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Adventure Awaits: Main Carnival Thread | Wednesday late morning/early afternoon, Open to All


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(OOC: This is the main carnival thread. Everyone is invited to participate. Please see this thread for the available attractions. Feel free to approach any location for interactions with performers, the fortune teller, and others.)



The crowd gathered at the Carnival gates cheered as they finally opened. Flowing into the field that had been turned into a magical world, they prepared to enjoy all the entertainments it offered. Music filled the air, and performers demonstrated their acts to awed guests. People continued to arrive throughout the morning, eager to take part in this rare and exciting experience.



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~ continued from here.


When they reached the carnival, John helped Anne-Elisabeth out of the cart and tucked her gloved hand in the crook of his elbow. She was a bit surprised that there were carnivals in the Colonies. “There are none in Barbados. I attended a fair in Cornwall but it was mainly comprised of merchant stalls. There wasn’t much entertainment.” She had been in mourning at the time and had had to sneak out of her mother-in-law’s house dressed like a servant. It had been more trouble than it was worth. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”


She looked up at John with wide dark eyes. “Do they really have elephants? I’ve never seen them except in books. If they do let people ride them, I definitely want to do that.” Her smile was mischievous. “Will you dare to join me?” Exactly how adventurous was he, she wondered?


They headed toward the tent that he had pointed to. It was the largest one in the field. Before they reached it, a contortionist in a bright costume formed himself into a pretzel shape. Anne-Elisabeth laughed. “I suppose that means that everyone is willing to bend over backwards for us,” she remarked.


The contortionist moved on. Not far away she could see the heads of three strange white animals towering above the crowd. “What are those things?” she asked. “Let’s go find out!”



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"Well what we have at Home is not like this as I said. They are Market Fairs and Festivals much the same as you described from your Country. Merchants and Vendors. Foods and Drink. Animal Auctions oft times as most have sheep or pigs or cows to sell as well as the Horse Trades."

"In Spring, May in fact, a great Maypole is erected and bedecked with colorful ribbons that then are used to intertwine when they are held in a dance. Morris Dancers with their bells about their ankles will perform. And sometime there are Hobbyhorses that engage in 'mock' battles with the winners getting some good beer for their efforts."

"Indeed. I myself saw them arrive! Great beasts they are with a person that rides a-stride behind the ears close to the neck so it looked. They carry a stick of some kind that they prod the beast along with. I saw too how what looked like a great heavy chain was around one of their legs at the ankle I suppose you would call it. Perhaps to ensure they are well tethered?"

"A dare? You will lose all your coin Madam if you continue along that line. I am no stranger to the unknown. Traveling across the Sea after all is no easy thing. More than once in fact. So to ride an animal such as that ..... "

He gave a slight raise of one should to indicate it was some small matter.

All about them was color and noise. It seemed that all of Windsor Town was about!

At the sight of the person with the twisted body he gave a small laugh at her quip.

"Indeed arranged especially for you M'Lady!"

She indicated a place further along and he was happy to follow her lead.

He intended to give her more free reign than usual but wouldn't hesitate to reel her in if she became too outlandish in her behaviors.  

That he could well control her he did not doubt. 

Edited by John Palliser
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The Cousins Group

Nicci and Lucy's relationship had turned a corner this season.

If somebody had told her a few months ago that together they would scheme how to get Louis to partake in some light frivolity, she’d have told them they were lying.  For one, Louis did not bother with childish fun, and secondly, Lucy and she saw eye to eye upon nothing.

However, they had finally discovered common ground, and Louis’s lack of levity was precisely that.

There was a smile upon the French belle's face as she went to the agreed upon waiting place – and looked about for her companions. 

They would share a family day at the carnival; this was something utterly unique!  

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There had been a note instructing him to arrive at the carnival at an appointed time.  Louis had first been intrigued, and then dismissive when he read it.  It was likely a ruse, but for what purpose?

Closer examination of the note revealed a feminine hand.  In fact, the handwriting seemed familiar.  As such, he relaxed his guard and wondered whether this was Nicci's way of trying to get him to attend the carnival.  He supposed he could practice with his rapier earlier in the morning and, truth be told, his social calendar was not all that it should be, so he played along.

A carnival called for something colorful in the way of attire, but he settled on his burgundy jacket and his purple fur-lined cloak.  As he wandered past the tents he caught sight of his cousin.  As he approached her, Louis was left to wonder what surprise she might have in store.

