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Cordelia and Henry - Plots and Plans

Henry Grey

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Once Henry was fairly certain that they would not be overheard, he began: “I have not only been overseeing repairs at Codnor and working on my research. I have also been pondering which families would be convenient to ally with…” If one wanted to pay attention to gossip, the amount of material that could be gathered was enormous. The key was to know what was important… and what was true. Lord Grey hoped that his analysis and synthesis was correct.

“If what I have heard is true, the Earl of Dorset has unchivalrously decided not to honour his engagement commitment, something that does not speak well of his character, I am afraid”. And if what I have heard is true, it was due to having another woman, which is even worse. That was left unstated, of course. “Which leads me to my first candidate. Would you be so kind as to approach their Graces Newcastle and state my interest in forming a marriage alliance with them through their daughter, Lady Frances?”

Henry expected Cordelia to be surprised. He was aiming far above what a Baron should. Still…

“I know I am only a baron, but my title is ancient, my estate turns a tidy profit every year, and my family name is well known and respected. My distant relations are titled. Still, should they consider me unsuitably low to marry their daughter…” Lord Grey’s eye twinkled with mischief. “… should they consider me unsuitable, you could suggest that they spread the rumour that I approached, and they declined. It should prove to others that their daughter is valued and sought after”. It was a bold move. But boldness got one places. “They would owe you if they were to act on your idea, would they not?” And you would owe me, but that is so ungallant to voice.

The baron paused for a moment, letting his words sink in before adding: “And in the unlikely event that they decline to follow your advice because they would rather not offend me, you could say that you would make sure to convince me not to be”. Then they would not only owe you, but also me… “Alliances between families are not only forged through marriages, do you not think? They can sometime start when one person can prove useful to another...”

A bold thought, and so the reason for privacy. I wounder what she thinks?

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She allowed herself to be led to a safer distance and then waited patiently for him to continue. Letting him do so without interruption gave her time to gather her thoughts and the direction his thoughts were taking were indeed interesting.

She covered her surprise as he named the one he was interested in.

"Well what you have heard is true. Naturally one must account for it all as gossip but I can say with certainty that there is no contract between Dorset and Newcastle."

"So you have  .... lists then? And Newcastles's daughter Frances the first?"

"And why her? What about her has captured your attentions? Have you any acquaintance with the Family or the Lady herself? 

"You are indeed aiming high and it would seem you even have a counter attack prepared."

She waited for him to answer her questions all the while thinking

well well Lord Grey you have indeed returned a changed man and one who wants to make use of me to feather you nest but then also have the parties involved also owe. You are weaving a tangled web indeed   .......

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Henry knew that his first choice would be the most complicated one. The other two he had in mind would be far easier to attain, he thought. But it seemed the rumour mill was correct, and that there was no betrothal contract between Newcastle and Dorse. Good! So even if I am not accepted, the second part of the plan may still bear fruit. Being useful to someone in power tended to yield good results, History showed.

“I do have a short list, yes. Three possibilities. And His Grace Newcastle’s daughter is first on the list, yes. As to the reasons…” It was quite simple. “The main reason for choosing a family alliance with the Newcastles is… you”. A pause. “I need to marry to have an heir. But I want your friendship. Other choices, like the Dowager Marchioness of Winchester, for example, would make keeping my friendship with you much more difficult. So, the Marchioness is not on my list”. Another titbit of court gossip Lord Grey had picked up was the competition between Cavendishes and Howards to be the premier noble family of England. Another pause. “A second point in Lady Frances’ favour are her uncle, the Earl of Devonshire, and her cousin, Lord Cavendish. Both were elected fellows of the Royal Society in 1663. The extended family shows interest in science, a field that I hold extremely dear”.

“As for me having met the young lady, I would not dare do so without her father’s approval. And Their Graces I have not met either, as I have not been provided with an introduction yet”. For the Baron, marriages were all about family alliances. He would do what the House of Gray needed him to do, within the limits of law and propriety, while Lady Frances would do what her father told her to do. It was that simple.

