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A Question Of Faith | Saturday September 17th, early afternoon

Sophia de la Cerda

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The Toledo Residence



Sophia was drinking a lot of tea today.


Maybe it was fortunate that Lady Alyth had not been able to lunch with her. That would have meant more tea and she didn’t want to spend the rest of the day in the privy. The baby liked to sit on her bladder, which made her trips to the loo more frequent even without drinking a lot of tea. She would only take small sips while Mistress Wellsley was here. Having just finished her last book, she would be heading to the bookstore later in the day and didn’t want to have a full bladder.


She was looking forward to Davina’s visit. They had planned to get together last season, but that meeting had been canceled. Sophia later heard that she had been thrown into the Tower. She promised herself not to mention that today, but she was curious as to what such a proper, honorable, and polite young lady could have done to deserve such a harsh punishment. She was also no longer one of the Queen’s maids of honor. Had she perhaps offended her former mistress? Sophia could not imagine Mistress Wellsley offending anyone.


Apparently, she had done something right to win Prince Rupert's favor. Sophia had hoped that he might take an interest in her as she was from his homeland, but except for a brief conversation at a ball last year, they’d had no contact at all. Maybe he was disappointed that she had married a Spaniard instead of one of the gentlemen he has suggested for her. Perhaps she should have listened to him.


She was still wearing the gown she had worn this morning when she’d had tea with Ellen Doolittle. It was so comfortable she never wanted to take it off and she was pleased that Ellen had given her three others. Maybe if she wore them to court events, they would start a new maternity fashion trend, though she had others that were made especially for those.


Entering the drawing room, she sat down in the richly upholstered chair that had been placed behind her embroidery stand and began to stitch as she waited for Davina to arrive.


Edited by Sophia de la Cerda
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It had been quite the day already and now here was another that might well be the same.

This was a meeting that she herself had called off from just after Easter and before her having to leave London - or so her story had and been at the time - but was by now made a lie as EVERYONE seemed to know about her imprisonment in The Tower. And she supposed that she would be asked about it today but perhaps Sophia would have the kindness not to.

Arriving at the Windsor Town residence of the Toledo's Davina was received and then waited to be announced. She had had no idea back then what Sophia had wanted to discuss and it was the same now. She could fill her mind she suppose with ideas but that was a useless occupation. She had changed from her earlier dress into a gown of soft grey silk accented with metallic trim and pale blue bows. She had braided her hair pinning up into a coil at the back of her neck. That she was so dressed might surprise many for she was well known to take a very active interest in Fashion. Perhaps it was her time spent in that awful cold and damp place where she had but a few choices in clothing that had made her less interested? She had brought a gift for Sophia - she had made several baby's caps in white linen and used white embroidery in a pattern that really had no design - since no one knew the sex of the child she did a simple pattern that would suit either. Poppy had wrapped them up carefully and placed them into the small box that she now carried.

As she waited she took note of her surroundings curious to see how others' were living  .....

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The butler’s voice started Sophia out of her thoughts and she turned toward the door, noting that Davina was not dressed as sumptuously as she usually was. Pushing back her stool, she rose, placing one hand on the edge of the embroidery stand for support. She wished she had brought a cloth to cover her handiwork. Her stitches were far from perfect and she didn’t want Mistress Wellsley to see how poorly she sewed. With any luck, she would not be curious about it.


“It is lovely to see you again, Mistress Wellsley,” she said as she walked forward to greet her friend, for that is how Sophia thought of her. They didn’t always see eye to eye, but despite their differences, she thought they got along quite well. “Come and sit with me by the window.”


Waddling back the way she had come, she took a seat in one of the chairs. “How have you been? You mentioned Prince Rupert in your note. You must have really impressed him for him to let you assist him with something.”  Though she already knew what it was, she didn’t want Davina to know that she and Darlene had discussed it yesterday.

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  • 2 weeks later...

She dipped a curtsey then added her greeting.