"Good day Mademoiselle," he smiled as he tipped his tricorn hat, "I am always drawn to the most beautiful and rare creatures at a carnival, and so I am here in desire of your company."  It was a treat to greet and flatter her as if she were a stranger in that moment.

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"Oh good." Nicci smiled dipping into a pretty curtsy to greet Louis' arrival, "Your hours of solitude have not dulled your ability to flatter.  Tell me have my cheeks modestly pinked?  Or am I now jaded into perpetual pale." 

Louis meanwhile, looked as devastatingly handsome as he ever did, but the whole family knew not to overindulge his ego.  He had a mirror to do that. 

"I was not sure you would join us." Nicci adjusted her broad-brimmed hat that had slipped, "but then you must have been intrigued that Lucy and I both asked you, family unity on that branch is an entirely new thing.  To be honest, I cannot remember why she did not like me at first, but thankfully that now seems to be in the past." 

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John and Anne-Elisabeth


“There is a very popular May Day celebration in Cornwall. It’s been held there for centuries and might be where your tradition originated. I attended it for the first time this year. There are hobby horse battles there too. Forgive my gutter English, but it’s called the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival.” Anne-Elisabeth laughed. “No kidding.”


Her countenance darkened when John mentioned the dangers of traveling by sea, which she knew all too well. She quickly pushed that horrific experience to the back of her mind. This was a time for fun, not sorrow. Even so, her smile was a bit more subdued than it usually was. “Good,” she replied. “I do adore daring gentlemen.” When they’re not endangering my life. She was thinking of another John who had almost killed her only yesterday. It was better not to tell her current companion about that incident.


The contortionist and Lord Silverbridge’s comment raised her spirits, as did the tall white animals. As they wove through the crowd toward them, Anne-Elisabeth could see that they had wool. Were they some variety of long-necked sheep? Taking John’s hand, she pulled him toward them, as excited as a child.


While some people gave the creatures a wide berth, others were curious and gathered around them. They each wore a brightly-hued harness and were led by olive-skinned men in colorful costumes. A few were brave enough to pet them. “What are they?” the Countess asked, reaching out to stroke one’s neck. “Where do they come from?”


One of the handlers turned to look at her and smiled. She was glad they had dressed like commoners or the performers would probably not have been so friendly. “They are called llamas.” he replied. He spoke with a Spanish accent. “And they are from the New World.”


“May I ride one?”


The handler shook his head. “They are not strong enough to carry adults.”


Anne-Elisabeth looked at John and shrugged. “It was worth asking.  You should pet one.  They're really soft."


Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux
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He chuckled at her comment about adoring Gentlemen and then another at her attempting to sound like a Cornishman.

He led them towards the place she wanted and stood taking in the creatures. She showed no fear or even distrust as she reaches out to touch asking where they came from and if she might ride one.

The invisible harness was pulled in a bit but then released as it was clear that would not be possible. He would have prevented her and so was glad to be spared how she would react. Perhaps she was unaware of it but her mood changes were easy to read on her face at least for him. And he already guessed that she did not like the idea of anyone holding her back if she wanted to do something.

He did not hesitate but came to her side and reached out one long arm to feel its softness himself.

"The 'New World' you say? Where exactly - I myself am from the Colonies and have never seen such as this."

He address his question to the man with the Spanish accent.

"Do you bred them or are they used for meat?"

"They are quite soft indeed. The 'wool' might be spun into fine threads  - perhaps it might be possible to acquire some? My sister would be most interested."

This also addressed to the man.

"You might also be interested - but then I think you may not have the required patience to sit still for such tasks as needlework."

He smiled down at her as he teased.

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Lucy joins Nicci and Louis


There were so many children.


Tears burned behind Lucy’s eyes as she walked through the gates, followed by her maidservant and a male servant for protection. She wanted to flee back to her carriage, but she had promised not only to meet Louis and Nicci but also to tell the Queen about the carnival. Seeing so many happy families and smiling children filled her heart with sorrow, for there was a chance that she would never be among them. Her precious son might die before he was old enough to enjoy such things, or he might live but be weak for the rest of his life. Every morning, noon, and night, she prayed that he would improve. Occasions like this made her feel helpless and hopeless.


I shouldn’t have come. I’m going to ruin their fun.