“The Cavendishes hold a lofty title, yes, one I respect very much, as it was earned in service of the King. But Fate can be cruel, heirs can die…” a brief moment of pain as he remembered his dead brother. “… and titles can be lost. But family alliances and what they represent tend to last a long, long time, and new titles can be gained”. It had always been so, and Henry would indeed strive to gain one. Those families that had gone against their extended family relations had tended not to do as well over the generations as those that presented a united front with them. “So yes, I may be aiming high, but I do not see it as impossible”.

Henry patted Cordelia’s arm. “That particular alliance would see us not only be friends, but also become family, my lady”. Which meant that her son would be able to count on Lord Grey as an ally. It was the way of things. “But that is only my first choice, there are still two more. Would you like to know who they are?”

Edited by Henry Grey
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"You have my friendship already Lord Grey but the complement is accepted."

That she was a bit taken back by his admission and his straightforwardness could be seen in the slight rise of an eyebrow.

"So you want to gain a bride for the continuance of your Line but a bigger part is her relations of which you seem admiring of."

"I cannot fault you for the first but wonder at the importance placed on the second. Should the importance not be with the Lady Frances and the rest seen as a lucky condition of the marriage?"

"Ah so you have no acquaintance at all. You know I can not speak for either the Duke or the Duchess and any advice or help I give may not bring about what you hope for."

"But there is one thing that you must be aware of ...... neither I or Cavendish will see Frances forced into marriage. I do not hold with that principle that daughters are to be held hostage for an alliance."

"I am not saying that you have no chance but I can provide an introduction if that is your wish. The Duchess is best to begin with. For it is those of my sex that ferret out the information as well as possible matches. Then, if we are satisfied and the daughter has no true objection, the Duke will be brought into the idea. He will, naturally, have the final say."

She glanced down as he pattered her arm.


Well this was an interesting turn. To be aligned to Cavendish by marriage would, according to his calculations, make them kin. And thus what? Was he hinting that if that happened then he would look after herself and her son?

This put a whole other dimension to it.

She was not at all sure how she felt but at the moment it was not sitting well. She was a widow and as such had learned and managed on her own well enough to this point. 

She however gave him a smile of encouragement saying

"But of course! And so tell me of these other two. Shall I be surprised as well?

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Henry noticed the raised elbow. Had he been privy to Cordelia’s thoughts, he would have turned a dark shade of beet red, not because of shame, but because of confusion. To him, marriage was not a romantic affair. It was a social contract in which he would, God willing, sire an heir, while in return providing for his wife’s every need, and showing her every courtesy. That he was not taking into consideration the bride to be’s emotional needs was totally lost on him. Cordelia’s further words confirmed that there were things he was just not seeing. Had the lady not told him to consider the process an experiment? The baron was going at it with the strictest of analytical rigours, or so he thought, at least. Women. Too many unknown, and probably unknowable, variables. This is not an experiment in which I am bound to find a solution unaided. At least that conclusion was correct, one that was arrived at as the lady glanced down at his patting of her arm.

The more Lady Lucas spoke, the more confused Henry looked. When she finished explaining things, he had understood almost nothing, except for being certain of his inability to understand. “For I was conscious that I knew practically nothing...”, he murmured, sheepishly quoting Plato.

“My dear Lady Lucas, please forgive me. I must have misunderstood when you told me to take this as an experiment. I now see that academic rigour cannot be applied to the subject of finding a suitable bride…” Henry looked lost. “I now realize that my need of your help is far greater than I realized. I may know a thing or two about optics, but I know nothing about marriage, or how to get to that sacred state…”. He did not mean the physical act, of course. That he had no problem with whatsoever. But the social and personal unwritten rules of how to get to the marriage bed he was totally clueless about. “Perhaps we should restart this conversation…”

He paused for a moment, using the short time to put his thoughts in order.

“My first choice is Lady Frances, yes. If you, her family, and herself think it is a good idea, she would be my pick. The second is the Earl of Pembroke’s sister. I hear she is a maid of honour to the Queen, may Her Majesty live to be a hundred. The third is the Earl of Brooke’s daughter, Lady Doneraile, a young widow that has already have children. I have not met any of them in person, nor their families, but the theory…” there Henry stopped and looked at Cordelia fully showing in his expression that he finally understood that theory and reality probably did not match. “… in theory any of them would make a good match”. Lord Grey had a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each possible match, but he thought they were not as important as factors he had not taken into consideration.

