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Scents and Sensibility | Friday September 16th, mid afternoon

Sophia de la Cerda

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The elegant Windsor Town had grown through the ages as a direct consequence of the castle, taking its name from what came to be known as Old Windsor which was further down in the countryside, completely cut off from its colony. The new Windsor Town was created exclusively in response to the castle. All its citizens worked in the castle, made goods for the castle or provided housing for its guests and family of its inhabitants.

The Town of Windsor consists of six principal streets, Park Street, High Street, Thames Street, Peascod Street, Church Street, and Castle Street. The less considerable streets are, Butcher Row, Fish Street, Sheet Street, George Street, Beer Lane and Datchet Lane.

Nell Gwynn owned a merry house just off High Street that ended up at Kings Gate. She set a trend for the gentle but common visitors of the castle. The town also provided some rare pleasures that could not be found inside the large walls - a rich town and it showed in the colourful fronts of the many shops that begged the visitors to stop.



Sophia sat on a bench in the center of town, waiting for Darlene to arrive. She was dressed a pretty azure blue silk gown embroidered all over with mauve and white flowers. It was unadorned other than for the white lace and mauve ribbon that framed the bodice, accented the four puffs of her long sleeves, and formed the hem of her voluminous skirt. Her very loose mauve stomacher had been beaded with pearls in a floral design. Three strings of pearls encircled her neck and she wore pearl earrings as well. Her hair was arranged in its usual style, fastened with pearl combs that were almost the same color as her hair. Long white-blonde curls had been left loose to tumble down her back.


As she waited, she thought about the note Darlene had sent her. Why would a Life Guard be stalking her? Had she seen him doing something wrong? Was he sweet on her but she didn’t return his affection? The only one she knew personally was Lord Dundarg and he would never do anything illegal or force his attentions on a woman.  Douglas … how she still adored him! If her life had taken a different path, she might have been his wife and this child she was carrying would be his. And then she wouldn’t face the dilemma she was facing now. No, I will not think of that today.


She couldn’t read any of the shop names from this distance but she hoped that a perfumery was among them. They would certainly have a wonderful time looking for one and perusing the wares in other shops along the way. Standing up, she stretched, lifting her arms to the sky. She needed to walk soon. The baby was kicking her relentlessly.


Edited by Sophia de la Cerda
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  • 2 weeks later...

Lady Oakham was wearing a day dress of cream, with honeysuckle vines and flowers embroidered about the hem. A broad pale green ribbon was tied around her petite midriff, fastened in a volumous bow at the back. And a smaller ribbon in the same hue was fastened in a bow around her wrist (a styling that Darlene had ever been fond of.)  

She strolled into the tow square beneath a pretty green lace parasol, her maid carried the parasol actually, and worked tirelessly to ensure that her ladyships porcelain pale skin was kept in it's shade. 

“There you are Lady Toledo, good heavens you must get into the shade.  Quick quick, there is a door. Haberdashery? That’s a perfect idea. I am sure we need some more haberdashery. Now what a funny word that is now I stop to think about it. But I shall much rather haberdashery than haberslowery. So that is very sensible of them. Perhaps it is a marketing scheme? My brother tells me that sales people are quite clever that way.”

Darlene chattered distraction as she ushered her pregnant friend into the dim and cool of indoors.  Meanwhile, just one door down, was the perfumery that Sophia so wanted to visit....

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Sophia smiled as Darlene approached. A greeting formed on her lips but before she could speak, her friend immediately insisted that she get out of the sun. Her maidservant carried a broad-brimmed straw hat decorated with ribbons, fabric flowers, and feathers, but the heat was not bothering her enough to wear it. She loved to feel the warmth of the sun on her head and shoulders and wished to enjoy it while she could. Soon it would be cold and rainy again and she would be in confinement, or as much of it as she was unable to escape.


“You are so sweet to be concerned about me, Lady Oakham. I am fine, though. The sun is not nearly as hot here as it was in Venice.” The closest shop had an unfamiliar name and she laughed as Darlene speculated as to its meaning. She was always so much fun to be around. “Ha-ber-dash-er-y. I can barely pronounce it.   Since we don't know what it is, it will be like stepping into an adventure."


Her friend led her inside and Sophia blinked a few times to adjust them to the dimness of the interior. “I don’t think you have ever mentioned your brother before. Is he here at court?”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Upon a fragrant breeze the ladies swept into the Haberdashery - leaving Maisie to deal with the parasol (the darkie maid giving a small smile to Sophia's maid). 

