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An evening of Stargazing etc | climbing the tower, Weds 21st evening

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You are respectfully invited to the battlements of the Round Tower

at Sundown on Wednesday the 21st of September

for an evening of Stargazing, mirth, and warming beverages.



George took a break in his climb up the tower, pausing to look out one of the narrow windows in the stone. Even in the dark, there was a view to be admired; beyond the torchlit castle walls and windows, Windsor township sparkled.  It was an earthly view.  But tonight, according to Henry, there were sights in store even more impressive.  Rather than outward, they'd looking upward!

Thinking he heard another pair of footsteps on the climb, he lingered a moment longer, with a smile for his approaching company, "Good evening." 


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The last time she had climbed up a tower, Anne-Elisabeth had almost been killed by her escort. It had been accidental, but that didn’t make the memories of nearly falling to her death any less horrifying. She was alone this time, which strangely enough, made her feel safer.


She had not brought along her own telescope, worried that it might be damaged if a clumsy courtier tried to look through it. The Barbadian Countess planned to ask Lord Grey if she could set it up tomorrow after the demonstration was over. Or perhaps he had a better idea.


Climbing wasn’t easy while wearing voluminous skirts and a heavy cloak. Anne-Elisabeth was ready for a short break when she came upon Lord Chichester apparently doing the same. “Good evening to you too, my lord.” Her smile was bright and cheerful. He was a very welcome sight. “Your lovely wife isn't accompanying you tonight?”

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"Countess."  George gave a version of a bow that involved his arm and the incline of his neck, with a sparkle of eye smile upon seeing who approached.  "You did not opt for your breeches today then?" 

"Oh dear." he blinked as she pointed out what should have been a very obvious thing. "You are right, I should have asked her to come with me. I hope she is not put out that I forgot.  It shall take me a while, apparently, to consider myself part of a twosome." he grimaced and asked, "Am I in huge trouble?"  


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Anne-Elisabeth laughed. “I thought about it, but I don’t want to shock poor Lord Grey. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of gentleman who would approve and working with both of you on a map of the sky is more important to me than comfort. My breeches would certainly have made this climb easier, though.”


So Lord Chichester had not even thought to ask his wife to come along with him? “You might be,” she said, unable to resist teasing him a bit. If he was her husband, she would have forgiven him anything and she was certain that his wife would too. “I would suggest that you buy her an expensive gift, but the shops are closed now. Perhaps when you get back to your room, you should design a beautiful piece of jewelry for her and present it to her in the morning if she feels neglected.”


The slender Countess shrugged.  "Or maybe she isn't interested in astronomy and is glad you didn't invite her.  The two of you don't have to do everything together.  I think it is important that married couples have their own interests."


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She laughed at his tease, which made him feel good.

"Yes he is a bit serious..." George agreed, not mentioning that his likeness to gray in that was behind why they got along so well, "But he is not entirely stuffy.  We free thinkers can appreciate sensible dress as well as they next man, now if he'd invited you to a ball and you wore breeches, then I'd understand if he was disappointed.  But as it is, I am certain he shall be delighted to see you whatever raiment you are within." 

This pause on the stairs was a fine chance for the little lady to catch her breath, George did not rush to resume the upward trek.

"Oh dear." he mumbled while listening to Anne Elizabeth's qualified opinion on that.  She was a woman and had been married before, so he would know. 

"Hmm, well perhaps that is it. My Lady Chichester is not academically inclined, I doubt she knows any Latin, and she's not even very interested in Church. She would probably have found tonight's heavenly focus tedious upon multiple counts.  But still, I should have asked, I suppose I need to consider any invitation I recieve personally to include my lady wife in the future.  At the very least I need to bring this up to discuss at out next... ah, discussion." 

Her statement on the benefits of having separate interests prompted the Earl to then ask, "You have not spoken much on your late husband's interests, may I assume then that they were much different to your own?" 

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She had known that climbing up a tower would require some skills and she had prepared for it. Two less petticoats beneath her dark grey skirts and a lighter cloak would make the climb easier.

Halfway to the top she stopped and breathed in and out her gaze looking out one of the narrow arrow slit windows and she could not help but wonder how it must've been in times past. Not all that much she thinks and then continued on up. She wondered if others had already gathered. She had missed Lord Grey in all honesty and hoped that this evening would provide him with the much needed attention and if the King himself took an interest even better! A Royal Patron was just the thing that he needed and then his fellow peers would not think of him as insignificant or not worthy of attentions. 

At last the circular path was ending and she muttered out loud into the darkness

I laced in too tightly and I should have know better ..... Why my breath is fair caught ..... I shall have to adjust  ..... thankfully tis dark  ....

Her words might well have preceded her arrival out onto the roof top itself.

She at last came out into the cold and saw at once that two others had arrived.

"Ah! The Groom himself! My felicitations Lord Chichester."

She called out as she walked closer her gaze taking note that the woman was NOT his bride. 

