A Transatlantic Tale

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by AceSorcerer, Dec 25, 2015.

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    • Our story begins as the United Kingdom enters into the year 1873 on a snow-filled evening. At Eaton Hall, an estranged noblewoman vying to become head of household when her father passes and an American military officer, a veteran of the recent American Civil War, no less, meet as sparks begin to fly. The pair must come to terms with how they feel for one another as the noblewoman deals with the arranged marriage her parents desire for her with the American must lead his men as the relationship between England and America begins to strain as Reconstruction begins.

    • Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Frederick Straton, U.S. Army (AceSorcerer)

      Lady Eleanore Claire Christenson (The Returned)

    • Snow fell gently from the sky, forming crisp layers on the ground below as the sun began to set on the thirty-first of December, 1872. The Duke of Westminister, the esteemed Duke James Reginald Grosvenor, and his family were hosting a party to celebrate the new year of 1873. Among the guests were various members of the nobility as well as Her Majesty the Queen, along with other esteemed and recognized individuals. Of course, the favored English Episopalian clergy- the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archdeacon, and the Chaplain to the Archbishop and their respective guests- were in attendance. As such, Eaton Hall, home of the Grosvenors, was abuzz with conversation as all of the greatest foods from Cheshire, England, and beyond were brought in for the nourishment of esteemed and noble guests.

      One of these guests in particular is the esteemed Doctor Ichabod Thaddeus Orson, the court physician and surgeon to Queen Victoria. Accompanying him is wife, Isabelle Marjolaine Orson, who is with child, while their two children, Edward and Ophelia, remained at home where they were being watched by the maids. Accompanying them upon the request of Field Marshal Roland Cole, a member of Her Majesty's chief military staff, is Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Frederick Straton, Ichabod's principal American cousin.

      The two cousins in particular were fairly close, enough as so that Ichabod insisted that his children refer to him as "Uncle Joseph." The two shared mothers, as both of their mothers were Americans from Massachusetts. Ichabod's mother was the elder sibling, though Joseph was a year older than his cousin. And while Joseph was unmarried, Ichabod had married fairly young and had started his family with Isabelle.

      Ichabod was a tall fellow with combed brown hair and green eyes, dressed in a black tuxedo and fine dress shoes. Like his cousin he was clean-shaven, and the good doctor also wore a pair of spectacles upon his nose. Isabelle was dressed in a fine emerald ballgown, one bought specifically for the evening.

      Joseph, however, was not dressed in such finery. Instead, the army officer took the approach of honor as opposed to fashion as he wore his dark blue ceremonial dress uniform. His black hair was covered by his forage cap with the battalion insignia, the hair itself freshly cut and his face freshly shaven for the evening. His outermost garment, atop of his dress uniform shirt and undershirt, was his senior officer's frock coat with his epaulets and a red sash. The epaulets themselves had a silver oak lead cluster upon them, his symbol of rank as n American lieutenant colonel. Tied onto the red sash was his light cavalry saber, an item of both combat and ceremony that had served him well during the Civil War. On his pants one could see that his Colt Caliber .45 Single-Action Army revolver pistol was holstered in its black leather carrier. As a course of habit, the pistol was loaded but the safety was on. This act of secure paranoia was one of the side-effects of participating in warfare, but it was one that could easily be a good habit when faced with the gangs and mobs of London and the surrounding cities.

      Soon enough, Joseph checked his silver pocket watch as the soldier and his cousins left from London in their carriage to Cheshire shortly after seven in order to arrive in good time. After putting up his watch in its correct pocket the young officer sighed, stretching slightly as Ichabod spoke in a baritone that accented his English accent.

      "I do hope you remember the protocals of the court, Joseph, especially should you meet my most important patient."

      At this, Joseph spoke up in his bass voice after a quick laugh, which was accentuated by his Southern accent.

      "You worry too much, my dear old cousin! If anything, you should focus more on either the child that will arrive in roughly three months time or about how your two children back home are behaving. You know that I am an upstanding gentleman of character, after all. I took it upon myself to learn all the social graces of the United Kingdom well in advance. The only annoyance is I will know none there save yourself and a few of the lesser military officers in attendance."

      "It won't be that bad. After all, what is the worst that could happen?"

      "I embarrass myself publicly, ruining opinions of myself, our family, and my country to various nobles, influential clergy, members of the Parliament, and Queen Victoria, as well as various ambassadors including the American ambassador to the United Kingdom."

