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Instrumental Instruments not of the Musical Variety | Saturday the 17th, before sunrise

Henry Grey

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Saturday’s dawn caught Henry on the roof of the Octagonal Tower. He had woken up several hours before, and his servants had carefully loaded the three telescopes onto a coach, taken them to the Upper Ward of the Castle, carried them up five flights of stairs, and helped Lord Grey set them up, each on a small but sturdy table that would not topple easily. The servants had been under strict orders to make as little noise as possible, since most of the Castle’s guests were still sleeping, if they had gone to bed already, that was. Although all three astronomical instruments were of the reflective type, each telescope was of a slightly different design.

The first was a design by the Scottish astronomer and mathematician James Gregory, who described it in his 1663 book Optica Promota. It employed a concave secondary mirror that reflected the image back through a hole in the primary mirror. That produced an upright image, useful not only for astronomy, but also for terrestrial observations. The second was a Newtonian telescope, built according to Isaac Newton’s 1668 design. It had a paraboloid primary mirror and a flat secondary mirror that reflected the light to a focal plane at the side of the top of the telescope tube, which made it convenient in confined spaces. Finally, the third instrument was a Cassegrain telescope, a design first published in a 1672 by Laurent Cassegrain. It had a parabolic primary mirror, and a hyperbolic secondary mirror that reflected the light back down through a hole in the primary. The folding and diverging effect of the secondary mirror created a telescope with a long focal length while having a short tube length. Due to using no lenses, none of the instruments suffered from the rainbow effect, and all had their advantages and disadvantages particular to each.

After checking that the mirrors in each telescope had not misaligned in transport, by pointing the instruments to the morning star*, a process that took a while as the fog impeded visibility at times, the Baron sent his servants back to the house, but decided to stay on the battlements to watch the sun rise. It was going to be a beautiful sight.

OOC: Venus, which is viewable with the naked eye both at dusk and dawn.

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In the quiet of the early morning, some sounds could be heard in the distance, as if someone was coming up from inside or even already walking down the battlements.


No words could be heard but it was definitely voices and footsteps.


Perhaps there was some issue with his servants returning home or perhaps some courtiers thought to end a night of carousing by also watching the sunrise. It was a bit too early to contemplate that many courtiers had already awakened for the day. 


(OOC - I'm closing this thread for others to join as I cannot fathom anyone randomly happening across it ;) )

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Henry faced east and closed his eyes, waiting for the surprise of the first rays of the rising sun to hit his face. His thoughts went back to Cambridge, to his years as a student, the birchings, the experiments, the discoveries. The grander than life persons of Buckingham and Newton, so different, and yet so the same, both influencing England to a great degree, each in his own way. Would he go back if he could? Without a thought. But that did not mean Lord Grey would not do his utmost to do his part with the cards he had been dealt.

Then, voices and footsteps, muffled by distance. Are they coming, are they going? He still did not open his eyes. The moment was precious and the opportunity to enjoy it too important to waste it. Still, although his body did not react, his thoughts were now on the present.

I wonder who it is?

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  • 3 weeks later...

His Majesty was known for his early morning excursions, and while he was a creature of habit for his walks at Whitehall, he was more spontaneous at his other residences. His requirements were few other than anyone walking with him needed to either have long legs and walk fast or be prepared to trot along, for he so very much hated his morning exercise proceeding at a crawl or having long discourse with petitioners seeking inane things or simply craving royal attention. Any interruptions had best be intriguing!


There were even few of his household or his Gentlemen who could keep pace with him but Saturday meant the long-legged Kingston as his companion. Doubly good was that Kingston was a morning person and not bleary-eyed and slow-witted like some. When he had asked the blond his thoughts on their route, Kingston had replied that the battlements would provide a walk with little disruption and that the roofs were a good vantage to see the sunrise. The fog on the ground was dense that morning, so it was a grand suggestion so far as Charles was concerned. Perhaps it would raise the youth's spirits, for though in good enough cheer, the blond had this look in his blue eyes. Having lived a life that had not always been easy, Charles was exceedingly skilled at recognizing that look...especially on a Villiers. 