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Anne-Elisabeth didn’t know Lord Grey well enough to predict how he would react to a lady in breeches. Her first conversation with Lord Chichester had confirmed that he was a progressive thinker who didn’t expect women to do nothing but embroider and raise children, which was why she had showed him her male attire.


“It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and I’m not as well-acquainted with him as you are. We have not yet started working together, but I hope to speak to him about that tonight, as well as setting up the new telescope he sent me during recess. It’s taking up most of the space in my tiny little room.”


The elegant Earl thought that his wife would not have wanted to join him. Anne-Elisabeth did not believe that one had to understand Latin or be pious to be academically-inclined. She knew only a few words of Latin and had no interest in religion.  The latter she saw as just one more way for men to control women.  And she understood academic pursuits such as science, mathematics, and politics as well as ... if not better than ... most gentleman


Few women and even fewer noblewomen were interested in astronomy, though, so Lord Chichester was probably correct in that his wife would have turned down the invitation. She repressed as chuckle when he hesitated before saying the word ‘discussion.’ They had only been married for a day and she was quite certain that their discussions had very little to do with discussing. There were far more intriguing ways to occupy one's mouth.


“It never hurts to ask. Make sure that you tell her that you won’t be angry if she declines.” Some ladies were so eager to please their husbands that they pretended to be interested in something that bored them to tears.


Anne-Elisabeth’s smile faded when Lord Chichester asked whether she and her late husband had different interests. “I hardly know,” she admitted. “It was an arranged marriage and we had been wed for only a couple of months when he died in the shipwreck. We both liked riding, hunting, and adventure. He was not at all witty and didn’t understand my propensity for poetry. Nor did he care for astronomy. But he did believe that a woman should be able to study science if she wished to. Most of our attraction was … well … physical.”


She might have told him about her fear that Arthur was addicted to gambling if a well-dressed older lady had not joined them on the landing they had stopped on. The young Countess had seen her before but could not remember her name. She obviously knew Lord Chichester for she congratulated him on his marriage as she approached. Was that disapproval Anne-Elisabeth saw in her eyes when she looked at her? She returned her gaze steadily.


It was probably best to let Lord Chichester introduce them.

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  • 1 month later...

It was at that point that a loud expletive was heard from the battlements above. Fortunately, only those with knowledge of a rather obscure and ancient form of Greek would understand the reference to gods, goats, and acts against nature.

"You almost dropped the lens, you fool! You do that again, and I will ask Lord Beverley to have you flogged!" The tone was beyond aggravated. Henry would not do such a thing, but the servant did not know that, and went death-pale. "P... pl... please forgive me, m... my... my lord. The floor is uneven, and my shoe c... c... caught on a stone..." the tone was pleading, almost to the point of tears. Somewhat mollified, Lord Grey muttered a few other ancient Greek curses under his breath, but said nothing more. The servant slowly and very, very carefully placed the telescope he was carrying on the nearest table. His wife would never forgive him if he was expelled from the castle's small army of servants. He would probably be kicked out of his house too if he was kicked out of the castle.

Henry approached the telescope, adjusting its position, and checking that the optics had not lost their alignment. Satisfied that everything was in order, he looked through the eyepiece intently, seeking a familiar star through a break in the fog above.

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Francis had been walking along the battlements before Lord Grey was due to have his event and was still a ways away off in the darkness. The scolding of the servant sounded like a distant whisper.


He had an inkling that His Majesty might attend after the King had run into Lord Grey early that one morning, but Francis had not been attending that day, so he did not know if that would actually happen. It would be a grand thing for Lord Grey if it did, but His Majesty enjoyed science things, so there was at least a possibility.


For the time being, he contented himself in the small sense of freedom present in being up there by himself.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Approaching from the opposite side of the tower to Kingston, Charles cocked his head, his progress along the battlements momentarily halted as the sound of Greek imprecations reached his ears. It was a different dialect to the Attic he was familiar with, but the tone conveyed the meaning well enough.

Something blasphemous and anatomically improbable concerning... sheep, perhaps? Charles decided after a little pondering. Placing the voice was easier, at least, even if he had never heard Lord Grey in a swearing mood before. It was decent swearing, too, and a most respectable upbraiding, and Charles spoke as an experienced soldier. He could give lectures on swearing and upbraiding.

Shaking his head, Charles picked up the pace, moving briskly towards the source of the noise.

"Good evening Lord Grey," he greeted cheerily once he was close enough.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mountjoy joins the gathering.


Closely on the heels of Kirk and Audley Mountjoy began the assent to the summit of the tower, his red heels clicking on the stone steps as he did so. In deference to the celestial nature of the gathering he had chosen to wear a small brimmed hat without plumes or feathers of any kind in order not to impinge upon his gazing upwards which, logic would dictate, an evening of gazing at the stars would entail a fair quantity of. Mountjoy would often, if he found himself about the countryside after dusk, gaze and even admire the stars but he always did so in a less organized fashion.