And yet Lucy kept putting one foot in front of the other, looking straight ahead and trying not to hear the laughter of happy young voices. Louis and Nicci were already at the meeting place the two ladies had decided on. She wasn’t surprised that her brother had taken their bait. That they both wanted the pleasure of his company would appeal to his inflated sense of self-esteem.


As she approached them. her sapphire fur-lined cloak billowed around her, revealing a flash of the lighter blue gown she wore beneath it. “Am I late?” she asked. “I hope the two of you have not been waiting long.” Lucy tried to will some cheerfulness into her voice, but it still sounded more somber than she had intended.

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John and Anne-Elisabeth


The olive-skinned man turned to John. “They originate far south of the English colonies, in Spanish territories. These three come from Peru. Although our llamas are used for entertainment, they are bred as pack animals and for meat in their native land.”


“So they are closer to the Caribbean than the Colonies,” Anne-Elisabeth remarked, smiling at John. To the handler, she added: “I’m from Barbados.”


The man smiled but didn’t comment on that revelation. Instead, he answered the gentleman’s other question. “Llamas are sheared in the spring. We sell their fleece. If we still have some and you want to buy it, you will need to speak to Master Kinsley, who owns the Carnival. You can find him in the black tent at the end of the field.”


Another person asked him a question and he moved closer to that individual to answer it.


Anne-Elisabeth shook her head when John asked her about needlework. “You know me too well. I shall strive to be more mysterious from now on.” One of the llamas started nibbling on a strand of her hair, and she gently pulled it away and stepped backwards. Two exited children took her place.


“My curiosity has been satisfied,” she declared. “Is there anything you want to do next?”

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Louis, Nicci and Lucy

"It is in my seclusion that I do my best plotting and scheming," he replied to Nicci's indirect concern.  "And who would wish to witness my sword and pistol practice in my shirt sleeves," he offered with a bored look at first, "other than a score of ladies hoping to catch my eye," he added with a laugh.  "I already have enough charming ladies in my life."

To her query, he playfully replied "I cannot tell whether the pink is from false modesty, or the sun.  Fortunately, your hat is perfect to maintain your porcelain complexion."  There was further query as to the mystery letter from two of the three ladies closest to him.  He did not know whether to be paranoid that the two had allied against him, or whether there was to be some sort of special announcement forthcoming.  He hoped that it was the pregnancy of his cousin.  "I am always intrigued by invitations from charming ladies, especially when they are blood relations."

It seemed that Nicci and Lucy had a nice visit.  "She is young and may be cautious about trusting her family.  My parents kept her shielded from me for most of my life," he laughed.  "Something about a bad influence."  IT had been the passing of his father that allowed him to interact with her at last.  Now that their mother was dead too, she would need Louis and Nicci all the more.  "We are both bad influences now," he laughed.  "But she needs us now more than ever.  In an uncertain world, one can always count on blood.  Our highest purpose is to advance our family after all.  It heartens me that the two of you are developing a bond."

It was then that Lucy arrived.  He had yet to detect that her demeanor was an illusion.  "A lady of quality never arrives late," he assured his sister gallantly.  "Now that we are all gathered, what mischief is afoot?" he asked, always suspicious of meetings that might have a hidden agenda.

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Awaiting Susan Herbert

His uniform was brushed extra well.  His plume was properly fluffed.  Standing sentinel at the entrance to the carnival, Charles waited with expectation for the arrival of Susan and her mother, Lady Pembroke.  The time for meeting was not certain.  It was sold as an escort, as opposed to an official date.  As such, he was hoping for a bit less formality with Susan and her mother.  He had arrived early so as to not miss them, and the minutes ticked away into hours, it seemed.

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Louis, Nicci and Lucy

"Well, you can keep your sword sheathed today." Nicci laughed, she had admired his swordplay personally in the past.  I really am becoming a Jade

"Perhaps Lucy and I also do our best plotting when we are alone, except also together?" She replied, not wanting her cousin to act so assured.  She'd wanted to make him a little concerned about what they might jointly be up to.  Meanwhile, Louis speculated on the reason Lucy had been very slow to befriend. 

"There is more to gain from an alliance than a rift." she agreed, just as Louis' expression brightened seeing his sister.  Nicci also turned and smiled as Lucy approached.

"Mon Chouchou," Nicci moved close and gave Lucy air kisses.  She was aware that Lucy was suffering anxiety from separation, which had even been a part of the recommendation for this diverting distraction of a day. "You look lovely, I wish I'd worn one of my furs also."   

