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Accommodation Anxiety (Late Afternoon 9/15)

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The Room of Lord Langdon

It had not fully occurred to Charles until after lunch that he would need to meet with Sam to discuss their bunking arrangement.  Apparently, Rupert and Beverley thought it best to save space in the castle by having officers of the Guard bunk together.  It made some sense, he supposed, as the Guard officers needed to coordinate closely.  However, his supervisors did not know Sam was a woman disguised as a man in order to serve as a soldier.  Very few people knew her secret.  This left him with the dilemma of whether to approach Beverley or Rupert with the revelation and ruin her secret.

He supposed he could argue that he was an earl and, as such, deserved to have his own room apart from a commoner; but, that would make him appear pompous and might insult Sam.  So, counting on Sam to think logically like a man, the two of them could come to some accommodation.  He looked about the small room.

The chamber was small, but comfortable, a large oak bed resting against the west wall. The bed was hung with rose-colored damask, the fabric trimmed with same-color tassels. Across from the bed was a stone hearth whose crackling fire helped keep the chill at bay. Small porcelain doves had been affixed to the edges of the mantel with silver satin bows and to the tie backs of the drapes and bed curtains. A window was set into the south wall, overlooking the Long Walk and Castle Hill. A small carved oak table and chair set rests to the right of the window while a small door, hidden behind a rose-colored curtain with thick tassels, beside the fireplace opened into a little closet. Candelabras rested on the table and mantel, casting long shadows over the polished wood of the floor.

Sam was to join him shortly.  Blazing Cannons.  There is only one big bed.  The least the castle chamberlain could have done was to provide two beds.  He supposed he could request that promptly.


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Sam could hardly believe that she had been assigned quarters in the palace. She assumed that she would be bunking with some of the other soldiers, which she had done many times before. As she slept in men’s clothing with her bosom bound, she didn’t have to worry about her secret being discovered. Still, she hoped that she would have some privacy. She had been experiencing some strange behavior lately and she didn’t want to inadvertently reveal her secret. If anyone except Charles discovered that she was a woman, she would be thrown out of the military on her arse.


Following the instructions she had been given, Sam was surprised to find herself in decorated tower instead of in the basement or servants’ quarters. Ascending the staircase, she ran her fingers over one of the blue velvet ribbons adorning the banister. She felt completely out of place and was glad she had worn her uniform, which always gave her confidence. The rest of her clothing and other necessitates was stuffed into a pack on her back.


She found the room with no problem, opened the door, and stepped inside. Instead of the utilitarian furnishings she had expected, it was finely appointed and looked like the accommodation of a noble. There was also only one bed. What was going on? Common soldiers like her did not sleep in rooms like these.


Then she saw Lord Langdon and finally understood. This was his room and she had been given the wrong instructions. “I’m sorry for disturbing you, my lord,” she said with a small smile. “I believe I was sent here by mistake. Do you know where the barracks are?”

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It was then that Sam entered the room.  He chuckled and shook his head.  "Come on in Sam," he urged, using her name informally since they were alone.  "The powers that be decided that we should bunk together." It was clear that this was a room that had been designed for him, but they sought to squeeze in another.

"It appears there is a flood of lords come to witness the christening and there is a real shortage of rooms.  They were doing you a favor by not having you sleep with the men on straw in the cellar, and thought how smart it might be to squeeze two Life Guard officers into one room.  I had half thought that they might squeeze FitzJames in here as well, but I was told that his arrival had not been expected and he had not been assigned quarters.  Perhaps he is staying with his half sisters," he speculated.

"I likely cannot get you an extra room at this late date, and I won't have you sleep in the bowels of the castle, surrounded by fleabitten men who have not bathed in weeks," he laughed.  His regard for Sam was such that he wanted her to enjoy some luxury, like she did at Somerset Palace when she stayed there.  The palace barracks were spartan, but she had her own room as an officer.

He waved her in further.  "I was just mulling over how we might make this work.  I was thinking that I could get the chamberlain to move out this bed and replace it with two.  We could hang a curtain between.  We could also sleep different shifts.  That could also protect the dagger when I leave it here."

He turned at looked at her rather than the room.  "If you are uncomfortable with the situation, I will find a way to commandeer another room for you.  I could arrest someone and give you the room," he laughed. "What are your ideas?"

She was his closest and most trusted colleague, as well as a friend, so he wanted her to be happy and did not mind that she could help protect their valuables and taklk of secrets alone at night.  On the other hand, her presence would greatly reduce his opportunity to use his room for liasons with ladies like Fiona.  Of course, he still had the farmhouse rented that he had used in years past for secret meetings with Maureen.  In a pinch, that would do for assignations. 

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Sam had to concentrate hard to keep her mouth from dropping to the floor as Charles explained that they were to share a room. It did make sense to have soldiers among the courtiers in case there was trouble. Not everyone was happy that the King had an heir, particularly those who supported his Catholic brother. She wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were multiple assassination attempts while the court was at Windsor.


She was thankful that Charles wanted to spare her from sleeping with the men.  But now that her sleep was becoming more and more disturbed, perhaps she should accept this arrangement, as strange and inappropriate as it was. Sam looked over at the bed. It looked so soft. She was definitely not accustomed to such luxury.


A chuckle escaped her lips at his mention of arresting somebody so that she could have their room. “I don’t think that will be necessary. We can work this out. I think two beds would be best, but would that give you the reputation of being too good to share a bed with a commoner?" She tilted her head to the side. “We could sleep in shifts, as you suggested, or I can sleep on the floor.” Sam smiled. “The bunks in the barracks are probably less comfortable.”