"You cannot see a thing on the ground and it is dense up here a bit too," he commented. "It is like a cloud with only the tallest trees peeking out. I should have liked to annoy the pair of Life Guard by walking about in it, but it would have been miserable on my joints!" The King laughed boisterously. He hated being babysat. In fact, when he had mounted the stairs for the roof, he told the pair to stay there, because there was only one stairway to the roof, so they could guard his safety from there. 


Thus, when His Majesty exited onto the roof, it was only Kingston and two winded grooms who accompanied him.


"Ho! What have we here," Charles said, as he sighted the Astronomical equipment. 

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Without turning to see those arriving or the person speaking, without even opening his eyes, Henry replied to the, probably rhetorical, question. “Three reflecting telescopes of different designs. A Gregorian, a Newtonian, and a Cassegrain. Would you like to take a closer look? The Gregorian does not invert the image, so it can be useful as a rather large spyglass. I have just made sure they are well-adjusted for a star-gazing event on Wednesday night. Which reminds me I need to write an invitation for…” at that moment, the identity of the voice that had uttered the words registered and Lord Grey’s eyes opened in surprise. As he turned to see those newly arrived, his fears became a reality.

Oh, dear

“… I need to write an invitation for you…” the Baron said sheepishly as he bowed formally, “… Your Majesty. I need to write an invitation for you”. He held the bow.

It was bad form to address King Charles without being addressed first, but he had done it while his back was to the stairs, so there was no way to undo what had already been done. He had spied Lord Kingston at the King’s side before he had bowed, though, so he held his tongue to see if he would be introduced.

Hopefully His Majesty will take his question as an invitation for me to speak. To say that Henry was terrified he had just made a faux pas was an understatement.

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His Majesty smirked when the gentleman - who was looking out over the roof with his back to them - answered so very plainly and informatively!


He sighed wistfully. There were so many perks of not being royal. Simple answers were one of them. All the answers he received tended to be long-winded, and he did so abhor long-winded speeches. But royalty had to be preserved, and he had to demand all the propriety due his majestical status when someone knew it was him. It was why he enjoyed his alter-ego as Rowley. 


Thus, he could hardly hold it against the unknown, and chuckled when the stammering commenced. 


He looked to Kingston to provide an introduction which the blond did...and luckily so because Kingston did not always know everyone, though he was learning quickly thanks to Bucks. This time, though, His Majesty suspected that - like his dear uncle might - Francis had engineered this happenstance quite stealthily. All the better. Instruments fascinated him and it was a grand distraction for a foggy morning.


"Then we will look forward to receiving it Lord Grey. And we would like to accept your earlier invitation of taking a closer look now," he added. "We have some experience with telescopes but would like to hear and see the differences between the three without the clamor of an audience of courtiers."

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“Your Majesty, the Gregorian is named after James Gregory, a Scot. The design appeared in his 1663 publication Optica Promota, but it was only built by Robert Hooke in 1673. It consists of two concave mirrors: the primary mirror collects the light and brings it to a focus before the secondary mirror, where it is reflected through a hole in the centre of the primary, and thence out the bottom end of the instrument, where it can be viewed with the aid of an eyepiece. It solved the problem of viewing the image in a reflector by allowing the observer to stand behind the primary mirror. This design of telescope renders an erect image, making it useful for terrestrial observations”. Henry tried to be as succinct as possible, so some of the language was quite specific. He hoped the King did not mind.

“Please, take a look, your Majesty. It is pointed at the Morning Star”. Henry would show the King how if he was not familiar with the design.

“Newton's first reflecting telescope was completed in 1668, Sire, and is the earliest known functional reflecting telescope. It is composed of a concave primary mirror and a flat diagonal secondary. The first mirror makes it possible to collect the light coming from the pointed region of the sky, the second mirror redirects the light out of the optical axis at a 90-degree angle”. After a moment, the Baron added, “I am working on a composite eyepiece for my Newtonian, in close communication with Sir Isaac. I am trying to solve the rainbow effect problem in telescopes and spyglasses”. Mentioning the name of his friend to the King would not hurt and might help.

The King was probably familiar with the design, but if any help was needed, Lord Grey would help.

