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Oranges and Lemons - Late morning, 16th September

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The great glass windows supported in their metal frames let in the weak winter sun whilst keeping out the brisk breezes, lending a luxurious warmth to the outdoor-indoor space that was the orangery. The air was moist as well as warm, the great orange trees in their large pots carefully tended so that they would produce their treasure-trove of exotic fruit in the summer, unhindered by lack of water or blight of frost. A few orange flowers lent an exotic citrus scent to the air.

Between the great pots, stone benches were set so that courtiers might come and enjoy the sunshine without the need to brave the outdoors, and in the centre was a statue of a nymph and two sets of wrought iron tables, painted white, with matching chairs, that one might sit and take tea and enjoy the ambiance of the orangery.

It was windy outside, not a good day for viewing the extensive gardens or strolling the Little Park alas, but an excellent day for investigating the Orangery. The high walls of glass sheltered those within from the element, and one might enjoy the warmth of the sun without concern for the wind. She was wearing a day dress in pale yellow silk, the one crafted in a mantua-style, which she had embroidered with fern leaves and purple spring crocuses. She'd pared it with the cream silk stomacher and underskirt with the violets on them, and the matching enamelled violet and pearl jewellery; her favourite. The ever-present Mary followed with usually-present basket, trailing slightly behind her charge as Eleanor moved between the pots of exotic plants, cooing over this or that rare specimen and pausing to smell the orange flowers. Weren't they wonderfully exotic? She wondered whether she might be able to order a scent like that.

And there, taking pride of place in it's own fancy pot, was the Nana, the Pine-apple. Eleanor glided up to it, hands clasped before her, recognising the plant's odd, spiky structure from books. It was striking certainly, though probably not the prettiest plant in existance - she didn't think she'd be embroidering it on her dresses - but the fruit was said to be the finest and sweetest in the world. And here it grew, a tropical thing far from it's native habitat, under the protection of glass and man's ingenuity. 

One day I will have a house with a conservatory. 

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After she left the library, Anne-Elisabeth decided to visit the Orangery. The weather was becoming too cold for her again, and at least she would be warm there. She was also curious as to whether she would recognize any of the ‘exotic’ fruit growing there. To a girl growing up on Barbados, an apple was exotic but a banana was not.


Her outfit this morning consisted of a long-sleeved teal silk gown embroidered in gold over a saffron underskirt with teal and violet stripes. She wore a violet stomacher embroidered with teal and saffron flowers outlined in gold. The bodice was modestly cut and trimmed with a double layer of gold and violet lace which also hemmed the edges of her thrice puffed sleeves and the bottom of her underskirt. Her hair was arranged in an artful coiffure accented with colorful ribbons that matched her gown.  Several long raven curls were left loose and fell over one shoulder.   A simple gold necklace with a tear-shaped amethyst pendant encircled her neck and matching earrings sparkled in her earlobes.


As she stepped inside, she inhaled deeply of the fragrant air and stretched luxuriously. Closing her eyes, she could almost imagine that she was back in the Caribbean. Anne-Elisabeth enjoyed the sensation for a few moments and then reluctantly rejoined reality. Looking around her, she spied a young woman in a yellow gown gazing at a pineapple plant as she had never seen one before. It didn’t surprise her that she was not the only courtier in the Orangery today. Strolling up to the other girl, she smiled. “Have you ever tasted one of those?” she asked. “It is quite divine.”


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Eleanor was studying the Pine-apple in true fascination when the other woman approached. "I haven't tasted one, no." She admitted. "I've heard they're without compare." She looked over at her new companion with a shy smile, taking in the beautiful gown with the daring colour combination, the elegant hair and the beautiful jewellery, before realising that she recognised the woman vaguely, she'd been the sole lady amongst men when Lord Mountjoy had pointed out the Merry Gang and warned her away from them. Eleanor had to admit, in the eye of memory, this lady had looked quite comfortable amongst those apparently irascible fellows. What should she do? If this lady was a Libertine then she wasn't proper company, but it would be equally improper to simply flee her presence. And it wasn't as though she had said anything offensive, nor posed the kind of risks a man would. In fact she looked quite friendly. Eleanor was torn.