Charles could understand written Greek quite well but was not as practiced in the spoken word so when he thought he overheard Lord Grey exclaim something about fornicating with the mouth of a goat he assumed he mistranslated some learned astronomical term by the learned gentleman for astronomers were as much in the habit of quoting Greek as Barristers were of Latin.  Perhaps he would be able to slip the phrase into conversation as they discussed the stars.

He bowed to the brace of women present and inclined his head in greeting to the gentlemen. “I see our modern Copernicus is already calibrating his instruments. I am eagerly looking forward to a fascinating exhibition of the marvels of the heavens.” He said to the gathering at large to underscore punctuate his arrival and then to Lord Grey in particular. “Do you think you will be able to demonstrate to us what I believe I have heard esteemed astronomers refer to as porneía me to stóma mias katsíkas?* If you follow my very loose translation.”

No doubt Henry would be impressed at the exhibition of the breath of his knowledge.



*According to Google translate, Fornication with the mouth of a goat but feel free to look it up yourselves and see what it does for your algorithm.

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Cordelia and Company

"Lady Lucas" She self-introduced to the younger woman. "I am glad to see the presence of another woman ..... Most unfortunate that the climb to arrive here was a bit tough but I must say it is well worth it!"

"If the sky is clear when it's dark the Stars will indeed be wondrous."

She broke off as more voices were then heard one in particular.

"It appears that Lord Grey might be a bit anxious over this? Perhaps it is best to delay going up further until calmness is restored."

She turned her gaze on the other two.

"Have you known him long?"

Asked of both with a curious countenance.

She continued to assess the other woman and wondered what the relationship might be between her and Lord Chichester.

That the other woman was striking in appearance did not escape her sharp eyes. She would hold off judgment until introductions were returned. 

It was at that moment that Lord Mountjoy arrived   .....

She turned her attentions to him offering him a smile and a curtsy.

"Have you come as well to observe the Stars Lord Mountjouy?"

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Cadell, only now beginning to think of himself as Lord Athenry, had always been interested in the sciences, possessing some aptitude for mathematics (and making up for what he lacked with studiousness) and a reasonable knowledge of the natural philosophy behind the cosmos, flora, and fauna, but when it came to Henry Grey, he expected to be put to shame in the man’s field. It was best to leave astronomy to the astronomers – he preferred political and moral philosophy, history, and particularly languages – but that didn’t mean he would not enjoy such a gathering. Indeed, it was only his hope that Grey did not invite a gaggle of callow boys and obtuse ladies, but thinkers.

Curiously, though, the invitation had come for both him and his wife, and even more curiously, Athenry had felt compelled to ask Louise to attend with him. For appearances sake, some things were worth doing together and, though he remained shamed by certain aspects of the marriage, he would be remiss to admit to himself that he had grown quite partial to the French beauty’s company while in France. And, if nothing else, there was a sullen aura over their quarters, as there was in Chelsea – he could not help but wonder what stung her most, the loneliness or rejection, and he likewise could not help resent her slightly for the mutual nature of that feeling.

As a friendly pair or conspirators, however, they worked quite well, and so – as ever, surprised the Duchess of Portsmouth assented to his company – he had selected his maroon, gold- and brass-trimmed justacorps, with dark grey breeches and wave-embroidered waistcoat, black stockings, and red-heeled court shoes. Each item was made or acquired in France, with much of the embroidery hearkening back to the popular Oriental patterns – with the Duchess of Portsmouth on his arm, Athenry made a wordless declaration of Catholic defiance, quiet Francophilia in the face of persecution.

“The man who designed all these blasted staircases ought to have been drawn and quartered,” the viscount grumbled as the pair of them made their ascent, the lady on his left and in his right, an ivory-handled cane whose grip was carved into a bird’s head announced their arrival. There was a tertiary purpose to his asking her to come along, making the event into something of a scouting mission for a potential salon. “Have you met Grey? And oh, Mountjoy’s here,” he observed to Louise. That bodes well for the caliber of our company. “We’ve met but twice, but he is…like-minded to me.” The way I wish to be.

An intellectual, a man of taste, a man of authority. All that’s in the way is inaction...and the Mother Church. And then he spoke, and Cadell Athenry wished he had a drink to spit out in amusement.

“Either his Greek or his sense of propriety when speaking that tongue could use some work,” he murmured, his Greek being quite good (even for a gentleman), smirking knowingly as he chimed in with an apologetic bow of his head to the the matronly woman his greeting interrupted. “Ptolemy ought be credited for the saying, my lord!”

Edited by Cadell Mortimer
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His guests started arriving just as profanities flowed from his mouth. I deserve it for having lost my temper. Lord Chatham, who Grey was certain had understood his words, had been gentlemanly enough not to remark upon it. Lord Mountjoy was either being facetious or did not understand a word. Being His Majesty’s Attorney General, the odds were about even. Perhaps less than even, as the man was merely from Oxford, after all. Lord Athenry, on the other hand, attributed the baron’s words to Ptolemy. The thought made Henry smile. He knows… There was a nod of recognition to the Welsh lord. Cadell's comment was a play on words Henry recognized.