“Finally, the Cassegrain, which was first published in 1672 and is attributed to the French Laurent Cassegrain, has a parabolic primary mirror, and a hyperbolic secondary mirror that reflects the light back down through a hole in the primary. The folding and diverging effect of the secondary mirror creates a powerful instrument with short tube length. It can be considered a refinement of the Gregorian design, your Majesty”.

After having used the Gregorian, Henry thought the King would need no help, so he stood aside unless his intervention was requested.

It had been a bit long-winded, but there were things that he had not been able to say using less words. The natural philosopher was ready to answer any questions the King may have, of course, and would be very happy to. Not many people looked at his field with interest.

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His Majesty moved to take a look through the first telescope. He was familiar with Hooke's design and also with Newton's. He was also familiar with the fact that the two disliked one another.


He admired the morning star as Grey went on like such men of academics were wont to go on. He understood much of it, given to invention and mechanical things himself. He was fascinated by advances, especially those of science.


He then went on to Newton's design. "Kingston is also a friend of Newton, our Chancellor of Cambridge, are you not?" he looked back at his blond gentleman as if to say he realized this was no meeting of happenstance but that Kingston had suggested the battlements for more reasons than a fog. He chuckled and looked into the telescope. 


"Looking for improvements for spyglasses, you say? That should be of interest to cousin, Cumberland, our Navy, and our gentlemen of the sea." He gave a nod at Kingston. Yes, not happenstance at all.


"You have fine instruments, Grey," he commended. "Quite an expense, we know. We have not seen you at court before, but might it be that we have heard your name from the Duke of Buckingham?" Bucks was always putting forth men of discovery and academics to him, and it was clearly a trait he had passed on in usefulness to Kingston.


"And how do you propose to solve the rainbow effect?"

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“Yes, spyglass improvements would benefit the Navy Royal, Sire. It would be my privilege to share with the Admiralty any advances I make”. It was not about money, Henry was content with what he had. Prestige and position could come from it true, but it was more about being English. That a Frenchman, and a Catholic priest at that, had improved upon Gregory’s design did not sit well with the Baron.

“Thank you, Your Majesty. These telescopes are a labour of love. Investing time and resources in them has been a pleasure. I had to go to Venice and Bohemia to learn glassmaking techniques, and even then, I have not found what I seek. But if I may say so, Sire, I am enjoying the journey very, very much, even though I am sleeping less than I perhaps should!” Henry’s enthusiasm was obvious. He had almost forgotten he was talking to the King. “As for His Grace Buckingham, he appointed me Fellow of Trinity back when I was solely focused on natural philosophy. He always treated me far better than I deserved, for which I am very grateful. But then my brother the previous Lord Grey died in a hunting accident, and I received a writ of summons to Parliament as the new Baron Grey. I had to tender my resignation, leave Cambridge, and start serving my King in another capacity. I always try to spend as much time as I can with lenses and telescopes, though. Providence willing, I will one day make a map of the moon”.

That was something Henry had not mentioned to Francis, although Buckingham knew, of course. The man knew everything.

“As for the rainbow effect, Sire, you are familiar with Newton’s light and prism experiment, correct?” It was a rhetorical question. The King was bound to know. “If one prism can separate the coulours hidden in white light, I propose that a second prism of different make, can get them back together. If that is true for prisms, it should be so for lenses too. My current research is focused on finding the material for the second lens that would achieve this. I have a few promising leads, one of them here in England”. There had been partial advances, but most of them had turned into dead ends. “It is slow going, as I grind the lenses myself, but I am hopeful”.

Edited by Henry Grey
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"Ha! Well, every now and again Bucks does something of great value and worth," the King said, fondly. He winked at Kingston, who knew how greatly both he and Buckingham enjoyed ribbing each other. "This time it would seem he saw to his duties as Chancellor of Cambridge in your appointment. We have great hope Kingston here will follow in those august footsteps. And we will follow your progressions and advancements with interest, Lord Grey. Both in matters astronomical and terrestrial, for your King finds both services to be equally important."


He gave Kingston a look as if to remind the cub to keep him abreast of what Grey was doing. 


The King nodded along to the idea of using prisms and lenses to undo the undesirable effect. "We are very familiar with Newton's experiments and advances." He smiled, "It would seem very sound reasoning. Let us hope your labors bring fruit."