      "...Forget that I asked."

      "Indeed."

      After this, the conversation moved to more pleasant topics as the time remaining seemed to flay by somewhat quicker, the trio arriving at the estate at roughly seven twenty-five in the evening.

      A Gentleman's Attire (open)

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      (The example above is missing the appropriate embroidered golden braid below.)
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    #1 AceSorcerer, Dec 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2016
  1. Falling down from the sky was the God's crystallized grace as Eleanore watched whilst grasping onto the wooden pole that led from the corner of her bed upwards to support the canopy. "Breath in and hold, my lady." The maid gently ordered and the woman followed the instructions, moaning only once in discomfort as the corset gripped onto her figure without any compromise. Tight-lacing was slowly starting to get abolished, but still, for evening of such importance and magnitude like this one, one had to make sacrifice to look their best. "You can breath out, my lady." If only she could to the full extent she wished to. Nonetheless, she tried; otherwise, there would be no more of Lady Eleanore but a corpse on the floor.

    "Thank you, Alice." Eleanore replied. Her dress still had to be carefully laid out and prepared for her to step in which gave the young woman a moment to reflect on things and go over the to-do and have-done list in her mind. As the soon to be duchess of Westminster, tonight's party was also partly her responsibility. Of course, the current possessor of the title, her future mother-in-law, had a major say in tonight's proceedings, but she did not fail to test Eleanore where she saw necessary. Hers were the decorations for the party, her mother's in law was the catering. Both very important and the women had to work in harmony which judging by the admiring and appreciative look that the elder woman gave Eleanore earlier that day, the young woman could easily assume that she has done a good job. The only worry now was the snow. Not only could it complicate the guests' arrival, but if Eaton Hall got snowed in, then everyone would be confined to these halls. A situation, Eleanore had yet to learn how to deal with if it were to arise.

    "My dear, are you ready?" Her mother's voice came from the other side of the door. "Almost, Mama!" With a single resolute nod and bravery in her eyes, Eleanore has decided to conquer the dress. If all would go well and the corset would not get the better of her as the night would go on, she could even make it through without passing out or having to excuse herself to take a walk in the fresh, but cold winter air. A little more fretting, hair doing, eye and lip accentuating later and Eleanore's mother, Constance, who entered shortly after she first arrived, looked at her daughter with pride-filled hues. "You look mesmerizing, my dearest. Lord William will be taken by you tonight and will even hurry the wedding!" Eleanore stood there in her pastel coloured, off the shoulders, simple in decoration gown that so nicely brought out her skin tone but even the ash, yet brown shades of her hair. Her eyes were large, warm brown and her lips were just a little redder to complete the image of young beauty. Even the simple picture of virgin Mary carved into a precious stone hung on a black velvet string, sat on her collar bones perfectly. Yet, at the mention of her finance, Eleanore could only giggle, rouge coming to her cheeks just enough to give her a youthful and healthy appearance. "Well, shall we then, mama?"

    The two women descended the stairs where both families have already gathered. Eyes on them and Lord William on Eleanore's hand to greet her with hardly concealed enthusiasm. Blossoming love one could say if one were to judge by the first impression. The Christenson family arrived at Eaton Hall a few days ago to help with preparations as well as to allow their soon to be wedded children to spend more, supervised time together. After socially required greetings amongst everyone it was soon time to prepare to welcome the guests. "So sister, I see you have done a decent job in the preparations." Henry, her twin brother already married but still trying for a child, spoke to her in somewhat a turgid jest. They were both in the run for the head of the household. With the society changing and more men able to vote, even women started to ask for equality, Eleanore being one of them. Henry had better standing and hundreds of years in tradition behind him to take the claim. Eleanore was at a disadvantage. Within a family, it could sour everything, or it could be passed off as a wish that was never meant to be. "Why thank you, Henry. How kind of you to say." Eleanore repeated with that spark of confidence and determination in her eyes and the twins exchanged a smirk that was already losing the warm friendliness of blood ties. Henry was too rooted in the old ways, seeing women as having no worthy opinion to offer to politics, whilst Eleanore was all for change. The two could not have been much more different past their appearances.

