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Sunday Chapel (Sept 18, 1678)


Blackguard
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Saint George's Hall served as the formal gathering place of the court while it was at Windsor.  It had space to seat hundreds and a stunning decor worthy of any cathedral.  It was here that the court met to worship and celebrate. 

A small group of Catholics would join the Duke of York to celebrate his own mass in a smaller chamber.  Both Protestants and Catholics would join for the Royal Christening on the following Sunday.

The sky had been overcast in the morning, but the sun was peeking through the clouds.  It might be a nice crisp Fall afternoon.

The church was full.  The royal extended family sat in the front, followed by various dukes and royal favorites such as the Queen's ladies and the King's gentlemen.  The main seating was for the peerage and their families, and the back seating was for the gentry and for late arrivals, no matter the rank.  A smattering of yeomen and Life Guard could be seen in the dark corners of the great hall, as well as at the door to the Hall.  Servants waited in the far back of the Hall.

While the Bishop of London was to give the Christening speech, the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury created the custom that he should preside at a service.  So, it was he that stood in the front, with the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London seated catty-corner behind the Archbishop.

The ceremony had begun with the procession and acclamation.  There was the prayer of the day and for purity.  Hymns and a scripture reading followed, with the reciting of the holy gospel.   For a sermon, the Archbishop chose a short one about the change of seasons as well as vast kingdoms of man and God.  It included, in part:

"God made sun and moon to distinguish seasons, and day and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons; but God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of His mercies; in Paradise, the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in Heaven it is always autumn, His mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask our daily bread, and God never says you should have come yesterday. He never says you must again to-morrow, but to-day if ye will hear His voice, to-day He will hear you.

If some king of the earth have so large an extent of dominion in north and south, as that he hath winter and summer together in his dominions, so large an extent east and west as that he hath day and night together in his dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgment together; He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; He can bring thy summer out of winter, though thou have no spring; though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon, to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite His mercies, and all times are His seasons."

A small army of castle servants came forth with the communion wafers and goblets of wine to be shared with courtiers in the same  row.  The royal family received a personal communion from the Archbishop.

The final banns were read for George and Caroline.  "Friends, this castle shall witness the joy of uniting George Hardwick, Earl of Chichester with the Lady Caroline Despany in holy matrimony in a private service on Tuesday.  If any know of a reason they may not marry, let them rise now."

The service ended with more hymns and the Archbishop's blessing and benediction and the doors of the Hall were flung open so that the congregation might depart or mingle if they wished.

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~OOC

You may assume that every courtier is present.  Even some Catholics would attend, having celebrated a private mass earlier.  They wished to be seen and mingle as well.  Assume everyone will be wearing their Sunday Best with jewelry on display.  This is a place to be noticed and wealth advertised.

Everyone is assumed to have arrived and been seated in the proper section unless you indicate otherwise.  Even though the Hall is huge, I will allow players to assume that they can catch sight of PCs and NPCs they would like to approach or ogle.  Please put a name in bold when you choose to approach someone so that we are on notice as to which character needs to react.

I may post some NPCs randomly as necessary if things are slow.

 

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Darlene had accepted an invite to sit with the Albemarles, and did her best to keep her eyes away from the dark-horse of a man Chris Monck, upon account that she'd promised Elizabeth not to encourage any wayward eyes in her direction.  But still, she was pleased to note that he dressed very fine, and what hints were possible thereby of his physique affirmed he was as lithe as a 21 year old still.   Elizabeth really should be having such a fine time with him, she thought not without a wistful sigh.

As was the way for Duchy, The Ablamarles were sat very near the front, so she discovered herself in a very good position to listen to the sermon.  Prince Rupert was also afforded that aural privilege, and seemed to be one who took that duty more seriously.   Though just over there… she felt for certain that the Duke of Buckingham had mastered the skill of dosing with eyes still open.  While the Duke of Seymour smiled in such a way that she suspected there was a book of jokes concealed by the dust cover of his prayer book.

Darlene made a show of tutting (to herself) regarding the latter, glancing to Prince Rupert in hopes to share a moment.

I need some sort of reason to speak to him later!

So it was that she mentally plotted away through the service.  Alas Darlene's version of plotting was very similiar to a Goldfish's circuit in it's Bowl, barely two minutes long till begun again.   Untill finally her attention was regained by the announcement of even more pending marriage.  It was as if people do these things on purpose just to rub my nose in it!

Her eyes did drift a time towards the Finch Family, their Pew rather filled, still it only took a moment for her to spoke Heneage the junior. In her musings of life he was sometimes included…

“Amen.” The final prayer was said, and Darlene stood happy to stretch her legs, “What a pity they did not mention anything of Deuteronomy.” Said she and a loud enough voice as to carry to Prince Rupert, hoping against hope that it was bait. Perhaps it was not bait, if not, she'd try some other morstel for her hook. 

 

 

 

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As of yet, he had no opulent finery.  He would need to visit the tailor or borrow the clothing of someone his size,  Thus, he was in his best brushed uniform, his dress boots spit shined to a gloss, and his hat with plume on the seat beside him.  He had chosen to sit as near the front as he could amongst the peers, having arrived early.

His eyes caught Darlene with the Ablemarles.  She did not seem to acknowledge him as she passed.  It was not a good thing for him that she was so close with the Duke and Duchess.  Darlene could cause him problems in that regard.

He had eyes for Susan Herbert as well.  He admired her attire and observed her as she sat with the Queen's ladies up at the front.  Did he catch her stealing glances behind her? Her brother Thomas was with the King's men.  Kathryn Villiers, Countess Pembroke was in view though it took craning his neck to get a good view.  As such, he tried to avoid it.  There would be a serious encounter with her soon enough.  Frankly, he heard little of the service, running his speaking points through his mind instead.  Periodically during the sermon he convinced himself that all would be well.  