With a smile he asked, "And how are you acclimating to life at court? We do hope you've found it pleasing and do not pine too very much for the life of just a scholar?"



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“You are much too kind, Your Majesty. I will strive to serve you to the best of my ability in both”. It was true, and one of the reasons Henry did not get as much sleep as he should. Star and moon gazing could only be done at night, and courtly events could happen at any time of the day or night. If one added that he did need to make decisions about his estate, work on his correspondence, and having to learn as quickly as possible what others had the leisure of time to take in, there were only few days when Lord Grey slept more than six hours, many less than that. “As for Lord Kingston, I am at his service in case his duties as Chancellor of Cambridge have need of me”.

“May Providence agree with you, Sire”, the Baron replied to the King hoping Henry would meet with success in his research. "I am hopeful. But discovery takes time".

“As for court, Your Majesty, the first thing I had to learn was to dress accordingly. I must confess that the transition between being a scholar and living on an allowance to being a Baron and owning an estate is something that has not been easy”. Henry was being totally candid. “But Lord Chichester was kind enough to introduce me to his tailor after I confessed to him that I had gone to a seamstress store looking for clothing, and that has helped”. The last was said in a sheepish tone. “I have found life at Court thought-provoking. It is a very different life, true, but perhaps it can give me a wider audience to teach what I know and what I learn… if it pleases Your Majesty, of course”.

Henry knew he was out of his depth so, although he was very respectful, he was also very transparent. It was not his intention to impress the King. He merely wanted the King to know him as he really was. If His Majesty liked what he saw, great. If not, at least the Baron would know that he would have to change. Lord Kingston would let him know later, he was sure.

I am getting an education from the least likely of sources, Lord Grey thought. And not only from His majesty. His Grace Buckingham too. I hope he has not taken umbrage at not being called upon immediately after my arrival. And his cousin, the Chancellor of Cambridge. There is much I can learn from him.

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Francis had let Lord Grey have the time with His Majesty without interruption or comment, for he did not wish to seem to need any credit for the 'happenstance' meeting. His Majesty was far more astute than most realized and knew that Francis had cast him on that path for a reason, so he hardly needed to claim it. 


"Lord Grey and I have been discussing a pursuit of aiding Sir Isaac in making sure his research cannot be stolen and claimed by another, which is a real concern of those who stake their name on the scholarly works. I have offered to give him control of the University's press, but it may be that Sir Isaac would prefer to seek a license from Your Majesty to start his own," Francis commented of the talk of Newton and their obvious knowledge of each other. 

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Clothes! Ha!


"We confess, Grey, we greatly appreciate a fine shoe, but all the other accoutrements?" He leaned forward and said in a faux conspiratorial tone, "We much prefer simpler dress and freedom of movement." He chuckled. "A shame a King must present himself dressed in a heavy weight of finery!"


He was oft found in his apartments in just his shirtsleeves and breeches, sometimes a fine waistcoat. He did not like feeling constrained. It was why he relished in his time as Rowley. 


"Chichester is a finely dressed gentleman and a superior artist. He is to do a painting of our dear Prince Charles-Henry."


Charles looked briefly at Kingston who added to the conversation for the first time, having let Grey take his stage. He was a smart cub - partly from George's tutelage - who knew that to shine best  as one of his Gentlemen was to advance others that could shine under his King's eye and not insist upon the light shining only upon himself. That was not a skill limited to mistresses, bed partners, whores, or merry-making friends.


"We love advances in science and the advancement of Englishmen who contribute to great things in God's world, not just here at court or in England. We cannot allow the French to think they hold a monopoly on great minds," he said to the pair. To Kingston he added, "You may do as you would with the Press, Francis, and should Sir Isaac wish more, we would grant our license. If our great minds cannot feel safe in publishing, they cannot shine to the world. Perhaps it is a problem to raise at the Gresham talks, yes? There must be a methodology that our men of science and academics can feel assured with, some form of governance."