    Not long after a much warmer conversation ensued, started by Constance who knew her children well enough to step in in time before the two would go on about rights and privileges and the whole evening would turn into them trying to run for a prime minister of their own separate truths. Soon after, guests started to arrive as well and the evening slowly began to enliven in the sounds of chatter, laughter and a festive mood. After all, it was only a few hours away from a new year to come and honour them with many more experiences for which they all could only hope to be good.​

    Eleanore's dress (open)
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  2. As soon as they arrived, they were directed as to where they would park their carriage. They would soon begin to walk towards the main entrance, but as soon as they were spotted Ichabod and Isabelle escorted away as to make sure none of the food that had had been prepared for Her Majesty would not cause her to become ill (this was due to the fact Queen Victoria was under the weather for a few days after Christmas). As a result, Joseph would walk about his way as he continued towards the front. On occasion, as various enlisted and junior officer members of the Royal Guard were present, Joseph would have to draw his saber and return a ceremonial salute as those who initiated the salute had done so with rifles. As soon he was inside, the lieutenant colonel removed his forage cap, attaching it to its tie-on slot on the bottom of his suspenders that were underneath his undershirt.

    Looking around, he made conversation with some of the nobles who approached him, most of them asking for stories about his experiences in the American Civil War. While it was clear that most of the nobles had never spent much time around war veterans, as they were asking questions that were more than a bit much for either a servicemen or a veteran to answer so spontaneously. However, he remained polite and gave kand and polite advice to them, stating that spontaneously asking for war stories was considered extremely rude by the active and retired military communities and that there was a certain time and place, promising that an occasion to tell the aforementioned war stories would come forth later on in the evening.

    And it was then that the soldier down the first glass of whisky that was brought to the guests.

    He was a typically temperate man, rarely drinking except in celebration. But, given the way these nobles approached him, an exception would be made.

    Soon enough the lieutenant colonel would be detained to come in with the most honored guest- namely the Queen, hosts, visiting dukes and duchesses, and the royal guests in tandem with the clergy- as he was a guest of Her Majesty by association due to his cousin's position. It was in this wait that he was reunited with his cousins, as they were to enter before he was. A servant came through a couple of times in order to make sure the entire group was in order.

    As such, when the names were called out, the hosts went first. Out of them, he found himself the name "Eleanore Claire Christenson." He was unsure why, but he would ponder the name before cluing in after they were finished calling the dukes. The cried spoke aloud, his baritone commanding the room's attention after the Archdeacon and Chaplain to the Archbishop were called.

    "...and last of our guest from the Episcopal and Anglican Church is His Excellency Theodore James Edmunds, Archbishop of Canterbury, and his wife, Lady Evangeline Patricia Edmunds. We now move onto the guests of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria..."

    After this, a few of the ambassadors to England were named along with their dates, followed by a few foreign attendees. Soon enough, it came time for the Orsons and Joseph to be called as the crier continued to bellow.

    "Next we have the esteemed Doctor Ichabod Thaddeus Orson, court physician and surgeon to Queen Victoria, and his wife, Missus Isabelle Marjolaine Orson. Following them, we have the cousin to Doctor Orson. The Duke of Westminster welcomes Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Frederick Straton, a guest of Her Majesty the Queen, veteran of the American Civil War, and commander of the "Fighting Fifth" Battalion of the United States Army, which is deployed to perform exercises and studies with Her Majesty's Royal Army..."

    Despite the crier continuing to call out other names, many eyes were fixed upon the American, which he found very uncomfortable. Thankfully, the soldier kept his military bearing and walked through the receiving line, finding that the lady whose name he had remembered was not currently in the line. But soon enough, the army officer moved where he was instructed to go when it was time for Queen Victoria, as he had been asked to be a ceremonial commander as he was the highest-ranking member of the two-squad formation.

    He drew his saber, calling out the command for the soldier to go to attention and carry their rifles at right shoulder. He then kept quiet, listening to the crier's addressing of the queen.

    "And lastly, presenting Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India! Long live the Queen!"

    "Present, arms!"

    He barked out his command in a dignified and noble manner, the entire platoon of Royal Guardmen as led by the American rendering their salutes as the attendees chanted "God Save the Queen" as was custom. By the time Her Majesty went to the end of the line where Joseph and the junior officer who regularly commanded the platoon stood facing one another. However, the Queen surprised all who were watching as she turned to face Joseph who then gave the command for all the soldiers to cease their salute before sheathing his saber. As Queen Victoria extended her right hand to him, the Southern gentleman knew what to do. He bowed from his waist, his left hand balling up as it was placed on the small of his back while his right hand gingerly took Her Majesty's. He then kissed the back of Queen Victoria's hand, before letting her slide it away as her stood up and spoke to the Queen of England as she began to speak to him.