"Oh I forgot that you are used to exotic temperatures." Darlene cooed, waiting but a moment for eyes to adjust to the indoors before she moved into the room further to look around.  "I am quite exotic too did you know, my Late Husband travelled far and wide and I insisted upon his taking me too." 

"Oh, look." she touched a pretty roll of ribbon, turning back to smile at Sophia, "This one would suit you well."

"I've not mentioned by brother before? How remiss. No, he's not at court now, in fact the last he was, was in my debut season." she felt a warmth at that memory, "I hated being monitored by him of course, but now I reflect upon it, it was entirely darling of him to do so. He is the loveliest man I know."

"Have you brothers too?" 

The ladies entirely ignored any shopkeeper, as they were so occupied with exploring and each other. 


OOC: I propose that we create various mundane items present, making whatever purchased they might like, while leaving liberty for a mod to step in with input if they so wish.


Edited by Darlene Hamilton
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The shop was full of ribbons, button, laces, braid, and many other delightful notions. Sophia’s blue eyes widened. “You were right as usual. We definitely need more haberdashery.”


She followed Darlene over to a display of ribbon. “Oh, that color is lovely. I shall have to buy enough to liberally trim one of the gowns I’ll have made after the baby is born.”


Waddling over to a display of lace, she pulled out a piece that that featured a lovely floral design. “I should like to meet your brother if he returns to court.” If he was anything like her friend, she would probably find him fascinating. “I have no relatives at all. The only other soul on this earth who shares my blood is this baby growing inside me. It must be nice to have siblings. I was lonely growing up.”


Sophia did not want to dwell on sad things today. “Your husband let you travel with him? You must have amazing powers of persuasion!  Most Englishman prefer their wives to stay at home. The desire to travel again was one reason I married a Spaniard. Where did you go? What place did you enjoy the most?”

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"Why wait?  I have always thought that now is my favourite time for anything." Darlene crooned, then called to the shop keep, "We shall need five yards of this ribbon, and keep close, for the lady shall need further trimmings."

"Is that Lisbon lace?" she looked at what had next caught Sophia's eyes. "Did you know I once had a Portuguese suitor, he talked of such places as Lisbon. Had I married him I might not be in Windsor here today." 

Blinking, she then asked. 

"Is Portugal the place that Spain hates? Best you not mention my connections there to Toledo then, or he might think me poor company for you."

"Oh yes Thomas did not want me to travel.  Only, he realised quite quickly, it was safer that way." She waved her hand vaguely, not truly wanting to get into more detail of the trouble she'd caused her first husband.  "But I enjoyed the carribean the most, Jamaica really. Why that is where I found little Maisie." her darkie maid, "My husband was stationed there, our navy is terribly active on those seas. Though to be honest, I became bored there also. I was not allowed to go with him upon their patrols and manoevers, though did find society life somewhat diverting." 

Darlene had enjoyed a torrid affair with Captain Morgan, the Governor, until Thomas had (come home) found out.    


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A heavyset matron appeared at Darlene's summons.  "Yes milady.  Five yards."  She moved to get shears.  From out of the back room came a silver tray with all manner of feathers long and short.

"Might you ladies be interested in feather adornments to your hair or attire?  We have new shipments in for the season.  See the fine peacock plumage and the goose down?"  The tray was placed on a nearby counter for inspection.


~OOC  Feel free to describe whatever type and color feather that might strike your fancy.  You have complete artistic control.

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“I have plenty of maternity gowns and I will only be able to wear them for two more months. I have been thinking of going to Madam Garland’s to choose fabric for my winter wardrobe. Their selection looks very luxurious from the window. You should come with me and pick out some for yourself. We can take the trims we buy today and pair them with the perfect fabric.”


Darlene summoned a shopkeeper to help them with their purchases. Sophia almost asked for ten yards, but decided that trimming a gown with two colors might be a better option. “I am glad that you did not marry him then. Court would not be the same without you. Spain and Portugal are enemies. If my lord husband knew that you refused a Portuguese suitor, he would probably encourage me to spend time with you.”


Sophia wondered how Darlene had convinced her husband that taking her along on his travels was safer than leaving her at home. Had she made so much mischief that he was afraid of what she might do in his absence? That sounded like something she would do.


