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Reception: Side Thread Davina and Langdon


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When he said that the house could not be sold in its present shape was that in reference to this supposed haunting or something else entirely?

He knew that she was Catholic and also what she had been suspect of and she knew also his feeling towards Catholics.

"Then I must apologize for that was what I imagined you meant. I am glad to hear that you will not pursue that way. But by 'other ways' I do not understand what you mean but perhaps tis better that way. For all of us."

"Well you must do with it as you please. Just have a care."

They may no longer be together but old feelings died hard and if she were honest there still lingered the possibility of sleeping together again. If he offered she might well agree.

He told her about Dorchester House but did not seen well informed as to who occupied rooms there.

"How can you not know who lives there? Saying that they're all 'ladies from good homes' means nothing. Did you check their stories and families to make sure twas Safe to have then there and for others to be around them?"

"Telling me tis a safe place yet you know nothing of backgrounds makes me rather leery no matter that you are Landlord."

Her words may sound teasing but she was serious.

"I shall have to think very carefully about going there. Lady Oakham?"

She was surprised at her mention. 

"Are you acquainted with her? How funny that that you brought her name up for I was intending to speak to her. She has a Garden Society from last Season that I was hoping was to be revived. I do hope she comes to Windsor." 

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"Fear not, I shall be careful," Charles pledged.  That was unlikely.  He did not wish to share further details, at least not now.

"I like to think I have many skills, but administering a ladies boarding house is not one of them," he replied to Davina's concern.  "There is a matron that acts as chaperone and oversees the place and servants.  I have hired a clerk to handle all financial matters.  He sends me a report each month about revenue and occupancy.  The matron makes decisions who comes and goes.  I defer to her mostly, but I could overrule her."  Darlene had shown great interest in taking on responsibility as the Lady of Dorchester House, which had surprised Charles.  He was only too happy to delegate that to her, though their current strained relationship made that unlikely.  "There have been no scandals of which I am aware and I am assured that Mrs. Williams is doing a fine job in selecting ladies as boarders."  He hoped his answers would be satisfactory.

As for the question about knowing Darlene, Charles had foregone an attempt to treat their friendship as a clandestine affair, so he was prepared to say some of the truth.  "Oh yes, I know her well," he confessed, attempting to make it sound innocent.  It was best not to be caught in a lie about such things.  "We met years ago when she arrived at court.  She married my good friend Thomas Hamilton.  Now that he has passed and she returned to court, we have spent time together recollecting good things and looking out for one another.  I have not heard from her this past recess, so I do not know if she will be attending.  I hope so."  Charles could only hope that he had walked a fine balance of showing both a closeness and something of a distance. 

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"Well thank you for that. I did not relish having to add another worry to my already lengthly list. And you must not be foolish in whatever manner you seek resolution."

She had the right to express herself in all seriousness for they had shared an intimacy that went beyond simple friendship. He was now tucked neatly away in that special place but she was kidding herself if she imagined that he was forgot altogether. Her body reacted to his nearness as if it had a will of its own and his scent filled her memory adding to the slow ache deep in her belly. Breathing in she pushed them away as she dug a fingernail into the flesh of her palm turning her attentions back to what he was saying.

"Yes I see now. All done with such Military thinking. You have left none to chance so it seems and your Mrs. Williams sounds a Paragon! It all sounds a bit too perfect but then that is none of my worry."

"I think I shall still think about your offer. There is no immediate rush as I have said I am here for the time being. And if Baintree and his new bride return and I am not wanted then I am fine here."

He talked of Lady Oakham and the fact that he knew her well gave her pause but them he added that she had married his friend so it seemed that his was more of a brotherly affection and now a widow he continued in that vein.

"That is a nice thing you do Charles. I am sure she must appreciate you for that. Her late husband would be thankful no doubt that you are caring for his wife still."

"if you chance upon her will you ask her if she would be interested in meeting with me? About assisting me with the designs of Prince Rupert."

"We are well attended I see."

She gazed out over the assembled Company her eyes going here and there.

"Perhaps Lady Oakham will come. Oh there ..." 

She nodded her head a bit in the direction of a woman clearly great with child.

"It would seem that the Countess has no qualms about being seen. She has not changed hardly at all from when I met her. Still doing as she pleases."

"I tried to help her when she first came to Court and she was clueless and determined to do as she wished with no care for anything."

"Yet she is married now and if her husband allows it who can criticize?"

"Soon there shall be an other baby and I must wish her well in what is to come. She is still young."

If her words held somewhat of a double meaning it could not be helped. For he too was or would soon be a father as well. 

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His answers seemed to satisfy her.  As such, he relaxed.  Davina even complimented him for being nice to Darlene.  He had not expected that; but, as he thought further on it, it did sound charitable.  "Thomas asked me to look after her."  He added that point purposefully.

There was little point thinking about it now but Charles had dreaded telling Davina that he was engaged to Darlene.  In practicing what he might tell her to help her understand, he had thought it might be helpful to stretch the truth and explained that he was fulfilling a promise to Thomas by marrying her to protect her,  It almost sounded noble, especially when he practiced the words in the mirror.  Yet, now Darlene would not even speak with him, so the problem was moot.

Davina then asked him to speak with Darlene on her behalf.  Not likely.  "It would be best if you asked her," he offered.  "It will seem more genuine if it came from you.  Otherwise she might think I arranged it."  That seemed perfectly plausible to him.  "She is upset at me anyway."  He would leave it at that.

Davina turned her attention to Sophia, a lady he knew somewhat.  "I did not know she was so ... in need of help."  He did not know anything of Sophia's follies, other than the time she and Lady Monmouth wanted to go through a window.  "The lady seems well along.  I am not sure I would come to court when I was that far along," he ventured.  Had he been her husband, he would have left her in the country.