“I bow to your wisdom, though. If you consider any of them unsuitable for me or me unsuitable for them, I will defer. If you consider any other young ladies suitable, I will listen. Plato was correct. I know practically 2nothing”.

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And now it all made sense. She shook her head a bit and then laid her own hand on his arm.

"Dear oh dear. Indeed I did tell you that but it was I that did not have the forethought to see that a scientific man such as yourself would see it as something else."

"But you cannot be faulted for you have done an excellent job of compiling what you think is necessary to reach your objective which is to have an heir."

"And it is nonsense to say that 'you know nothing'! You have a fine mind Lord Grey it just needs a gentle push into another direction."

She held his glance as she quietly talked. She had no intention of demeaning him. 

"Now let us start afresh."

"You must put aside your theories of marriage for the moment. Yet to be honest you are right is rather like a science - the mixing of different ingredients to create something."

She was fully aware of a man's Pride and so she wanted to make sure she did not damage his.

"Lady Frances is not a bad choice. It holds many merits as you have put forth to align Grey with Newcastle."

"Pembroke .... well that might be something to think more upon. The Earl is very well know for his violent tendencies. As for Lady Susan I have no acquaintance of hers but I have seen her about. And yes she is a Maid of Honor ."

"It may be difficult for you with Pembroke and I have no idea as to how high he wants to aim for a match."

"Lord Brooke's daughter I do not know a thing about. Well that she already has children is a good sign that she is fertile. And if you have a son then HE will inherit not one she already has."

"You must understand that your bride comes into your House but You will be aligned with her family through that marriage. If that family has any ..... unsuitabilities  ...... then your name may be dragged in."

"I am not saying that marrying Pembroke's sister will then create issues but given his past histories I would advise caution and further thoughts."

She paused and glanced back out into the room.

"If you look there ..." She pointed to the area when the Cavendish clan were milling about. "Lady Frances is dressed in a sage green brocade gown."

"I must say I think her quite Brave to come. She was badly treated by Dorset in the whole business."

"And those at Court are notoriously unkind. 'Everyone' is hoping that the two come face to face. But the Lady is too well bred to make a scene."

"Indeed her appearance will put to rest that she is distraught and is shut away in her rooms."

"The Duke was set on Dorset as she would be a double Countess. I can say with some assurances that the Lady holds no sorrow that it has been dissolved."

If Lord Grey was indeed wanting Lady Frances then Cordelia would help all she could.

With Lady Frances at least Contracted then she was free to help the Duchess with the younger sister.

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Henry visibly relaxed. His face, and his shoulders, lost their tightness as he sighed, taking it all in. Yes, he had misunderstood. I must remember that my definition of experiment is probably very different from what most everyone at court would think. But damage seemed to be averted, as Cordelia rested her hand on his arm once again.

“I promise to put aside my rigorous method of looking at things scientific, and to be a quick and willing study on how to best approach the prospect of marriage”. Lord Grey then fell silent as Lady Lucas voiced her thoughts about Lady Frances, Lady Susan, and Lady Doneraile. “I agree with your assessment. Although the Earl of Pembroke is a cousin of His Grace Buckingham, his… conduct… might pose a problem. He is also a double earl, so he might want more than a Baron for his only sister”.  Still, if need be, perhaps His Grace could say a word in my favour. “As for Lady Doneraile, she just came up in my research. I do not know much about her or her family”.  Still, if nothing comes out of the other two choices…

Then, it was the Baron’s turn to be surprised. “The young lady dressed in the sage-green brocade gown? I happened to notice her as I arrived”. He turned away quickly to face Cordelia, lest his staring was noticed. "Her back is straight, her chin is up, and her manner elegant. Her ensemble speaks of restrained wealth. She does much credit to her family". If something like what Dorset had done ever happened to a daughter of his, Henry hoped that she would behave exactly like that.

A good Lady Grey she would make, I am certain. She is well-bred and has steel in her.

