that way. After his own life, Charles did not wish to be the inflictor of harsh realities on others, and he wished to be a King who was loved. It seemed a better way to keep one's head on one's shoulders.

 

But there must always be respect for his Kingship, even if he preferred the more light-hearted of affairs.

 

"Lady Mountjoy's reasoning might hold some truth if the lady had chosen to go to someone else right away," the King replied, simply. "Elsewise, Mountjoy, I do not see how Mistress Wellsley's behavior can be attributed just to a mistrust of your lady wife, her superior, and not to a general lack of some kind. For to be sure, there are none who understand the girl's actions as being sense. This is not your dear lady's fault. There has been no failing in her service to the Queen by anyone's mouth."

 

Then the king did something strange for him, for his words were quite cross, "And if the ladies and maids to Her Majesty do not like that your lady wife holds them to the standard Her Majesty wishes, then there are plenty of young ladies who would replace them and do their duties with light hearts. The whole lot of them could be replaced, methinks, before Her Majesty would think to remove your lady wife and in that we are in agreement." The firmness of that statement was in contrast to the King's usual disposition. He had raged when George had told him,  one of the few people he raged either to or at, and he was not a King predisposed to such strength of negative emotion.

 

THere was a nod to himself and then an afterthought, "And Lady Mountjoy can even call the gentlemen to heel." He chuckled more. "Which is quite the feat here at court frequently." When he sent gentlemen to do anything with the Queen's household, he sent those with the disposition for it, as he had Kingston, rather than someone not well suited (like Rochester or Sedley), but that did not save any of the ladies from dealing with the courtiers at large and many of them were raucous (and worse). That Lady Mountjoy could keep the Queen happy with such a dichotomously opposed situation at large was something or a miracle to Charles, sacreligious or not!

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With the matters of the resignations and of blame addressed the tone of the conversation did lose some of its formality and solemnness as a great weight was lifted from Mountjoy’s shoulders. “I am heartened by Your Majesty’s magnanimity for it can only increase the esteem and regard of those who serve you.” The king was not a harsh master and having been in uncomfortable positions himself was ready to ease uncomfortable positions in others. But he was still the King so his stern words regarding those that would serve him were not totally out of character. Especially if the matters concerned the welfare of his wife and child.

 

He bowed in acceptance. “You speak wisely Sire and with great wisdom. In fact, I said something very much in the same vein to the Margravina.” He smiled cheekily for his self-complimenting way of flattering the King. “I am sure that once her confidence is restored, which is inevitable given your Majesty’s remarks, that she will ensure that her Majesty is served with the utmost competency. As for her ability to keep the gentlemen in heel I must take some credit for that myself as I frequently provide Lady Mountjoy with the opportunity to practice that skill.”

 

He thought of what the King said about Davina. “It very well could be that the perpetrators were aware of undercurrents within the Queen’s Ladies and sought to use that to their advantage. It is easy enough to spread around some coin for information and gossip is plentiful with or without coin.” He began to think and plot. It would be satisfying to quash these doubts and have Ursula reestablish firm rule over the Ladies but might there be an advantage in continuing the scheming. “Majesty, my purpose of coming here today was to end the uncertainty and eliminate any avenue of threat to the Queen. My judgement may have been clouded by my personal feelings. I have no wish to foster division within the Queen’s Ladies but what if, with the Margravina’s cooperation, we continue to give the outward appearance that there are fractures within her household or indeed create a fracture to entice the malefactors to make another attempt but from a direction we are aware of and would be able to counter and expose the perpetrators. I hesitate for there could be some risk but if indeed Mistress Wellsley was misguided and not malicious her naiveté could be put to use.”

 

He was taking a risk for if anything were to happen to the Queen because of this his resignation would indeed deserved to be accepted and that Ursula would need to endure the stain upon her character as the deception played out. He was thus putting both his professional as well as his private life at risk.     

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"Your diligence and concern is noted, my lord," the King began, back to his more usual tone and tempo, rather than the crossness he had demonstrated just moments before.

 

"Unfortunately, it would be counterproductive to encourage such a thing whilst Her Majesty is with child. There are other methods of discovering the identities of the wrongdoers which are being seen to from multiple avenues without needing any dramatic disruption where there ought be quietude."

 

In other words, there were those in his employ more geared toward such methodologies. It was better for those learned in such espionage to see to the undertaking lest he wind up with more Mistress Wellsleys...thinking they could do something outside of their duties and learning and neglect their actual duties. That was, if her story was to be believed.

 

"It is of more importance to focus on the household and the Queen's protection so that a repeat is not attempted."

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“Very well Sire, it is reassuring to know that Your Majesty is well served in all matters. I know I speak for the Margravina as well as myself when I say that in regards to devotion to the Queen and to her soon to be child we cede place to no one in the kingdom but yourself.” He then relaxed a bit more. “I confess that although I am willing and would do all that I can do to protect the Queen I am not a man well suited for the cloak and dagger but am more proficient in the robe and staff.”

 

It was true that the King possessed the services of more capable men in the use of the dagger and though Mountjoy was a capable agent for using the law as sword and shield he was cognizant of his limitations and did not resent keeping within those bounds.

 

“With the Queen’s lying in there has not been much demand for the services of her stables so my duties in that area have been light. I had a mind to entertain Her Majesty, who is inordinately fond of my hunting stories, but the Margravina reckons such tales might be too adventurous for someone in such a childly state and has beseeched me to reconsider. It grieves me dearly to deny Her Majesty such pleasures but we all must make allowances for the sake of the child.”

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After a few moments pause Mountjoy added “Again I thank your Majesty for the confidence you have shown. If there is anything else your majesty has but to command and I shall obey.”

The prime subject of this audience had been discussed and resolved so Mountjoy, in consideration of the demands on the King’s time, sought to facilitate a expeditious ending of the audience unless the king had other matters to discuss. He was also anxious to reassure the Margravina that her fears were unjustified.

 

 

[OOC: with the approaching season change just putting a period on a thread that has run its course.]

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