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Francis & Frances play cards | Monday 2pm

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The Crimson Drawing Room


This spacious room lies in the heart of the Upper Ward, and serves as a much-needed refuge from the sometimes inclement weather. The floor is laid with sumptuous carpets of taupe, cream, and gold, while the walls are papered in deep crimson and trimmed with gilded cornice. Several large mirrors, dressed artfully with heavy velvet drapes, are hung about the room to reflect and maximize the candlelight, since there are no windows. There is also an intricate tapestry depicting the four seasons. The ceiling is painted with an assembly of gods and goddesses, intermixed with delightfully cherubic Cupids. Throughout the room there are small groupings of comfortable chairs, all luxuriously upholstered in crimson, often surrounding elegant little tables. There is also a marble fireplace, flanked by Grecian columns, in which a fire may be laid to bring light and warmth to the room.



Francis had agreed to meet the Duchess of Richmond, the one who wasn't his aunt, in the Crimson Drawing Room for a spontaneous game of cards. The goal was that hopefully, people would see him going about his usual business, unbothered by the slanders, with his well-placed friends. The Duchess of Richmond was always an amusing friend to spend time with, and they had figured if they put up a game a cards, others might wish to join.


Gentleman that he was, he made certain that the servants had made ready a card table in a prominent position, and he had borrowed one of the Duke's liveried servants to be on hand to serve drinks as needed.


In the meantime, he waited for the arrival of the Duchess.

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The Duchess of Richmond stepped into the Crimson Drawing Room wearing a blue silk gown adorned with white lace and sprinkled with pearls. If she was going to be gossiped about today, at least her attire would be above reproach.


Immediately noticing Francis as well as the card table, she approached him with a smile. “Good afternoon, Lord Kingston,” she said, holding up one hand to be kissed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Intent on beating his slanderers at their own game, Francis gave the duchess a pretty bow and then kissed her hand delicately. Her blue ensemble popped considerably brighter by the complimentary bronze of his own. Though he could claim no credit for it as Buckingham liberally directed his tailoring, he could appreciate the duke had a fine eye for fashionable things.


His only true addition to the costuming was the sapphire earring that dangled down from his ear. Although such things had been considerably fashionable for gentlemen one martyred king earlier, Francis cared not one whit about that. The duke's only commentary about doing something 'vintage' and out of style was to do it extravagantly and others might follow suit. 


"And a good afternoon to you as well, Your Grace." He gave her an appreciative look up and down. "The color suits you."

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Lord Kingston bowed to her and his lips brushed lightly over her hand. Not for the first time, Frances considered how handsome and gentlemanly he was. It was such a shame that some vile fellow was trying to ruin him with unjustifiable lies. She remembered well when she had been the target of nasty rumors back when the King was obsessed with her. She had not been as mature and experienced as Francis, and they had hurt her much more than they should have.


He was handling it quite well, and she was pleased to help him prove his enemy wrong. Though no longer a court beauty, she still had influence and was well-known and accepted in the highest social circles. If she didn’t shun him, than why should anyone else?


She blushed and giggled at his compliment. “Thank you, my lord.” Her head turned toward the card table. “I see that you have everything prepared. Will it just be the two of us, or have you invited others to join us?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Francis smiled, "Well, it wouldn't be much of an impromptu card game if I invited a bunch of others to play, now would it?" There was a light chuckle. "I am curious to see if any will join us, seeing you will join me companionably. Then I shall know how strongly the broadsheets are swaying true sentiment. If it is just people enjoying a good gossip and something to whisper about scandalously, that is a bit different than true avoidance and belief."


He gestured to a chair, holding out a hand to aide in her graceful sitting if she wished.


"In the meantime, you choose the game. With just the two of us Vingt-un would be suitable and simple enough to manage whilst conversing, but I will defer to your judgement and desires. I am curious what you have been up to since last we had time together?"

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The Duchess giggled. “It’s not very spontaneous if the card table is already set up. Though I suppose that if anyone walked by, they would assume you were waiting for someone and that would show that not all courtiers fell for those horrible lies.” She had a lot of friends and if any of them saw her, they would certainly come in and greet her, perhaps hoping for some juicy gossip. And if they wanted to play a few rounds with them, the more the merrier.


How could anybody believe such awful rumors when Francis was so charming and gallant? He was nothing at all like the evil man described in those broadsheets. She smiled at him and took his hand, only releasing it when she was settled in the chair. “You read my mind. I was going to suggest Vingt-un myself.” Frances enjoyed all kinds of card games and was quite good at them, though today she was more interested in conversation. She was quite fond of Lord Kingston and it had been quite some time since they had spent time together.  Too long, in her opinion.


“Recess was quiet as usual. I rode my horse a lot and had some new flowers planted in the gardens. Flowers are one of the best things about summer recesses. I threw a party for friends and attended a few soirees on neighboring estates.”


She leaned forward. “I also acquired a ward. Some distant cousins I hardly knew were killed in a carriage accident nearly a year ago, leaving their only daughter an orphan. Her father left her well-provided for, but she couldn’t inherit his title and it was inappropriate for her to stay with the new unmarried Earl. Poor Diana was shuffled from relative to relative until I heard about her and agreed to take her in. It is rather lonely living by myself, and it’s nice to have a companion.


“I left her at my estate because her new gowns weren’t finished yet. Now that they’re done, she’ll be arriving tomorrow to stay with me at the house I rented in town. I would like for you to meet her.”

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