Then she registered what the other woman had said. "You have tasted one?" She asked, blue eyes wide, concerns of propriety giving way before the far more important concerns of botany. 

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Anne-Elisabeth was a libertine but she got along with all kinds of people and counted several proper courtiers … such as Mistress Wellsley and Lord Chichester … among her friends. Last season, she had aspired to become one of the King’s companions and obtain a position in the Queen’s household at the same time, although she had given up the latter to concentrate on the former, at least for now. She wanted to show the court that you didn’t have to be either one or the other, but could easily exist in both worlds.


By her current demeanor, she doubted that anybody would believe that she had a foul mouth, liked spouting dirty limericks, and was on her way to being accepted by the Merry Gang. As she did not know this young lady, it was best to take on an air of elegance and propriety.


She seemed quite surprised that Anne-Elisabeth had tasted a pineapple. “More than one,” she said with a nonchalant shrug. “In Barbados where I grew up, they are quite common. We often had them for dessert, along with other tropical fruits. They aren’t grown there, but we trade with the other islands and the part of the New World where they originate.”


The young Countess studied the specimen in front of them. “That one is smaller than any I have seen, probably because it’s grown in a pot in less than ideal conditions. I doubt it is … or will ever be … edible. I’ve heard that in this part of the world they are not eaten but used for decoration. Maybe that is the purpose it is destined to serve.”


Anne-Elisabeth smiled at the other lady. “I’m Anne-Elisabeth Devereux, the Countess of Cambray.”

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At the other end of the Orangery, seated quietly reading a book, was Lady Oakham awaiting Mistress Wellsley...

The book that absorbed the brunette so was entitled  'Love Intrigues; The History of the Amours of Bosvil and Galesia as related to Luiasia in St Germains garden."



OOC: Joining your thread seperately (for D&D alos had a garden plan) that perhaps we all might eventally join up, or not!  

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Another day had passed. Another day of doing nothing. Or rather of not doing what she had been doing these last years at Court. Not returning to the Reception had been a difficult choice but she guessed that neither of Their Majesties would be glad to see her. Better to avoid any displays of displeasure and she did not want to cause any undo anxiety to her former Mistress. It was perhaps her way of not burning more bridges.

Today was Friday and she was to meet up with Lady Oakham for the day before had been windy and not right for walking around. This place was more suited to talks of Gardens and other such things anyway. The smell was pleasant as she made her way in thru a side entrance. She had dressed for the morning in a closed gown of charcoal velvet edged with a metallic silver trim that was beaded with jet glass beads and pearls. It ran around the front and back neckline of her bodice then in a double row down the front where it continued to just above her ankles. A band of black velvet bordered her skirts. She had kept her jewelry simple and she wore her grandmothers ring on the little finger of her right hand. She carried a leather bound portfolio tied closed with ribbon. In a pocket of her skirt was a small capped ink bottle and a quill. Two small linen pieces also rested there to wipe up any spills.

She saw her companion setting engrossed in a book and drew closer and gave her greeting adding a curtsey.

"Good Morning Lady Oakham. I hope you have not waited too long?"

Edited by Davina Wellsley
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Setting her book down to lap, Darlene smiled and patted the bench next to her with gloved hand.  "Hardly long at all, though goodness this novel is rather exciting.  Why the heroine might even be more daring than I." she greeted Davina, and as the lady settled Darlene marked her place with a leaf and set the book aside.

It appeared that Davina had brought her own book too, though it looked like it might be the sensible ledger or note taking type.

"You look quite prepared." Lady Oakham commended.


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The idea that anyone could move in both libertine and proper circles would have boggled young Eleanor's mind had she known of Anne-Elizabeth's intentions. She was accustomed to a world of black and white, of strict rules and great risks to one's reputation. But she was also taught to be polite and to give people the benefit of the doubt, and even Lord Grey had cautioned her against taking or causing affront unnecessarily. Besides, the lady was being quite lovely and reasonable, and she seemed to know all about tropical fruit! Eleanor resolved that she would beat a retreat at the first sign of inappropriate behaviour, but until then the conversation fascinated her.