Charles had checked the lords and ladies in his row and the row behind, wondering if Catriona was coming his way.  Hopefully not, unless she was smiling, and not that dark kind of smile.

The service was over and he stood and stretched his frame.  He paused to chat with others in his row, complimenting the service and the weather, allowing some time to pass before seeking out the dowager Countess.  There was no one else to see.  He was not at church to impress anyone but the Herbert family.  As such, he glided towards Countess Pembroke, hat in hand, keeping his distance as she finished talking with others and gave him the signal to approach.  Susan would need to wait.  He needed permission of the mother hen first.

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She sat thru the Service with little attention to it - her gaze was busy circumnavigating the area around where she sat - she saw Lord Langdon and still thinks that Fate might intervene; heard too that Lord Hardwick was to marry so she drew a mental line thru his name; she sought out Dorset and as well as Pembroke's brother Thomas .... She knew that there were others' out of her line of vision but she was very much determined to have a head start for when she met with the Duchess. Lady Basildon was going to require more thought but then again some minor Lord might well like to have a connection to a Royal House - even if a foreign one.

The Service drew to its close and she rose along with the other members of the Cavendish family her eye on the two sisters Frances and Margaret. It was a shame about Frances and Dorset  ..... Margaret would require a firm hand and over the next week or two she might set about her plan and take that girl out into the open letting others' have a look. Lord Grey had offered the use of his carriage ..... it was pity that he was so much older than the two sisters. Age differences were not at all uncommon but his was.Yet she could give it a try for Frances but that girl was like to balk so best to look for a match for Lord Grey amongst the older young women for they were several and he himself had made mention of a widow  .......

She nodded and exchanged greetings with those of her acquaintance. Her eyes on the lookout for any that she might have the luck to find.

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Prince Rupert mingled with the royal family for a few minutes and congratulated the Archbishop for the ceremony before walking down the aisle and being stopped by courtiers.  Beverley was left to his own devices as it was the Sabbath and he preferred to let his aide have some time with his wife.

Darlene's loud mention of a book of the Old Testament did not seem to catch his ear.  Instead, he welcomed the approach of the Earl of Oxford, a long-time friend of the Prince.  As others milled about, Oxford asked if they walk the battlements together in the coming days, to which Rupert readily agreed.

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Oh fiddlesticks, thought Darlene as the Prince of the Rhine failed to find her use of Deuteronomy as evocative or requiring his notice nor intervention.  She would need to be more obvious. 

Speaking of obvious, her erstwhile finance, the scurrilous cad Charles Whitehurst, entirely ignored her.  

But to make things more difficult (because that was needed) Rupert then paused to speak to Earl Oxford. 

Darlene had never spoken to let alone been introduced to that man, whom she was barely even informed of. Gulp. Nor did she recall The Duke of Newcastle having mentioned him (though they were both of an age, so might have known each other).  Still she neared... and overheard the mention of battlements. Finally, something she knew about. A little bit at least. When courting Thomas had once taken her there, and they had enjoyed a picnic.   

"My Lords, did I hear you say battlements? What a fine locale, with such fine views, and even better if warmed with a cup of hot chocolate.  Gentlemen, though I am unknown to you both, you are both known to me. May I have the honour of serving refreshment to England finest during your walk impending?  Oh but before you can agree, I need introduce myself properly;” she dipped a cursty, “Darlene Hamilton, Lady Oakham, widow of naval man Lord Thomas Hamilton.  It was in fact he who first taught me of the strategic necessity of those self same battlements you intent to inspect."

She had said too much. Had she said enough? Darlene’s eyes flared some as she gave the men her bestest smile, hopeful that they might agree, and she would have a beginning towards a meeting with the Prince. Behind her back, one of her hand was tucked with now tightly crossed fingers.

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Other Notables

 

The Finches

The Chancellor of England, Heneage Finch, was seated near the front of the Chapel.  His sons Daniel and Heneage Junior were with him, as was Daniel's wife.  It did not take long for Daniel to abandon his father, brother and wife in pursuit of a lovely lady or two.

The Earl of Arlington slipped by and exchanged pleasantries with the Finches for a moment.

Dorset

Rochester had refused to come to chapel with him.  Dorset had warned him that attendance was mandatory but, as usual, when Johnny told him what he would do if forced to attend, Dorset agreed he should stay away.  The Earl of Dorset cut a striking figure and he was approached by a number of matrons swanning by with their eligible daughters.  Charles Sackville looked for Anne-Elizabeth, knowing she would be nearby.

Lauderdales

 The Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale sat near the front as well. 

Hamiltons

On the other of the pew sat William Douglas, Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne, the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton.  They were there with their 20 year old son, James, the heir to the duchy.  They were no friends to Lauderdale, who had turned the King against them.

Baptist May

He preferred to sit in the back with the gentry.  Perhaps it was because he could hear more interesting conversations.

Robert and Anne Spencer, Earl and Countess of Sunderland

The Northern Secretary and his beautiful wife, the daughter of the Earl of Bristol, sat with the peers, but towards the front.

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more Other Notables

Daniel Finch broke away from his family group.  He wore midnight blue satin that made a shushing down as he moved, with a frothy white cravat sporting a lightest blue stone that glittered. The same light blue stone was also on his fingers, along with various others including pinkie ring.  His dark eyes roamed, while a quiet smile played on lips...   

Courts beauties were out in force, it was a good day to be alive. 

 

Johnathon Willoughby  Skulked into the service a tad late, having dawdled on the steps of the chapel smoking a newly purchased ivory pipe (Fashion wise he'd been told that it would be the next big thing).  Leaning against the wall near the back, he had a fine view for admiring the beauty of the hall. He also had a find view of it's occupants.   Was that Cat? Back at court again. And... oh yes, there he was, Lord Chatham. 