Maybe I should just tell him. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to stay in the barracks. I think I have begun to walk in my sleep. If I stay here with you, you can keep the key and I won’t be able to leave the room if I do it again.”


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"Very well, we will work it out," he agreed as he saw how large the bed was and how it would need to be disassembled to get it through the door.  Who knew what they mike get in return.  It might be two military cots.

"If anyone sleeps on the floor, it will be me," he responded to her offer.  "Why don't you take the night shift from 11 pm until 9 am.  I should be up and dressed by then.  You can sleep from 9 until late afternoon.  We can both use the room to get ready for dinner and clean up in the evening," he suggested.  If either of us need privacy for a bit, we can lock the door from the inside."  That seemed like it might work.

The revelation about her sleep walking was a surprise.  "When did this start?  It could be dangerous," he worried.  What if she walked off the battlements?  "What do you do when you walk?  Where have you found yourself when you wake up?"  A dozen questions came to mind.  "How often does this happen?"

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Sam wanted to tell him that she would not allow him to sleep on the floor. He was not as accustomed to roughing it as she was. But Lord Langdon was her superior officer and it was not her place to tell him what to do. If he insisted, she probably wouldn’t sleep at all, which might not be a bad thing considering her recent discovery.


Taking shifts was a much better option. She didn’t mind working the graveyard shift. And it would be better for Charles to deal with the nobles during the day. They didn't always listen to commoners.   Sam had run into that situation before. “Very well, but you keep the key. I will lock myself in before I go to sleep.”


Sam appreciated his concern about her sleepwalking. “I only remember doing it twice, in London. I woke up both times at the window in my room shortly after sunrise. But I am afraid that I might start wandering down the halls or even outside. And then it will be dangerous.”


She smiled ruefully. “I’ve thought of tying one wrist to a bedpost so I can’t get up, but working the night shift may solve the problem. Unless I start sleepwalking during the day. I’ve never done this before, even as a child. I have no idea why it has started now.”

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"Grand," Charles replied.  It was lovely when a plan came together.

"I will not take the key as it could trap you in an emergency.  Let us keep the key in a nearby drawer.  Surely you will not manage to find the key in a drawer in your sleep," he offered.  Not having ever walked in his sleep he assumed that one could only accomplish very basic motions while asleep.  "Night duty could fix the situation," he offered, "plus I would have my most trusted and competent officer prowling the halls at night when the danger to the royals is greatest."

He moved to sit on the bed to try it out.  "A feather mattress," he sighed with pleasure, wondering whether it would be straw.  "There are benefits for being an earl. lord lieutenant, and Life Guard officer," he surmised, "or Elam may have seen to it before I arrived..  When was the last time you slept on a feather bed?"  He imagined, with her being a trooper at heart, that she would not spend her salary for such niceties. 

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“I hope not.” Sam sounded doubtful, but she understood Charles’ reasoning. It was unlikely that there would be any danger that she needed to escape from, but she didn’t want to be trapped if she was needed in a professional capacity. If she did wake up in the hallway one day, then it would be better if they slept at the same time so he could stop her if she tried to leave the room in her sleep.  Maybe they could alternate sleeping on the floor if he insisted she take the bed.


She smiled at his compliment. Sam prided herself on her work and knew that she was a good soldier.  Even as a child, she had never wanted to be anything else, and living as a man was a small price to pay for achieving her dream.


Watching Charles try out the bed, she wished she had the heart of a man as well, for then she wouldn’t yearn for him as she did. He could never find out that they had once lain together, yet that one lovely interlude was something she would never forget.


Though she knew she shouldn’t, she couldn’t resist sitting down beside him. The bed was exquisitely soft, and she felt almost as if she were floating on air. “This is the first time,” she confessed. “I was not born into luxury.”


Impulsively, Sam fell back so that she was lying down. A sigh of pleasure escaped her lips and turned into a chuckle. “The only time I slept on something soft was when I accidentally rolled over on one of my siblings. We used to sleep four to a bed and it was much smaller than this one.”

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Charles could not imagine not ever experiencing a feather bed, even though most of his life he had spent on straw.  His father was not wealthy and he was in the military.  One did not encounter much luxury in a tent or barracks.  It was only after becoming an earl that he started to experience small luxuries.  It was his marriage to Jeanne that gave him the money he needed to fund his better lifestyle, as well as the funds he could spend of his wards' money to make for more comfortable surroundings.

"Careful or you will sink so deep that you will not be able to get out again," he teased.  "On a bed this big, you could have four siblings and they might not even touch."  He laughed as Sam luxuriated in the bed.

"He stood up to watch her.  "Why not take a nap now?" he offered.  "If I lay down, I might just fall asleep.  I need to pay a visit to a few lords this afternoon and evening.  If you are going to be on the late shift, you will need your sleep."


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“Maybe I’ll never want to get out.” Sam closed her eyes. “I feel like I am lying on a cloud.” If she had said that among the other soldiers, they would have laughed at her for being fanciful, but she could be herself with Lord Langdon. “If we had a bed this big, my parents would have made all twelve of us sleep on it.” Her voice became slower and softer with every word.


She did not hear anything else that Charles said. With a smile on her face, Sam was fast asleep.


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It was a smile shared as the Major saw his Captain so contented.  He paused a minute to confirm that she was asleep before deciding to exit the room.  Ordinarily, Charles might lift a comrade onto the bed and remove his boots, but Sam was a woman and, even though she was not a lady, he would not distress her with touching her without leave.  It might also wake her to reposition her, so he enjoyed the view knowing he would tease her about it later.

With low and quiet steps he slipped out of the room and closed the door behind him as quietly as he could.  He told himself that he would check on her later.

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