“Ptolemy I Soter, definitely, Lord Athenry” soldiers were not the gentlest mouthed when irked. “Claudius Ptolemy, not as much, I think. Although he might have been, if one of his delicate instruments was mishandled”. A furtive look to the offending servant sent the man scurrying away.

Now, what to reply to Lord Mountjoy

“The exact details of such would be so boring to the current company, my lord, that I will not attempt it. Perhaps we can discuss the matter later, at leisure?” Hopefully the marquis would understand the undercurrent, and not insist.

To deflect attention from himself and his words, he decided to greet the arrivals. “But pardon my manners! Your Grace Portsmouth, an honour to make your acquaintance”. Henry bowed deeply, formally, kissing a hand if it was offered. Royal Duchesses ought to be treated with the utmost respect. “My lords, I feel honoured with your presence”, he bowed first to Mountjoy, then to the earls in order of his best recollection of precedence of their titles. “Lady Cambrai”, he mispronounced intentionally with a grin and a twinkle in his eye, “perhaps you will find my telescopes of interest”, Grey said as he bowed. “Lord Athenry, a pleasure to see you again”. Finally, “Lady Lucas, the night is warmed by your presence”, the bow was a touch less formal, but Henry's face lit up as he addressed his friend. The baron kissed each lady's hand, if offered. “I am utterly thankful that all of you accepted my humble invitation!”

Grey was ecstatic. Even if no one else attended, he would consider his first court function a success. “May I offer a cup of mulled wine to keep the chill away from the bones? Something stronger, perhaps?” At a raised finger, servants sprang into action. There was much to say, and much to explain, but the duties of hospitality ought to be discharged first.

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Je suis d'accord,” Louise replied to her husband’s complaint about the stairs. She was quite winded herself, her legs were starting to ache, and she was afraid she might trip on her voluminous skirts. But all that was nothing compared to how Cadell must feel. “I wish there was another way to get to the ramparts. At least we are almost there.”


She had been surprised when he had asked her to accompany him tonight. Though she had seen the invitation, she had not mentioned her inclusion, certain that he would prefer to go alone. She would not have blamed him, considering the way she had treated him since His Majesty had abandoned her. He was not at fault, but if he had not married her, she might still be in the King’s good graces … and his bed.


There was no changing the past, and she was trying her best to accept her new reality. The Duchess was attempting to make amends and she knew that Cadell was too after their discussion about salons. In truth, she had missed his company and their amiable relationship. They had been so happy in France. Sometimes she wished they could go back and stay there.


Her husband seemed more French than English sometimes, and he had even adopted French fashions. Louise thought he looked quite handsome in his elegant ensemble. She always wore gowns from her homeland and her royal blue gown accented with pink and silver was made in the latest style.


A masculine voice cursing in Greek greeted them when they finally reached the ramparts. Her knowledge of that ancient language was more than passable and she blushed to the roots of her hair. “Mon Dieu! she muttered under her breath. After a brief pause to recover her composure, she answered Cadell’s question. “No, I have not yet met Lord Grey."


Her husband seemed to admire Lord Mountjoy. How would he react to her presence, she wondered? His wife was the Queen’s lady and Her Majesty hated her with a passion. Unless Cadell had told anyone, nobody but the two of them and the King were aware that she was no longer his mistress, at least as far as she knew. She hoped that Lord Mountjoy would at least be civil to her.


As they approached the group of courtiers, she noticed that there were two ladies among them. She was glad that she was not the only one, Louise did not interrupt the exchange between Cadell and the older gentleman who had uttered the offensive phrase. Despite his cursing, Lord Grey's manners were excellent and he addressed her first, as she was the courtier of the highest status.


Enchanté,” she replied, holding up her gloved hand to be kissed. She paid attention when Lord Grey greeted the others.  She had not met all of them.


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The older lady introduced herself. “Lady Cambray,” Anne-Elisabeth replied with a smile. “I’m glad I will not be the only lady there. And yes, the stars will be brilliant up on the ramparts. It is the perfect place to view them.”


Lord Grey did sound quite perturbed. She might have been amused if she had understood his curse, but she’d had no interest in learning ancient languages as a child. Nor did she now. She wasn’t sure if they should wait or go up directly to assist him.


“I met him last season and we decided to make a map of the night sky together.” She grinned at Lord Chichester. “Lord Chichester here is going to illustrate it. Lord Grey also sent me a new telescope over recess. I’m hoping that he will let me set it up with his own. It’s taking up most of the space in my cramped little room.


“In fact, I believe I’ll go up and see if he needs any help. Please excuse me.” Anne-Elisabeth hurried up the rest of the stairs and exited the tower. There were already quite a few courtiers gathered around Lord Grey, including Lord Chatham, whom she hadn’t seen since they had flirted at the bonfire.


The young Countess had no idea what they were talking about and wisely kept silent until Lord Grey greeted her, intentionally mispronouncing her title and grinning at her. She grinned back but did not hold up her hand to be kissed as her attention was diverted by the telescopes. “I can hardly wait to look though one!” she exclaimed. She supposed she would have to wait until he explained the science of astronomy to the rest of his guests, but she didn’t mind. He knew so much more than she did that she was certain to learn something.  If he needed an assistant, she would gladly volunteer.