"Countess. I think that would be a good idea - I am sorry for I can not think of anything else to say! Your condition warrants it."

She accepted the offer to sit and settled herself her gaze straying to the embroidery frame but she did not comment although she was curious about what was stretched out on the frame.

"I am well enough."

"And yes Prince Rupert has asked me to help with the re-design of the East Terrace Gardens. Apparently I have an 'eye for colors that blend well' or so it was said."

"Actually I have yet to meet His Highness in this regard. I have, of course, been in his Presence but not on a singular note."

"And you? You look well but I am sure you must be getting nervous as the time grows closer."

She just wished that the other would come to the reason as to why she wanted to see her. But pleasantries must be observed.

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After they were both seated, Davina confirmed that the German Prince wanted her to redesign the East Terrace Gardens. “Oh, that sounds like fun. I never thought I would like gardening, but I find it quite enjoyable now. I agree with Prince Rupert. You do have an eye for color. One can see it in the way you dress. Even the gown you are wearing today demonstrates it. Blue goes very well with gray. Most ladies seem to pair it with black or white.”


Sophia didn’t want to distress her guest and therefore did not ask why she had spent time in the Tower. Everybody probably wanted to know about it, and Davina was most likely as tired of that inquiry as she was about always being told she should sit down and rest. If she wanted to volunteer the information, then the blonde Countess would listen, but she didn’t think she would and it was really none of her concern. She was just an insatiably curious young lady.


“I am fine,” Sophia smiled. “My anxiety increases with every day that goes by. I have been told what to expect, but every woman’s experience is different. I do hope that having a baby will be easy for me. If I have a long and painful time of it, then my lord husband will just have to be content with only one child.” She hoped to give Juan many children, assuming he was able to father them. If this one was not his, then she doubted she would ever have another. Unless she became a widow and remarried.


“I’m facing a dilemma that I hope you can help me with. Lord Toledo insists that his children be raised as Catholics. I wonder if I should convert as well. He has been pressuring me to do it for some time. Since you are Catholic, I hope that you will be willing to give me your opinion on this matter so that I can make an informed decision. I am asking other friends of both faiths for advice as well.”


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It was a nice complement and she was glad that there was no further prodding. She knew quite well that Sophia wanted to know what had happened - like they ALL did - but she would be disappointed.

She couldn't help the small laugh that came out at the others words. But she had not meant to be offensive.

"I am sorry."

"But of all the things that you could have asked I did not expect that!"

"I can understand Lord Toledo's desires for his child. And you have not already done so? And yet you were able to marry?"

Now it was her turn to be surprised.

"How was that possible - no Priest would sanction it. You would have been made to undergo Instructions ......."

"Unless Lord Toledo was able to just bypass all of that (with a nice 'donation' to the Priest) or you would not consent?"

"Yes I can see this dilemma of yours. And now you are soon to deliver a child and are still not converted. He must fear for the soul of his unborn child greatly."

She grew quiet and then with a glance about the room edged herself a bit closer.

"Even if you are amongst those trusted you must have a care - you have no idea who wears a double face. And this topic, especially now, is not one to be so openly discussed."

"And you will tell me next that everyone here is vetted and that tis an impossibility to have a spy."

"Foolish. And a thing that could well endanger you."

"You have sought me out but have you forgot that 'I" am now converted as is my brother Baintree? We attend Anglican Service as all can see."

"Some have been allowed to continue to worship in private as long as they show an outward support."

"You are married to a Spaniard who hails from a Catholic Nation. You must adapt and learn and understand all the Customs and Traditions while leaving yours aside."

"It can not have been an easy thing and I can sympathize. But now you are in this position."

"And since you have asked me for it I shall speak plain."

"You have to chose." 

"There are only two choices as I see it    ......

"One if you do not convert then you will have no say in anything in the matters concerning the upbringing of your children. They will be brought up in Mother Church and taught its ways and beliefs."

"They will also be made to know that their Mother is not a "True Believer' and thus of no real importance."