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His reaction to asking Lady Oakham to meet out of character to what he had just told her abut the two of them.

"Ah ..." She gave a small nod in understanding. "You must have done something bad enough if she is that upset."

"But I shall not pry and so shall accept your reasonings. I will look out for her myself then."

"When she was still Kingston's ward and newly arrive her she was quite set in her ways and did not shy away from voicing her thoughts. At all."

"I wanted to try to help ease her way but whatever I said seems to not take hold. Her thoughts on how she should behave or think or act was the opposite of what those of our sex would be."

"I became frustrated and near enough to snapping and so I gave up. But I hoped that, given time, she would mature and begin to understand how she needed to change some aspects of herself."

"But even tho she is married and an Ambassadors wife she has not changed. I suppose that must be what Lord Toledo found attractive .... Perhaps that kind of behaviors will play out in the Spanish Court?"

"As you see she appears to not be bothered in the slightest."

"Heigh Ho."

She sipped her wine aware that this was a stilted conversation between them.

Was it possible that they each wanted to saw other things but the setting was not right? To be fair he had made attempts to see her when she had returned back to London but she, in her wronged-mind state, had refused to see him or accept anything that he had sent. He had wounded her deeply. Broke her heart when he had said he would not marry her if she were as Catherine Sadley was and found herself pregnant with his child. She had thought she knew him body and soul but that too had proved wrong. Was he ready to marry Sedley at last or not? Would he publicly acknowledge the child as his - by doing so he had to provide care for it and the mother but did not necessarily have to marry her. But his child was still bastard-born and could not inherit by Law and none would think ill of him for choosing one or the other or doing nothing at all.

How fortunate men were.

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Charles was left to wonder how much to reveal about Darlene.  If he said nothing more, Davina would receive a one-sided broadside from Darlene about how bad a man he was.  Blazing cannons.  Might it be better to paint some of the story from his own perspective?  It touched upon a sensitive topic for her -- marriage.  He did not have much time to dwell on the topic.  Should he be the one to broach it or leave it to others?  Davina seemed amenable enough.  If he angered her, she might just storm off.  Maybe that would look good in front of the assembly that were watching them.  Maybe a toe in the water.

"She thinks I should marry Catherine Sedley" he sighed as he looked at Charles Sedley.  That was true, but not the whole truth. "So does her father.  But Catherine is a libertine and there were no expectations."  He paused to see if she would react poorly.  "I apologize.  I should not have raised such a topic to you."

The other topic was safer.  "Are you saying Lady Toledo was a hellion?"  He found himself chuckling at the thought.  "Hellions do not marry Spaniards.  I am told they have no tolerance for such things."

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She had not expected him to be so forthright on the unsaid subject.

It was not a topic that she had imagined to be discussed in such a time and place but now she had no choice. Well she did but if she were to storm off in some show of anger or displeasure then who knew what tales would begin to circulate about Windsor.

"Ah so Lady Oakham knows of your ... predicament? How strange yet not so as you have said that you two are close."

"So this is what has made her upset with you? She advises to marry for what the sake of the child or the mother or both?"

"Of course Sedley wants you to marry her! Who would not want such a fine son-in-law as you - an Earl with an estate as well as a Military position. Much higher than any of those that wait in the wings nursing hopes that will be unfulfilled."

She did not care if she besmirched the others character everyone knew about her history.

"Ah. Libertine or not she will have to do as her father commands. She has no choice. As her father he can do as he likes with her. What she wants will not matter."

"And you? What do YOU want Charles? You say you both had no expectations  ...."

She stopped and drew in a breath. And then offered him back an apology of her own.

"No tis I that must say that. I have no right to say what I did let alone think it matters. We were lovers that is all. I have no right to interfere in your Life just as you no right in mine."

Lady Toledo was then revisited.

"Hellion? No. She was and is set upon a course of her own making not caring about what others' think."

"And I think you are right - the Spanish Court would not be amused by her either."

She removed her gaze from that Lady and let it travel about the room looking at none own particular or any group for that matter. Perhaps it was time to take her leave. She did not want to leave on a sour note.

"Well I have to say this and then I shall take my leave"

Her eyes met his and she whispered 

"No matter our past I just wish for you to find whatever it is that you seek. I want nothing to happen to you."

"Do not mistreat Sedley even tho I do not like her. And the babe holds no fault and is blameless. You must do what you must do."

She laid a hand on his arm and leaned in a bit blinking at the sudden wetness in her eyes.

"May God keep You Safe Charles. Perhaps, one day, we can remember with affection our times together."

She stepped back and gave him a curtsey and then turned and walked away.

She did not look back.

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As for Lady Sophia, maybe Davina was intending to paint her as a libertine rather than a hellion.  Were not libertines those that did what they wished without a care for propriety?  "I see."

Charles should have been more careful in broaching the topic of Catherine Sedley.  He thought that discussing it in a matter of fact manner would help.  He also thought it might be good about saying why Darlene was upset before Davina spoke with her.  It seemed a good defensive move in the moment; but, he was starting to regret it.  Davina controlled herself reasonably, but Charles could tell that she was still hurt about the end of things between them.  He did not like seeing her hurt.

He dared not say anything as she spoke.  It likely would dig himself a deeper hole.  "I understand," he said softly.  "I feel the same."  That is all he allowed himself on the subject as a comforting way to end the conversation as she took her leave.  He gave her a parting nod and then made sure he did not watch her leave.  He was sure they were being watched, so his eyes moved to observe the crowd again.

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