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Mischief after Midnight | Basildon's rooms

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Apartment of Lord Basildon & Wife


The apartment is small, but comfortable, with two rooms. There is a living room, with a small seating arrangement near the hearth and a table. A pair of windows is set into the south wall, overlooking the Long Walk and Castle Hill. A small carved walnut table and chair set rests between the windows while a small door, hidden behind a wine-colored curtain with thick tassels, beside the fireplace opens into a little closet. Candelabras rest on the table and mantel, casting long shadows over the polished wood of the floor.


In the next room a large walnut bed resting against the east wall. The bed is hung with wine-colored velvet, the fabric trimmed with gold tassels. Across from the bed is a stone hearth whose crackling fire keeps the chill at bay. Small silver bells have been affixed to the edges of the mantel with silver satin bows and to the tie backs of the drapes and bed curtains. A pair of windows is set into the south wall, overlooking the Long Walk and Castle Hill. A small carved walnut table and chair set rests between the windows while a small door, hidden behind a wine-colored curtain with thick tassels, beside the fireplace opens into a little closet. Candelabras rest on the table and mantel, casting long shadows over the polished wood of the floor.


Well after midnight on Tuesday evening, there was a soft knocking on Lord Basildon's door. If it was not answered, it would grow a bit louder.

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  • 5 weeks later...

His Manservant, Thomas, was staying at the Inn in Windsor Town to hear things that were interesting, and to keep him a distance from Louis' darkie servant, Diana, who upon command, warmed his bed on cold nights and mornings.  

It being only midnight, Louis was in his shirt sleeves on his bed with a small writing desk, replying to his correspondence.  Diana was still in her day dress, awaiting an invitation to join her master.  Since she was dressed, it would be her duty to answer the door.  Louis reached for the loaded pistol that he kept at his bedside, being paranoid about unplanned late night encounters.

The door was unlatched and opened by the servant and the guest was greeted.

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When the door opened, Basildon would see the youthful form of Trevor HIll standing in the doorway. He was standing there in his shirtsleeves and breeches, his hair a bit tousled. He did not look dirty or like he had been attacked. If anything, perhaps, he looked a bit sheepish.


"Erm, is his Lordship yet awake?" the boy asked the dark woman who answered the door. He could not decide if he thought such a color was enticingly attractive or not.


His younger brother was not with him.

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With a squint towards the less luminated doorway, Louis put his writing table to one side of the bed, replaced his pistol on the bedside table, and he took to his feet.  "Let him in Diana."  With a closer look, Louis broke into a smile.  "It is the famed Master Hill come for a midnight visit."  He signaled Diana to close the door and to fetch some brandy.

"Come in lad.  Are you up to midnight mischief?"  As a lad, Louis had been a master of midnight mischief, usually with young girls or tomfoolery.  "A spot of brandy will be just the thing."  He signaled the lad to come join him next to the fire that was burning lower in the fireplace. "Tell me of your adventures this evening," he encouraged.

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Trevor was a bit bolstered by Lord Basildon's reaction to his presence. He gave a polished bow and replied, "I admit I was, my lord."


He blinked as he was offered Brandy. Norfolk would have never offered him smiles and brandy if he had shown up there. Admittedly, that might have been his next desperate visit if Lord Basildon had not been in. The Duke, however, had already told him precisely what would happen if he did not stop sneaking out of Eton to "act a fool" especially after what had happened to he and his brother with Danby. He had yet to see his grandfather after his return to England, though he had heard that Sir John had made it back safely finally.


Trevor sat down by the fire and was grateful for it, because it was rather cold at night to be without a cloak. Sneaking out windows necessitated skipping cloaks, though, and unfortunately the window he had left cracked for his return had been latched shut. He effectively, had nowhere to go to sleep.


"I sneaked out of Eton to one of the pubs in town, but when I went to sneak back in, I couldn't...Might you allow me to stay here with you?"