"Two - you agree and convert. Is not the well-being of your children worth more than your own self? How can you NOT be a part of their lives?"

"And I can assure you that however easy going Lord Toledo has been up to now once that child is born HIS faith will over-ride anything you might say or do."

"And how can you seek the opinion of non Catholics in this matter? They know nothing of that Religion beyond the superstitious and political gossips."

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Davina was understandably surprised at her question. She even laughed, which Sophia found a bit irritating. Perhaps I should have asked Henry instead, Sophia thought. They’d had little time to speak in the Music Room yesterday, but perhaps she would get the chance when he found a midwife and brought her to Windsor. She wasn’t certain if Davina was going to answer or dismiss the idea altogether.


Sophia listened silently while she spoke. As to how she had married a Catholic without converting, she assumed that either it was not forbidden in Spain or that Juan had pulled a few strings.


She could not recall Davina telling her that she and her brother had converted to Anglicanism. The young Countess had an excellent memory but there had been so much on her mind since she had become pregnant that she was becoming a bit forgetful. Still. Davina had been raised Catholic and understood that faith better than she did.


Her friend echoed a few of her own concerns and informed her of some things she did not know. Would she truly be unable to have any say in her children’s upbringing if she didn’t become Catholic? Would they be taken from her because she was Protestant? Juan would certainly not allow such a thing. Would he?


Sophia’s father had been Protestant and her stepmother Catholic. She had respected them both and had attended both churches as a child. Why could her children not be like that too? She clearly needed to speak to Esteban, even though he was biased. He had said one thing when they were courting and then had changed his mind.


When Davina finished speaking, the tea and refreshments arrived, giving the blonde Countess time to ponder what she had said. Once everything had been set up and the tea had been poured, she gazed at her friend with an uncharacteristically serious expression on her pretty face. She kept her voice low so that the servants would not be able to hear her words.


“I have no idea why I was able to marry my lord husband while retaining my own faith. Maybe the rules are different in Spain. Or in Amsterdam, where we were wed. When he was courting me, he told me that he had ambitions to become an Ambassador and that a Protestant wife would help him gain acceptance in Protestant countries. But now that he has the position he was aiming for, he changed his tune. He has been pressuring me to convert since before I fell pregnant.


“As for spies, I would be surprised if there were not a few in our household. Not only is my lord husband an Ambassador but he is a trusted friend of the Prime Minister of Spain. Spies will be after information that will benefit their masters, and I serious doubt they will be the least bit interested in what religion his wife is or will become.


“You have given me a lot to think about, Mistress Wellsley. It seems as if converting is the only way to be part of my children’s lives. And it would be less confusing for them and for me. I don’t think that I will be treated differently here because of it.” Sophia smiled. “Courtiers seem to believe I’m Catholic already because I married one.”


She took a sip of tea. It was warm and soothing. “I’m asking Protestants because I want to hear both sides of the issue. They cannot speak knowledgeably about Catholicism but they can about Protestantism. I also need to figure out what I truly believe, and friends of both faiths can help me with that.”


Sophia wanted to ask Davina why she and her brother had converted, but that question was even more personal than inquiring about her stay in the Tower.


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"That is why I questioned it. Lord Toledo is Spain's Representative and ALL know that the Country is firmly entrenched in the Catholic Faith."

"His 'Ambitions' would make it even more clear that any woman he married must be Catholic or convert. No Priest would condone a union let alone perform a ceremony."

"As for a Protestant wife ..... that makes little sense for once he married you it would be assumed, as it has been here, that you converted. You are seen as Catholic and by marriage wed to Spain."

"Politics is not an easy thing. There are so many ways to move and what some will do for profit and gain. And you do not know what Lord Toledo does or wants except for what he tells you."

"If you remember I did suggest that you educate yourself in what being married to an Ambassador entailed."

"How important it was to learn HOW the game is played."

"And now you find yourself in this situation."