    "So you are the cousin of my dear physician, lieutenant colonel?"

    "Yes, Your Majesty."

    "And you are relatively young for your rank. I am told you have been cited for heroism and valour. Is this true?"

    "Yes, Your Majesty. I was given honors by President Ulysses S. Grant when he was still my commanding general and not my president, ma'am."

    "I see. He is an honorable gentleman, as I hope you are. I mean not to be rude, but will you regail us with some war stories later on, lieutenant colonel?"

    "Yes, ma'am. It would be an honor to do so, Your Majesty."

    "Splendid. I shall see you soon, lieutenant colonel."

    "I will humbly await your presence, Your Majesty."

    After Queen Victoria departed, Joseph gave all the soldier the command to fall out, the officer needing a glass of water after that internally nerve-wrecking conversation. after he had gotten it, he found himself approached by one of the hostesses for the evening, the soldier putting on a smile and looking to them with kindness. He then bowed and kissed the hand once again when the motion for him to do so was made. He then spoke calmly, identifying the young woman. "Good evening, Lady Eleanore Christenson. 'Tis a great pleasure to meet you."

    Now meeting the Queen of England was one thing, but meeting a girl who had seemingly walked out of your dreams is another.
     
    #3 AceSorcerer, Dec 25, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
  3. The guests were pouring in. Laughter sounded like jingle bells around the hall. Drinks and platters of varieties of small foods were presented and served. Everything was ticking smoothly and soon the audience has moved to the main ballroom, awaiting the Queen who would arrive very soon. The crier began calling out the names of the guests who each stepped forth and in line. Eleanore's and William's family were named together. The young woman carried on her fiancé's arm to reaffirm her future status and current affiliation. They've appeared to be a nicely suited pair. He ordinarily handsome and where he lost in height, he had in title. She was a gem on his arm, offering smiles to the audience and emanating a warm confidence that did not oppress. Subtle beauty, but enticing her mother told her as they descended the stairs earlier that evening.

    Not long after them, the next highly regarded guest was the American. Eleanore has only heard and seen his name once, on the list of guests, but now her eyes settled on him as he made his way forward. Shamefully majority of England was pro-Confederate during the Civil War and Eleanore was very well acquainted with the Alabama case. She wondered what the man's opinions about her nation and her people were after the events of the past that certainly affected him so and put a wound of distrust between their nations. She only once travelled to Nova Scotia when she was young, few years before the war broke out and the impression left on her had ever-lasting effects. In fact, she could thank that singular visit to the Americas for opening her eyes and putting words in her brother's mouth, calling her a too liberal mindless woman with no sense in politics. He did not particularly enjoy the journey to Nova Scotia, generally because he was terribly sea sick during the whole boat journey.

    However, her eyes stayed on the American inconspicuously for the rest of the procedures. She could not afford to stare to be called socially awkward, but his military upbringing, so clear in the way he held himself was so different to the way any noble in the room stood and presented themselves. Everyone in this room had pride with which they straightened their back, but the soldier had the righteous pride of having survived one of the worst wars known in the American history. Eleanore was long past her naive, young years when she could be swept off her feet by any man, but thinking about what the colonel must have been through, it had her heart beating faster with curiosity and eagerness to ask. Thankfully, her majesty queen's arrival has been announced and all the attendees dropped to their knees, the salmon coloured dress pooling out around Eleanore, bringing out the tender curve of her exposed shoulders. It was the first time for her to be in the presence of the great ruler of Britain and more than ever she was conscious of her involvement in the event's preparations. Was everything alright? Did the decorations look sophisticated enough? As they rose to their feet, her mother came to hold her hand. She always knew when her eldest was unnerved, even if her outer appearance looked as calm and confident as ever.

    The conversation that Queen Victoria and the colonel had was heard by all. Their voices spread over everyone's head like evening story telling and by no doubt the intrigue of many has been set alight. Relatively young and so high ranked... Marvellous! Talented! The hardly held back gasps spoke more words than any ever could. It was even less surprising that as soon as the Majesty sat in her high chair brought into the ballroom just for her to resemble a throne from which she could overlook everything, the American got surrounded by nobles eager to meet him and hear what he had to say. Eleanore herself would have loved to join the crowd, but duties were duties and she had to welcome some of the more important guests first before she managed to excuse herself from her family and fiancé and weave her way towards the colonel.