From the way he spoke to Lady Lucas, they seemed to be well-acquainted. Were they romantically involved? They looked to be around the same age. As she took a glass of mulled wine from a servant and placed her hands around it for its much needed warmth, she contemplated getting to know her better. Whether or not she was involved with her friend, she seemed to share her interest in astronomy.


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She smiled and gave a nod or two as Lady Cambray spoke of her acquaintances with Lord Grey.

hmmm I wonder who her husband might be   ...... perhaps she does not have one and so is eyeing up Lord Grey  ..... I shall have to sniff about a bit   ....

Her thoughts behind the smiles.

She then noted the arrival of Lord Athenry who she knew was married to the Duchess of Portsmouth so she offered a neat reverence and a "Your Grace" for that Lady was the highest ranking amongst the women now.

"You are alone then Lord Mountjoy without the company of your wife? I do hope that it is not some new device for here is Lord Chichester also present without his Lady."

"And he newly wed!"

Her words were the typical banter of teasing and could not be taken for anything else.

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Mountjoy was quite the gadfly, Charles thought, amused and half-admiring. The man with Portsmouth, who Charles had thought to be French from his dress and company but now knew to be Welsh from his accent, was not bad either. Charles had seen him before, he realised, at one of the Queen's events at Easter, though he could not recall a name or title. He inclined his head in respectful greeting anyway. Portsmouth was due one in any case.

Grey was dealing well with the genteel, scholarly prodding, and so Charles felt no guilt in joining in.

"We should credit Auletes, surely, as the Lagid most likely to be busy by night," he quipped. Certainly the infamously licentious drunk was the most likely of the dynasty to have had intimate contact with a farmyard animal.

The tower-top was filling rapidly, which pleased him on Lord Grey's behalf: the event seemed likely to be a success. He flashed Anne-Elisabeth a wicked grin and gave Cordelia a more sedate smile. He quite liked both women, albeit for very different reasons. He played along as Grey made the introductions, nodding his head, mouthing greetings and kissing hands with smooth, polished courtesy as required. Athenry was the man with Portsmouth, he learned, and committed it to memory on the basis that any learned, quick-witted man married to a Duchess and former (presumably, anyway) royal mistress was worth keeping track of.

Charles took a glass of mulled wine from a servant and cast a glance at the assembled telescopes. They were different from the spyglasses he was used to, and he found himself quite looking forward to using one.

Edited by Charles Audley
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“Indeed, I have Lady Lucas.” He declared in reply to her greeting. “I have often reflected in wonderment when observing the heavens on a particularly fine night but I must confess I have always done so informally… as an amateur one might say. I have never caste my glance upwards in such a learned coterie. I am all set to be amazed.”

He responded to her curtsey by doffing his hat in respect.

It was then that Lord Athenry attributed Grey’s declaration to Ptolemy which was readily confirmed by Lord Grey. Indeed the two seemed to have some mutual grasp of the phrase. He was not surprised as Henry studied at Cambridge, the poor thing, so would naturally be familiar with such practices. Verly he seemed delirious of going into greater detail but being the well mannered man that he was deferred his proclivities to properly welcome his other guests.

He followed Grey’s quite gentlemanly acknowledgment with one of his own. He of course knew of the Duchess of Portsmouth and what she did to gain that title. He was a gentleman of traditional values but he was a versed enough courtier to accept the foibles of his betters and the King stood out first among that class. Louise, if she knew anything about Mountjoy, would know that he was unfailing polite and genteel when addressing a Lady, at least when he was speaking English, so she would find whisp of incivility. In fact, he was well versed in navigating the treacherous waters between a King and a new, apprehensive Queen for he was a great friend to Catrina who preceded her in the affections of the King. “Charmed to finally make your acquaintance Madam. Lord Mountjoy, at your service.” He again bowed and doffed his hat but left the precedence of kissing her had to the host.

Ann-Elisabeth seemed to be comfortable in this setting and appeared to some knowledge of the equipment and was eager to get started. It was astonishing the things a Lady could understand.

He was a bit more informal to Charles contenting himself with “Audley, good to see you again. We seem to share many interests.” It was not one of his customary flowery introductions which denoted his acceptance of the gentleman.

The rounds of intercourse came full circle as he found himself again returning to Cordelia. “Again, lady Lucas, you are most studious in your observations.” He beckoned a servant and took a cup of mulled wine, offering it to Cordelia. Something to keep the night chill away?” He took a cup for himself. “Alas, unlike the gallant Lord Athenry, I did not have the foresight to invite my wife. The Margravina devotes herself so entirely to Her Majesty that I guard her evening repose like a one headed Cerberus. I can not speak for Lord Grey but his passion for the moon and the stars must be great to tear him away from such an enchanting bride. I do hope our self-indulgences do not prove to become avant-garde and establish a trend.”  

