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Outside The Fortune Teller's Tent | Thursday afternoon


Aria
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This blue tent painted with sparkling stars sat in a prominent place, as the fortune teller’s services was always in demand. Cats roamed in front of it and some of them interacted with the people who stood in line waiting for their turn. There was a table outside where a young woman collected the fee and made certain that only one person or couple went in at a time. Every now and then, she would call out “Buy our cats and be free of rats!”

 

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Still fresh from her marriage to George earlier this week, this was the first time Caroline had ventured out into public as a married woman as opposed to a merry widow. She was well aware too that being married, she could not simply wander about with another man, unless a family member. Well, her only family was her father and he was not in London since his departure after the wedding feast. She might not see him again for who knows, perhaps months?

So, since she really did want to see this circus and George had important business - exactly what she was not even sure but that sort of thing was the domain of men. So she did not care. Today she wanted to enjoy herself taking in the sights and sounds of this magic world of the circus. However she was not alone. Her handmaid followed directly behind her and at a discrete distance her Irish bodyguard. She had hired him soon after arriving in London, just in case she was ever accosted. He was an ex-continental soldier and though grey bearded still one tough looking fellow. More importantly they actually got along well and liked each other. He'd fight to the death to protect her.

She had just finished a snack, a superb pastry freshly baked and topped with honey. Tasty, as a girl she would easily polished off half a dozen. For now she had contented herself with one. She was approaching a bright blue tent, as she got closer the sign declared this was the tent of a fortune teller. Fascinating!  She had never been to one. Truth be told, she did not believe in such nonsense but...........she was curious indeed.

Suddenly there close to the tent flap was a familiar fellow. It was Duncan Melville! They had not talked in a long time. He had missed her wedding and for a sad reason too, the passing of his wife, poor man. Well.........unless they despised each other, then lucky man. She would assume the former though. He had also sent a nice wedding gift. But much as she liked his gift, now having a chance to talk with the man in person was so much better.

"Good day to you, lord!" she walked up to his back then spoke loudly deliberately trying to startle the fellow. That was so Caroline.

 

 

Edited by Caroline Despanay
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Duncan… jumped. Noticeably. His thoughts had been with his Book Mouse, when an almost shout was directed at him. Were it not for the fact that it was a female voice, he would have had his rapier half-drawn before he turned. But the voice was female, and not unknown, so he did his best to smile as he did an about face.

“Lady Kendi… I mean, lady Chichester…” the Lowlander corrected himself immediately, “may God grant you a great day to you too” he added amiably. His face was thin, with dark circles below his eyes from lack of enough sleep, but the genuine smile brightened his otherwise gaunt countenance. “My most heartfelt congratulations on your recent nuptials. I hope you will forgive me for not having attended”. The pain he felt could be heard, and he had explained his absence in writing. Hopefully he had not slighted the newlyweds.

The viscount was a religious man, far more religious than most of court, perhaps even more than some of the bishops of the Church of England. So, his presence at the fortune teller’s tent was not out of a desire to know his fate. Rather, he had been thinking about Dame Martha* of late, wondering what had become of her and her troop, and as many fortune tellers were Roma, he decided to ask if the other Gipsy woman was an acquaintance of this one.

* I tried to find the corresponding threads, but I was unable to find them to link to them here. Sorry :S

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  • Aria changed the title to Outside The Fortune Teller's Tent

He almost went for his blade, she had indeed succeeded in startling him. Of course as soon as he saw her, there was no danger for either.  Even her Irishman had made no move to get closer for fear he would have to intervene. On second try Duncan got her new name right too. Not that she would have minded had he made such a trivial error. Some in the nobility were really quite touchy about such things, not her.

She lowered her voice now so mostly only he could hear what she had to say in response, "Oh call me Caroline. I have never been a stickler for titles and such between friends. I...we missed you at the wedding but once you wrote along with your wonderful gift, my heart went out to you. Condolences on your beloved wife. I regret I never had a chance to meet her."

"You have brightened my day now, seeing you here. So are you thinking of going in there?" she gestured with her eyes toward the blue tent flap.

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  • Aria changed the title to Outside The Fortune Teller's Tent | Thursday afternoon

To someone like Duncan, that a lady asked him to call her by her first name was unusual, to say the least. He called his mother Viscountess, and his sister Lady Balcarres. “It might prove a bit… difficult… Lady Chi… Caroline, but I will, as long as your Lord Husband agrees to it”. Duncan had known George for a few years now. “Until then, may I ask a boon from you and allow me to stick to protocol?” The Lowlander did not want to offend, but the wishes of Lord Chichester needed to be considered.