    Music was already playing in the background, inviting people onto the dance floor for a lively round of foxtrot, yet Eleanore always preferred a much slower, more elegant waltz. Hence, she did not mind missing out on this one. Very soon, she managed to make an eye contact with the American. Smile settled on her features, eyes sparkled with enthusiasm at the simple chance of meeting the man. "Lieutenant colonel." She said in a soft, yet kind voice as she offered him her hand. He was well spoken in the court etiquette it seemed which only served his as a plus. It also gave her the opportunity to look at him closer, noticing so much more about the soldier that she did not from afar, like the impeccable care that the man has given his appearance for tonight. He could certainly rival some of the handsome young boys present.

    "Lady Eleanore will suffice." She corrected him smoothly as she withdrew her hand. However, without staring for too long, Eleanore knew she needed to make an easy conversation. "So when did you arrive in England?" She questioned with genuine curiosity in her voice as she held her glass of champagne delicately in her slim fingers.​
     
  4. He did not make it a point to gaze at the young woman in any place other than her mesmerizing eyes. After all, she was the first to approach him civilly as opposed to the second swarm of nobles had approached him, many of which were pestering him about when he would tell the stories he had promised to. To each and every one of them, he gave the same response; "I will tell my tales when Her Majesty requests I do so, nary a moment more. After all, it is only by her request I have elected to tell my tales."

    But, of course, it was hard for anyone to deny Queen Victoria, even though she was a lone supporter of the Union in a field of those who had supported the Confederacy under the pretense that a weakened America and Confederacy would be ones that the British Empire could easily reclaim and conquer.

    Regardless, one does not become a commander of troops at any level unless they possessed skills of perception and observation, especially regarding people. From looking at the young woman, he first noted that the dress was new, likely sewn specifically for this evening. As was practically a religious custom among the female nobility, she was also wearing both a bustle and a corset, as while she likely had a lovely natural figure, the British always sought to achieve new heights in beauty. The necklace she was wearing was clearly carved of from a precious jewel, one he could not identify, and depicted the Virgin Mary. The necklace had no beads or crosses, meaning it was not a rosary and show a lesser chance of the young lady being a Catholic. Most likely, she was an Anglican/Episcopalian like himself, like Queen Victoria, and like most of the guests in attendance. She also had a certain grace about her, one the superseded most of her guests'. He also noted her engagement ring, but spoke not of it should he find himself somewhat infatuated.

    "I arrived in the early of December, on the third to be precise. I had left the third week of November from Boston, Massachusetts. I traveled with a crew of sailors on three of the fastest steamers that the American Navy had at their disposal at the time so I could travel with the entirety of my battalion. I arrived a few hours before my troops in Gloucester, but due to a misinterpreted telegraph we stayed aboard our ships for a day more. Now, of these battalions they had us bring a miscellany for the studies, totaling about eight hundred men, ranging from infantry to artillery to engineers. All in all, its a total of two companies of four platoons each, with the First Company being solely infantry and variants thereof while the Second Company is filled with specialized platoons.

    "Ah, but it seems I have rambled on a bit. I do apologize, Lady Eleanore."

    After giving his apology, he received a glass of water from a servant, taking a polite sip as he awaited the young lady's response.
     
    #5 AceSorcerer, Dec 26, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  5. Her eyes were solely on him, her ears taking pleasure in hearing the American accent, so different to her own, much richer in her opinion. The more he said, the more her eyes sparkled with interest, her brown hues appearing warmer and speaking of the curiosity she could not so openly portray. She knew only a little of military. Her own brother and her were trained in fencing, but that's as far as it went. Her father was in military before, but even in this society, women rarely, of never involved themselves in those matters. Whilst politics were more and more open to females, military was still strictly male domain. Eleanore's laughter, not so loud, but neither too intimate just for the two, rang in the air forgivingly as he apologized. She shook her head and her fingertips only lightly, for a moment, settled on his upper arm as a friendly gesture.

