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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Attendence at the Kendal Ball (Part II)

Wraithdale House, Grosvenor Square, London, Great Britain: January 1886

Urusla Wraithdale, the Duchess of Kendal, sometime adventuress, world traveler and woman of leisure, looked at herself critically reflected in the full length mirror of her dressing room. She considered her image leisurely. She wore a beautiful dress of deep rich dark green, decorated with black lace, with a hint of white lace at the neck and wrists. This dress was the one she intended to wear for her ball this coming Friday and she wanted to make sure it was in proper order for that evening. Technically, since her father's death in November she should have been in mourning clothes, but her father who had detested Society's obsession with worshipping the conventions: particularly those concerning with mourning ritual, all his life. He had asked his daughter to throw him a big lively, happy party with all their family friends and relations after he had shuffled off to join the choir invisible! Urusla allowed herself a smile at that memory, she was going to dearly miss Papa in the years to come.

"What do you think, Jeremy?"

Her chief butler, Jeremy Haller, considered both his mistress and her remark for a long moment before answering.

"Splendid, Your Grace."

Ursula was a woman of moderate height, had a very pleasing figure, an erect carriage and she moved gracefully and well. She was not regarded by most men as a strictly "classical" beauty, what she was regarded as; was being very dangerously not to say scandalisely attractive. Urusla's long exposure to the hot Brazilian sun, had bronzed her skin to an very unfashionable but very alluring golden hue, which was set off by her long, heavily curled flaming red hair that framed her prettily sculpted face. Her eyes, were an equal parts fascinating and alarming silver white colour, which gave Ursula, a thoroughly disconcerting and mesmerizing gaze when she chose to direct it upon someone. Ordinarily she wore tinted glasses to hide or at least obscure her unusual eye colour. The Wraithdales, tended towards blondes, auburns and the like with regard to their hair colours, and a range of rather more conventional colours with regard to their irises but a few Wraithdales in perhaps every other generation since time immemorial were born with this scarlet hair and these strange eyes. Her late father for instance had those same eyes and hair colour, as did her late mother. Which wasn't all that surprising as they had been fourth cousins from different branches of the Wraithdale family.

"Have all the invitations gone, out Jeremy?"

"Yes, Your Grace, and all the answers have come back most promptly and in the most emphatically affirmative, I must say."

"Good, better then I or Papa, had hoped."

Urusla considered her jewelry for the party, pearls and diamonds, I think, as she looked at the boxes, her personal maid Susan Ravenswing was opening for her inspection.

"Oh, have the Viscount Worthing, and Captain Jameson replied to their invitations yet, Jeremy?"

"Sir Thomas, has responded, Your Grace."  Jeremy said after consulting a note book, that he had withdrawn from his coat pocket. "His ship, is in dockyard hands for at least the next fortnight from the end of the week, so he will be at your disposal for the ball on Friday."

Ursula, smiled inwardly at what Jeremy had diffidently not said, then again he was well aware of his mistress's very personal attachment to the Captain Sir Thomas Jameson, and left it at that.

"I am afraid I have not received a reply from his lordship, the Viscount Worthing, as yet."

That response did not altogether surprise her, either.

The Viscount Worthing, Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper, was amoung a great many things an accomplished gentlemen, an experienced parliamentarian, soldier, scholar, writer and explorer but what he was not was a social animal. He had absolutely no powers of discrimination, he treated all about him regardless of their walk of life or social standing with the same polite and polished courtesy. This egalitarian habit aside from his sarcastic and insightful wit, made him anathema to many of his peers in British Society, whom he infuriated even more by not giving the slightest jot about what they thought of him. Urusla for her own part absolutely adored him.

On her sixteenth birthday and formal presentation to Society, a then Captain-Lieutenant Leo Worthing-Topper, had gone out of his way on a rare home leave from his duties with the army in 1874 to rescue a completely unknown to him, girl about to be viciously snubbed at her first formal ball. He had not done it because it was the proper thing to do, but because it had been the right thing to do, which made the deepest impression upon her. That he was a handsome, decorated military hero and gave her his complete and unreserved attention that evening as both a dancing partner and dinner companion had also made an impression on her as well, she thought with merriment dancing in her eyes. Papa and Mama had nearly died laughing at the scandalized expressions on the faces of those who had tried to so savagely humiliate their daughter.

Sir Leo regarded many of his fellow aristocrats as self-important, overly self-indulgent Dutch or Norman Parvenus and Nouveaux riches, which from a historical perspective, and given his own family pedigree, many of them were; having road many a English king's coat-tails to wealth and power over the centuries since William I. He was only slightly more tolerant of the English gentry class, who had both a much closer often ancient connection with their communities and estates, then the often indolent and absentee aristocracy.

"Give his lordship a day or two more Jeremy, then I think we will hear from him one way or the other." Urusla said after a few moments more consideration.

"Very Good, Your Grace." Jeremy responded crisply.

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