 

 

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Lauderdales

The Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale sat near the front as well.

Hamiltons

On the other of the pew sat William Douglas, Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne, the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton.  They were there with their 20-year-old son, James, the heir to the duchy.  They were no friends to Lauderdale, who had turned the King against them.

 

Duncan sat by himself at the end of a pew. He had arrived early, and kept to himself, deep in thought and prayer. He looked much better, and healthier, than when he had arrived at Windsor town, but his general countenance was one of deep sadness still. He was dressed in black velvet justeaucorps and breeches with silver thread detailing, embroidered gunmetal grey silk waistcoat with white mother-of-pearl buttons, white shirt, black cravat, black leather shoes, and an undecorated black tricorn. Due to the need of looking presentable, he had added to the silver ring with a central garnet and carved scrollwork on his left hand a fine, huge Mazarin-cut white diamond set on a silver cravat pin and a matching white diamond set on a silver ring in his right hand. His ebony walking stick with a silver head also sat nearby.

Duncan listened to the sermon intently and tried to apply it to his current, sorry, state. Change of season indeed. One day I was happily married, the next my one-year-old daughter will be raised without a mother. He worked hard at not letting tears flow, and eventually succeeded, though he had to dab the corner of his eyes a couple of times. May it please You to bring me into Your summer and out of my winter, oh Lord, he prayed as he took communion. I miss my Book Mouse so!

If either of the Scottish Dukes were to look in his direction, he would nod politely in respectful recognition, but Hamilton would also see a small smile. His Grace Hamilton and Duncan had attended the Scottish House of Lords together on various occasions and had agreed on some issues, so the Duke might recognize the Viscount. After the service vas over, it was Lord Melville’s intention to approach the Hamiltons and present his respects. It was known that His Grace was a moderate regarding Presbyterians, unlike Lauderdale, so perhaps his acquaintance ought to be cultivated.

A surprise at the end, one that made him smile. Lord Chichester’s bans were read, and he was marrying Lady Caroline! That was happy news indeed. He would have to write to the Earl, wishing him the best. A gift would be appropriate too.

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More Notables

 

The Duke of Ablemarle stood with his wife observing the many courtiers, with a bias for the female ones.  The Duchess was watching Darlene, trying to guess her intent for approaching Rupert and Oxford.  Lord Ogle moved to stand with Ablemarle.

The Duke and Duchess of Newcastle moved with their two daughters, Frances and Margaret, towards the Hamiltons.  The girls were on display and Newcastle knew Hamilton.  Seeing his heir at the service all but required the girls be presented to the Hamiltons.  Though Hamilton had lost his seat on the Privy Council, he still controlled valuable estates in Scotland. 

 

Charles Sedley had no daughter to show off.  York and Langdon had ruined her, or she had ruined herself, depending on one's perspective.  He moved towards the front of the chapel to look for Dorset.  Perhaps they would go for drinks afterwards.

The Killigrews were here in force.  Old man Thomas Killigrew, the King's Master of Revels kept a wary eye out for Darlene Hamilton.  He now carried a cane to help him walk.  He was here with his unmarried son, Thomas the Younger.  Accompanied also by his brother Henry, who had brought his beautiful daughter Anne to Windsor to find a suitable husband.  It was easy to overlook the family as gentry in the business of theater, but they were held in high favor of the King.  Thomas' sister, it was whispered, had been a mistress to the King decades ago and bore him a child.  A Killigrew had married into the Royal House of Orange.

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A beautiful and buxom young lady approached the two men, inserting herself into their conversation.  Such audacity caused the two lords to be speechless for a moment.  They looked at her and at each other in wordless communication.

Both men had much experience with opportunists that approached unbidden.  They had also been approached by fathers and brothers seeking to use beautiful daughters or sisters to their advantage in initiating dealings.  However, to approach without a gentleman or known lady to make introductions was highly irregular.

Fortunately, both lords were gallant cavaliers and were incapable of saying anything impolite to a lady.  As such, they were left with little recourse.  It was Oxford that knew his duty.

"Lady Oakham, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."  Both gentlemen nodded in polite greeting.  Oxford continued, "as you know, it can get quite windy upon the battlements, so a hot drink is a rare and pleasant surprise, as are you."  He was quite attentive and polite, as was Rupert.  Both tried to recall Thomas.

Rupert felt naked without Beverley to assist with unexpected encounters.  He could see his companion, Peg Hughes, talking with others not so far away.   "Lady Oakham, is there something Lord Oxford and I could do to assist you?"  He asked in a most genteel fashion.  "We would not be gentlemen to have you catch a death of cold while acting as a servant.  You are far too charming to follow around two old men as they remember events before your birth.  So, rather than have you do a service for us, perhaps we could do a service for you."  It was clear she wanted something and this was the most gallant way to inquire.

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She had rolled the dice, and now held her breath as she read how they fell. 

Both men’s smiles froze a little, it was a mental shock for them she understood. Then it was Oxford who spoke first, agreeing that the battlements were cold enough that a hot drink would not be rejected.

It was at that moment that she realised she’d pushed them too far.  While the younger set at court would adjust their sails easily, they were like yachts and able to dart about – but these men were like multi-masted tall ships, they plotted their course possibly days in advance, and a change of tack was considered an unwanted change to plans.

"Fear not Duke Cumberland, I shall not catch a chill on the battlements myself, but would sent my darkie maid Maisie to deliver your hot chocolate. It is to a Jamaican recipe we came by while in the carrib.” She decided to cut the boarding rope that she’s thought make use of. 

Especially when Rupert asked her directly what she wanted.

Which reminded her of that time she had met the King. He also had asked her what she wanted, and then too, she’d backed off and claimed naught.

