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Quo Vadis? Evening, Thursday 22ed, Mountjoy Apartments

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Quo Vadis?

9-22 Thursday, Mountjoy Apartments

Mountjoy’s secretary Oliver climbed the stairs of the South tower. He had been on an errand to arrange that his master’s tokens to the Queen and her Ladies were set to be delivered tomorrow for the Yacht race. He was however still clutching a single nosegay. Quietly entering the apartment, he saw Mountjoy sitting at the rosewood desk taking advantage of the sunlight streaming through the ample windows. Oliver was fortunate that, unlike many Lords, Blount had very good penmanship and was meticulous enough in his correspondence that Oliver rarely had to re copy his employer’s work. One disadvantage was that his employer expected Oliver’s own work to be flawless and would brook no errors or smudges.

As he had a knack for moving about inconspicuously and his presence was often overlooked, he cleared his throat quietly as he approached. Mountjoy crooked his head but continued writing, the quill making mellifluous scraping noises as he formed the letters. “Has everything been arraigned? His Lordship inquired to which Oliver replied in the affirmative.

“Splendid. I am looking forward to the race, it shall be great fun. I shall give you and Padeen a crown each to make a wager and help out the navy.” He briefly looked up and smiled pleased with his munificence. The scraping continued as mellifluous as before. Oliver was appreciative of the gift but still stood in his place fingering the nosegay.

“Ah… there was one problem with the distribution. Well not a problem per se, Your lordship. More in the realm of an unforeseen circumstance… a minor impediment, one might even say a hitch… at the risk of overstating the matter.”

“Really Oliver. You are or should be profusely aware that I distain an overabundance of malleable speech and would be most acquiescent if you would, with rapidity and vigor, endeavor to systematize your thoughts into a succinct declaration.” Mountjoy retorted with a bit of irascibility.

“Yes Milord.” Oliver said and with rapidity and vigor places the nosegay upon the writing desk and stated. “This is unable to be delivered because Lady Mountjoy has resigned her position and is no longer Mistress of the Robes.”

However mellifluous, the scratching noised stopped and there were several ticks of the clock where Mountjoy did or said nothing. The scratching resumed but now it was more cacophonous than before.

“Ah, yes.” Mountjoy said. “It had entirely slipped my mind. Thank you Oliver for reminding me. That will be all.” 

Later that evening:

He had been giving his newfound knowledge a lot of thought. Ursula was clearly unhappy but he had genuinely been confident that, given some time, Ursula would come to grips with her feelings and realize that discarding the accomplishments she had made would not increase her happiness. Could he have been wrong? He was concerned that Ursula would come to rue her decision and become even more unhappy. He would support her either way for, to him, her contentment was more important than her not inconsiderable accomplishments.

He waited until the evening when the palace quieted down and when he heard her maid leave her bedchamber to fetch something or other he rose and intercepted her. Seeing that it was a cup of chocolate, he informed the Maid that he would bring the beverage in and that she was excused until her mistress rang for her. Entering he saw that Ursula was at her dressing table with her back towards him. Ursula could have had cause for rebuke at the inappropriate way her maid closed the door and the way the cup and saucer unprofessionally rattled when it was put down but then she felt a weight settle next to her and an unmistakable aura left her in no doubt who it was and it was not her maid.

A cold waft of air cooled her neck as her hair was pulled back only to be replaced by a sultry breath and two warm lips. “Would you be so kind as to share your evening coco with me?”  

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The servant rattled the cup discordantly, so that a frown briefly pinched her forehead, but with a sigh she let the concern go.  The relief of the day had her more tolerant, why even her reflection did not seem so old and haggard as it had yesterday.  She continued brushing her hair... 

"My Charles..." she smiled warmly of the pleasant surprise with his appearance, "you have finished work early this evening. This is the benefit of Windsor I suppose." her accent had softened some over the years in England, but was still very nasal.  "But really I should send for a second cup."  

Turning she smiled.  While she had a secret from him, she was in no rush at all to reveal it, she'd imagined some time in the recess would suffice.  


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As she turned, he returned her smile. She seemed more receptive than she had been during their previous conversation so he reached out and took the brush from her and continued with the task at hand. “I fear I will have to do without as I sent your maid away. The lack of coco is a small price to pay for the seclusion.” He could do without a cup if it meant not having to parse their words in front of the help. “There normally would not be much work to be done here at Windsor, other than the duties due the Queen, but Sir William…” He said referring to the Attorney General. “… Has become overburdened and has withdrawn from much of his responsibilities. He is a lawyer of considerable but timid man in disposition unsuited for the current political turmoil the Realm is experiencing so my burden has increased as I take up the slack.” He shrugged. “He might be willing to step aside but he is on good terms with Buckingham so it would not be politick to press the issue and to be honest I am in no hurry to assume that position.”

He had no ulterior motive other than to ruminate on his professional position as a matter of conversation but then he realized that his confiding in such information at this time might be construed by Ursula to be a deliberate comment upon the dilemma she was having with her own position. That was not his intention, at least deliberately but it was too late now to do anything about it.

Perhaps it might even provide an opening for Ursula to divulge her own information. He was somewhat surprised that Ursula had acted without conferring with him beforehand. When they spoke last, she had agreed to allow some time before she made a decision and if her position became untenable, she would inform him and that he would support her choice either way. His initial impression was that Ursula might be unsure of how to broach the subject even though they had promised not to keep things bottled up and hidden from the other and this might be a welcome prompt. After all her decision to resign was not something that could be hidden as this was the exact thing court gossip thrived upon and it would only be a matter of a day or two before everyone that was anyone, and even most of the people who where were not anyone would still know. 

To change the subject, he added. “I am eagerly looking forward to the yacht races. It should provide all the excitement of a horse race with less manure. I have ordered my barge up from London. It should be here by morning on the marrow. It will provide us the option of viewing the race from a closer distance if we wish. I am sure Frau Klebb will provide hampers brimming with her pastries if we choose to entertain.” Several years ago his friend Lord Langland, recognizing Mountjoy’s interest in things nautical, gifted him with a six oared shallop of the kind commonly used as water taxies in and about London. He the concluded with a combined question and statement.

“I do assume that you wish to attend?”  

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Ursula smiled at his musings on the Attorney General. Charles was an ambitious man, while his vocation itself was exceedingly dull to her mind. Oh, she had tried to read the book she had written, but a page or two in, she had put it on her bedside (effective bedtime reading).  But to Charles, it was riveting stuff, and he'd have liked little more than to discuss, in-depth, its chapters with others of his ilk.  

Between them there was an unspoken consensus that their work lives did not overlap. Mind you, that had been before she was a freed woman, so perhaps she would take more interest in his writings in the future... but not just yet. She had earned and needed a rest.

"That's lovely darling." in a sing-song voice she commended.

Charles was also excited about the boat races, just as most of the court was.  

"Is that allowed?" she idly asked, imagining if every peer brought up their boats, there would be no room for the yachts.  "It sounds just lovely...   I was going to have tea with Lady St Leger in the morning; she's been inviting me to a get-together for months, as you know." 



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