For a moment her blue eyes went wide as saucers as Anne-Elizabeth revealed that she had tasted pineapple many times, and other tropical fruits. Not only that, but she was from the Carib! Eleanor clasped her hands and bobbed a little out of sheer excitement. "Oh, how wonderful!" What a magical life. Warm days, tropical fruit for desert, and... why, she couldn't even guess. "I can't even imagine what it must have been like to grow up somewhere so exotic." She breathed. 

It was a little disappointing to hear that the pine-apple growing here in the Orangery was never likely to be edible. Her companion ran a critical and apparently knowing eye over it, so Eleanor assumed that was a reasonable deduction. "That's a shame." She said quietly. Not that she would ever get to taste it even if it was edible. "Yes, they often are used for decoration." She'd never really thought about why. As a sign of wealth, to display something so exotic and unusual of course, but it hadn't occured to her that it might be done because the fruit wasn't fit to be eaten. For a moment she wondered what a real pine-apple from the Carib might taste like. 

"How lovely to meet you Countess." Eleanor curtseyed prettily. "I'm Eleanor Bayning, daughter of Viscount Bayning." She introduced herself. "I'm here with my Uncle, Lord Grey." She added as she had been instructed to do. So far the Countess seemed like very pleasant company. "May I ask what it was like, in Barbados?" She said, wondering at such a locale. The idea of living there still seemed dream-like, not reality. 

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Darlene and Davina 

"Only moments longer since you first asked me." Darlene laughed cheerfully at the twice asked question, "Mistress Wellsley you must be quite stressed. Do settle and breath the air, relax, there is quite nothing to be anxious of at all "

Darlene thought to soothe, though her friend Elizabeth had advised her that Davina had indeed quite a lot on her plate. Now wonder her mind was slipping. 

"Would you like to tell me of your compositions thus far?"








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Darlene and Davina

"Well there is not much to be honest. Prince Rupert has said what he wishes for but I am not at all sure that it can be done."

She untied the ribbon and opened her book. Inside lay several small sheets upon which were sketches of various flowers that she had colored in using paints. She set them about the table so that they could all be seen.

"As you can see they are all plants that are not at all suited any later than the end of next month. Winter follows soon and I have no idea if His Majesty will remain here or return to London for Christmas Court."

"I see no merit in tearing up beds and making new designs which will take time - for new plants must be acquired or found and then planted. There will be no shortage of hands to work however."

"The general idea is to create what pleases the eye in colors that complement  ..... As if we are weaving together a tapestry rather than a garden."

"What do you think of the Garden now? Have you seen it? The East Terrace one."

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Darlene listened to Davina (who was quite studious about it) while immediately seeing why she [Darlene] would be so much better in the position than the other. 

"Hmm.... tell me again what is your new title, and can you remember what precisely they described your duties as?" Darlene asked - for the moment ignoring the question posed to her. 

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Eleanor and Anne-Elisabeth


“To me, England is more exotic than Barbados. When I first arrived, I was overwhelmed by how different it was. The weather is the worst. I don’t think I will ever get used to the cold.”


Maybe she shouldn’t have said so much about the stunted pineapple. It seemed to dampen her companion’s enthusiasm. She had seemed so excited about it only moments earlier. “You can find edible ones in London during summer occasionally,” she pointed out. “My cook knows where to get them. She is from Barbados too.”


Mistress Bayning curtsied to her when she introduced herself. Now it was Anne-Elisabeth’s dark eyes that widened. “You are Lord Grey’s niece?  I am acquainted with him, quite well, in fact. We both love astronomy, though I am more interested in the stars than the moon. The two of us plan to map the sky together. He even sent me a telescope during recess. I sent him a letter yesterday, asking him if I can thank him in person.”