    "Do not fret, lieutenant colonel. I love hearing any kind of stories, especially from your homeland. It has been too long since I've been to Nova Scotia but I still remember it clearly. Moreover, it's not often we get any guests from over the ocean to grace us with first hand news." She reassured him, bringing her own champagne to her lips for but a moment, hand withdrawing from his arm. It wasn't long till she could not help herself but ask. "But it is said that American forces have been deployed into England as a part of reconciliating process after the Alabama mishap. Is it true?" But even before an answer could be given, she made a small step closer as if to share something better said a little more quietly. "It is a large troop you have arrived with after all, and some nobles are unsure what to expect." She further explained, hand elegantly, yet inconspicuously gesturing towards the people around them who were busy with conversations of their own. It was true that there was a hidden unrest in the society. Not only does Britain have to pay compensation for the damage that the ship Alabama has caused to the Union trade ships, but some even hypothesized that the Americans were trying to come and take over the great kingdom!​
     
    #6 The Returner, Dec 27, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  6. The senior officer felt a slight bit embarrassed regarding the young noblewoman's remark, using his self control to prevent waves of crimson from appearing on his face. After he drank some more water, finishing his glass and placing the empty glass on a tray at the behest of one of the servants, he pondered for a moment as he noticed that her stance, and the stance of many around her, was akin to the a of a fencer. It came as no surprise to him, as according to his cousin many of the United Kingdom's nobility, male and female alike, partook in fencing in order to perfect a noble stance and stature. If he had to visit any nobles for odd visits, he could at least consider the possibility of gentleman's bout. Regardless he spoke again, deciding to humor his noblewoman companion with a story.

    "Regarding your question... I'm not allowed to say much on the matter, but it is not directly linked to the actions regarding to the C.S.S. Alabama. Likewise, the United States of America will not be invading or engaging in any hostile activities towards the United Kingdom anytime soon. As I am not the expert. The Ambassador to England, however, will likely be able to tell you more than I can.

    "Well, if you wish to hear stories, I can tell you more about our more recent experiences in England.

    "For example, when we arrived and all the disputes were settled, our supply transports from our base for our march apparently were halted. As such, we had to force a march to our joint base near London, Fort Celti*, while we stopped to hunt and regroup every so often. Fortunately, we made it within two days so long as we took a direct route as opposed to the main highway. Of course, the Minister of Defense was rather apologetic, as it seems. I pray that he does not always have that demeanor about him, or he will be eaten alive in meetings even with junior enlisted about the utmost trivial concerns..." He then spoke of the same tale for a while longer, some of the tale comedic while the rest was a mere retelling. It was not like the stories he would tell later, the solemn stories of a soldier proving himself in combat. But nevertheless, he concluded his tale, offering her an invitation.

    "But regardless, should you ever want to talk about the military, hear stories, or wish to have a good conversation, my door will always be open to you. If you do visit, make sure you check my office, first. If I'm not, an aide will be able to tel you where I am."

    But soon enough, as the music began to turn into a piece he knew (specifially "Blue Danube" by Strauss), he extended a gentlman's hand to his conversation companion, speaking kindly. After all, the very nature of being a gentleman demanded that one be a master of the classical dances.

    "Lady Eleanore, would you do me the honor of accompanying me in a waltz?"


    *pronounced sel-tee
     
    #7 AceSorcerer, Dec 27, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  7. Eleanore listened to his words with genuine interest. Her ear catching every single syllable, mind painting pictures, giving rise to emotions induced by the tale. No hostile activities any time soon still sounded rather ominous and presage for potential conflict. True, Britain was in the wrong this time but not that many have admitted it openly. It was unnecessary pride in Eleanore's opinion. Cancer to many men. Either way, the danger was certainly not coming from their side. Brits might have been occasionally impulsive in their wrapped up world of etiquette but they were not stupid. Furthermore, as looked at economically, a relationship with America was more prosperous than war. And so she just nodded her head gratefully at the lieutenant colonel's willingness to share his own opinion. It was refreshing to have a man discuss so freely a topic that women were scolded for even bringing up.

    However, her companion swiftly moved to sharing a story with her and that prompted the woman to step closer. It was cheerfully served with eloquence and humour and couple times Eleanore laughed just like before. A few nobles drew near, hoping to hear a war story but as they found out about the ordinariness of it, they politely left as if they have never stopped by. "If I ever pass by you current residence, I will visit." Eleanore reassured him politely, resting her empty champagne glass on the servant's tray to be carried away. Just at that moment, she heard a waltz tune, already a fair bit into the composition, luring dancers to the floor. Joseph must have somehow understand her longing from her eyes drifting to the dancing pairs, gracefully swaying across the open space, or maybe it was just a coincidence, but as he asked her for her hand, she offered him a gladdened smile. It seemed like each time she did so, her smiles got warmer and wider. She took liking to this stranger. Perhaps, it was for his somewhat exotic origins and past. But was it acceptable to have a first dance with another man if she was engaged?

