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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Attendence at the Kendal Ball (Part IV)

Schomberg Palace, London, Great Britain: January 1886

The Dowager Duchess of Schomberg picked that moment to enter the dinning room, Deerborn shuffling in tow, like a small wretched fishing boat caught in the powerful wake of a larger, more stately ship-of-the-line under full sail. Her Grace Norma Worthing-Topper was a breathtakingly beautiful and vigourous woman, it was easy to see where her daughter Cecilia had come by her comely good looks. Even at sixty-five their mother could still turn heads and gather a crowd of adoring not to say drooling male admirers around her at any social gathering she designed to attend to the seething envy of all other women present.

Her formerly blonde hair had it was true silvered with age, which however only enhanced her regal looks, while her bright blue eyes were as they had always been lustrous and clear. Her children rose wordlessly at her approach and bowed respectfully just before she seated herself at the end of the table opposite her eldest son with Deerborn's assistance. Her eyes swept over them, her full lips pressed flat across the fullness of her mouth being neither a smile nor a frown but ready to shift with the slightest twist of her lips into either.

Yes, they thought she was definitely in one of her moods. Deerborn, fussed wordlessly at the buffet preparing her plate, placing it before her on the table then hastening to procure a cup of black coffee for her. The silence in the room would have made the sound of a hat or a hair pin hitting the table top sound like that of a falling anvil. Wilfred busied himself with preparing his own plate, then took his seat. The silence in the room stretched on.

Sir Leo regarded his mother for several moments in complete silence. He knew the look his mother was giving both Wilfred and Cecilia, any minute they would receive the angry bite of her tongue over some real or imagined fault or sin they had committed. Without looking he knew Stephen was thinking the same thing, and knew that his older brother would shortly try and do or say something to deflect her anger. Sir Leo finished his breakfast unhurriedly, seemingly completely unruffled by his mother's basilisk gaze. After finishing his tea, he proceeded to write a note on a blank sheet of paper torn from his writing note book. Folding the page neatly, placing it within a small envelope he had brought with him he looked up at Deerborn standing diffidently at his mother's shoulder.

"Deerborn, kindly give this to Saunders, have him take it immediately to the address indicated upon it. Tell him he is to ask for an immediate reply from the recipient. He is to return the response to me as quickly as possible by either person or telegram, whichever proves to be more efficacious at the given moment upon his return. Am I understood." His words were polite but his tone was alarmingly flat and the last three words in particular were spoken in such a way as to be understood as not being a question.

"Err...Yes, My Lord. I shall attend to it directly. My Lord."

Sir Leo watched as Deerborn left hurriedly on his appointed errand, then turned his gaze back to his mother, tossing his fountain pen down onto the open note book. This action broke the brittle silence that filled the room, his next words smashed it to flinders.

"Well, out with it, Mama. I have a dozen errands to run before the day is out all of them necessary or tedious and I will be stuck in the Houses of Parliament, most of the day listening to applications before the Special Appellate and Parliamentary Committee for the Consideration of Divorce Cases." His three siblings looked at him with surprise and alarm in their eyes. Sir Leo leaned back in his chair, merely crossed his arms in front of him and awaited his mother's reply. The Dowager Duchess's eyes flashed blue fire at her second son's remarks. His flat, imperturbable gaze angered her still more.

Sir Leo's chairmanship of that said committee - one of several such parliamentary bodies of a technical, military or legal nature that he was a member of - was a sore point between them amounting to a virtual ulcer with his mother; a deeply devoted and sincere high church Anglican. The Dowager Duchess absolutely abhorred the very notion of divorce. The fact her second son routinely presided over such cases that had by British Law to be brought before Parliament to even be acted upon, since he had retired from military service on medical grounds back in '83 both horrified and revolted her. The fact that in the first three months of directing the committee, he had cleared a backlog of some eight hundred cases pending before Parliament some of them years if not decades old, brought order and system to a previously overly bureaucratic, painfully ineffectual and hideously expensive method of executing parliamentary and marriage law horrified her beyond measure. A fact she never ceased in season and out of season to make perfectly clear in the most passionate and ultra conservative terms to her son at every opportunity. Totally without result or effect it might be added, Sir Leo was his father's son: stubborn, opinionated and thoroughly determined to do his duty according to his own lights to his sovereign and his country weather anyone else like what he was doing or not.

The Dowager abruptly rose from her chair, looked icily at her son, then turned from the table without a word to any of them. She swept out of the dining room, nearly knocking old Deerborn aside as he attempted to re-enter the room. The old butler stood baffled for a long moment in the doorway then shuffled after his mistress. Everyone else in the dinning room started to breath again at that moment.

"Leo, old boy." Wilfred began. "I thought you were going to get a right royal thrashing there from Mama's razor sharp tongue."

"Oh, it may still come to that, Wilfred but it will be later and in private. at least I have deflected her wrath for the present onto me, not you and Cecilia." Sir Leo felt his sister's hand slip over his when he placed it on the table to gather up his newspapers, letter and note book.

Stephen rose from his chair, walked round the table to clasp his younger brother firmly on the shoulder, giving him a brotherly shake of support and affection, then made for the door remarking as he did so.

"I will see if I cannot calm Mama down a bit, Leo. If she rants at me for an hour or two, she will forget the whole affair by the time she calls on her society friends for luncheon."

"You should not have done that, Leo. But... thanks awfully." For a moment, the image of the accomplished and delightfully willful young woman beside him slide back through time back into the sometimes troubled and tearful young girl who had so often turned to her older brother for succor, understanding and comfort. Sir Leo rose quietly from the table, leaned down and kissed the top of his sister's head.

"What is the use of big brothers and captains of scarlet battalions, if not to rescue fair damsels and young fools from dragons, monsters under beds and in closets and frightful governors and governess' and terrible old dowagers."

"Hey, now!" Wilfred burst out laughing from his side of the table. Sir Leo had twitted his younger brother since as long as any of them could remember about his vices, weaknesses really: strong drink, games of chance and the company of attractive women who were most definitely not his wife or girlfriend.

"Well, I am off then." Sir Leo remarked quietly as he nodded to each of his siblings and made for the door. He had a tremendous number of things to do today before lunch and the quicker he was about them the sooner they would be done and he could turn his mind and attention to the affairs of the Duchess of Kendal.

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