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Henry was much relieved that the King was in a good mood. It made talking without pomp much easier. “Learning how to dress according to the expectations of court is something I have had to do, but it is not really something I have relished, Sire”. The Baron was getting used to it, but back home he would wear his earthen-coloured clothes from three or five years before. “I mean, I understand that I must look the part as a member of your court, so I do not complain, but I would rather build another telescope or a set of mirrors for one, even gifting them to someone who would make good use of them instead of having a tailor make me another ensemble”. If the King were to ever see Henry in his laboratory, he would see old shoes, old but comfortable linen britches, a white linen shirt, and little else apart from ink stains on the fingers.

“As for shoes, Your Majesty, when I was a boy, my mother used to tell me that she loved me like she loved her old, worn shoes. I did not understand then, but every time I wear a new pair that does not fit just right, I am reminded of her. Nothing like a well-worn pair that one finds comfortable”.

That the King would take the time to talk with him about shoes made Lord Grey appreciate Charles Rex as the man hidden under all the pageantry. “I have rented a house in Windsor town and converted the dining room into a laboratory, Sire. If I may be forgiven for suggesting it, if you ever want to escape from Court for a moment and look at half-built instruments, half-ground lenses, and have a glass of pear brandy from Normandy, you would be more than welcome, Your majesty”. Perhaps a King needs to be just a man on occasion.

Henry hoped he was not pushing things beyond his station.

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"As for me, I much prefer a looser cut of breeches," Francis added with a chuckle. "Even better, an utterly wide pair cut for my former life at sea. The family jewels need breathe." With a nod he added, "His Grace my cousin prevails with the imposition of tailor, and if I complain one jot in entertaining his preferences, he chastises me with an ostentatious Persian print brocade that whilst utterly fashionable makes me feel ridiculous."


Francis was a bit surprised that Lord Grey did not comment on the printing press issue or on His Majesty's suggestion about raising it at Gresham, the issue of a lack of safety and security in publishing. His blue eyes looked between Grey and the King. He then said, "Yes, Your Majesty, one would think there could be a methodology or a form of governance which would provide such men with a measure of security for their ideas. Although Sir Isaac can be a rather quiet man, I am sure the trio of us could raise the concern at Gresham and see what can be done." 


Though he was not a member of the Royal Society, Newton was and Buckingham was, so he rather doubted that he would not be able to raise such a concern at one of the meetings as Chancellor of Cambridge and with His Majesty's urging.


When Lord Grey invited the King to escape his courtiers with telescopic endeavors, Francis turned to see what his royal master would say. The King did enjoy his breaks.

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The King chuckled, "Do not forget, Lord Grey, the splendor of your attire will aide in the proliferation of your ideas and influence, as silly a notion as that is. It is one of those truths which we all must fall victim to; the act defines the man as much as his mind or actions, and the act requires costuming."


There was a bark of laughter as Francis confessed his family jewels needed to breathe. "Much is riding on those jewels," he replied.


"Yes, a trio, quite." Between the three, something could be done to advance the issue. He wished his Kingdom to be known for advancements and learning. The Sun King could have his gold, mirrored halls. Charles Rex wished to leave something grand in the realms of ideas and discovery.


"We shall bear it in mind for when the courtiers invariably begin to annoy us when in such close proximity." It was a very busy season, but he might have an impulse to escape as he did with his closet at Whitehall. He did not much have an equivalent at Windsor, though part of the draw was in the solitude where no one dare interrupt him. Few had even see the inside. Grey was interesting though.



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Lord Grey’s tailor was one of the best in London. The man was good enough to take his clients’ wishes into consideration while keeping them on the leading edge of fashion. In Henry’s case, he had requested that details would evoke England’s glorious past, and Mr Maisoniere had added Tudor elements to the latest cuts. The man was a sartorial genius, adding conceptual puns like grey pearls and mother-of-pearl details, but that did not mean that the Baron enjoyed paying the small fortune he paid every time he ordered a new wardrobe. That money could be better be put to use by purchasing more equipment or paying for a student’s expenses at Cambridge.

Hmm… there is an idea… the Grey Grant does not sound too bad… will have to talk about it with Lord Kingston.