“It would be my happiness to arrange this little thing, I do not want anything of you, but would thank you for all you have already done for our country. But I have intruded upon your conversation too long already now. Good speed, Gentlemen” 

She dipped a curtsy, a tad flushed of face, and very keen now to get back to someone who was more her pace.  Davina’s gardens garden were not worth making a complete fool of herself over!

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another more others that need to be said, another more others who early got out of bed

 

 

The Brooke Family,  A pair of arrived together.  At the end of the service Lord Brook moved to greet an old friend, and for a time left Baroness Doneralie to her own devices. 

Anne was carefully dressed in a gown of sage green velvet trimmed with cream bobbin lace and bright green embroidery leaves intermittently.  The perfectly fitted sleeves were cuffed with the same leaf and lace pattern, while her hair comb was a Celtic knot crafted from a single piece of jade.  She placed an amicable smile upon face, and looked about for her brother (likely attending the Prince) or perhaps her sister in law Mary.

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Mountjoy looking around before joining the Finches

 

Charles had attended the service accompanying his wife with the Royal party. After the service he spoke quietly with Ursula until she was required to attend the Queen when he moved to join the milling crowd.

As the assembly was as much for socializing as it was for the actual service, he was attired in one of his more elegant outfits consisting of a frock coat of seal brown superfine jacquard in a diamond pattern accented with fallow beige silk tape and large gold buttons and a waistcoat in fallow accented with seal brown silk tape in a contrasting pattern and smaller matching buttons. His waterfall cravat was in light almond Chantilly lace with a gold clasp set with a large square cut topaz and a maroon bow. His breeches matched his coat, his stockings were almond silk held with maroon silk ribbons and his shoes were cordovan leather court shoes with gold buckles set with topaz and red heels. Along with his prayer book he carried fawn skin gloves and a bamboo walking stick headed with a celestial dragon in gold in his left hand. Hanging by a chain from a waistcoat buttonhole was a gold and enamel pomander from which wafted the scent of bergamot and clove.

Taking a sniff of his pomander Charles surveyed the gathering looking for any interesting groups. Darlene was bouncing about in a particularly Darlene way. He spied Lord Langdon who was looking fine in his uniform, yet again, but thought to himself that the man was in desperate need of a civilian tailor. He also thought to introduce him to Darlene in the hopes that they would hit it off but She had seemed to have gotten over her malaise and was bouncing around prince Rupert so surmised that this might not be the right moment.

The Finches were speaking to Arlington but he headed their way nevertheless. Charles had not seen Hen at all during the recess and still recalled the request of the senior Heneage to assist him with some personal issues he was dealing with. Now was not the proper time for such a discussion but he still would not mind a friendly conversation. Approaching the trio he was confidant that he would be welcomed.

‘Lady Winchilsea, it is so pleasant to see you. Was it not cheering to hear of the bans between lord Chichester and Lady Desplany? I do wish them all the happiness and look forwards to their nuptials.” Women were very fond of weddings so this was a safe subject. “My Lord Chancellor… Lord Arlington… Alysford.” He greeted each of his elders in order of precedence with a bow before greeting Hen less formally but with a genuine smile and a pat to his shoulder. He would have normally called Lord Alysford ‘Hen’ for he was one of the very few persons he addressed by their Christian name and the only one, other than his sisters, to whom he referred to by a diminutive name but they were in Church so he was a bit more formal. “I have not seen hide nor hair of you these past few months. We must sup together or pop down to Windsor town for a glass or two.” He said to the younger Heneage. He did not think the older gentlemen would be interested in such an evening.      

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Davina

She was seated amongst those in Prince Ruperts Household - she was no longer a Maid of Honor so naturally held no place amongst them. She knew without bothering much to look around that EVERYONE who was at Windsor was in attendance here. The Service was much the same as any other but then she heard the part about George's wedding bans and that gave her a bit of pause. She was not unhappy or even jealous rather she was Glad that he had at last found a woman that he could marry. They shared a History between them and at one time she herself was soon to be his Bride. But all that had come crashing down when he had rejected her - she had never discovered just who the other woman had been - and so their friendship had shifted and the exchanges of words hurtful. But he had not married that other woman either and so it was all a mystery that perhaps would always remain so.

The Service concluded and all rose. Now would begin the socializing and information gathering that was always an integral part of Court. She noted how Darlene went to where Prince Rupert was and could not help a small smile. She was nothing if not tenacious in wanting to have her ideas brought forth but Davina really did not have a care anymore. She intended to continue on with her 'job' either alone or with the aid of some other Lady. She saw Whitehurst talking to the Dowager Countess of Pembroke and a penny dropped - could it be that he had the intent to seek out Lady Susan  ..... She was not bothered by it. Davina and Charles had been lovers but that was something that no one knew about and now, well, he had come to her in The Tower and even offered her help and a place to stay if she needed it. She would always be grateful to him for that but she could not involve him in anything going forward. She held no bad feelings for him and she was glad however that he had not married that odious Sedley!

She moved on with no real direction. She would, however, stop to congratulate George if she encountered him. Her gaze fell on the Mountjoys - Lady Mountjoy in particular. She had yet to return her Badge that she had worn to signify that she was a member of the Queen's household but today was not the time nor place. She would need to write a short note and ask for an audience. Would she be turned away?

Things were really changed now and some would never be gotten back. 

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Douglas sat near the back of the Chapel, content to see rather than be seen. He wore his velvet Life Guard's uniform with heavy lace cravat and gold embroidery, red silk sash and silver pin with the Scottish arms holding his cravat. One advantage of sitting near the back was that if he fell asleep, few people would notice. And sometimes he did, if the sermon was long and boring, full of the promise of Godly retribution for slights or whatever. He half expected that, but found himself listening with some interest as the Archbishop of Canterbury expounded on the turn of the seasons, and God's promise inherent in them.