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"Aha," Louis laughed as a glass of brandy was brought to the pair.  "First," he began in a serious tone, "it is my duty as a gentleman to admonish you for conduct unbecoming a young gentleman."  He paused only a moment before relaxing and smiling "now having gotten that duty fulfilled, you can stay on two conditions.  First there is no mention to Norfolk that I have aided you in anything improper.  Second, you must tell me of your adventures.  There must be a young girl involved," he chuckled.

"When I was your age, I was a lad always getting into mischief, to the chagrin of my parents.  I was the second son, so I was afforded a bit more latitude, but my parents were Puritans ,,, can you imagine?" he chuckled again.  The more strict the parent, the more likely the son will rebel.  "Pubs may seem grand fun, but the novelty wears with time.  You can learn many things at pubs, not all of which are helpful.  I am here to tutor you in anything that you might really like to know about life, court, women, liquor, and danger that no proper tutor or scholar would tell you.  They teach you scholarship.  I can teach you something more important -- life in and outside the hallowed halls we frequent.  In doing this, I am giving you a service that could save your life, if not your heart," he advised in a conspiratorial tone.  "If I can help you, I shall.  Did I not promise you protection?" he laughed.  That pledge had been fulfilled, but he thought to offer it again because Trevor Hill would become a very important man in the next five to ten years and he would enjoy having the man beholden to him.  Yet, there was also the pull of an old rascal helping a young one.

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Ahh, and there it was, he had thought himself safe too soon: it was the Norfolk-like lecture. It would probably be followed by taking him to said duke, who would exact said promise about what would happen if he kept acting the fool.


But then there was a smile, and Lord Basildon continued, clearly not intent on chastising him or dragging him to Norfolk for a walloping. 


"I swear not to mention it to him," he promised. "I'll have to make up a story when I go back to school, though, unless you walk back with me in the morning to say I was visiting with you?" he added, hopefully. He might make it through unscathed that way. He neglected to think about the fact that his house master was hardly going to believe that he went out a window and left it open so that he could visit with Lord Basildon either.


"Puritans? Truly?" he asked, making a face. He may have had some drink to get such candidness from him, but he added, "You seem far too fine a lord with too many adornments to come from Puritans." THey notoriously liked neither color nor gold. Basildon clearly liked both, and Trevor clearly had an appreciation for finery.


"I like watching all the ladies at the pubs at night," Trevor confessed. "I don't know if there is a one in particular."


At the mention of all those things Basildon could tell him about, he leaned in with interest. "My tutors do not think such things are appropriate at 'my young age,'" he scoffed, "...so there is no tolerance of liquor or...whoring," he added quietly. 

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"This brandy is for medicinal purposes," Louis attempted to explain in a light-hearted way.  "But, it should be taken in moderation; not treated as the swill a pub sells as ale, which is mostly water."  He allowed Trevor a moment to take sip.  "It helps you defend against the night cold."

When Trevor suggested that Louis could explain his delay to his tutors as Eaton, the Earl shook his head lightly.  "Too premature.  Best to save me when it really matters."  The lad needed a good explanation. The truth would not set him free.

"Your tutors look at you as a child, so take advantage of that perception."  Louis had spent years devising excuses and thought himself talented in that regard.  "Tell them that ever since you were captured by the Earl of Danby that you sometimes have temporary spells come upon you where you feel trapped, a prisoner, and unsure who to trust in those moments.  When affected by these spells, you feel an urge to escape what you perceive to be confinement and walk freely for a few hours.  The spells usually strike at night and after a short-time, you recover and are perfectly fine returning to your room.  The problem was that when you returned, the return was barred."  Louis wore a conspiratorial smile as he explained it.  "You must convince them that these spells are infrequent and you think, if they allow you to give in to it occasionally, that they will disappear completely with the passage of time.  For a child, that is reasonable.  For a full grown man, they will think his mind is broken.  So, its success depends on you playing the role of a mere boy just trying to overcome the horror of captivity, and doing so in a harmless way."  He paused to see if Trevor recognized the brilliance of the approach.