“I believe an introduction to Her Grace Cavendish is in order, as you mentioned. Then, should she consider me suitable, perhaps the next step could be decided on”. One step at a time, just like when doing research.

“Oh… there is something else I wanted to talk to you about. I have a distant cousin, Lady Alice Bayning. She wrote to me. Her daughter Eleanor is coming to court, and she asked me to help her when I can. Perhaps I can introduce her to you? I am certain she would thrive under you influence…”

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She had been right to stroke his ego and his outward sigh was proof enough that she had succeeded.

"When I spoke it was not with the intent to have you stop what is familiar to you. I only ask that open your thoughts to other ways than what you only know now."

"Buckingham it would seem has a finger in many lives and that is not bad nor good. And you are seeing now that everything must be weighted - benefits verses problems. And you are right in thinking that the right partner makes all the difference."

She watched as he followed her direction but then was quick to turn back. He even said that he had noticed her ....

"There is nothing incorrect about looking about the assembled Company - how else can you watch what goes on as well as bring attention to yourself?"

"I hardly think that the Lady in question or anyone for that matter would think that your focus was to her."

She had to chuckle a bit at him. 

"You have made a good description of a first impression. She is indeed a credit. But there is more to her than meets the eye and, if providence allows, you will come to know."

"Then I shall ask for one. There will be plenty of opportunities here this Season both formal and in a more relaxed environment."

"The Duchess knows of you naturally and she will, as I have said, make inquiries. You should not take any offense for none in intended."

He then added in a new subject  ......

"So this Mistress Eleanor is to stay with you and have your protection?"

She frowned a bit at this news.

"You do see that she cannot just live in your residence? You have no wife nor is there the presence of an older woman. Hardly acceptable even if she has a maid of her own with her."

"This behavior I do find odd. I see so many unattended ladies now days with no benefit of a chaperone, sponsor, or other female relative arriving to Court."

Ah now it was clear. So she was to take up this fledgling she was supposing? Was that why he wanted to introduce her?

Well she would have a good look and then make a decision.


She must now decline any further offers (other than matrimonial) for help as her plate was just brimming over. 

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Had Henry but thought of it, a large part of what he wanted would have been accomplished by marrying Cordelia. Alas, the most important element, the siring of an heir, would not have been possible. Thus, the thought was not considered. Sad.

“I will limit my usual methods to natural philosophy then, while accepting yours in this endeavour”. Easy enough… or is it? “I agree with you though; everything has good and bad points. As for looking about at court functions, I had never considered that it was not only useful, but also somewhat expected. Now, regarding bringing attention to myself, Lady Lucas, that is something I have tried to avoid most of my life, so it will take a bit to get used to the notion”. A scientist with an ego was far easier prey for those who would steal their secrets. This is not going to be easy…

“I am certain that there is a lot more to Lady Frances than what meets the eye. The fact that she attended this event speaks volumes about her strength of character”. Something that was in Lord Grey’s eyes an important characteristic in a prospective wife. Lady Grey of Codnor would most probably become a widow after some years, and Henry needed someone who would not squander his fortune, nor tarnish his family name. My son needs a Lady Mother who will guide him after I am gone.

Lady Lucas then mentioned that Her Grace Newcastle would make inquiries about him. For a moment, the man of science went through his list of acquaintances, looking for anyone that would be objectionable. He found none. His finances were solid, more so than those of many peers, and his scientific work would benefit the Three Kingdoms if and when he made a breakthrough. All in all, Lord Grey thought of himself as a good prospect. “Her Grace Newcastle is more than welcome to make inquiries. I have nothing to hide”. That was untrue, but what he hid would not be found… it was irrelevant to the matter at hand. “As for time and place to meet, I can make myself available with but a couple of hours’ notice if message is sent to the house I rent in town. Much quicker if I am here in the Castle”. He then gave Cordelia the directions to the house. “I brought my instruments with me. They would have not fit in the room a Baron would be assigned”. Plus, the loudness of people! I need silence to be able to think!

