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Timeless Treasures | Friday morning


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 MARE'S NEST ANTIQUES AND CURIOSITIES

The Mare's Nest is full of possibilities. Dimly lit, crowded - is that half-seen item an antique valuable beyond measure or what is politely termed 'a collectable'?

Shelves and tables overflow with items - fine furniture stands cheek by jowl with dubious marriages of timber oddments which nevertheless may really be the clothes press of Old King Ned - King Hal's grandsire that was.

Mr Otway, the gentle greybeard proprietor, filled his speech with 'in the style of', 'reputed to be' and, daringly, ‘from the school of'. Buy it because you enjoy it, not for it's value, would be his advice - were he asked for it.

 

 

People stopped to stare as the sedan chair carried by Spanish soldiers peregrinated down the road. This is the way to travel! Sophia thought. She loved the view from so high up and she felt like a Queen. In her cornflower blue grown lavishly adorned with ribbons, lace, and pearls, maybe she looked like one too. It was difficult to resist the urge to wave regally at those who looked upon her.

 

The Mare’s Nest came into view. It had been a few days since she had seen Caroline, and she had asked her to meet her there.  Shopping was always more fun with friends.  Sophia had passed by it many times, and was curious about the wonders it held. Perhaps she could find a gift for Juan, or even Esteban. Her husband was not happy with her at the moment, but when was he ever?

 

She was a bit early because she had not known how quickly the soldiers would be able to weave their way through the traffic of town. They lowered the chair.  Sophia remained seated, waiting for  Caroline to arrive

 

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Caroline had been happy to agree to spend some time once more with her old friend, Sophia. Like Sophia, she had never been to this antique shop and had to ask some of George's household staff about it's location. A fine coach dropped her and her Irish bodyguard off in front of the Mare's Nest, George was rich and expected her to travel in style. Upon alighting from the vehicle her bright mood soured at the sight of Spanish soldiers!

She could not help herself, she was her father's daughters and shared his visceral hatred for Spain. It still bothered her that Sophia had married the Spanish ambassador though she tried not to dwell on it. The young lady shared a glance with her veteran Irishman who just slowly shook his head. The man had served on the continent and had fought against the Hapsburgs and the Spanish on occasion. So no love lost there.

Well, she was here now, she would simply have to go thru with it. With a rather somber look on her face, she moved up short of the coach then stopped. Hopefully Sophia could see she had arrived, she would be damned if she was going to speak with one of those soldiers, who she now patently ignored.

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A servant had been the first to hear the arrival of many boots on the road and to see the sight of a woman being carried in some kind of chair before they came to a halt before shop.

He had quickly gone to inform his Master of it muttering something about 'there might be dangers ahead ....'.

The Proprietor was not one known for concerns but when a servant long in his employ expressed such words he himself went up the narrow staircase to have a look.

Indeed there was a Lady perched in an open sedan chair of sorts who, by the look of it, was great with child. And then a coach arrived and he watched as another Lady was helped down and seemed to know the other. He took note as well that those men were attired as Soldiers and not English ones. He had no appointments with a foreign customer so as to just WHO this Lady was remained a mystery. Could be Italian or Spanish he muses. That they were there to provide protection was also clear.

He twitched back the window covering and returned downstairs quietly setting two servants to work to make entry and movement easier.

He had no wish to have broken things scattered abut due to the clumsiness of a woman great with child who should, he reasoned, be nestled safe from site in her home.

Several vases, three dining chairs, four figurines and two standing candelabras soon found new places and he thinks that now a pathway is sufficiently made.

Naturally if anything was damaged or broken the bill would be sent immediately to the husband. 

He took up his usual place behind the counter arranging some China ceramics newly arrived.

They were bowls in various shades of blue design for soup or stews so he had been told. And so he put them into the display case behind him.

He hoped that all this trouble would result in sales. Ladies who came to browse but not buy he had no real time for.