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As was common when dealing with Lady Oakham Davina was thusly familiar with her way of side-stepping the asked question to instead form one of her own choosing.

"Well I am styled as Lady of The Gardens but it has no true meaning. Prince Rupert has a mind to change how the East Terrace Gardens look, as I have said, and that is what is to happen."

"I have been given permission to bring in one or two ladies on my own to assist me but they will do so voluntarily and receive no stipend."

"And as for actual workers, well, they too shall be at my direction."

"I have said this to you before - is there some part of it you do not understand?"

Her voice held a touch of concern as it WAS possible that Lady Oakham had indeed misheard and so was now imagining something altogether different.

"But let us return to the topic at hand shall we .... What did you think of the gardens as they are now? It would be a waste to uproot all those Roses and then have to lay out some new plan."

"And if Prince Rupert wishes to take up some of my sketches then that will mean it will take longer than planned."

"And you must not feel at all obligated Lady Oakham if the idea is displeasing  ....... I sought you out because of your experiences with The Garden Society  ...... "

She would give the other a nice way out if that was what she wanted or she would continue to discuss and ask her input.

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Darlene listened, and then laughed "Oh I am sure you have said all of this before, though we were in the middle of the welcome party, so I was hardly even listening." Which seemed an entirely normal thing for herself, and nothing needing an apology for.

"Lady of The Gardens sounds much finer than the actual chore at hand." She mused, while contemplating taking that role for herself.  "Really, is should just be lady of A Garden, which is hardly worth a fanfare at all.  Are you sure that Prince Rupert likes you? Or perhaps it is your brother against whom he holds a grudge.  I think we ought to talk to him, in person. Just to make sure that we have everything straight."

Which was a tad blunter than Darlene would usually be, but, this was Davina - a rival (even if a friend too.) 

"Oh your pages are perfectly fine of course, but you have not left any room for your coterie to help.  A Lady of The Gardens, or even Lady of A Garden, needs to create a fervour of excitement around her, don’t you see." 

Once they spoke to Rupert everything would become sorted out.


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So it was going to be in that direction then. 

Davina understood that Lady Oakham would be a rival rather than a help-mate and so she would deflate that now.

"There is no trouble with Prince Rupert I assure you. You must remember that I was asked by him especially and if there were any issues - and there are not - I would hardly be here at Windsor now would I?"

"Why seek out Prince Rupert? He has made his wants very clear and expects me to follow them."

"Or have you a need to seek his attentions? If you have some business to discuss then you needs must go thru Lord Beverly. I am afraid I cannot help you in that direction."

She had to smile at the description the other was weaving.

"You have quite the flair for the Dramatic Lady Oakham - I am glad to see that you have not lost it."

"But the attention is not meant for ME as "Lady of The Gardens' but rather on the finished designs."

"Why don't you also provide a few sketches to me - after you have looked at the Gardens - and perhaps we can put them both together."

"That way it will be the most helpful way in which you can aid me."

"I am thinking about adding another to help as well  .... have you a suggestion?"

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Davina said of Prince Rupert 'You must remember', which made Darlene laugh "But I did not!" 

Darlene had long since absolved herself of any responsibility for not remembering this and that of what other people said, most often, she found, her own version of events far more delightful to her mind. 

"But I am glad to hear he sees you favourably, for I am sure he shall love your next idea."  Well technically it was Darlene's idea, that she took a breath to reveal. 

"It ought be a competition Davina, we ladies rarely have such just for us. It is not like we can enter sparring or shooting events. But we can entirely enter a garden design competition, led by 'The Lady of the Gardens', sponsored by the Prince.  Though really the only prize might be that first second and third place entries are then presented by us to Cumberland.  That is rather special in itself, for I cant be the only one that is... just a tad terrified and at the very least awed, by his commanding presence.

"Yes so your entry is already done, that will be the first place in The Completion of course. Then there shall be mine. And I am not even upset that I am only second. Then we need to decide upon the third place winner - from a doubtless score of other entries. Once word gets around of this The Competition, it shall be all the talk of court. And your little... ah, what ever it was, shall be entirely forgot."