"And perhaps Lord Toledo himself is being pressured - have you thought of that? His Master must not be happy to read reports that do not paint his wife in favorable light."

"And yes you should have expected to be treated differently. You went from Kingston ward to Spanish Ambassador's wife. Quite a leap. Naturally those at Court would assume that you now 'spy' for your husband and thereby Spain."

"No matter if it's untrue."

"But we have had this talk before. Perhaps now you see more clearly?"

She too sipped at her tea finding it pleasant to drink.

"But all your being should now be with your husband. You belong to him. You have no real rights to anything."

"It has always been thus and will ever be."

"You say you need to see what you 'believe' truly? Your Beliefs should be as Lord Toledo's. Your support to him and for him unquestionable."

"Perhaps that might explain why your husband has had a change in his thinking?

"I wish that I could give you the answers you seek."

"But if you are serious about converting - and if must be whole heartily - seek out the priest who attends your husband. I am sure you have one housed somewhere."

She gave a small smile for clearly the Spanish Ambassador would indeed have one.

"Ask Him for guidance and help. But do this quietly and without discussion amongst your ladies or servants. Or friends."

"Tell your husband naturally."

"He will be relieved and the worry for this child's Soul will be eased"

"And you also will find Peace."

Her words were said with much sincerity which might cause the other to wonder at. 

For someone who now attends Anglican Services yet still seems to be very much a Catholic would it not be odd?

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Sophia was fairly certain that not all Spaniards were Catholic. No matter what faith dominated a country, there were always those who adhered to others. Sometimes they had to hide their beliefs, which might be the case in Spain. There were Protestants there, of that she was sure, though Muslims probably outnumbered them and they were not even Christians.


Davina’s words were reminiscent of those she had spoken in the past. The petite blonde was quite aware of her duties as an Ambassador’s wife, and she performed them rather well, in her opinion. She also knew the false conclusions that courtiers jumped to because of her position. Changing their views was not high on her list of priorities. Let them believe what they would. The truth was the truth and nothing could change it.


She was a bit miffed that Davina thought that unfavorable reports were being sent to her beloved Prince, but she let it go. She also seemed to think that married ladies should not have their own identities, instead taking on the ideals of their husbands. Sophia doubted that she would appeal to Juan if she simply agreed with everything he said. Some gentlemen preferred that their wives be able to think for themselves and to complement their personalities rather than parrot them.  She wasn't Juan's wife but she had only married Esteban to be with him and she believed that he would have married her himself if he could.  The young Countess did wholeheartedly support both of them and they seemed quite satisfied with her deportment … other than the fact that Esteban used her bodyguard to spy on her.


Sophia sighed. “My lord husband’s priest sought me out and continues to do so. He is not secretive about it so the entire household already knows that I am being pressured to convert. I went to the Queen’s Chapel a few times last season to pray for guidance. I informed my lord Toledo and he was pleased. I still need to do some soul-searching but what you have said has eased my mind considerably and will make my decision easier.  Thank you for that.”


By the way she spoke, it seemed to Sophia that Davina was still more Catholic than Protestant. Maybe in the deepest part of her soul, she still was and always would be.


She picked up a sweet pastry and took a bite. After washing it down with a sip of tea, she smiled and changed the subject. “What do you plan to do with the garden? It must be exciting to be able to design something that others will enjoy for years to come.”


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"That Lord Toledo's priest continues to seek you out means that it is with your husband's approval and that he, at least, expects the result to be as He wishes."

"Yet I must also say that to be 'forced' to do what one does not want is also a hardship. Perhaps, in your reflection, you might discover that it is possible to do one outwardly and the other in private."

"I myself have made such a discovery."

It was all the hint that she could offer. But would Sophia understand the meaning behind her words?

"I am glad then that I was able to help even in some small ways."

The subject change was noted with a small smile. Sophia had gotten rather skilled so it seemed!

"In fact it is all being decided by Prince Rupert. I gave him some sketches and in return was told that I seemed to have an eye for knowing what colors went well together and so I was put to the task to 'improve' what is already made."