"If they threaten to lock you in at night instead, you might calmly tell them that, it might cause the spells to worsen. since you would be an actual captive, and that you would need to inform your father and Norfolk about their failure to let the spells disappear naturally. I could hire a doctor to advise that you be given freedom to roam for a year to see if the spells disappear," Louis added with a laugh.

"If you tell them you go to the pub to watch women, then they will lock you in," he advised.  "Woman and pubs can be dangerous to a lad that without sufficient experience to protect himself from the traps unscrupulous men and women can lay for the unwary," the Earl warned.  "I will help advise you in that regard.  But your escapes from Eton need to be infrequent in timing, so that they will believe that these are just random spells and not something more serious, like rebellion."  He watched Trevor for a reaction.  "Do you understand that we must proceed carefully and infrequently, so that they might not restrict your freedom?"

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There was a momentary gloom over Trevor when he realized he would still have to face the music of returning late and being out all night. 


However, Basildon was correct, perhaps it would be better to save that card for a more dramatic instance in the future.


The youth contemplated Basildon's suggestion, eyebrows slowly raising at this concocted tail. Perhaps it would engender some sympathy for his straying, but he did not think it would save him completely. 


And he was not sure he wanted such coddling anyway. That was best for his younger brother. He felt too much bravado to admit that he still did have issues from his time with Danby. Perhaps exercising his freedom in such a wild way was a bit to do with that...which - in honesty - he had never contemplated. He had been held prisoner by Danby threatening his brother, swinging him by a noose of shackle-less captivity. He had never experienced such restriction and close quarters. Not to mention the skeevy inns and food. 


He had been a very gold-spooned child before that. City inns on back roads, even in the better rooms, had been foreign to him and his brother.


"The Duke is well-aware and supportive of their methods. He is the one who hired them, after all. They report to him quite frequently. Even moreso with court here." And London was not very far from Windsor when court was there. "Those threats would not fall very well at all. They would only gain me a visit from His Grace."


Which clearly Trevor did not want at all.


Norfolk could be terrifying to a lad. 


"Yes...I mean...I do understand that, my lord. But studies are very boring when they are so endless. I am not training to be a clergyman!" And as Basildon had gleaned before, Trevor was actually very well tutored already.

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Louis listened to the lad's reaction.  It was typical for a lad his age, though Trevor had lived a privileged life.  The Earl had selfish reasons for wanting to help Trevor and he would begin to put his plan into action.

"It sounds as though you are in need of a plan," Basildon expressed initially.  "Unless you plan to cease sneaking about in the future, you need to bring a change of clothes here to my quarters.  When you stay out too late, you come here and change clothes and then walk into Eton in the morning like you were there all along." Louis offered with a conspiratorial smile.  "Perhaps another boy will attest that you were just wandering the halls during the night but were still on school grounds."  The punishment would be less for such an offense.

"There are a dozen other creative excuses for being out at night."  Louis remembered many he had used, some with more or less effect.  "You were lost in the dark, you fell in a hole and could not climb out on your own, you ripped your clothing and were too embarrassed to be seen publicly, a evil looking man was following you and you had to hide in a barn until he gave up on robbing you, or the wild animal excuse," Basildon offered as examples.  "The ability to be flexible with the truth can save a lad a good whipping."  Louis knew that for a fact.

"As for your training, I quite agree.  Dead languages should remain dead," Louis asserted.  "Show me an ancient Greek that cannot speak English and I will endeavor to learn some," he jested.  "You must learn math to count your money, finance, history of the Three Kingdoms and Europe, grammar, oratory, and a bit of law.  Maybe a smattering of science so that you can sound intelligent," he added.  "The rest is mostly a waste of your time.  You should learn riding, shooting and swordplay.  Any gentleman should know all three to defend himself.  You must also speak French and perhaps Dutch."  That was the list of things that Louis had knowledge.