“Your condolences are much appreciated, and your forgiveness for not attending your wedding even more so”. Duncan had had good manners birched into him by rather stern tutors. “As for bright days, you are a sun. Your surroundings cannot be brighter”, he said gallantly.  “As for the Fortune Teller’s tent, yes, I do intend to go in. Would you like to go in together?” A recently married lady, even if accompanied by her maid, should not enter by herself, the viscount thought. But the Lowlander was known as a friend of her husband the earl, so he might be acceptable company in the eyes of polite society. “You will have the first turn, of course”.

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Ahhh, yes, she was being too forward, too dismissive of expected etiquette. Plus she now was married and had her husband's reputation to consider too. Would not wish to embarrass George.

"Oh, my fervent aplogies, I tend to be too.....familiar at times...at least with friends," she quickly made a verbal retreat, "Viscount de Melville, right?"  At times she had a devil of a time trying to figure out names and titles.

He then complimented her, saying she was as bright as the sun. How nice, who doesn't like compliments.

"I think it is perhaps more the sun up in the sky on this fine day than me but kind of you."

He then offered to go into the fortune teller together. She had indeed been planning on taking her handmaiden along within but...how much more exciting to see what this was like with a good friend, she immediately accepted.

"Yes, splendid idea, that!" Caroline beamed.

 

Edited by Caroline Despanay
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“I am honoured to be counted as your friend, Lady Chichester”. Duncan considered George a good friend and wanted the earl's wife to also be one. “But court is court, and even the smallest faux pas would send tongues wagging”. He was merely a Scot, after all, and he needed to play by the rules English lords could easily break without repercussion. “Aye, my lady. Viscount de Melville in the Scottish peerage”. His voice lowered so only she could hear, “but once your husband approves, and the setting is appropriate, Duncan it will be”.

Offering Caroline his arm, and after making sure the lady’s maid was following them, the Lowlander directed his steps towards the entrance of the soothsayer’s tent. God, forgive me this contact with possible forces of Darkness, if that is what they are. I am just worried about Dame Martha. I want to find out if she is all right, that is all. Without thinking, his hand went to the waistcoat pocket where he carried the half-filed penny the Roma woman had given him.

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Caroline was after all a noted libertine in court, she was proud of that label too. So tongues wagging meant nothing to her. However her situation in life had changed. George had a much more staid conservative reputation and it was her duty as a loyal wife to guard that reputation. So that would require adjustments in her behavior then, especially in public. She was glad now that Duncan had brought it up.

"Would not want that, those wagging tongues," she smiled as the pair went into the mystery tent together. Caroline was excited to see this fortune teller for she had yet to meet one. And of course undergo the experience of one's future being foretold. Even if she did not believe anyone had such a gift. After all, there were many mysteries in life, just maybe she was wrong?

ooc: Bring on that fortune teller!😁

 

 

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There was nobody in line to see the fortune teller and the girl who collected the fees was nowhere to be seen. A cat sat in her chair and two more were lying on the table. As Caroline and Duncan approached the tent, she came hurrying out and informed them that they could not go in without paying first.

 

After that was done, they were allowed to go in. The tent was well-lit inside, which was fortunate because there were yet more cats roaming around and visitors had to be careful not to step on one. Dominating the area was a large wooden table carved with mysterious shapes. A tall, chubby middle-aged Romani woman sat behind it in a large chair. She was dressed in a long glittering dark blue robe and her ebony hair had been put up and fastened with sparkling pins in the shape of stars and moons. On the table beside her sat a deck of cards.

 

Welcome,” she said. “I am Madame Soraya."  There was only one chair in front of the table. “Who would like to go first?”

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Strange, they did not even have to pay. Seemed careless of them. Oh well, they were then allowed to enter. First thing Caroline noticed was the cats. Why so many cats? Now she did not hate cats but on the other hand she had always preferred dogs even though only once did she own one. No matter, they weren't here for pets. There was a woman who sat behind a table, now she looked like a fortune would look like, least in Caroline's imagination. This was her first visit to such a mysterious activity. 

"Good day," Caroline acknowledged the woman with a nod but remained quite solemn, unusual for her. Glancing back toward Duncan he silently gestured for her to go first. Ever the proper gentleman. She smiled at him then before turning to face the gypsy once more.

"I shall, Madame. I take it I am to sit down for this?" though she asked the question she did even wait for  the answer but plopped down onto the chair.

Caroline wasn't even certain if she was supposed to introduce herself. So she waited for the woman to speak again.

Edited by Caroline Despanay
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Although Caroline did not notice, Duncan did pay the girl before entering the tent. The abundance of cats called his attention, but it did not bother him, as he owned one fat neutered tom he had named John in honour of Lauderdale. Ancient Egyptians regarded cats as the guardians of the hereafter, or some such, the viscount knew, so it did not seem strange for a soothsayer to have a large number of them.

As the Roma woman introduced herself, and Caroline took the lead, the Lowlander nodded in recognition, but remained silent. His turn would come.

ooc: Until the soothsayer has finished with Caroline, Duncan will remain in the background. He will only act  or speak if circumstances warrant it. No need to wait for him.