Had her friend Elizabeth actually explained what her husband had revealed about Davina?  That was another thing Darlene did not recall (or if she had heard details in the first place.)

"Oh yes, there is the charmingly sweet Lord Beverly, but I don’t think wed get the same excitement from our ladies to present their garden plans to him, as we would The Prince.  One is married after all, while the other is sort of not."

"Thank you Davina, I do have marvellous flair for the Dramatic, you are right.  It is one of my finest and most sought after qualities. And for you – its entirely free!" She laughed at the latter, it was a jest.  


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"A Competition ......."

She let the word trail off. Right. Clearly this was another example of Darlene in her element and totally (hmmm) unaware of anything but her own thoughts.

Time to turn the tables.

"Well!" She said with enthusiasm. "What a marvelous idea indeed!"

"And such a perfect way for you to bring back your "Garden Society'!"

"Why I should think that there are many Ladies, as you say, that do not have events just for themselves. How clever of you to notice that!"

"And Everyone shall have plenty of time to think about their submissions for Spring is some months away yet ..."

"I must say I am impressed."

"And you might even make an announcement yourself? You will be after all the 'one in charge' so who better?"

"Rather than Prince Rupert perhaps Her Majesty might even be persuaded to be the Judge?"

"And you might even be able to get some Merchants to provide the prizes?"

"You are after all quite talented."

And without a pause she then returned to the topic at hand.

"Now as for here at Windsor .... I shall be expecting you to give me some ideas - just a sketch or two will do - and nothing too complicated."

"I shall inform Prince Rupert, naturally, that You have volunteered to assist me."

She made no mention of Lord Beverly.

"Shall we set up a time to meet here again - stay early next week? Will that give you enough time to have another look over the Gardens?"

"I do hope we can agree that all those roses should not be uprooted. And also on a pleasing color pattern  ....."

She smiled at the other waiting for her reply.

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Davina was a clever lady, and saw immediately that Darlene was purveyor of excellent ideas.  

"Why certainly I shall announce it, provided you don’t think I am treading upon your toes of course." Darlene happily agreed, a little surprised that her friend, clever enough to see a good idea, was not clever enough to protect her own role of Lady Of the Gardens.   (Practically giving her task away!)

"No no but it must be Prince Rupert who is the Judge, he is the Ward of Windsor after all, and you cannot dare to displace him!" she laughed at that. "The ladies shall manage their plans swiftly, one week is ample. It is only one garden after all, and like you say many elements ought to be retained." 

"When shall you be meeting the Prince then, for I would truly love to attend with you.  Would you believe but I have never actually met him in person. Oh but I have a favourite tale I fondly remember my Mama telling me about him. That when Prince Rupert was a little boy, all the family, back in the Rhine, packed up to leave but quite forgot him!  Oh but I could always imagine the great man, while as a little boy, stamping his foot at that indignance.  How astounding it is to think of someone so tall, having once been vulnerable. 

"Oh yes, but when shall we be seeing him. I cannot wait!" 


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She took a breath then another. Placing her hands flat on the table she set about correcting Lady Oakham.

"WE shall not be seeing the Prince."

"There is NO Competition here at Windsor involving Gardens."

"There is only MYSELF being tasked by Prince Rupert to come up with new ideas for the East Terrace Garden."

"You have invented such a TALE that even my own way of side-stepping into your Garden Society has failed."

"And now, by your refusal to understand either in Truth or by simply mischief, has made me utter these words to you."

"I must now be seen as the one who caused you distress when it was all of your own making."

"Even as I explained how it must be   ........"

She broke off. A small tremble in her voice came next

"But if you must persist in this then go seek out Lord Beverly. And tell him this plan that is yours."

"And thru Lord Beverly perhaps to the Prince. And if He determines it to be then I will step aside."

She bent her head and gave a small wipe to one eye with her finger. Then a small shake of her head.