    Eleanore looked around for a moment, eyes searching for William. Not only was no one overtly watching, even though she knew there were certain eyes transfixed on both of them, but when she could not see her fiancé, she had her excuse. Well, she had a part of it. Perhaps, she would still get scolded, but at least the blame would not be entirely on her. Returning her hues to the soldier with certain hint of mischief that lightly glowed in the brown undertones, the woman rested her hand in his with cultivated beauty, taking hold of his palm as she said. "It would be a pleasure, lieutenant colonel." She was about to dance with a man who was raised on battlefield...oh, how interesting that could be! Did he know that classics? Would he step on her shoes? He would not just offer if he was unsure, right? He would not chance himself a humiliation, correct? Once again, her heart gave a way to few strong beats, feeling prickles in her lower back from excitement about the situation and the upcoming dance itself. As much as Eleanore loved politics, she was still a woman with ardour for the finer, more rhythmic and beautiful arts. Furthermore, it wasn't everyday that a woman would get to get close to a man of proper physique. All them noblemen were nice in a suite, but as far as Eleanore heard, without their clothes, they looked like floppy Swiss cheese.​
     
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  8. It had been a while since the American had danced in a manner that didn't involve dodging bullets, crossing blades, or avoiding canon balls, but it mattered not as he sill had recent practice in his mastery of the classical dances.

    Now, just as in a fencer's duel or by a commander's tactics, it had become apparent to Joseph that one could learn much about a person by how they danced, though the message was not nearly as clear. As such, he was somewhat curious to what kind of person Eleanore was. Regardless, the army officer kept a gentle grip as the orchestra went momentarily silent as to start the waltz's second movement. He turned to face his partner, had hand still in his as he moved his hand to her waist, the almost unnoticeable edge of the corset prevalent in his calloused left palm. When the danced, he took a few more defensive steps to become accustomed to the tempo, but as soon as four bars in he was able to read the waltz and the steps they would need in the near future, reading the piece as one would a novel.

    As the pair danced, Eleanore could note that where the nobles merely had pads on their shoulders, he had none. Despite the presence of his epaulets, it was rather prevalent that his form was not due to cheating the eyes via clothing, but was actually achieved through various exercises needed of a devoted soldier and commander to stay in top physical form. His back remained straight, though he did tilt his head slightly in order to keep eye contact with his companion. He led the pair, occasionally spinning his partner as well as some of the other more extravagant moves of a waltz, but he kept it to where nothing ill would befall his partner by means of rumor or attention out of respect. He did not need to command any more attention to gain influence, if any, as he had already placed himself where he could likely gain influence rather easily if he truly desired to.

    As they danced, he noted Eleanore both went with his led but at time also lead him as they danced, causing for him to note the correlation to how she typically behaved outside of the dance. She was certainly independent and free-spirited, imparting her own decisions and will whilst still finding some comforth in the stabilities of traditions. However, something bother her. It was evident, but he could not read any further into her through this medium than he already had. Regardless, something had told her that she had been doing he same, if not something similar.

    As such, when the waltz ended, he bowed to her after stepping back and removing his left hand from her side, a gentlemanly and customary act before escorting her off of the dancing floor.
     
  9. Eleanore allowed her partner to lead her to the dance floor. The timing almost impeccable as the pause allowed them enough time to set into the position. She gently placed her hand on his upper arm, stepping closer to him as the dance required and this time she knew why her heart drummed fast and strong in her chest as he began leading with the first rhythms filling the air again. He was not only the strange American from over the large pond. He was a soldier that had an air of fine sophistication around him. A man that did not look down at her when she so openly asked about a political issue still quite common amongst her class. He was confident, but not too confident as many other men in her world. What was more, he danced amazingly, spinning her around, never breaking the eye contact. As enchanting and calling as she found him when he was introduced to the crowd, Eleanore felt to have been thrown in a dream-like state. Each time he brought her back into his arms from a twist, she leaned against him more. After all, their bodies were already close so the extra weight she pressed against him was not noticeable by other nobles at all. Hence, she was saved from any unwanted rumour, even if any already arose.