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“Yes please sit down,” Madame Soraya said with a smile. Gently nudging a cat off the table, she pulled her cards toward her. “What would you like to know, my lady?”

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"Thank you," Caroline sat and returned the woman's smile.

"You are a fortune teller, no? So then work your magic. Tell me about my future. I am most curious. My life has undergone a big change only recently."

She suddenly figured she probably shouldn't have even given the woman that hint. Caroline figured this whole act was some kind of trick or fraud.

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Madame Soraya shook her head but her smile remained in place. “That we know everything about you is a common misconception.” She picked up her cards and went through a complicated process of splitting the deck into several piles and recombining them. “The cards cannot tell me your name or anything else personal. They see the future, not the present nor the past.  If a member of my profession tells you otherwise, then don't trust them.  They are frauds."

 

Done with her mysterious shuffling, she pulled several cards from various places in the deck and lay them in front of her. There was nothing identifiable on them, just strange symbols and random drawings. She studied them for a few moments. “You will prosper in your current situation. One of your skills will bring you recognition. There will be a new addition to your household. You will face a challenge that you can overcome with cleverness and determination. A good friend may need your help.”

 

The fortune teller lifted her head and smiled again “And you will live to a ripe old age.”

 

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To the woman's revelation that she did not know anything about her past, Caroline merely smiled, "Well, I already know my own past. I am interested in my future."

The woman turned over some cards, not normal playing cards of course but ones only they, the fortune tellers, could read. Of course, thought Caroline. She listened carefully though.

Soraya claimed she would prosper in her new position. Good to know, it was as Caroline hoped for when she agreed to marry George. There was more. One of her skills would bring her recognition. Hmmm, could that refer to her talent at playing the cello? Interesting.

Perhaps most interesting was there would be a new addition to her household. Did that portend a baby? Would she give birth to a child? That was a fervent desire of hers.

Then she would face a challenge. That could mean so many things, she put that one aside in her mind immediately. And finally a friend might have need of her. Well, if that was true and this individual was really one of her friends, Caroline would not hesitate to help this person. She valued loyalty and she took her friendships most seriously. She wondered if just perhaps the woman might reveal more.

"Excuse me but can you tell if this friend you speak of is a man or a woman?"

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“I do not know,” the fortune teller replied. “Nor can I tell you when it will occur. It could be tomorrow or it could be twenty years from now. The friend might be somebody you know now or somebody you have yet to meet.”

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Duncan shifted his weight from one foot to the other, thinking that his turn would soon come. His thumb and index finger played with the filed half penny in his waistcoat outer pocket. Lady Chichester was told six things, all good. I wonder what I will be told when my turn comes. Not that he believed that cards could predict the future, as Fate was the domain of Providence, but he was curious.

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Caroline should have known. Of course the woman could not provide next to no details....yet somehow she could fathom the future in regards to what she could reveal. It all smelled of fraud. Still, if all of it turned out true ( a BIG IF that) her future sounded quite promising if not without challenge. It could have been worse. But then she wondered if any fortune tellers ever gave their customers dire forecasts of gloom and doom? High doubtful. Would not want to upset them.

In the end it was had been interesting and she could not blame the woman for trying to make herself a living. It's not like she herself was a saint. Or even close.

"Very well then, thank you for those fascinating tidbits. I can hope that even half of all that comes true I suppose," she gave the fortune teller a warm smile.

"I do not wish to take up too much of your time, especially since you have a most esteemed friend of mine patiently and might I say gallantly awaiting his turn."

And with that she stood up and nodded toward the woman then turned Duncan.

"Viscount de Melville, you are up. I wish the best of fortune."

As she passed him by she rather slyly elbowed him and whispered barely audibly, "Don't bother asking for details."

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Duncan had watched the proceedings with interest. His research on alchemy had led him to read about Trionfi and Tarocchi, the cards that were used both to play with and to tell fortunes with. He had even read somewhere that they may have some sort if relationship with the Jewish Kabbalah. The Lowlander's interest did not lay in the direction of predicting the future, but he had filed the information in the back of his mind, because every bit of information could prove useful at some point. Were the Romani woman's cards something similar? The viscount did not know.

"The future is in the hands of God", Duncan whispered back to Caroline, "but this is at least entertaining".

He then approached the table, as he did so, he pulled the filed half-penny from his pocket and, after taking a seat, he placed it on the table. "Madam Soraya", he began, "I do not seek to know about myself, but rather about someone I met some time ago, someone I was friendly with. A Romani woman by the name of Dame Martha".

Duncan had asked around London in the past, to no avail. He had offered the woman and her troop sanctuary in Melville Castle lands, but they had never arrived. The Lowlander just hoped that the woman was well.

“Perhaps your art can help me in my search?” He was curious, so he took a good look at the cards.

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