Winter was harsh, they knew that well enough in Scotland. Spring was lean, Summer becomming more bountiful, and now as the year rolled on into autumn with it's harvests of plenty, he suggested that if they opened their hearts to God, God would grant them an autumn of bounty in their lives. Of course, being a northerner, Douglas was well aware that some of the bounty of autumn had to be set aside to tide them through the winter, but the idea that a time of bounty might come was appealing. After all, his beginnings had been relatively harsh, he'd experienced his own lean spring coming to court before things started to take hold and he was perhaps in his summer. Might there be an autumn coming? The big Life Guard was an eminently practical man, who accepted the Lord's power and provenance as a fact of life without really considering that ecclesiastical considerations had any great application to his own life. He was no scolar, no clergyman, to puzzle out the subtleties of God's will. Still, the thought that God might hear his voice, and come to him with the bounty of autumn, if only a man would hear the Lord in turn, somehow appealed to him. Lord, I am no scholar but a man of action. But if you have a use for me, set a clear path before me and I will follow it and serve. It was all Douglas ever wanted really. Direction, a purpose, and some degree of appreciation for fulfilling that purpose. 

A pleasant finalé, the banns were announced for George and Caroline. Douglas didn't really know the latter but the Earl of Chichester was a nice fellow, and a dab hand at conspiracies, and he wished the man all happiness. Hadn't he lost a previous fiancé? Hopefully this one would work out. 

Waiting as the pew emptied, Douglas rose to his feet and took advantage of his height to survey those around him. There! As people mingled and filed out, he spotted Duncan, Viscount Melville, in the crowd, though there were yet quite a few people between them. However tragic the circumstances, it was good to see him. The Duke of Ablemarle stood with his wife and Lord Ogle, whom rumour suggested could use a better role model than his father. Charles Sedley appeared in the crowd, and Douglas wondered how the man was feeling following the death of Merriweather. Here wasn't the time nor place to discuss it. And there, close to the front, were the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.

Douglas approaches the Lauderdales

Catriona and the girls were here, so Douglas probably didn't have long before she'd be handing his sisters over to him and taking a well deserved rest, since he'd volunteered to take them for lunch and an outing after church. Best to speak to Lauderdale before she cornered him. "Yer Graces." He approached the pair and bowed deeply to the pair. "I trust that God's grace sees ye both hale an' hearty this fine day." He said politely to the pair. "Sorreh we missed ye at the Reception m'Lairdy." He added to Elizabeth, wondering if she was recovered. Maitland had said his wife had been ill, but she was hear today at least. Rumour had it that she was as intelligent and cunning as her husband. 

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Rupert and Oxford

Darlene could have asked for anything and the two gentlemen would have been inclined to assist in some fashion.  Instead, she retreated.

The two older lords looked at each other in puzzlement.  Rupert arched an eyebrow.  "Most curious."  Oxford turned to watch Darlene retreat into the crowd.  He turned back to Rupert with a smile.  "Perhaps, Highness, you engender gushing female admirers that merely wish to be in the presence of such a great man."  Rupert fought the tease with a sniff.  "Posh."  He looked in Darlene's direction.  "I will have Beverley look into the motives."  Looking back towards Peg, he saw his consort looking at Darlene too.  That was not good.

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Cordelia

She would know the Killigrews by sight.  They had both an eligible son and daughter to market.  They might be interesting acquaintances.    She saw Exeter, with his wife, Devonshire with his wife (and son married to Mary Butler), and a sea of others.  There was Charles Talbot, the 18 year old Earl of Shrewsbury, raised Catholic until his father was killed in a duel by the Duke of Buckingham.  It was said that he had taken the Oath recently and was, as of yet, unmarried. 

Davina

She would note the late arrival of Henry Howard.  He had likely attended a Catholic mass.  This was the same man she had promised to meet on the East Terrace on Friday.  They had not met.  Was he looking for her now?

Mountjoy

"A blessing indeed Lord Mountjoy," Daniel's mousey wife replied.  Indeed, the topic of marriage was just as popular as discussions of good weather with ladies.  She had little to add other than "you look grand my lord."

Arlington greeted Mountjoy and soon realized he had arrived to speak with the Finches, so he excused himself and moved on.  "Mountjoy," you are looking hale," the Chancellor greeted in return.  The younger Hen offered a smile and greeted Charles.  He had heard of the loss of Charles' child and felt nervous about it.  "You certainly have a fine tailor," Hen added as he overheard Daniel's wife.

The Chancellor added "a supper might be just a thing Hen.  Why don't you and the Marquess pick a date this week?"  Hen had not wanted to meet anyone, but his father told him that Charles was feeling lowly and needed Hen to bolster his spirits.  It had been a beautiful plan that succeeded in getting his son's assent.  As such, Hen nodded his agreement.

Douglas

The Duke turned to greet Douglas.  "My dear, this is Baron Dundarg.  I have told you of the man."  The Duchess offered her practiced smile.  "Why yes.  You did not tell me he would be so dashing an officer," he flattered in a light tone.

 

 

 

 

 

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Duncan, trying to catch Hamilton's eye, but keeping his distance

Duncan moved slowly. In a way, life had become a dream. A nightmare at times. But service had increased his spirits somewhat.

As he approached the Hamiltons, he noticed a family approaching them too. Father, mother, and two daughters, it seemed. That Hamilton’s son was with the Duke, the young Earl of Arran, was not lost on Duncan. The eternal game of family alliances. He had avoided it in his first marriage, and had never regretted it. Sir Cedric was a man of good character, their company was thriving, and Ophelia had been a great wife who had given him a daughter. Perhaps if he never had sons, he could petition His Grace Charles to have Ellen inherit his title. That would be a last-ditch recourse, though.

But time had made the Viscount wiser. Family alliances and how Court perceived you were important, he had learned. Thus, he gave the Hamiltons and those that had moved to greet them their space. He would position himself within sight of His Grace Hamilton, but out of earshot. The Duke was not dense and would probably realize that Duncan wanted to approach. It would then befall on him if he allowed the Viscount to or not.