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She was pleased at the courtesy he displayed to her.

"Well I am as you are Lord Mountjoy - I know nothing about the night skies except that one may wish upon the Stars and Moon - so I am curious as to what Lord Grey will show."

Lady Lucas then extended her welcome to Lord Chatham. He was an enigma and yet there was just something about him that made her want to know more. Was it the eye patch that lended an air of mystery perhaps?

She accepted the glass from Mountjoy adding

"It is commendable that your Lady is so well in her job yet even those so industrious might like time away  ......."

A gentle rebuff to his lack of forgetfulness. Yet nothing more was said as it was in fact none of her business .

"Such a trend will not sit well I assure you. A wife old or new would not like it to be such a thing and I can force strife indeed if it continues."

"For me well, since I am without a husband, I have not that worry and can simply bring myself!"

She smiled pleased with her own conclusion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

“But of course, my lord. How could I forget?” Athenry asked the gathering’s erstwhile host wrily. “You speak of my favorite Ptolemy.” Which, despite the entire topic being nonsense based on Mountjoy’s inappropriate Greek, was entirely accurate – his instincts and intellectual tastes were much more political and historical than they were scientific.

But the exchange itself was likely beginning to lose its luster with all whose sense of humor did not extend to references to Alexander’s diadochi, and Grey had guests to greet, so the conversation soon slid on.

The viscount, too, was sizing up others amidst the typical courtly procession of introductions that he had once thought took up entirely too much time – until he had spent a year at Versailles. There, missteps could be deadly, while intentional irregularities in the relevant exchange of flowery courtesies could change the fate of provinces. And so he sought to watch, particularly given that the attention was more focused on his well-known wife than her husband the upjumped viscount.

Accepting a glass of wine, Cadell smiled as Grey began the polite litany, replying in kind, “ I believe I speak for the company as a whole when I say the pleasure is ours, my lord.” The woman greeted as Lady Lucas seemed inclined to speak to Mountjoy, and she was greeted with a bow and a “My lady”, while a younger woman he did not know appeared eager to help Grey. “Do you hear that, dearest wife?” He inquired jokingly, speaking to the crowd as a whole. “Lord Mountjoy acknowledges my chivalrous nature. If his assessment cannot be trusted, than who?”

While a jest poking fun at the idea and teasing her lightly, he could not help inwardly think it true. He had been her defender when many of her allies had abandoned her.

That left the vaguely-familiar gentleman with the eyepatch, the one who had quipped about Auletes, who seemed the least-occupied of the company. “Ma moitié,” he murmured softly, so that only Louise might hear. “Do you know that one?” Having become more desirous for advancement, and lacking the avenues that those outside the light of Rome had available to them, it was essential to gather who he could as friends. “Actually…” He smiled lightly at Louise, remembering their joint efforts in the French court.

“Auletes is a tragic tale, as I recall,” he mused aloud by way of invitation, glancing at Audley. “A man who lost his kingdom to jugs of wine and a tune of a flute, no?”

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Having done everything he could to not be remembered as a… goat lover… Henry made sure all the arrivals had their choice in drinks and a moment to greet each other before addressing them again. “I beg your forgiveness for having asked you to climb to the top of the tower. I wish there had been an alternative but alas, short of using a winch with a seat to lift everyone here —which would have been dangerous even during the day— I found none”, Lord Grey was truly apologetic. It was the first court event he organized, and truly had no idea what the boundaries were.

After a pause, he continued. “The one partial solution I found was to make your time up here as agreeable as possible, so you could forget the climb…” at the click of his fingers, a quartet composed of flute, violin, viola and cello started playing softly, so as not to make conversation difficult. Those versed in such things would recognize sonatas da camera by the Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli. Italy was neutral in most English matters, so Henry had deemed it politically safe. The quartet had been instructed to have some German compositions ready in case Her Majesty decided to attend. A servant had been deployed to announce the arrival of their Majesties if they appeared.

“… So”, the baron continued, “before we begin with a brief explanation of the sciences of the heavens, which I promise to make as quick and painless as possible…” the English lord still remembered the effect his thorough explanation had provoked in the King, “… please have a bite or two to eat and a moment of conversation”.

On cue, servants appeared carrying trays with dainty sweets and savouries prepared by the kitchens of The Hen’s Toes and the White. Neither establishment had liked the idea at first, but after Henry dropped a few names from the guest list —like the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Worcester, the Duke of Cumberland and, of course, their Majesties­— and stated that no credit would be required, things grew warmer rather quickly. There was fare for every taste, from the Toes’ traditional English fare to the elaborate French cuisine of the White, with a few Spanish, Italian and, of course, German finger foods to complete the offering. The more traditional German dishes were held in reserve, waiting for Prince Rupert or the Queen to arrive before being offered to the guests. It would not do for those to be eaten before Karolina Regina had the opportunity to sample them. Trays presented to the monarchs would always be full.