“I will join you, Sire, and Lord Kingston, in the necessary evil of costuming then. And I promise not to complain to anyone about it except to the two of you”. Due to his childhood training, Lord Grey felt out of his depth talking like that to the king, but he was coming to realize that His Majesty might need it, even if he would never ask for it or let it show that he relished it. “As for the Kingston family jewels”, Henry turned to Francis with a grin, “may they be fruitful soon. I would consider it an honour to share knowledge with a few blond-haired youths, and I will not have more than a score of years to do it!” It has Henry’s attempt at light talk. Left unsaid was that Henry felt court fashions too tight in the crotch, so he knew exactly what the Earl meant.

When the King had spoken previously about academic publishing governance, Henry had misunderstood that it was for Lord Kingston and Sir Isaac only. The nobleman was the Chancellor of Cambridge, after all, while Lord Grey was a mere ex-fellow. Yet, it seemed that he had been informally appointed to help Lord Kingston and Sir Isaac in the endeavour. “I will be as helpful as I can, Sire”. The Baron was a scientist, not an administrator. But perhaps that was what was needed. Administrators tended to bloat everything, while scientists tended to do things in a far leaner manner. One did not need a committee to polish a lens. One could not add the salaries of a committee to the cost of a lens.

Hooke is the Geometry chair. Neither Sir Isaac nor I see eye to eye with him. This may become either an opportunity to make things right, or it will be a hinder to fulfill His Majesty’s wishes. Hopefully it will be the first and not the second.

“One is always glad to be of service, Sire”, Henry said regarding the king escaping court and visiting his makeshift lab. “Discovery and research not only bring glory to King and Country. They also ought to be enjoyed”. There was a lot of hard work too, but even that Henry genuinely enjoyed. “The White can get refreshments sent in less than half an hour, I am told”. If it was to be a relaxed visit, food and drink were a must.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Francis snorted at Lord Grey's pronouncement, "I am, of course, eager to obey His Majesty, but I should think it would be best if I was married before the family jewels were put to work in the creation of more sapphires and rubies."


Putting a long-fingered hand delicately to his chest, he said with a straight face, "And how are you so sure they shall be blonds?"


The assumption of blond was on spot. It was very true that most of their family was very blond although there were instances of a light auburn or his own father's dark hair. 


"And you have little idea what Villiers-blooded boys can get up to in their lessons, Lord Grey," he teased. He could admit that he, George, and Will had been handfuls and then some. It was amazing that he had any feeling left in his backside.

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"I do not think either of you have a full appreciation of what Bucks and I got up to in our lessons!" the King added, with a hearty guffaw.


He nodded as the pair promised to do well by the task of combining forces with Newton to see that their researchers felt comfortable and safety in their publishing. 


Being king did not allow him all the freedoms he wished, so he could not make promises to Grey for a scientific sojourn in town, but he did smile at the offer. If he would be able to do so, it would be a spur of the moment decision.


"Well now, Kingston, shall we continue the walk? We have another half of battlements to cover before breaking fast! It promises to be a very busy day and evening. Pleasant day and pleasant observations to you, Lord Grey. We thank you for the enjoyable interlude and for making such great instruments available to our courtiers."



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“Lord Kingston, I was a student at Cambridge before I was a fellow. Believe me, I know how a feisty youth can behave… by having been one myself! Carrot and stick is the best way to guide a restless mind, I think. Very definite limits with punishment if those limits are crossed, but also enticing rewards if they are not”. Henry had had his share of mischievous, even dangerous, moments. “But I mean it. I will by then be older than I am now, but I am certain I could handle a son of yours… or three!”

Then the King hinted at His and His Grace Buckingham’s behaviour when young. “Your whipping boys must have earned their keep, I am sure, Sire. But you are both greater than life… you the grander, of course”. It was not good to tell the king he had an equal in his realm. “Perhaps you one day will grant me the boon to relate one of your tales”. It would be a treat for Lord Grey.

Then His Majesty decided to continue with his morning constitutional. “Thank you, Your Majesty. May God grant you a good day”, Henry said as he bowed formally. “I am just happy that I am able to contribute to the glory of England in my own, small way”. The King was, after all, England. That was the meaning of the royal we, after all. The King was his country. Glory for the country would be glory for the King.

“Lord Kingston, a pleasure to see you again”. Another, a bit less pronounced bow.

OOC: Fin?

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