"It is far different than my previous employ." She smiled a bit at that. "But I have been given the skilled hands of gardeners to work and even the ability to recruit a Lady or two to help me."

"Sadly my first choice was not receptive and wanted instead to make a competition ...... So I will start again. But as for the Garden itself - I have not met with Prince Rupert only have had things relayed out. It is my understanding that He will select what he likes and then I am to implement."

"It would be a sad thing to uproot all those roses plus tis Fall soon and some flowers and plants are unavailable."

She gave a small sigh.

"Its almost as if I am just being given a task to keep me occupied and out of the way."

This said a bit under her breath as she took a sip of her tea.

She had been instructed to make her displeasure known but saying it to other Courtiers might not be what was intended or wise. But then there was also the possibility that those seeking to do harm were indeed put about Court. It could be just be meant for the servants that would help in the Garden as they were like as not to gossip just as well those at Court.

But she needed to make a start and so Lady Toledo was the first to get a glimpse of it.

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Now she understood. Davina had only converted for appearance’s sake, and likely because it was safer. In her soul, she was still Catholic. Sophia’s own personal beliefs fell somewhere in between. Both Protestants and Catholics worshiped the same God and she had no idea why they couldn’t get along because of that. Why did one have to choose? Now she knew that, like her friend, she could be both. Davina might see the comprehension in her eyes and the small secretive smile that turned up the corners of her lips. “I never thought of it like that. Thank you for enlightening me.”


She found the project that Davina had been given to be quite an honor. Redesigning a garden wasn’t anything like being one of the Queen’s ladies, but maybe the change would be good for her. And she was able to supervise the gardeners and her chosen assistants, therefore gaining leadership experience. Was it possible that she was being prepared for a higher position in the Queen’s household? Sophia hoped so.


She knew that the lady Davina spoke of was Darlene. Both of her friends saw the situation differently. Darlene thought that Davina was being too bossy and Davina believed that Darlene wanted to compete with her. Perhaps their personalities just clashed when they tried to work together. Sophia also noted that Davina did not ask her to assist her, but that was expected. A heavily-pregnant lady would be more of a hindrance than a help.


“It sounds like a lot of fun to me. Definitely keep the roses, and perhaps you can choose bulbs to plant that will bloom in the spring and delight everyone who strolls through the garden.”


She frowned when her friend surmised that she had been the position to keep her out of the way. Out of the way of what? Does this have something to do with her stay in the Tower?


“I doubt that. Any lady who is interested in gardening would be thrilled to be where you are now. Maybe you are being tested and will be given an even more rewarding position when you make this project a success.”

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"What I think really holds not enough merit for tis Prince Rupert that will have final say. And I know so little about him to begin with. Besides what every Courtier knows I mean."

"I suppose I could go to Lord Beverly and plead for some information but that would not put me in a good light." 

"Besides poor Beverly has enough to content with regarding housing here at Windsor."

"I should like to keep the roses. But the first hurdle is to know just how much His Highness wants to be dug up or simply rearranged. And soon the Season will change and after that tis Winter. I do not think His Majesty shall remain here till then! And I must also heed what the Head Gardner thinks as it will be to that Gentleman to manager after."

"Do not be so quick to assume such Countess. My placement here is not by choice but one of necessity. And as to others' wanting to be where I stand that is doubtful."

"I fear that they would be wanting to seek some attention as well as other mischiefs."

"But let us think for a moment on that topic - who would YOU seek out if in my place? Remember tis only one or two that I may have and it is voluntary with no money."

"I shall be frank and say that Lady Oakham has declined my approach. She wished for it to become a competition between many Ladies with a prize to be given for whoever His Highness picked as the best 'idea'."

"As well as the title of Lady of The Gardens."

"She would not be dissuaded from that idea and so I thought it best to accept her leaving."

"I am curious as to who you will pick."