“Ooooh,” Sophia breathed, rolling the lace back on its bolt and joining Darlene at the ribbon display. “Jamaica is much more exotic than Venice. I have heard that there are lots of pirates there, which would definitely keep the navy busy.”


She picked up a pretty peacock feather from the shopkeeper’s tray and held it up against her friend’s hair. “These blues and greens contrast beautifully with the color of your hair. You should buy some and have a gown made to match.”


Sophia waved the feather playfully. “Did you ever see a pirate while you were in Jamaica?”


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"Then you must tell him about it after all, and with fanfare." Darlene was happy that she would impress someone at least this season.  Her mood upon her success at court was a very fluid thing.

"Who is a Madam Garland? I've not heard of that dressmaker before, I've always gone to Norrington’s."  When Darlene had debut'd in '75 her brother had made an account there, and had indulged Darlene's continued use of it. 

As they pored over the lace display, Darlene told Sophia of Jamaica. 

"You are right the seas are busy, did you know that Pirates are sort of like the oceans highway men? Oh and also I learnt that privateers, which seem like pirates to, are entirely legal. In fact they are sort of patriotic men, for their loot is for England.  Oh but really that is all too confusing for me to properly understand."

"Though." She was not going to tell Sophia about it, but since her friend seemed so impressed, "I met and came to know Captain Morgan - personally."   Said with a certain tone and flare of eyes to indicate there was much more to that left unsaid. "Alas, he is retired from the ocean now, so practically land, well island-bound." 

Darlene enjoyed the way Sophia crooned and adored over the peacock feather, and, well it reminded her of a certain lord. Well, that lords wife really.  "Do you really think so? But I think I shall object to peacocks, those are far too, common, and make a terrible noise."  A lady needed to differentiate herself after all.  "Do they have any pheasant feathers here perhaps?" 

"Oh and Sophia, we should find a nightingale feathers for you."  Darlene had no idea what that renown songbird even looked like. 


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“My lord husband only asks about my friends when he sees us together. Find me at the next court event. We usually part at the door, but if he is still with me, I will introduce you to him. Perhaps you can even tell him yourself that you spurned a Portuguese suitor. I think he will be very impressed.”


Sophia unrolled a piece of lace trim. This one was covered with tiny iridescent beads that sparkled in the light. “Madam Garland’s is a fabric store here in Windsor. Maybe Madame Garland is a dressmaker or it could just be the name of the shop. I have only looked in the window but I plan to go there soon. If they make gowns, I may order a couple if they have the latest plates.”


Darlene told her about Jamaica and its pirates and privateers. She didn’t completely understand the role of privateers either, but she assumed they hunted the pirates and the booty they seized increased the size of England’s coffers. Legitimate pirates were probably not as scary as the lawless kind.  She had no idea who Captain Morgan was.  From the look Darlene gave her, she assumed that she'd had an affair with him, so she doubted that he was a pirate.  "I have never heard of him," she admitted, "though he has good taste since he spent time with you."


Sophia pouted when Darlene refused to buy peacock feathers. If they would have looked good on her, she would have bought some herself, but bright hues did not suit ladies of her pale coloring. “Nightingale feathers are very small and rather dull in color.  And I think my nightingale Arietta would be offended if I wore feathers from one of her kin.  I brought her with me along with my other pets.”


The pheasant feathers were mostly brown with accents of orange and red. She wasn’t impressed, but maybe Darlene would have a use for them.


“I know what we need … flamingo feathers! There are flamingos in Jamaica, are there not?” She turned to the clerk. “Do you have any?”


Her gaze returned to Darlene. “Are you planning to revive the garden society this season?  It seems like a good time to plan what to plant in the spring."

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As impressing Lord Toledo came became an ordeal needing planning, Darlene shrugged. Maybe she would, maybe she wouldn’t.  “The worst part was, with my Portuguese suitor, that it was his Father who was the more charming.” She added an aside.

“Oh, Madame Garland is Here in Windsor.” Which explained why Darlene had not heard of her. “Shall we go there next then?”  Though she would need to ask the woman if James had an account there with her. 

Talk of pirates and privateers faded into the back ground as the ladies had troubles on the topic of feathers. “What a pity.” Sophia already knew all about nightingales (of course!) and unfortunately knew their feathers were boring. “Then what other musical bird might suit you?”

Darlene meanwhile had begun collecting various pheasant feathers, being sure to select the brightest of any orange ones. 

But then Sophia had a fantastic idea for her choice.    