The event was costing Henry a hefty sum. He had the funds, of course, but he could not spend like that every day… or week. Yet, first impressions were extremely important, so he spared no expense. He would play at being the most gracious host he knew how to be.

Hopefully things will go well… and hopefully she will attend…

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The Duke of Buckingham had been a courtier since the very moment of his birth, and he had been expected to look out for the (then) future king, so when one of his servants informed him that the King's former mistress was at the Astronomical event, his reaction had simply been: "Fuck."


That rather made their Majesties attending rather...complex. 


Said servant had also told him that Kingston was loitering about and had been invited but was not with the group. That had caused a few choice thoughts as well. 


The duke sent a note to Ashburnham to delay the King if needed. Buckingham would rather place the appropriate buffers in place. 


So with his most opulent cloak and hat, he made his own way to the event by himself which had not been the plan.


He came across the ramparts rather than directly to the location and saw Francis' blond hair in the moonlight.




The jump at his name being called was very satisfactory. 


"You do know the party is over there? With a bunch of courtiers? With their Majesties potentially coming, as you well know, because you conveniently arranged for the King to cross Grey's path?" He raised an eyebrow. "Come, Cub. You have duties. Did you know that the Weeping Willow, our dramatic French lady who had married your friend Athenry, came with her husband? You are one of the King's gentlemen, and mistress and former mistress management is high on the list of duties as you well know. Perfect it, Kingston, perfect it."


He barely waited for a response before he glided forth, and made his way toward the actual party.


"It seems I have arrived with most apropos timing, Lord Grey."

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Francis was utterly startled by Buckingham's bark. It was lucky he didn't jump enough to fall over the rampart he had been so lost in thought. He barely had enough time to offer a bow before Buckingham went into one of his expositions. One of his expositions of a pontificating nature.


"Coming, Sir," he said, as Buckingham just passed him on by with his usual grandiosity.


The gathering was yet intimate. He spotted a number of his friends and acquaintances, Athenry, Audley, and Mountjoy among them. He did not immediately know the lady that was speaking to Mountjoy. 


"Good evening, Lord Grey," he said, behind Buckingham's greeting. "A well-put-together affair, indeed."





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Anne-Elisabeth shamelessly listened in on the conversation between Lady Lucas and Lord Mountjoy. So the older woman knew very little about astronomy, but wanted to learn. She found that quite commendable. Her attention was diverted by the arrival of the intriguing Lord Chatham. She returned his wicked grin with a saucy one of her own. The two of them had flirted outrageously at the bonfire a few days ago, and it might have led to more had she not planned to spend the rest of the evening with Dorset.


Lord Grey gave them time to mingle and enjoy some refreshment. The Duke of Buckingham and Lord Kingston were the next to arrive. She dropped a curtsy to His Grace and smiled at Lord Kingston.


Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux
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Lord Mountjoy was more polite to Louise than she had expected, and she let out the breath that she had not been aware she was holding. She was pleased that Cadell’s perception of him had not been tarnished by his dislike of her. That might have ruined the possibility of repairing their strained relationship and given her husband another reason to resent her.


“It is a pleasure to meet you as well, my lord,” she replied with a genuine smile. He complimented Cadell for bringing her along and she could tell how much it pleased him. “He recognizes a true gentleman when he sees one,” she said, turning her smile on him and adding a bit of flattery of her own.


As to the gentleman who had been introduced as Lord Chatham: “I do not know him,” she whispered to Cadell. Though respectful, his eyepatch made him look a bit sinister to Louise. Her husband directed a comment toward him, and she wondered if he would join them. She didn’t think it was appropriate for a lady to say anything, considering the nature of the subject.


Louise silently agreed with Lord Grey that there should be an easier way to get to the ramparts. She was quite hungry after the climb and took a couple of sweets from a servant that stopped in front of them. Then she heard the Duke of Buckingham’s voice and the piece of fruit tart that she had lifted halfway to her mouth got a reprieve.


She had not expected him to be here. Louise was certain that he knew of her fall from grace. He knew everything and he was close to the King. Would His Majesty attend as well?  What would she do if he did?  Her hand tightened on her husband’s arm. Though she managed to keep her composure, she felt tears welling behind her eyes.

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She accepted the drink and took one small offering from a tray. Her corset still sat tightly despite her trying to re-position and so the idea of adding more made her not want to go there.

Buckingham and Kingston then arrived and she dipped a curtsey to the Duke and then took up a position off to one side yet still included to just observe.

The Duchess of P she had seen once or twice but never this close.

A Mistress of the King's (former) was not after all in her regular 'set' and so she wanted to take the chance to give her the once over so to speak so that she might tell it all later to the Ladies of her acquaintance.

How had those two become married she wondered? Did the King, as was rumored, pick and choose amongst his Gentlemen for a suitable candidate? Or was the Duchess allowed the right to chose for herself?

Really there were just so many intrigues about Court one hardly had enough time in a day to know them all!

The Lady she had met on arrival was not shy in her greetings and she has a suspicion that she is not as mild as she appears at first glance. Perhaps she was already known to all the Gentlemen?

