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Of Irishmen, Coaches, Accounts, and Other Things [CD] | Noon – Friday 16th

Henry Grey

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After successfully returning from his search for the Cardinal, Henry entered his temporary home. The cat under his arm seemed quite content for obvious reasons, and immediately climbed onto one of his favourite pieces of furniture to begin the process of licking himself clean. Officially, Lord Grey was the master of the household, but unofficially everyone in it knew it was the Cardinal who had everyone under its paw, including the Baron. The cat lived a very good life.

With a sigh, Henry sat nearby, and addressed his valet. “Get Seamus”. As the servant did as he was told, Lord Grey put his thoughts in order. He would have to write a few letters too, and afterwards he needed to take a nap, just in case there was a Court event in the evening.

A few minutes later, Reginald the valet and Seamus the liveried coach driver appeared. “Here he is, my lord”, said the valet to recall his master from his musings. The coachman seemed nervous, thinking he had done something to displease his employer. Lord Grey had been more than fair with him, and he did not want to lose his position.

“Seamus, my good man, be at ease”, said the Baron. “Your service to me I have no complaint against. On the contrary, I would like to ask additional service from you”. The man’s face brightened. With a heavy Irish accent, he replied, “I am always at your service milord. You know that”.

“Yes, I do, Seamus, which is why I want you to find someone capable to drive the second coach, but can act as a bodyguard too. You see…” the words had been purposefully chosen, “… my niece, Mistress Eleanore, has arrived at court, and she and Lady Lucas will have access to my carriages. Thus, I need someone besides you that can act as their bodyguard if need be”. A pause. “Also, the position will evolve into the future Lady Grey’s coachman and protector, which I hope will happen within the year, Providence willing, so it must be someone trustworthy”.

Reginald did not show surprise, but the Irishman was not trained as the valet was. His face lit up. “I have a cousin who also served in the Irish Cavalry, milord. I trust him with my life. If I send word today, he could be here in a few days, maybe sooner. Last I heard he was in London looking for gainful employment”. The driver fell silent for a moment, before asking in a humble tone, “what may I tell him would be his hiring conditions?” The man held his breath. Was the Baron thinking about replacing him?

“The same conditions as yours regarding room and board in Codnor. As for monies, your current pay minus a fifth. He is to be under your supervision, so he cannot make the same pay, can he?” Seamus’ face brightened. If his cousin was to be under his supervision, and would earn less than he did, things were not grim. This man is not half-bad for a Sasanach. “I promise you, milord, that you will have no reason to complain about his service. His name is Liam, milord. Liam McArthy”.

“Liam McArthy is a good Irish name”, said Henry, “he should be proud of it”. Seamus beamed. Henry knew how to keep his servants happy. If he dealt with them fairly, and treated them with respect, he would get all that back, and then some. “One last thing, Seamus. Some time ago you mentioned bataireacht”. He knew he had murdered the word's pronunciation, but he had done his best. He then passed his walking stick to the man. “Could this be used for that?”

The Irishman took the silver-topped ebony stick, made some swings with it, tested its length, weight, and flexibility, and said, “I would suggest a steel rod be fitted to its core and screwed or welded to the silver cube and horn tip, but it might. Why, milord, if I may ask?”

“Because I want you to teach me bataireacht, Seamus. You know I cannot, even if my life depends on it, use a blade or a firearm effectively. But perhaps I could learn to use the walking stick as a cudgel?” Both the valet and the coachman were surprised. Stick fighting was not considered a gentlemanly endeavour. In Ireland it might, at least in some traditional circles, but not in England. “Besides”, Lord Grey continued, “long walks have given me lower body strength, but I have no upper body strength whatsoever. At the very least, I can call it exercise”. Henry had thought long and hard about it. “Carrying a quarterstaff at court would not do, unless it is disguised as a Bishop’s staff, but a walking stick is very much en vogue, is it not?” Both men assented.

This Lord Grey. He comes up with the most unusual things, Reginald mused. What will he think about next?

“It is uncommon for an Irishman to teach a Sa… a foreigner”, Seamus quickly corrected himself. “But you have dealt with me and mine fairly. I will do my best to teach you. With your… ability with other weapons, I cannot make any promises, though”.

“Your best effort is all I ask for, Seamus. You may resume your duties”. Dismissed, the Irishman bowed and left to send word to his cousin. “Reginald, stay a moment”.

“Yes, milord?” The man wondered what his master had devised for his ears alone.

“Set up accounts in all shops and the White for me, and at the seamstress, pastry shop, and bookshop for my niece, Mistress Eleanore. In the case of her accounts, ask the shops to add her purchases to my account, but not tell her on pain of me getting… irritated”. Reginald would know what he meant.

“Yes milord. I will do so immediately. Anything else you want me to do?” Irritating Lord Grey was thought of as inconsequential by many. Reginald had learned it was otherwise.

“On your wayout please tell Cook to feed me a light repast. I have correspondence to take care of”. The Baron said.

“Yes, milord”.

Edited by Henry Grey
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