Louis was ready for distraction too, though in that manly way that implied no emotional need for it.   

"I hardly know, shall we take a walk and see what catches our eye?" Nicci suggested and offered two cocked elbows to her cousins with a cheerful wink, "I most of all want to find a fortune teller, I have some important questions about life I need answered!"  


OOC Look: Carnival Attractions


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John and Anne Elizabeth

"Spanish Territories   .... Ah.  The Floridas you mean. Yes I have heard many things about it."

He answered the man back.

"Must have been quite the experience to handle these on board a ship or two I'd think - across several Sea and rough waters as well. Yet they seem hearty beasts."

He smiled back at her from his height but did not answer her. She was not really a part of his conversation with the other man after all.

"I would be interested in talking more on this subject. I wonder if such an investment could be carried out where I reside? Hmmmm  ..."

He glanced then towards the direction offered and nodded his head.

"Thank You for this enlightening matter. I shall indeed seek out this Mister Kinsley."

It was then that the handler's attention was drawn away and so John was able to respond to her.

"Well sometimes the predictable is a longed for thing but I shall not dissuade you from the other either!"

At her stepping back he drew her closer to avoid further contact with the animals and at her question turned them both round to stare out over the expansive area.

"No idea. Shall we simply stroll at leisure and stop where we may? Perhaps we shall meet those with the same ideas."

"Let us go there for now."

He pointed to what was clearly a Tavern/Inn like set up with its tables and chairs inside a roped off space.

"I fancy a drink - mulled wine if they have it and whatever else temps."

He took her reply for granted and once again hooked her arm thru his.

He would point out several vendors and stalls as they walked sure that she would find a thing or two to her wanting.


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Susan and her mother arriving


Susan could hardly contain her excitement as she sat in the carriage with her mother as it traveled through town. She had been elated when told that Charles wished to escort them at the carnival. It had only been three days since she had seen him, and she already missed him immensely.


She hoped that this excursion would further thaw the Countess’ attitude toward him and that she would finally give them permission to marry. There was nothing she wanted more than to be his wife, though if somebody had told her she would feel like this last season, she would have laughed at them. Back then, they had only been friends trying to solve a mystery together. So much had changed between them and Susan thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world.


She saw Charles before the carriage came to a stop. He looked so handsome in his scarlet uniform that a soft sigh escaped from her lips. Susan had dressed in a mint green gown with pink accents over which she wore a fur-lined cloak in a darker shade of the same color. She hoped he liked it.


Her mother alighted from the coach first, and she followed, wondering if he would come to greet them or if he would wait for them to approach him.


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Louis, Nicci, and Lucy


Lucy greeted Louis with what she hoped was a cheerful smile. He didn’t seem aware that she was in a melancholy mood.  Nicci, however, knew how she felt and she had been surprised to find out that she sympathized with her. Their conversation during the Quoits game had changed her opinion of her cousin for the better. She returned Nicci’s air kisses and smiled at her too. “Thank you. You look stunning even without furs.” She did not complement Louis. He did so well at flattering himself.


“I don’t want my fortune told,” she said. There were some things that Lucy didn’t want to know. What if she was told that her son was going to die? While she suspected that fortune tellers were charlatans, she would still wonder whether the prediction had been true or not, and she would only feel more depressed. “I’ll go with you, though, and wait outside.”


A man in a dark suit approached them. Doffing his tricorn hat, he bowed and then pulled two small flower bouquets out of his hat, handing one to Nicci and one to Lucy.

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The Toledos


Sophia wanted to walk at the carnival, but after she had nearly collapsed while singing at the wedding yesterday, she had not protested when Esteban had insisted she sit in a cart. One small gloved hand was braced against the side. The man pushing it … for animals were not allowed … was trying to avoid the uneven patches of ground, but there were small pits and bumps in the path that could be felt but not seen. She didn't dare tell her husband that the ride was a bit rough, or he would probably insist they go home.


She discovered she wasn’t the only person sitting in a cart. Some villagers pushed their children or their elderly relatives ahead of them. The petite blonde had thought that she would be viewed as a carnival attraction herself, but nobody gave her a second look. This seemed to be an ordinary form of transportation among commoners.