"I am indeed hurt Lady Oakham  ..... Darlene .... "

sniff sniff

"I think perhaps tis best I go. Afore more words are said ....."

It was naturally not as good as Lady Oakham would have performed it.

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Darlene leaves Davina and approaches Eleanor and Anne-Elisabeth


Eventually Davina realised that Darlene was not a donkey led by a carrot on stick.

“Oh I understand, you were trying to use trickery upon me.” Darlene replied, surprised, but pleased at herself for not being the gullible girl Davina took her for.  “I was never talking of My Garden society Mistress Wellesley, that was you.  Why I was only ever talking about the topic at hand, and the reason you brought me to see you today.  Prince Rupert’s garden make over.”

But that was fine, Davina put on a pretence of tears, as though she was the injured party in this.

“Oh dear I think you are coming down with something, you are being unreasonably emotional.” Darlene stood, while yes, she felt some shock at what had happened also.  

She had never enjoyed being told what to do, and also did not like being told what she would not do.  I shall see Rupert. “Yes best you go before you spread your Distubance of Humors contagion.”  

It was a rather pleasant sensation pulsing Darlene’s veins with this intentionally hurtful declaration toward the other woman (but to her credit she managed not to smile while the making of it).  Still Darlene felt very pleased not to have been tricked by Davina, and was very looking forward to somehow seeing the Prince to explain to him her own far better plan for a garden design competition. 

It was from this newly stood position that she saw a pair of ladies yonder enjoying the Orangery, one of whom was known to her… Lifting her hand she waved, and moved towards intent to greet them. 

These might be the first of many competitors for Rupert. 


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Davina With Darlene Leaving 

"What a shame then that you still will continue despite my warnings."

"Very well. I shall consider you have withdrawn any intent to aid me."

Gone was any pretense of feeling 'hurt'. She had been stupid in thinking that Darlene would be any different in this situation.

She also stood and began to gather up her sketches her blue eyes watching the other as she moved off her sights set upon a new set of victims. 


I was right in my thoughts. She has not a whit of understanding for what is clearly before her ......

she is intent upon getting her way. I shall leave her to it but perhaps a word to Lord Beverly so he is forwarded about what comes his way as well as to the Prince.


 She turned away making for the doors with the intent to go back to the Garden to study it further. Darlene was dismissed from her thoughts.

For the moment.


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  • 5 months later...

OOC Mod contrivance for thread continuation: 


Meanwhile Anne Elizabeth had a pleasant 'get to know' session with Grey's ward, when alas a messenger arrived upon them hopping foot to foot with anxiety before he could interrupt with a whispered message for Eleanor.   What the message was, was not revealed, but the young lady very politely excused herself at that point and hastened away.   

All of which left Anne Elizabeth discreetly witness to some ladies argument at the other end of the Orangery, and a storming off.  Perhaps to her surprise one of these ladies then approached herself! 

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Anne-Elisabeth was not certain if Mistress Bayning heard what she said about Lord Grey, for a servant interrupted their conversation and whispered a message which must have been quite urgent, for she excused herself and hurried off. Hopefully, nothing untoward had happened to her uncle.


As she looked down at the poor stunted pineapple, the Countess heard two feminine voices raised in what sounded like a quarrel. One of them belonged to her good friend Mistress Wellsley. Was someone harassing her? Her gaze spun to the other side of the Orangery just in time to see Davina turn away from the lady she had been speaking with and head angrily toward the door that led to the garden.


The other lady, whom she didn’t recognize, must have seen her for she walked toward her. Anne-Elisabeth narrowed her eyes. Is she planning to pick a fight with me too?

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But Eleanor had needed to leave, so that Darlene then discovered herself upon a determined trajectory towards a single woman, and one unknown to her, instead. 

"That is the frailest pineapple I have ever seen. And believe me, I have seen a lot of pineapples - they grow quite everywhere in Jamaica."  Darlene seized upon the stunted specimen that was near the other lady, while she looked about to see where Eleanor had gone to. 