"At the right moment, you should tell Norfolk that you wish to learn the skills that a lord knows.  Rather than read depressing books like Thomas Hobbes, you should be following around a lord like Norfolk as a squire of sorts.  You attend meetings with him and learn how he interacts with ladies, courtiers, merchants and the like.  It will flatter him perhaps.  Tell him you would like to do it for just a year, to take time off from the books.  If he is agreeable but unwilling to have you follow him around, suggest another great lord ... perhaps the Earl of Basildon, who rescued you, who is fluent in French and the skills of a courtier, and his wife, who speaks Dutch and is a lady to Princess Mary, and whose sister is a lady to the Queen."  He gave Trevor a wink.  "In a year, I would teach you everything you need to know about everything."

Yet he cautioned, "all of this planning is for naught if you ever tell Norfolk that you have spoken to me about any of this.  He will be vexed with me and demand that I spend no more time with you.  So, it must be our secret. He will think I am corrupting you," he admonished.

"I spoke with Norfolk the other day.  He is going to invite me for dinner here.  I told him that I wanted to see you and Arthur again.  He promised to invite me later this week.  We must pretend that we have not seen each other, or perhaps that we had a brief encounter this week.  If you show great interest in me at the dinner, perhaps Norfolk will let you spend more time in my company.  I could teach you to shoot a pistol or engage in swordplay.  I have a reputation for both."

It was quite enough to lay on the lad in one sitting, but he thought Trevor intelligent enough to understand the risks of the situation.  Louis was already considering having Nicci charm him and marry him in five years.  What a coup that would be!


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  • 3 weeks later...

The change of clothes idea was rather sharp, Trevor thought. It might only work once or twice, but it was something. 


"I've tried having someone else vouch for me, but that only got a friend a good birching for his trouble in lying." 


Trevor might not realize it, and tried his best to be stealthy, but the masters were quite versed with the antics of young boys and their quests for freedom. After dealing with year after year of boys entering youth and trying to assert their separation from their families, there wasn't a lot they had not seen.


With a snicker, the youth said, "I've been tutored in all three for most all my life as well, my lord. It has not just all been books and the like. I can best most boys my age in those but would welcome any tips you have in shooting and swordplay." He was not one to overlook opportunities for more of those things!


"It will be our secret, my lord...but what if His Grace would let me attend him instead? Then I would be stuck under his hawk eyes...and..." he paused here and looked a bit sheepish. "I do not truly wish to anger or disappoint the duke." He just didn't want to be stuck at school all the time, and he wanted to sneak out to see ladies and drink ale.

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It was worse than he thought, Trevor was already fluent in three dead languages.  A planned bit of sarcasm was swallowed, as the lad needed help.

"It is a choice really.  Stay in school, study books until your eyes are bleary, and sneak away to common inns that could lead to trouble and a report to Norfolk that you were failing your studies," he began while pausing for effect.  "Or, attach yourself to Norfolk as a squire.  Learn things about the man that will gain his trust, and acceptance of your trifles.  In his service you will learn real politics, wealth and power.  You will have access to ale in his kitchens, and there are more pretty maids in his service in the kitchens and laundry than you will find in the taverns, and they will be inclined to do as you please and hold their tongues, rather than common wenches of common establishments."  He gave the lad a knowing look.  "Further, Norfolk will allow you time for hunting, pistols and swords than a flock of academics.  I will be able to rescue you from time to time if you are in Norfolk's service.  I will not enjoy the same privileges at Eton." 

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  • 2 weeks later...

(OOC - "I've been tutored in all three for most all my life as well, my lord. It has not just all been books and the like." He was talking about the swords, shooting, and horses here...fyi ;) )


Trevor contemplated this idea of beseeching the Duke to let him be in his household and learn from him directly. Surely nobody could object to his asking, for it was a common enough thing to do. Youth were often attached to the households of great family friends or, in this case, a godparent. It did sound vastly more interesting than books, and Basildon made it sound as if he might get away with more rather than less.