Though it was cold and damp, she was bundled up well and the cart was furnished with soft blankets and pillows. Sophia assumed that Esteban would let her out if they decided to attend a show. She hoped that this unusual excursion would help them become closer to each other. Maybe his aloof attitude toward her would lessen and he would start to see her as a friend and a partner, rather than a silly teenage girl who needed to be protected.


“This is so exciting, is it not?” she asked him as some acrobats tumbled past them.

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The Herbert Ladies and Charles

The coach arrived and stopped nearby.  The arrival of a coach suggested a person of high standing and wealth.  It also suggested the presence of ladies.  As such, Charles strode forward to greet the occupants, arriving as Susan's mother descended.

"Lady Pembroke, what a privilege to see you.  Thank you for coming"  He moved to try and assist her in any way. His smile widened as Susan alighted.  He also competed with the footman to assist her.  "Lady Susan, how overjoyed I am to see you again.  You look positively radiant today.  Your Lady Mother and yourself shall, no doubt, be the two loveliest ladies in attendance today," he flattered genuinely.  This day, Susan would be the most beautiful lady in his mind.  Her mother was a beauty who had aged well, so his words were sincere.  If Susan looked like her mother in 20 years, he would be well-pleased.

"Ladies, shall we meander the fairgrounds or do you wish to start with something in particular?"  He wondered whether he should mention the gondola ride upon the river.  Lady Pembroke was likely less thrilled about such a trip.  

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Nicci, Lucy and Louis

Louis offered a knowing smile to Nicci in response to her reference to his sword. There was more than one meaning behind it.  "It will remained sheathed until the appropriate time," he assured her with a wink.

Louis did not expect compliments. He knew he was the most handsome and accomplished person at the carnival.  One did not expect such compliments from one's sister after all.  As for Nicci, the best complements were the ones whispered in intimate moments.  

"Best to see the fortune teller straight away before there is a line, for Nicci.  Lucy, you and I shall stand outside the tent and show the plebians here who are the most beautiful and successful brother and sister at court.  We might eclipse the other attractions here if we but smile to the less fortunate as they pass by," he laughed, hoping to get a laugh from his sister.  "There is a tent with stars on it. Let's make it our first stop," he suggested.

A magician appeared  with flowers with each lady.  Louis reached into a vest pocket to retrieve one of his shillings.  "If you pull precious gems from your hat for the ladies, I'll make it a sovereign," he teased.  Tossing the man the silver, the trio was free to continue.

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The Toledos

The cart employed this day, though small, was nicer than the type commoners employed.  Commoners did not have servants pulling the cart and a Spanish soldier walking behind.  Though passerby would pretend not to look, it was not every day one saw a foreign lord and his lady -- one dark man and one fair beauty.  It was a noticeable contrast.

Every time the cart hit a bump, the Count frowned at the servants.  They were expected to steer the cart to avoid holes.  Esteban had opted for servants instead of a draft horse so that they could assist Sophia if there was an incident.

The team halted to observe the acrobats for a moment.  "I am hoping to see wild animals," Esteban confessed to Sophia.  He had seen the collection in the Tower and was impressed.  He had heard that Lord Pembroke had a menagerie, but he hoped to see an elephant this day.  His eyes scanned the tents and located the largest one.  "Let us head over there."

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John and Anne-Elisabeth


The handler smiled and nodded but said nothing else. He had already told them that the llamas came from Peru and he had not been on the ship that had brought them to England. Nor could he comment about investment opportunities. That would be up to Master Kinsley.


“The predictable is boring,” Anne-Elisabeth laughed after the llama handler had turned away to answer the question of another visitor. “Don’t you long for unusual and exciting experiences like I do?”


John didn’t have any location in mind, which was just as well, as she enjoyed being spontaneous. He suggested that they stop at one of the taverns that dotted the carnival grounds. They had all day, after all, and she wouldn’t mind a snack.  With her hand resting on his arm, Anne-Elisabeth stopped every now and then to peruse the merchandise at the vendor’s stalls. There were many things that caught her eye, but she was disguised as a commoner and didn’t want to blow her cover by purchasing expensive things. Nor did she wish to lug them around. “We’ll have to come back here later when we’re ready to leave,” she told John.


Moving on, they approached the makeshift tavern. On the placard, it advertised various beverages including mulled wine as well as various baked goods.

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Lucy didn't want to see the fortune teller, while Louis announced he'd be happy to wait; better yet he spotted where the tent was.   "La, I am hardly even prepared for it!" Nicci practically squealed with delight, "Yes lets hurry!"  