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Sophia’s eternal optimism did not rub off on Davina. She seemed quite morose about the entire project. The petite singer sensed that there was a reason behind her dismissal from the Queens’s household and this appointment to redesign the gardens of Windsor, though she did not want to press her friend for information.


“I met Prince Rupert during my first season at court. I was hoping that he would take an interest in me since we are both German and come from the same province. We spoke a few times and he was courteous but didn’t seem inclined to offer me any guidance. Only yesterday, I discovered that it was him who convinced Lord Kingston to allow me to marry Lord Toledo. He cared about my welfare after all. Maybe he is naturally aloof. That he does not wish to meet with you in person may mean that he trusts you and knows he put this project in the right hands.”


Having finished the pastry, Sophia picked up a scone and bit into it. “He has not told you what he wants? I’m sure he will. He must be very busy with his various duties. Heeding the head gardener’s advice is a wise choice, as he knows more about the garden than either of you.”


And there was another hint. Davina had been put in charge of the garden by necessity. Did she want her to ask why? Should she?


At least now she knew what Darlene had suggested. Sophia also understood why Davina turned her down. If another lady won the competition, then she would be put in charge instead. Davina took her responsibilities seriously while Darlene tried to make everything fun.


Who would she choose? “Well … me, of course,” she jested, “if I wasn’t so heavily pregnant. I am afraid I can be no help to you now. I don’t believe I know any ladies who are involved in horticulture. The garden society had been disbanded before I became interested in it.  Maybe …”


Her scone paused in midair. “Oh!  I do remember one lady who knew a lot about gardening but I can’t recall her name. I haven’t spoken to her in ages and am not even sure she is at court. She had a very handsome husband who kept trying to seduce me, though I doubt that will tell you who she is."


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"Naturally if you were not as you are then I should like it much."

She wanted to appease Sophia and not have her think the omission had been deliberate.

"I was trying to remember those that had taken an interest. Lady Oakham had tried to draw in many and even The Queen had been involved."

"I am surprised that Lady Oakham did not try to revive it this year."

"In fact I did make that suggestion of a 'competition' but to be held in the Spring when thoughts of gardens and flowers would prevail but she was not receptive."

Sophia then offered up a person and Davina felt her heart give a small leap. 

"Are you perhaps speaking of a Lady who's last name refers to a 'bird'?"

"And I would add that you were but one of many that found that same thing occurring."

"Do you think that Lady might be persuaded? If it is who we both think then I can say that I have some friendship with her from last Recess." 

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“I asked Lady Oakham about that when we went shopping yesterday. She doesn’t plan on reestablishing it this season. I even offered to help her with it, though again, I’m not sure I would be of much help in my current condition.” Sophia did not tell Davina the reason Darlene was not going to revive it … that she thought ladies would be more interested in Davina’s gardening project than in hers.


“Maybe she will change her mind when we are back in London. Windsor is only temporary and some courtiers probably chose not to come. When spring is in the air and everyone is planning their new gardens, she might become intrigued by the idea again. We’ll just have to wait and see. Your competition sounds like fun. I would participate in it, even though I am still a beginner at gardening and would have little chance of winning.”


Davina knew exactly who she was talking about and her hint brought a name to Sophia’s mind. “Elizabeth Anne Finch. That’s her name.”


She smiled wryly. “When I first came to court, I was so innocent and naive that I thought he fancied only me. I almost gave into temptation but I’m glad I didn’t. After I became a bit wiser, I realized that he probably attempted to entice others as well.  It was easy to refuse him after that."


She wondered if he had tried to seduce Davina too.


“You seem to know her better than I do.  If I was her, I would be honored.  For some reason, she broke off contact with me and we haven’t spoken for well over a year. Maybe she found out that her husband attempted to seduce me. Or she doesn’t like Spaniards. I miss her. You are lucky that she is your friend.”  Sophia chuckled. “Just stay away from her lascivious husband.”

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"Well I can do no more in regards to Lady Oakham. She will do as she pleases regardless."