Then by way of an apology for her unintroduced intrusion she said, "Shall Mistress Bayning momentarily return?" 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Instead of addressing her, the lady who had upset her friend commented on the poor sickly pineapple. She was from Jamaica? How interesting. Anne-Elisabeth decided not to comment on that fact until she discovered what had happened with Davina. “I don’t understand why it is being grown in less than ideal conditions. It’s much too cold for pineapples here and they don’t do well in pots. They need Caribbean soil and sunshine in order to thrive.”


The lady asked if Eleanor would be returning. “Probably no sooner than my good friend Mistress Wellsley will, but at least Mistress Bayning didn’t storm away because of something I said.” There was no accusation in Anne-Elisabeth’s voice, just curiosity.

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Darlene nodded to the other ladies astute perception. "You are right about that."

"Oh." her shoulders slumped with a theatrical sigh, upon the supposition the other then made.  "Then it is very unlikely indeed she shall return, though I hope that Eleanor and you did not row as badly as Davina and I did. We shall probably not talk for, oh hours!"

Darlene lived her emotions upon her sleeve, and her moods were as changeable as the wind. It was very unlikely she'd be grumpy for long, unless your name was Thomas Killigrew or Charles Whitehurst." 

"Do you think there is anything so terribly wrong with a garden design contest?"


Edited by Darlene Hamilton
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Anne-Elisabeth got the impression that this lady was also one of Davina’s friends Their disagreement must not have been too serious if she expected their mutual acquaintance to calm down in a matter of hours. “Mistress Bayning and I didn’t argue. We were having a pleasant conversation and then she was called away, apparently on an urgent matter.” Again, she hoped that nothing had happened to Lord Grey.


“A garden design contest sounds like fun to me. Is that what you quarreled about?” She glanced toward the door through which Davina had disappeared. “She’s been through a lot lately, you know.” The young Countess wished she had known last season that Davina had been tossed in the Tower. She would have found a way to break her out. Maybe she was still traumatized by that ordeal and that was why she was upset over something so trivial.


Anne-Elisabeth smiled at the other lady. “You lived in Jamaica? I grew up on Barbados. We are known for mangoes rather than pineapples, but they are shipped to us regularly. I’m Anne-Elisabeth Devereux, the Countess of Cambray.”

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"Has she?" Darlene’s eyes followed Anne-Elisabeth's to the very vacant door, "I did not know that, perhaps that explains why she did not enjoy my brilliant ideas." a pause, "And yes, a contest would have been brilliant, we ladies do not have many arena's to show off in. One can only wear so many dresses in a season, you see one needlework and you have seen them all, and flute playing can only get you so far."

"Oh how wonderful!" Darlene gushed upon learning that the lady was practically an old neighbour. "We must have so much to discuss.  Isn't the weather there far more beautiful. although I did not like the storms. My husband was upon the sea you see, and storms made me fret so." A pause, and she added, “I always carried a charm for his safety of course.”


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This lady certainly thought highly of herself. Anne-Elisabeth could appreciate that, since she was the same way. She was glad that the other woman didn’t ask anything else about Davina, for that was not the Countess’ story to tell. “There can still be a gardening competition. Maybe a lady of high status would be willing to sponsor it and provide prizes. In this country, it should probably be held in the spring or summer. Flowers don’t grow year round in England.”


The lady seemed quite pleased to meet another person from the Caribbean. “Absolutely,” Anne-Elisabeth agreed about the weather. “The sun doesn’t shine nearly as brightly here.  I miss swimming in the ocean and strolling along the shore. And the food … English cuisine is so bland in comparison.”


She smiled softly, remembering her carefree childhood in Barbados. “I actually liked the storms and when it was really hot, I used to go outside and dance in the rain. If my husband was at sea a lot, I would have felt as you did, though. I probably would have carried a charm as well. They scoff at them here, but in the islands, they are taken quite seriously.”


Her expression sobered. “And I am living proof that they work. I had a protective charm made for me by a wise woman before my family journeyed to England. Our ship wrecked in a storm and I was the only survivor.”

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