As he waited, the Lowlander saw Dungarg out of the corner of his eye, talking with the Lauderdales. The pox on that man! Duncan did not recall why he disliked the Duke of Lauderdale so much. Although only three years had passed since the Viscount had come to Court first, it felt like a lifetime. Perhaps it had to do with Adam. MacGregor, your wife, and your friend, need you now more than ever! Still, the details eluded him.

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Anne-Elisabeth approaching Dorset

 

Watching courtiers stealing glances at each other, nodding off, or fidgeting with various items of clothing or jewelry was far more entertaining than any sermon. As a Countess, Anne-Elisabeth could have sat near the front, but she preferred the back in a corner where she had a good view of the entire chapel. Those things she observed that she thought might be useful someday were committed to memory to be pulled out at leisure for contemplation on how to best utilize them. She observed people during the hymns as well, as she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with handles on it and she didn’t want to be struck by lightening. If God could hear one’s prayers, he wasn’t deaf.

 

When the ordeal was finally over, she stood, arching her back and lifting her arms high. Maybe some of the congregation thought she was silently praising the Lord instead of stretching her aching muscles. Even her bum hurt from sitting so long.

 

Anne-Elisabeth admired the way the purple and turquoise shot silk of her gown changed color in the light as she left the pew. The gown was accented liberally with silver trim studded with amethyst and turquoise glass beads. She wore a necklace with a tear-shaped amethyst pendant that nestled against her modest cleavage and matching earrings. Her hair was arranged into a tumble of curls held in place with beaded combs, a few raven ringlets left loose to fall gracefully over one shoulder.

 

It didn’t take her long to find Dorset. All she had to do was follow the ambitious mothers parading their blushing daughters in front of him. Pushing past them, she glided over to him. “Need rescuing?” she asked with a wicked smirk. “Consider me your knight in shining silk.”

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Cat and all of her sisters had taken a row closer to the back as Nessia was with them and had she started fussing, Cat would have handed her off to Agnes to take outside.  This didn't happen as Nessia chose to sleep through the sermon.  Thank goodness she didn't snore and her mother had placed a handkerchief under the toddler's head so her dress wouldn't be stained with drool.   She was surprised to hear about George's wedding, but it was obvious he had finally found the right woman to wed.  She, herself, had too much baggage, most of whom sat next to her on the bench.  While everyone else started to file out, she had the girls wait while she searched out Douglas.  She had absolutely nothing planned after service and would enjoy the silence while her brother fed their younger siblings.  Of course, there was a basket of baked goods waiting with one of the guards who was assigned to go with that group.

 

To her disgust, which she barely managed to contain, she noted him with the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.  She decided to look around to see if any other friends were nearby.  She spotted Langdon, who received imaginary daggers thrown at his head.  Ah, there was Duncan, looking much better though it would be some time before he was fully recovered.  But, in truth, she was looking forward to some quiet time.  So, with a heavy heart, she had the girls get up and out of the pew and began to slowly make her way towards Douglas, in the vain hope that he might be done with his conversation by the time his sisters arrived.  Nessia was handed over to Agnes to take and wait with the guards until they were ready to depart.

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James catching a second wind, seeking Sedley

The cumulative lack of sleep was finally beginning to get to James.

For nigh-on a week now, particularly the portion of said week that had transpired since the opening reception, he had flitted like a hummingbird between the Duke of Ormonde and diversion, duty and debauchery. His nights, in turn, had been spent in various ways unhelpful towards one’s health, with assignations and ambitious writing projects alike taking precedence over something as horribly boring and unproductive as sleep. Curiously, it did not have much of an effect on him, not until now – nor was he surprised at this, in those moments that he felt capable of introspection.

For this was something of a cycle, and at the back of his mind, James knew that there would be a time in the future where he would yearn for little but the embrace of Morpheus and the panacea of dreams.

His body, meanwhile, had finally reached that stage, likely spurred on by what sleep he did get having been drink-induced. Having indifferently followed Fergal’s suggestion of a cerulean justacorps cuffed in white silk, stockings the same as the latter and breeches as the former, and a waistcoat in sea foam green, the poet had made it without issue to the chapel, and despite the content of the sermon being (for once) rather lyrical, managed to fall asleep on two separate occasions, prodded awake by the gentleman next to him. One could get away with such things in the middle of the back section.

Fortunately, the second nap had been long enough to invigorate James enough to make it through a round of socialization, although the bags under his eyes and greater-than-usual pallor to his skin protested this. Thinking to find the Butlers, in particular his master the Duke, he began to make his way to the front – only to see Sedley heading in the same direction. This was a mental jolt to the Irishman, who had sent the playwright his magnum opus recently, and it was not without merriment in his voice when he called out to the other man.

“Sir Charles!” He called out, trying to quicken his stride and outpace Sedley. Once close enough to catch, James would offer a bow. “I trust you will come to forgive my impertinence, sir, but I did not think to see them turn you loose in a chapel by yourself.” Most of the Merry Gang had reputations not just for degeneracy, but for outright blasphemy. “And so I thought to rectify what must have been a grievous mistake on behalf of the Life Guards.”

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Cadell approaching Lady Doneraile

It went without saying that Lord Athenry was not comfortable here.

Mass – a proper Mass – had been enlivening to the pious viscount, who had always appreciated that York had his own chapel within the castle. Attending Mass in London was another story altogether, one that he would not subject Louise to after the time where their carriage was pelted with fruit and veg, suffering all the while the taunts of “whore” and “spy”. It had been enough for him to arrange a priest to visit Portsmouth House on Sunday, rather than have to brave a trip into London and await the fickle mood of the mob.