Lord Grey spoke of soon his explanation on the Stars and Heavens would start and she did hope that he would not turn out to be like those professors or churchmen who started out fine then grew to be very long winded!

The music played and she wondered who else would appear .........

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Charles took a thoroughly sinful delight in food. It was the only vice he possessed that he actually considered a vice — the ancestral portraits of Audleys long gone suggested a pronounced tendency towards jowls and excessive fleshiness in the bloodline, and the thought of acquiring similar proportions filled Charles with horror. And so, while he relished what he did eat, he ate sparingly, and indeed not infrequently skipped meals. It was a constant test of his willpower, and the fact that his figure remained trim was mute testament to the fact that, contrary to what many believed, he could in fact resist temptation.

Accordingly, he was immensely pleased to have not given into the urge to make a pig of himself and gorge on the offered dainties, and instead content himself with a solitary gougère. It was exquisite, and for all his self-congratulations on his asceticism Charles found himself eying the tray once more.

Surely a second would not hurt...

Saved from himself by Athenry

Perhaps fortunately, Charles was distracted from the siren song of French pastry by Cadell's musings. He could recognise an invitation when he heard one, and turned to face the Welshman and Portsmouth, inclining his head and smiling politely.

"I confess that I have never considered him one," he said. "To be a tragic figure, it has always seemed to me, Auletes would have needed some quality that was heroic, or at least sympathetic, and in all we know of the self-proclaimed New Dionysus there is no trace of such, and so we have no reason to mourn his fall."

Charles smiled again, a sharp, thin little smile.

"But perhaps I am simply lacking in sympathy. Certainly if we ignore the character of the protagonist, the bare facts of his life are tragic, at least."

He might have gone on, but Buckingham's entrance distracted him. He inclined his head in greeting to the Duke and Kingston behind him. Would the King attend too, he wondered idly, and then realised the problem.

"Lord Grey has managed quite the gathering," he observed as he straightened, "not least in that a star has graced us with her presence here atop the battlements." He raised his glass to Portsmouth to make clear his meaning.

(It was not the finest compliment he had ever paid, but one had to be careful when complimenting a woman in front of her husband. That was harmless enough, Charles judged.)

"Tell me, your Grace, for you would know better than I," he began to ask the duchess, "has there ever been a similar event at Versailles? Le Roi has a keen interest in astronomy, I know."

He did not know enough of Portsmouth to know what conversational topics she might favour, but the French could always be relied on to enjoy speaking of Versailles and how it excelled all other royal courts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oblivious to the impending chaos and deluge of tears, Henry’s face lit up as Buckingham and Kingston arrived. “Your Grace, you are never early nor late. You are always on time, and I am honoured by your presence”, he said as he bowed formally. “Lord Kingston, I have done the best I could, especially taking into account such esteemed company”, the baron said as he bowed. It was true. Henry and his valet had fretted over every small detail. He was not a court veteran, though, so the fact that Her Grace Portsmouth had fallen from the King’s good graces was a detail he had not known when invitations were sent. “Please, be welcome, and join us in food and drink”. Henry signalled the servants to provide the newly arrived lords with whatever they asked for.

Taking advantage of the fact that guests were mingling, Lord Grey approached two that he wanted a word with.

“Inquiring minds are rare and far between, my lady”, Henry said to Anne-Elizabeth in a hushed tone. “They ought to be stimulated”. That she was a woman was not a problem for Lord Grey. “As for the instruments I have already set up, please, go and take a look at and through them. You I trust to know how to handle them, and you may adjust things I may have missed”.

Henry then walked to stand beside Cordelia. “Lady Lucas, I am so glad you are here. Whether this event succeeds of fails, having a close friend here makes a huge difference”. She was considered such by the baron. “Tell me, what have you been up to these past few days? With all the preparations this night required, I am afraid that I have lost all sense of time”.

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How interesting it was to play a silent observer she was thinking. These fellow Courtiers of which she knew bits and pieces were a coupling that she never thought to put together.

Buckingham with his shadow Lord Kingston, a former mistress of the King's, a one-eyed Earl who she suspects is far knowledgeable than most think, stargazers and a newly wedded Gentleman   ......

It was then that Lord Grey approached and she gave him a smile and whispered

"Oh I think the fear of failure is misplaced. Why just look at the assembled Company ...."

One hand trailed lightly into the air before them 

"So many topics discussed and yet everyone gathered out of a shared interest. How can it go wrong?"

"Unless clouds suddenly arrive or the glass lens breaks I would not think of failures."

"Me? Up to  ..... Well if I am honest things are very quiet at the moment. Aside from Court Events I am feeling decidedly bored."

"Ah THAT is the one thing that never changes my friend. Time. It passes swiftly does it not."

"I have meant to ask after Mistress Eleanore - I do hope she is well?"

"A rocky start there but fences mended. I should like to see more of her if that was possible."

"And what of you then? So I take it that you have not given any time to your finding a Wife Quest?

She took a sip of the wine and tried to hide the fact that not was not to her taste.

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