When Lady Lucas asked if Eleanor Bayning would stay with him, the Baron was horrified, and his face openly showed it. “Oh, no! That would just not do! Lady Alice just wants me to keep an eye on her daughter, that is all. Even though she is adequately chaperoned, St Marks or the Red Lion Inn would be where she stayed at, were Court in London. As things stand, I am certain that Lord Bayning made arrangements for a room here in the castle”. Lady Lucas is right... she is warning me about wagging tongues. “Thank you for your concern, my lady. It shows that asking you for your help in this other matter too was the right thing to do”.

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"Again I shall say that there is no need to keep disparaging yourself Lord Grey. You are pleasing to the eye and are well dressed. Anyone glancing would see the same things."

A bit of male ego buttering up was never at fault she had long discovered.

"You interests are also well known and that is another point in your favor. Have you never thought that there could well be those about court that wish to have your acquaintance both for yourself but also your mind?"

"But how can that be done if you hide yourself away? And of course it will not happen overnight - change does not work that quick - but I trust that you can learn to not be so  ..... reclusive  .... in your habits perhaps."

"You must go about more. Even here in Windsor there is that vast Park to take advantage of. Hunt. Ride. Walk. A horse can readily be found if needed."

"I say these things for a reason. Your future wife may have an interest in one or all three and so you needs must be able to partake if she were to suggest. Too have a thing to share is indeed a good thing between a husband and wife."

"Or are you reserved only for what interests you possess? Of course it is not to be expected that a wife would be as educated as you nor have a mind so gifted as yours. But she can not be neglected either."

Regarding the introduction 

"I shall send the Duchess a note after some time. There is no immediate rush for everyone is still settling in here. But I will not leave it for too long."

She could see his reaction at once.

"Well I would advise St Marks and NOT the Red Lion. A 'coaching establishment' has it uses but not for young women without benefit of a man in attendance."

"She would easily fall prey to all sorts of ruffians or even worse  ...."

"And You are her only relative then? Well then her Safety falls to you and you had best ensure that at least a man or two from your own household - someone big and strong but agile enough to deal with any issues - goes wherever she will."

"It is a shame that her parents did not arrange for a Sponsor for her. That way she would have a household other than yours in which she might stay."

In her thoughts said aloud in the concern for this girl whom she imagined to be a country lass unaccustomed to the ways of London let alone Court she may had trapped herself unknowingly in a rolé she looked for in others. 

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Lady Lucas’ words were meant to bolster his ego, or so Henry surmised. But his reason for being guarded was the fear of being robbed of the fruit of his intellectual labours, more than being shy. Although there was some shyness in his temperament, he could surmount it when needed. His paranoia was a different thing altogether.

That others at court would be interested in Astronomy had not crossed Lord Grey’s mind. His Grace Buckingham was interested in academia, and His Majesty was known to favour the sciences. Henry had decided to let others at court look through his telescopes, but deep down he was certain that most would just consider them a momentary novelty. That some would find Astronomy a respectable, long-term interest, with the possible exception of Ann-Elizabeth, had not been considered.

“I am not a hermit, Lady Lucas. I just do not want my research to be stolen. I have poured many an hour in my research, many a sleepless night, and there are those who would like nothing more than publishing other people’s discoveries as their own”. That was the reason he used a cypher, and that his cypher evolved every so often. “As for my wife to be, if she were interested in science that would be a pleasant surprise. If not…” which was the most likely case, “I am certain one or more common areas of interest would be found. Politics, family, development of the Codnor lands, philanthropy, social functions… these are but a few that come to mind. My wife not only would have my support, but also my presence at any functions she wished me to attend”.

The baron was about to continue when murmurs and activity near the door called his attention. Courtiers seemed to be looking at the open door expectantly. “It seems someone of import is to arrive. Perhaps even their Majesties. We should move closer to see and to be seen, do you think not?” Henry offered Cordelia his arm, willing to escort her towards the entrance.

It was then that Henry noticed Eleanor. She was much older than the last time they had met, but the scientist’s attention to detail assured him that it was her. “I believe Mistress Eleanor is there”, Lord Grey said to Cordelia, “escorted by a fine-looking gentleman. Would you like me to make introductions?”

OOC: you may take the pair to the main thread, if you like.

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