The idea of Anglican services being necessary to build connections was a rankling one. He had considered not going altogether, but Bristol had asked after Her Grace and suggested a carriage ride, so he had aught to do for the time being.

Nonetheless, there were positive moment: for one, his grey eyes sought out Chichester when the banns were read, grinning at the official news of his close friend’s marriage; secondly, he was feeling reasonably confident in today’s ensemble. Not ordinarily one to wear reds, Cadell had taken it upon him to try a recently-acquired coat of maroon, embossed with a diagonal pattern and decorated further around the brass buttons with a floral design in white and gold lace from Tours. With breeches to match, he set this over a sandy brown waistcoat, cravat (kept in place by a silver-and-sapphire pin) and stockings a shock of white between that and his red-heeled shoes – combined with the intricate carvings of the jeweled ivory of his cane, and the scruff on his face that he’d elected to keep, Cadell felt halfway to being an actual courtier.

Halfway, of course, because he was surrounded by heretics, and the sermon wasn’t even given by his friend Sprat. Glancing around at the end (with a slight groan as he pushed himself up with his cane), Cadell found little in the way of friendly faces, feeling more inclined towards pleasantries than alliance-building. The Saints must have been watching, however, and he was soon blessed with a glimpse of Brooke that revealed in turn Lady Doneraile, whom he knew well enough, given the extensive amount of time he had spent among Beverley's family.

“My lady, your presence is a pleasant surprise. It has been some time,” the viscount greeted as he hobbled towards his best friend’s sister. His bow was deep, his smile friendly – to Cadell, Beverley was practically family, and the other Saint-Legers had always been kind and accepting of him. Inquiring after her searching gaze, he asked, “Ah, but may I accompany you on whatever search you’re on?”

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Henry Approaching Cadell

Henry had had an interesting night. He was used to never having as much sleep as everyone else, though, but he had gone to bed immediately after getting back from the bonfire. His countenance did not betray lack of sleep, and his outfit was impeccable. Lord Grey was wearing pastel green silk justaucorps and breeches embroidered in light blue, sober but elegantly trimmed with blue pearls and burnt silver piping, an ivory waistcoat embroidered with silver threading, and black leather shoes with silver buckles. The ensemble was completed by an ebony walking stick with a cube-shaped silver head. A signet ring and a unicorn horn brooch on silver provided the final touch.

He had stayed towards the back, content to go through the motions without any real interest. So much so, that he did not really remember what the message had been about. He seemed to recall something about seasons, but that was it.

As the service ended and the Archbishop blessed the congregation, Henry got up and started looking about for any familiar faces. He noticed Baron Dundarg talking with and older and finely dressed couple, Anne-Elisabeth talking to someone who had an uncanny resemblance to Lord Kingston, and Lord Athenry talking to a young lady that seemed to be in her mid-twenties.

Could that be his wife?

With the last being closer, and wanting to meet his acquaintance’s wife, the Baron directed his steps towards Cadell’s line of sight, to see if the Viscount would ask him to approach. He did not want to interrupt if their topic was a private matter.

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Mountjoy and the Finches

 Arlington was polite enough to excuse himself and let Mountjoy speak to the Finches alone and Elizabeth Anne was kind enough to compliment his attire. “Thank you, you are most kind Ma’am but if there are any compliments to be handed out, they should be given to a charming and refined Lady such as yourself. Any finery that I may aspire to would be tawdry in comparison when I am standing next to you.” He said gallantly. He sometimes felt sorry for Elizabeth Anne and the way she was treated by her husband and felt she deserved a little acknowledgement and praise. She certainly would not get either from her husband.

Charles had a complicated relationship with Daniel Finch. He had known Daniel for as long as he had known Heneage. In some ways Charles viewed him as almost an older brother but like many actual siblings the memories were not always fond ones. Boys would be boys and elder self-centered brothers could be insensitive to their younger siblings and their siblings’ friends. But they now were grown men. He was sure Daniel did not think of, and likely did not even remember, such past treatment and Charles tried to forgive it.

Hen, on the other hand would not receive such gallant compliments as his sister-in-law but he would receive affectionate ribbing. “I certainly do have a fine Talior. Let me introduce you to him when we are next in Town. I shall even stand you to a new coat if you promise to come. That way everyone will think your father has increased your clothing allowance as well as that of your victuals.” He said playfully. As boys, and men, Charles had always eaten more and had remained thin despite the fact that Heneage was more moderate in his diet yet tended towards plumpness. Charles still teased him about that fact but only when they were alone or with friends and hen was of course free to return like jabs without fear of offence.

He would never tease or give flowery complements to Heneage the elder whose reputation did not need boosting and whose character gave no cause for teasing. In private Charles would sometimes fall back on old habits address Finch as Sir or Sir Heneage from when Charles was a young boy and Heneage Sr. was a Banneret but publicly he most always used the honorific Lord Chancellor inn leu of Lord Finch. “Thank you. I was able to do a bit of hunting during the recess and also spent some time at Athelhampton no doubt the country was good for me even if other things have not been so.” The Chancellor seemed to be very keen for Hen and he to get together privately and suggested they set a date for such a meeting. Unfortunately, that must mean that Hen was still had not gotten over his ‘Lady problems’. Charles had his own Lady problems but at least something could be done about Heneage’s.

“Splendid. I see no reason to put it off. Let us say tomorrow, Monday, at the Hen’s toes. I will send my man to order steak and kidney pudding and apple crumble to be prepared special for us. You still like steak and kidney pudding with apple crumble don’t you Hen?” He would also reserve the private room so they could speak without being disturbed. 

He then went on to discuss the latest squabble between the Court of Chancery and the King’s Bench. Poor Lady Winchilsea was probably used to and utterly board of topics such as this but to the three lawyers present it was akin to family gossip about a feud between two old and cranky uncles.