Then right before them, a magician plucked flowers clean out of the air for the ladies.  "These must be magic flowers," Nicci announced and smiled towards Lucy, "a good omen, come let's place them near our hearts."   She hoped it might cheer her a little. 

Louis, meanwhile, the one whom she had thought needed some levity, was already in high spirits, flicking a silver coin and cracking a joke that set Nicci laughing, "That might be a handy trick for you to learn for when you are Lord Treasurer!" 

Her eyes, meanwhile, were eager for the fortune teller, and as they neared, she whispered, "I've never actually been to one before..." she felt excited and nervous at the same time.


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Charles and the Herbert Ladies


Her mother had already exited the coach by the time Charles arrived. Lady Pembroke greeted him politely and nodded to the footman to step aside so he could help Susan out. Though Susan was wearing gloves, it felt as if the warmth of his touch made her hand tingle.


“I am delighted to see you again too, Lord Langdon.” She smiled at him warmly, pleased with his flattery and that he had included her mother in his compliment. Susan had always thought that the Countess was immune to a gentleman’s praise, but maybe she appreciated it as well.


She glanced over at her when Charles asked if there was anything in particular they wished to do, and the look her mother gave her told her that she didn’t mind if she answered for both of them. “Let’s just walk around for now,” she replied. She didn’t care what they did as long as she could spend time in with him.

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It went well enough as Susan alighted from the coach.  He was fine walking about aimlessly, pausing to watch a carnival performer as they walked.  

There was the obligatory conversation about the weather and meaningless banter as they walked.  This courting ritual was more important for the Countess than for the couple.  When he felt they were distant enough from her mother, Charles uttered softly,  "I am happy and at peace in your company.  I shall pray that we can spend our life together happily and at peace, and we will, I promise, when we are married, talk about important things rather than the banter that we exchange on days we are chaperoned.  Forgive me if I do not attempt to impress you with wit when we are together.  I find myself at a loss for words in your company, where I do not with other ladies.  Perhaps it is because I know that we will be one in time, unless Philip is unreasonable."

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John and Anne-Elizabeth

He did a quick scan and then steered her towards a table set alongside the rope barriers that would provide 'protection' but not block any views out over the general areas.

He sat her on the inside then took the other chair giving a signal to what must be a waiter of some kind.

"Mulled wine I think and perhaps some bread and cheese  ...."

He handed the lad some coins - more than enough to have several tankards of wine if they wished.

Settled back he let his eyes once again roam over her. There was no doubting that she was a fine looking woman.

"Something I have been meaning to ask you ...... "

Trailed off as two tankards arrive fragrant with the scent of spices mixed with the red wine and heated with a hot poker. He had seen the arrangement as they had walked in so was somewhat certain that it would be drinkable.

"Your two names. Are you usually called Anne-Elizabeth all the time? You must have a preference. A nickname even?"

"Maybe I should think of one and then adapt it?'

He took his first deep sip and gave a small nod.

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Nicci, Louis, and Lucy


Lucy wondered if Louis wanted his fortune told too, but apparently, skepticism … or perhaps a belief that one was in charge of one’s own destiny … ran in the family. Nicci seemed excited at the prospect of learning what the future held for her. The young Duchess could understand why. Her cousin’s life was looking up, whereas her own was falling apart. Nicci’s place in His Majesty’s affections would give her family a plethora of advantages, but not even the King had the power to improve her son’s health.


Louis’ description of the impact their beauty and success would have on the common folk did make her smile slightly, but she didn’t respond in kind, as she had usually done in the past. Her wit seemed to have deserted her the moment she had first set eyes upon her frail little boy.


The magician’s flowers cheered her up a bit, as did Louis’ comment and Nicci’s reply. She had said ‘when’ he was Lord Treasurer, not ‘if.’ Had she already convinced the King to appoint him to that position or was it only wishful thinking?


“I’ve heard that they never give you a straight answer,” Lucy said as they strolled to the tent with stars on it. Her eyes widened when she saw all the cats in front of it. There was definitely more than a dozen of them. Some were playing and chasing each other while others were sleeping or interacting with the three people standing in line. One was licking its derriere. A young woman sat behind a table to one side of the tent, collecting fees and making certain that only one person or couple went inside. Every now and then, she would call out “Buy our cats and be free of rats!”