“Ooh yes, those would be perfect” dropping her handful of feathers back into the display Darlene turned interested eyes with Sophia.  “And I have changed my mind, I now want white Ostrich.”

While the Clerk looked, Sophia mentioned the Garden Society. “I would, but did ou know that Mistress Wellsley is Windsor’s lady of the gardens. Prince Rupert himself appointed her. My society would be a feeble alternative when she is busy soliciting Ladies into her group.”

Darlene turned away for a moment, and then sighed, “It was nice of you to think of it though.”

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Unfortunately, the clerk announced that they had no flamingo feathers but they had two dozen beautiful white Ostrich feathers.  There were a dozen each pheasant, partridge, quail, and woodcock feathers.  There were three hawk feathers, two owl feathers, and one from a falcon.

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Sophia knew all about the charms of older men. Juan was over thirty years her senior. She wished she could tell Darlene about him, but their friendship was still new and she wasn’t sure how she would react to the unusual arrangement between herself, her husband, and her royal lover. And though she trusted Darlene to keep her secret, the clerk might overhear it and both their lives would be in danger, as well as the life of her unborn child.


“We can go to Madame Garland’s next. I have plenty of time and then we will have our trims to match with suitable fabrics. There must be a perfumery around here somewhere too. You mentioned in your note that you were in need of perfume.”


Unfortunately, the haberdashery had no flamingo feathers. Sophia was disappointed but maybe she could find them somewhere else. Pink was one of her favorite colors and she would have loved to wear flamingo feathers in her hair. At least Darlene would be able to buy her ostrich feathers.


“Oh, look how big they are!” she exclaimed, picking one up and peaking playfully from behind it. "These would make pretty fans. If you don’t want them all, I may take a few for myself. The partridge feathers are pretty too.”


Sophia wished she hadn’t said anything about the garden society now. Darlene looked positively downcast. She hoped she would be able to cheer her up. “The season will only last a couple weeks and then those ladies will be looking for a new outlet for their gardening skills. You can step right back into it when the court returns to London. Meanwhile, I would love for you to give me some advice on the garden connected to my birthing chamber. It is small, but I hope to plant some flowers which will bloom later in the autumn when I give birth.


“We should also plan some activities for the ladies.  There will probably be horse races or hunts for the gentlemen. They should not have all the fun.”


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"Perhaps they can dye some of the Ostrich feathers pink for you?" Darlene offered Sophia some of her haul of ostrich feathers, while she begun to wonder what she'd do with them all.   "Apart from a fan, that would really be quite large, what should we use these for?" 

She had completely forgotten that she wanted perfume, but Sophia's reminder jogged her memory that it was indeed a fact.  "Oh yes my favourite bottle is nearly empty now, I dread think of attending church with out more.  Why I sat near a fellow in uniform last week, he must have had only one, and positively reeked.  It was all I could do but to discreetly squirt some on him.  And everyone sitting near to me was supremely grateful that I did!"

"Yes. And thank you for saying so." Darlene replied to her friends cheering thought.  "Do you know, Mistress Wellsley was rather horrible to me about it.  She was bossy really, telling me what I could and could not do.  And then she burst into tears, pretend ones of course, and said I was the one who was mean."

She was still a bit off put after all of that, but Sophia was not scarred. The little blonde seemed keen to arrange something other instead.  "Oh I don’t know... what sort of thing might we ladies actually want?"  Said while she passed the feathers she’d selected to the shop keeper for wrapping, along with instruction to put them on her Brothers account.


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“Can they be dyed pink?” Sophia asked the clerk, “Or maybe a light shade of purple?”


Darlene asked her what ostrich feathers could be used for, and the petite blonde tilted her head to the side. “I think I might use mine as a fluffy collar on a gown or cloak, and maybe another as a plume on a hat. They could also be used to trim a parasol.” Sophia preferred hats to parasols, for the simple reason that she was usually holding a leash in one hand when she went for a stroll and preferred to leave the other hand free.


She wrinkled her nose at the thought of sitting next to a reeking soldier. “Eeeeuww. I would have done the same thing. We should visit the perfumery before we go to the dressmaker. Maybe I can find a bottle for myself as well. I have plenty of my rose and vanilla perfume, but maybe it is time for a change to a less innocent and more sultry scent.”