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Duncan

The Scot would need to wait a piece.  Hamilton signaled him to give him a few minutes to engage with the Cavendish patriarch.  The Cavendishes were important families in the North and Lord Ogle was marrying the Percy heiress, giving Newcastle sway of most every place north of York.  The dance was scripted.  First Frances was given the chance to charm Arran, and then Margaret was permitted but a moment to smile sweetly and gush at Arran.  It was clear that the two dukes would meet later to discuss a possible betrothal.  Hamilton needed allies against Lauderdale and the poison he had spread through the Privy Council.

At long last, the Cavendishes bid their farewell.  Henry Cavendish noted Duncan's presence and gave him a nod as they passed.  At last Duncan could approach.

Anne-Elizabeth

Having passed the previous night in sin together, there was a familiar look to the pair as they met.  This was not seen as a positive thing for the mothers that had been waiting to parade by one of the most eligible lords in England.

"Oh give them their fun," Dorset replied quietly.  "It is my duty to bestow hope to the hopeless as I am to help the helpless."  He grinned.  "Where are you planning to prowl?  Who will you impose upon today?  Everyone is here.  Do not miss your opportunity."

Catriona

The Earl of Arlington had left Finch and found himself beside Catriona.  He had been kind to her last time and his nature did not change.  "Lady Alyth, how lovely you look," he flattered.  "The Duke of Hamilton has arrived.  Have you met him?  He has brought his son with him to Windsor.  It must be for some potential match.  He would be quite the catch for your sister ... or yourself.  He dislikes Lauderdale as do you and could be of great assistance to you," he added in a low voice.  The crowd noise helped keep things somewhat private. "He could also use your help in regaining the King's goodwill."  He gave her a meaningful look.  "I could introduce you."

James

He caught up with Charles Sedley easily enough.  "O'Neill," he acknowledged.  He had thought the man a Catholic and paused his thought.  The man also looked tired, but there was no point in mentioning such.  "Can I assist with something?"

Mountjoy

Elizabeth Anne was almost glowing at Blount's attention.  If only she had married such a man.  Instead, God had chosen to punish her, or so she imagined.

"He'll buy you a coat son," the elder Finch repeated, as if it was a grand event.  Hen looked sheepish in return, acting younger under the scrutiny of his father.  He was a man of few words this day.  "Tomorrow lunch would be fine," he replied, wondering how he could cheer Charles when he could not cheer himself.  Charles was so much better at hiding sadness behind his vivacity.

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Duncan greeting the Duke of Hamilton

As he was passed by, Duncan nodded back to His Grace Newcastle with a slight bend of waist, deeper than the higher-ranked peer had. Acknowledging a superior’s status was important, Duncan knew. We may be all get to be the same in eternity, but in this world there is a God-appointed order, and it ought to be respected. That the two families had introduced their children in an informal setting was common, but the important part would come later, if the Dukes agreed on something. His Grace Hamilton needs all the allies he can get, Duncan thought, and marriage alliances tend to be quite solid. Good for him!

When if was finally time for him to approach, the Lowlander did so with a smile in his otherwise sad face. “Your Grace, I wanted to present my respects to you and your family”. His words were followed by a deep court bow. It would probably not be lost on the duke that the viscount had approached him and his family openly and in Lauderdale’s sight.

Since he had never been introduced to the duchess or Lord Arran, Duncan remained silent until Hamilton determined if he would make introductions or take Duncan to the side.

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Cat approached by Arlington

Cat was both startled (though she tried not to show it) and delighted to have a reason not to approach Douglas where he stood with Lauderdale.  Mentally, she muttered a very unflattering phrase in their direction.  Outwardly, she gave Arlington a welcoming smile.  The following information had her lifting a brow.  "I have not had the pleasure of making His Grace's acquaintance yet.  But please, allow me to introduce the rest of my sisters.  Next to Fiona we have Shona and then Aileen."  They all bore the stamp of their mother's beauty, though Shona would likely outstrip them all.  "Ladies, this is Lord Henry Bennet, the esteemed Earl of Arlington.  Shona, Aileen, why don't you go keep Nessie company with Agnes."  An unmarried ducal heir was a catch, but likely not right for Fiasco..Fiona.  But, judgment would be reserved.  And she was on the look out for a potential step-father for Nessie.

 

Turning up the smile a watt or two, she returned her eyes to Arlington.  "I would be delighted with the introduction, my lord.  With such a recommendation," any enemy of Lauderdale was a noteworthy individual, "how could I refuse?"  

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James and Sedley

Sedley did not appear especially animated, which gave James pause – itself a curious moment, for self-reflection had not been on the mental agenda of the poet for weeks now. Regardless, he didn’t know the playwright well enough to tell if this was his natural state of being, or if he had simply irritated the man with his attempt at early morning banter.

For whatever it was worth, the man had been half right. James O’Neill had been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, but had attended far more services in the Church of Ireland or its mother church in England. The branches of the O’Neills who had survived the Plantation knew what needed to be done to keep their lands.

“Assist me?” It was a curious way to greet someone who had approached you warmly. James made a small shake of his head, and in his rush to get all the thoughts out of his head at once, half-stammered and half-chattered, “Ah, no, sir. Not yet. I- I merely, I was looking for His Grace the Duke of Ormonde and his family and saw you heading in the same direction. Might I walk with you a moment?”

His earlier quip seemed to have fallen flat, and a churning in his guts, heart, and throat seemed to accompany what felt like the slow disintegration of the previous week’s grandiosity. Nonetheless, the poet still felt confident – the humors had only just begin their shift change – enough to inquire before Sedley could turn him away, “To the point, I am compelled to ask if you had a chance to read what I sent you and Lord Rochester. I needn’t a full review, mind, but…”

The poet gave a languid shrug, suppressing a yawn, leaving the potential for feedback often. “I would be indebted for your opinion, perhaps at a later time...?”  

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