He did not particularly wish to leave his brother, though, and he doubted Norfolk would take them both. 


In the end, his own desires found adventure, though not of the Danby variety, posh adventure, won out over loyalty and attachment to his younger brother. 


"I will ask him...Hope I don't get boxed on the ear for the trouble, my lord," he said, with a cocky smile. 

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OOC~ One hears what one wants to hear.

"Excellent," Louis responded.  He enjoyed manipulating others and he genuinely liked the lad, all the more because he would be useful to Basildon's future plans.  He gave Trevor a reassuring smile.

"So, you will sleep here tonight.  Tomorrow, if you are not detained you will need to bring a change of clothes here if you plan further adventures."  Louis was trying to summarize their new plan.

"You will request this attachment to the family.  Be sure to flatter the Duke and the Duchess.  No doubt the Duchess would like to match you with one of her girls born on the wrong side of the bed.  If the Duke thinks there could be no better tutor than himself, it will be difficult to deny you.  He may consult me on the topic and I will tell him it would be a grand idea and that I would like to visit you from time to time.  This would afford me the opportunity to rescue you at any time.."  His own smile widened.

"Norfolk is the head of one of the great houses. It will reflect well on you to be seen in his service.  You will be a paragon of duty by day, and then you might be able to have a few escapades at night ... if you are careful and discreet.  If you get caught, you must practice an innocent look and tell him that you are just hoping to learn more about girls and ask that he teach you.  It will be the truth, of course, and open the door for some worldly education that you would not get at Eton.  How could he punish a young man in his service that is just trying to learn more about girls by being with them?"  Louis had tried this line too many times with his own parents, and they were far too strict to be manipulated effectively; so, he just became the black sheep that shamed them.

"Do not take this as a license to be a rogue who does not consider consequences.  Be careful, prudent, and choose your escapades and partners carefully.  Do not overdo it.  The Duke is wise enough to turn a blind eye to a rare escapade, now and then, but will be swift to punish you if he believes that you have lost discipline over yourself," Louis advised.  "You are a smart young man.  It is one of the reasons I like you.  Be smart about any escapades and you will have a grand time from now until adulthood.  I will. of course, be aware of your situation and be able to offer advice at any time."

With that, Louis paused and sat back.  This afforded Trevor the opportunity to ask questions.

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Trevor nodded, "I do greatly appreciate you giving me a place to stay the night, my lord. I would not fancy having to sleep in the gardens or bang on the door to my house at Eton to rouse the housemaster at this hour."


He had already planned to bring clothes to keep there stealthfully.


"I have stayed with His Grace often enough. I know how to compliment him and behave," he replied. As to the duchess, Trevor snorted with immature amusement. "I doubt the duke would like that as I am already betrothed to his cousin's daughter, and..." he paused, unsure if he should continue, but in the end he was comfortable enough with Basildon to say, "...His Grace seems far more aware than his lady wife that their children before their marriage will not be easy to match. There were many arguments I overheard about such things when staying there."


He laughed again as Lord Basildon told him to master an innocent look for when he was caught. "I shall try, my lord, but the duke seems far more swayed by accepting responsibility than foolishness. He's had plenty of sons to try such tactics before me. I will try to choose my battles wisely, though."

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"Splendid," Louis replied as Trevor seemed an apt pupil.  News of Hill's betrothal came as a surprise, but only for a moment.  Trevor would be quite the catch, not unlike the Percy heiress.  For such prizes, it was best to lock them into betrothals while they were still children.

"Norfolk's cousin?" he queried.  "Who is the lucky young lady then?  Your betrothal shall be the disappointment to a flock of matrons who would have preferred to swan their daughters past you like a horse trader."  He gave a good natured laugh.

As for practicing innocence, Louis gave another laugh.  "True, he has two sons.  He has a rebellious son in Arundel.  Thomas seems more balanced.  I am surprised Thomas is not betrothed already.  He could fetch a good match."  A bit of Howard gossip was a welcome thing.

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