A fluffy red kitten butted its head against Lucy’s skirts and for the first time in months, a genuine smile turned up the corners of her lips. “Ohhh, aren’t they adorable? I will not mind waiting here at all.”


The commoners waiting their turn to see the fortune teller stared at the nobles for a few seconds … one actually frowned at them ... and then resumed their conversation.


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Charles and the Pembroke Ladies


Susan thought that Charles acquitted himself well in her mother’s presence. She was fairly sure that the Countess was subtly testing him. He didn’t seem the least bit nervous, which proved … at least to her … that he had nothing to hide. Their conversation was natural and pleasant, and there was plenty of entertainment. Even Lady Pembroke appeared amused by some of the performers. She seemed to be enjoying herself as much as they were.


Eventually she fell a bit behind, giving them a semblance of privacy, though Susan knew that she was watching them closely. Charles' words delighted her and she thought it was sweet that he felt tongue-tied when they were together. He’d never had that problem when they were just friends, so he must truly care for her now.


“I understand,” she assured him. “In a way, I miss the way things used to be, but I know that the best is yet to come. As for Lord Pembroke, he loves me in his own way and wants me to be happy. I think he will listen to my lady mother’s advice.”


Susan gave Charles a quizzical look. “How well do you know him? Have you given him any reason to be angry with you?”  It didn't take much to raise her brother's ire.

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John and Anne-Elisabeth


Anne-Elisabeth followed John over to one of the tables and sat in the chair he pulled out for her. He ordered for both of them. “Good choice,” she observed after the buxom waitress returned to the stand. She noticed the way he looked at her and let her eyes travel over him in the same fashion.  The Countess believed that she knew what he wanted to ask her, but his question was interrupted as the waitress arrived with their wine. She breathed in the spicy scent, hoping that it would taste as good as it smelled.


His question was not what she had expected. “My family and close friends called me Alissa in Barbados.” The only other person who knew that was Nicci, whom she had told one evening last season when they had become tipsy drinking coconut rum. It wasn’t a secret. Nobody but her French friend had inquired about it and full names or titles were used at court. “You are welcome to use it as well. I generally don’t reveal it unless asked by somebody who is close to me.”


Anne-Elisabeth took a small sip from the mug to test it. It was quite delicious for a beverage made by common folk.


“What about you? Do you have a nickname?”


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John and Anne- Elizabeth

He was amused at the ease in which she assessed him in return. Whatever was to happen between them would never be dull that he knew for a fact.

She then spoke more of that place she came from saying a shortened version of her name then adding that he could make use of it.

"I am flattered that you consider me someone that you think of as 'close enough.'"

He smile into his tankard as he took a drink.

"Me? Well I have been called "Jack" since I was a small boy.  And as with you only family and close friends use it now."

"We can keep to it or perhaps we should be original  ...... we are both too new to the other and I like to take my time and not be rushed."

"And we have yet to spend any long time together and there is much to discover."

"Would you not agree?"

He favored her with a steady gaze to ensure that she took his meaning.

The roar of lions and the sudden trumpet of an elephant filled the air about them making him turn in the direction it might come from.

"I think we should investigate further - I am intrigued by all the sounds and want to see what they are."

"Shall we finish here and then go out? Or have you a desire to rest here?"

"Whatever pleases you."

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Louis, Nicci and Lucy


It seemed that Nicci was in a good mood and Louis laughed aloud as they jested.  Lucy seemed in moderate spirits.  Louis was oblivious to the reason as to any sorrow on the part of his sister.  He imagined other reasons for seriousness, like wondering about her future with the Queen.

They found themselves soon enough at the fortune teller, only to find a line of commoners waiting.  Louis was not a man to wait, nor was his family.  Given his social status, he could easily cut into the line and approach the gypsy immediately.  However, he paused and pulled forth a handful of silver as he moved forward.  Arriving at the table, Louis announced loudly, "I should like to pay for the fortunes of all these good people in line ahead of us, to reward them for exhibiting a small bit of patience while this lady has her fortune read. I am content to wait, but a lady must not."   It was obvious that he meant his cousin.  "And, include one kitten of this lady's choosing.  The castle has a mouse problem."  In this regard he meant his sister Lucy.  He had notice how easily she melted at the sight of the red kitten.  "Choose the one you like," he urged, content to see his female relations benefit while he orchestrated the encounter.  Louis was confident of his future.   He needed no traveler to praise  him, whether sincere or not.

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