'How wise of you, despite your naivety, to have understood the danger that it presented. I am sure that there are some who did not ...."

She could hardly share her own experience with the Gentleman - on the stairs of his residence no less and the kiss had been a clear indication that he was very much practiced. 

"Well I too have lost touch. But perhaps I shall reach out to her  ...... I have not seen her here at Windsor so it is likely she remains in London."

"And as to her husband - I think that she could to be aware. Did they not live apart after all?"

"But tis just speculation after all. For no now can really know what happens behind closed doors."

"Have you learned to mix your own tea or do you buy? I do like the taste of this one."

Asked as she sipped in appreciation. 

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“That was, of course, what he was counting on. I wonder how many innocent young maidens he ruined.” Sophia shivered, remembering how close she had come to succumbing to Lord Winchilsea’s seduction … both before and after she was married.  "I didn't know they live apart.  Maybe that explains why she's not at court."


She smiled at Davina. “Maybe she will come to Windsor if you ask her to help you with your project. She can probably recommend other ladies who like to garden, and then you will have all the help you need. And if you do get in contact with her, please tell her that Lady Toledo sends her regards.”


As to the tea: “It came from Lady Alyth’s tea shop. It is one of my favorites and I always buy more when my supply gets low. I brought plenty of it with me to Windsor. I’ll give you some to take with you, if you wish.”

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"I can have only one or two so is my understanding."

She answered back.

'And if accepted they may well not wish to continue to be outside ...... this is why tis proving to be harder than I thought."

"But I shall send a note to Lady Elizabeth and see how her mind is towards this. If things are not well between husband and wife perhaps she has no wish to be where he is?"

"She is a strikingly beautiful woman is she not?" Said of Lady Alyth.

"Actually ALL of those sisters share that."

"I have not visited it. Perhaps I have overlooked a good thing!"

"That is very kind of you. I shall enjoy it indeed."

She sipped again and nodded her head. It was indeed flavorful.

She wondered what questions might next be asked regarding the original subject matter.

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“Personally, I would love to spend so much time outside, but I know that most ladies prefer to remain indoors. I have no idea why. They miss so much by staying inside all the time.”


Sophia nodded to Davina’s comment about Lady Alyth and her sisters. “She has a lovely singing voice as well. Maybe there will an opportunity this season for the two of us to sing together. We were talking about that on Thursday after the reception.


"She sells several different kinds as well as delicious baked goods. I wasn’t fond of sweets until I fell pregnant. Now I crave them. I sometimes wonder if I will still like them after the baby is born.  Maybe we can go there together when we return to London.  Until then, I am happy to share my tea."

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"Well I imagine there must be all kinds of things that you wonder about in regards to your child."

"And of course only Time will tell how they will turn out. A new born babe is like a white paper after all and whatever is to be written unknown."

"I should like to visit there as well."

"Unusual indeed for a Lady of her Station to ply a trade but it seems she must be capable if you sing her praises."

She sipped her tea wanting to ask if there was more that she needed to provide. She had thought the main question had been answered. She also did not want to tire out Lady Toledo either.

But she could hardly brooch the subject herself.

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Davina’s advice had practically convinced Sophia that becoming Catholic was the right choice to make. She could practice her husband’s faith outwardly while still remaining Protestant in her heart, if that was what she wanted. It was always possible that she would embrace the Catholic faith eventually.


“I will raise this child to become a good person and not try to change his … or her … natural personality. Unless he likes pulling the wings off butterflies or something equally cruel.” She shuddered just thinking about it. “I can’t see a child of mine doing such things. He or she will be loved and grow up happy, hopefully with several younger brothers and sisters.” Oh, how she hoped the baby was Juan’s and that she could give him many more.


As to the tea shop: “Then we shall go there together when we return to London. And we can have some of Lady Alyth’s delicious baked goods while we’re there.”


There was nothing else Sophia wished to discuss but she was happy to talk to Davina about various topics while they enjoyed their tea.

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