Davina was Sophia’s friend too, though they had their differences. She could definitely see her being bossy. “She is a bit of a perfectionist, I think, but being demanding is not the way to get results. Other ladies she asks will probably feel like you do and she may find herself alone. I wonder why Prince Rupert picked her. You would be a much better choice.”


She picked through the partridge feathers for the most colorful while the clerk wrapped Darlene's purchase. “Ladies want adventure, of course. I was thinking of a kind of hunt that would appeal to them. Perhaps we could make little tokens and hide them around the palace and the town, putting them some of them in places that are hard to get to, like trees or rooftops. At the end of the season, the lady who found the most tokens will get a prize … maybe a gift box with products donated by the shopkeepers. What do you think? Is it a horrible idea?  Will it take too much work?"


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“Oh that is a good idea.” Darlene was more a parasol type of lady, being partial to the twirling there of. 

They were near ready for leaving the habadashery shop, Darlene having passed Maisie her purchase, chattering all the while with the stories the pair continued to share.  “A sultry scent, oh Sophia, there must be a tale behind this change. Sultry. Why that almost sounds wanton.” Her eyes flared and she grinned, “Like a lady with a line of lovers knocking on her door. Well, would-be-lovers anyhow. For no doubt you shall send at least a half of them away. Oh, but you shall keep their gifts, wont you.”

When both were ready, Darlene was swift to exit one shop and enter the next. 

The Perfumery, at last.

“That is nice of you to say so.” Darlene replied, while hearing Sophias advice made her think that she too might have been a bit demanding.  Thus her lack of results. 

“It was probably because of the trouble she got into.” She replied to the oddness of Rupert designating Davina a Windsor role. My Friend lady Ablemarle, said her husband said that there was some sort of problem. Though he didn’t share any details.  Yes so I suppose working under Cumberland is some sort of a punishment actually.”

Cumberland certainly scared Darlene.

When challenged to come up with games courtiers could play, Sophia did not lack for ideas.  “Trees or Rooftops? But nobody might find them there.” Darlene remarked with surprise, while it then occurred to her why trees and roofs did not seem unattainable to her friend. “Not everyone is as prepared as you, with your monkey upon a lead.”

“But your idea sounds quite lovely, I think it a game I would like to play.”   Darlene's mind was unusually blank on this topic, for usually any number of game ideas would have (by now) popped into her head. But instead she felt somewhat numb. 

Edited by Darlene Hamilton
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Sophia not only bought the feathers, but a long length of beaded lace trim, and several colors of ribbon, handing the wrapped bundles to Anna. She hoped her maidservant would pass them on to her annoying bodyguard. Shopping was unlikely to put her into danger and he could at least be useful if he carried her packages.


Darlene’s interpretation as to the reason Sophia was looking for a sultry scent was completely different from her own. Rose and vanilla suited her when she was an innocent young maiden, but she was married, pregnant, and several years older than she had been when she chose it.  She had been wearing it since she was fourteen, after being gifted with a bottle on her birthday. A more seductive perfume would proclaim that she was not a child anymore and perhaps give her an alluring aura of mystery and excitement. Esteban wouldn’t like it, but Juan would.


She liked the way her friend thought, and she imagined that Darlene was the one with a string of lovers throwing themselves at her feet and presenting her with lovely gifts. Her only answer to Darlene’s question was a secretive smile. She planned to revisit that subject later.


Sophia breathed deeply of the fragrant air as they entered the perfumery.   Darlene offered a possible explanation for Davina’s appointment. “I heard something along those lines too, but like you, I don’t know the details. Being put in charge of the gardens seems like a strange punishment unless she will be doing menial work.” To her, working with Cumberland sounded like an honor.


Her friend liked her idea but would rather play the game than help her organize it. “Using pets would be against the rules. Except for cats, maybe, and only because they can't be controlled. If I had the chance of winning a game, I would climb up at tree or onto a rooftop myself.” Sophia looked down at her baby bump, which was really more like a baby mountain. “Not now, of course, but after my child is born. If you would rather play it, I can find somebody else to help me with the organization. Do you think other ladies will be interested in something like that?”


Douglas would probably help her. He liked coming up with adventures for ladies.


She picked up a pretty perfume bottle, took off the top, and smelled it. Wrinkling her nose, she put it back. “Don’t bother trying this one unless you want to smell like a tree.”


Sophia grinned mischievously and lowered her voice to a whisper. “What if I want a sultry scent because I would like to take a lover … or already have one? Would you hate me for it?”


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