Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Friday, December 16, 2016

Attendance at the Kendal Ball (VI)

Piccadilly Square, London, Great Britain: January 1886

Finishing the soup, Sir Leo and Ursula turned their attention to the main course of their meal, which was quickly and deftly placed before them by the returning waitress, roasted quail served with duchess potatoes and asparagus hollandaise. She paused only long enough to refill their drinks before withdrawing to attend the other tables in the luxurious room. It's roof and walls were decorative metalwork mixed with equally decorative woodwork fitted with semi-opaque stained glass panels, which threw a soft, mellow light throughout the whole room which reminded it's two dozen occupants of a quiet, pleasant green house. The floors were fitted with deep, plush carpets covered in botanical designs of beautiful flowers and coiling vines. A quartet of musicians -- a cello, two violins and a flute -- played softly in a annex on one side of the room surrounded by cultivated rose bushes. George Calvary reserved this elegant room, within the restaurant, for special customers or old friends exclusively.

"Speaking of balls, my written response of acceptance should be delivered to your residence within the hour. I believe that Cecilia has already sent her acceptance."

"Excellent. It will be good to have you and Cecilia there."

"I understand the Friday ball is expected to be one of special significance, the society papers are already chattering about it. Even the House of Lords and the House of Commons is rife with speculation about who is and who is not invited."

"I fail to see why? After all, it is only five hundred people, most of them my family's closest and oldest friends and relations." Ursula responded guilelessly although the wicked gleam in her eyes said otherwise, a moment later she giggled at Sir Leo's arch expression of mock disbelief. The five hundred people involved just happened to include a good section of ultra fashionable London, a quarter of the House of Lords and a great many celebrities in the British world of the arts, sciences and literature. Not to mention gentry, politicians, bankers, financiers and business persons of no small accomplishments. That also did not include the virtual army of servants, waiters, caterers and musicians being engaged for the evening.

"Young lady, you are absolutely incorrigible, you do know that?"

"Guilty as charged." Ursula retorted with a laugh.

"Well it runs in both sides of your family so perhaps it can not be helped." Sir Leo said with a sigh, shaking his head sorrowfully. Ursula could not control the fit of giggles his lugubrious expression touched off, and only sternly brought it to a halt by returning her attention to her meal. The two managed to get generally caught up on their respective news by the time the desert, arrived a mix of fresh fruit, cheese and biscuits. From her side she told of her experiences in Brazil, managing her family's collection of coffee plantations which were finally making a better then average profit sufficient to justify their acquisition. Sir Leo, discussed with her the high lights of his adventures occasioned by his West Africa and Western Sudan expedition.

By the time the coffee arrived, Ursula was shaking her head in wonder at what Sir Leo had so recently gone through in his many months away from British shores, and even more surprised that he had come through it in one piece with life and limb intact. Ursula, did not know the half of it because there was a great deal more about the trip that Sir Leo did not give voice to. For instance the fact that the expedition was not merely for geographical, zoological and biological concerns or even for trade or establishing formal and normalized diplomatic relations with the Wassoulou Empire. The real backers of the Worthing Expedition had been the British government, and was based entirely on their calculations of furthering the Great Game that dominated European politics and alliances.

Great Britain needed a buffer against French expansionism in West Africa, and embroiling France on one side and Germany and Wassoulou on the other was a means to do that. It would also largely leave Britain's hands free of the whole affair if anything went wrong and be relatively inexpensive to the British taxpayers. Well not that inexpensive in the long run, as it was going to cost the Exchequer over forty-five million pounds over the next three years. The British government had promised Samori about fifteen million pounds in three separate installments in that time frame. Sir Leo had already delivered the first installment and used the second installment to purchase trade goods, munitions and armaments for Samori's Royal Army. The third installment would do the same through other intermediaries in German West Africa to purchase munitions and armaments for Samori's Field and Garrison armies.

Sir Leo looked regretfully at the clock over the room's mantel piece, it was almost two o'clock. He had a great many affairs in Parliament to deal with before he was free to spend his day as he pleased. Several articles of parliamentary business to read through, a bill to vote on and of course five selected divorce cases to review and conduct before the committee. It was going to be a long day, Sir Leo thought. Ursula noticed Sir Leo's gaze and nodded to herself, and suspected what he was thinking. She had some affairs of her own to deal with concerning the coming ball. Sir Leo signaled the waitress for their bill.

"Again, Sir Leo, thanks for inviting me to lunch. it was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours."

"Saved you from some other tedious social invitation?"

"Yes, the Timbertons invited me to tea this afternoon."

"Dear God, that is something to be avoided at all costs. Lilly and Melinda are two of most beautiful and fashionable women to grace London, they are also two of it's infinitely most boring people imaginable. Well that is not quite true, but they certainly attract all the other loungers and idly stupid people in London society to them." Sir Leo observed wryly. Ursula nodded feelingly, then they both rose as Sir Leo placed their bill's payment and the waitress's tip on the table.

"I will see you next at the ball." Both said simultaneously, which caused them to both start laughing softly.

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