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Sophia smiled when she saw Caroline emerge from a fine carriage. Being married to a wealthy gentleman had its advantages and her friend definitely deserved the finest things in life. She noticed the way Caroline looked at her Spanish attendants and understood why she wouldn’t come any closer. The French and Spanish hated each other with a passion.

 

She stepped out of the chair and told the soldiers in Spanish to find a place out of the way to wait for her. The shop was not so large that she needed to be carried inside. Walking for short distances was good for her and there was probably a chair that she could sit in if she needed to rest.

 

The Spaniards picked up the chair and moved off. Sophia waddled toward Caroline, smiling. “Lady Chichester, it’s delightful to see you again! You look wonderful!”  Marriage seemed to agree with her friend.

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Posted (edited)

Sophia carefully alighted from her sedan chair, she was big. That child should be coming very soon now by the size of it. Plus Sophia was on the petite side, it must indeed be quite a load to bear. Would she look like that one day? Caroline wanted children but to be honest she dreaded what one would have to go thru just to do it. The men got away easily.

Caroline smiled at the slow approach of her pregnant friend waiting until Sophia greeted her first.

"Ah it is a true pleasure to see you again, my lady. How are you holding up, my dear? You look quite ready for it to be over with."

She then feathered a kiss on one cheek than the other of Sophia  before continuing, "And yes, it is obviously new and shiny still, but I am enjoying the married life.  George is proving to be a kindly and diligent husband."

"And your ...Spaniard," she could not bring herself use Sophia's husband's title or even name, "Is he excited about the new arrival?"

Edited by Caroline Despanay
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“I am ready whenever the baby is. It was a joy to carry this child until about a month ago. Ladies who are not so short probably have an easier time of it. I’ve been told I am likely farther along than I think. Now I hope that is true and I don’t still have a month and a half to go.”

 

Sophia returned Caroline’s air kisses. “I’m so happy for both of you, though I must apologize for nearly collapsing at your reception. I guess I took on too much. That’s another thing I miss … singing. I don't have the breath for it anymore.”

 

She shrugged. “I don’t know if he’s excited or not. He very rarely shows any emotion at all. He’s getting more strict with me every day. I know he wants to confine me to the house, but he knows it will upset me and that’s not good for the baby.” She waved toward the sedan chair. “He insists that I travel in that, and in truth, it’s rather fun.”

 

Knowing how her friend felt about Spaniards, she didn’t want to dwell on that subject. She looped her arm through Caroline’s. “Shall we go in? I’ve been curious about this shop ever since we arrived in Windsor. Who knows what wonders we will find inside?”

 

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"Oh, well the reception was becoming a bit boring anyway when you swanned to the floor. You just provided some excitement," Caroline grinned.

She had to ask about Sophia's Spanish husband, much as she loathed the man. Unsurprising to her at least, Sophia said the fellow was being very controlling. It had been his idea then to parade his wife around London like some Egyptian pharoah. Humphh!

"At least you enjoyed the ride then," Caroline commented.

However Sophia was there to shop and the pair were still outside the door to the place. Sophia looped her arm inside Caroline's and expressed a real excitement to see what sort of treasures they might find within.

"Certainly. I may even decide to spend some of my husband's money. He can afford a little extravagance on my part, do you not think?"

And with that, the two headed on inside.

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The Proprietor of the establishment had done all he could within the limited space provided but he was still going to be over-watchful.

A servant hovered about some half way distance busy with his tasks but he too had a watchful eye and the thought of a BABY suddenly needed to be born made his stomach ache in nervousness.

"Good Morning Ladies  ......"

Came his genial welcome said in tones oft times reserved for Religious spaces.

"You're free to browse but be aware that once broken it be sold   ...."

He did not as usual offer up that little slogan but given the physical girth-ness of one of the Lady's and out of respect for his inventory felt it was needed.

"Have you an interest is anything in particular? I have many Treasures from exotic places as well as more simpler things of value."

They were indeed free to roam about as this establishment had once been a house so things were arranged with enough spaces between. There were a few sturdier chairs that he had directed to be at convient readiness if needed.

His practiced eye also told him that both had coin to spend given the way they had each arrived.

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