    The tones of Strauss's Blue Danube guided them through the dance until the very end, and not once did her eyes strayed from his, her hand from his upper arms as her fingers held it tighter from time to time. Whether that was to hold onto him better or feel what she knew she was feeling a little more, was up to anyone's guess. However, the gaze they shared was not an oppressive one and with the glaze of fascination over her hues, she relayed her delight of the situation much better than with words. With the last notes disappearing into thin air, Eleanore offered her partner a gentle curtsy as he bowed, unable to ignore the fact she felt light headed for no reason. Or maybe, she was yet unaware of it, still too taken with one of the best dances she has ever had. Resting her hand in the crook of his arm as he led her away, she had to prevent herself from stroking the fabric of his blazer just to feel what laid beyond one more time. "You dance very well, lieutenant colonel. Where did you learn?" She asked as they were nearing the edge of the dance floor, eyes peeking up at him in a still very strong curiosity.​
     
  10. Joseph would not have minded in the slightest had she continued to squeeze past his frock coat.

    He took a great pleasure in the dance they had executed, but moreso the person he had been dancing with. She had come closer and closer as they danced, and as it happened it took his every nerve to keep his composure and to keep his face devoid of any signs of physical embarrassment. In reality, what he truly wished to do would put the court in an uproar. And in the end, what he wished to was nothing less than hold the woman he had danced with close and deliver her a kiss. But, being an envoy of the American military, a guest of Her Majesty the Queen, and first and foremost a gentleman, he would have to put the thought out of his mind for the time being. It was then that he would speak again as he was forced to separate their limbs as her fiance soon spotted the pair leaving the dance floor..

    "First of all, Lady Eleanore, you need not call me 'Lieutenant Colonel.' Please, when we speak to one another or in less formal situations, you may call me 'Joseph.' After all, it is nice to have familiarity in this game of politics.

    "As for how I dance so well? Well, in the American South, before the Civil War, the proper education of a young man or woman in the way of being a gentleman or lady comes as a priority second to all but their scholastic studies. Or, in the case of the state of Virginia, military officer training. And, semi-annually, every young man must display his skills as a gentleman in a special evening of dining and dance know as cotillion. Although, to be perfectly honest with you, those evenings I would have preferred to be with my old horse on the cavalry range. I do miss old Octavian... unfortunately, he fell dead under me in the Civil War.

    "Ah, but once again I'm afraid I've rambled on slightly. I offer my sincerest apologies once more."
     
    #11 AceSorcerer, Dec 31, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
  11. His polite correction on how to address him came slightly as a surprise. A pleasant one, truth be told. She regarded it with a lightly risen eyebrow and wonder in her hues. Not only Joseph just managed to surmount the distance struck between them by social expectations, he offered her something, she was not even hoping for so overtly when she approached him the first time - friendship. Or so it seemed as such to her. But as she looked up at him, with the subtle smile playing on her lips, she noticed William coming forth through the crowd and just by the expression in his eyes she could tell that the trouble she got in was much grander than anticipated. Just by sheer self-control, she did not hold onto Joseph tighter. Eleanore was not a frightened girl, but certain people put her on edge. Her fiance was unfortunately one of them.

    "Once again...Joseph," she pronounced his name with light hesitation, clearly not accustomed to be so familiar with a man this fast. "You do not need to apologize. It sounds rather grand, these events you have in military. In England, these sophisticated occasions seem to still be quite exclusive to nobles but..." She would have said more if the young duke hasn't arrived. Giving Joseph an acceptable bow of respect and greeting, even if it was curt with his eyes measuring the outsider, William soon looked at his bride-to-be, expression not as stern as his eyes to give away his inner annoyance with her conduct.

    "There you are, lady Eleanore." He said with as much warmth in his voice as a boy would have for a candy. "I see you are keeping a company to our honored guest forsaking the tradition of the first dance with your soon to be husband." William's snobbish accent was far from sounding exaggerated but it certainly painted the perfect picture of the British aristocracy when he looked down at Eleanore from his mighty height. If only he was much taller than just a few inches.

    "My earnest apologies, my lord. But word gave word and..." "And you have forgotten yourself again." The patronizing tone upset even Eleanore, but she could not do anything about it in public if she did not want to bring shame on herself and her family. In such way, the British culture was still slightly backward, forcing women to take it because they had no other choice, yet. Her momentary powerlessness, despite the sparks of dislike in her eyes as she looked at her fiance, soon passed away as a new, more fabricated smile, just to be polite, settled on her features. She appeared to be an absolutely different person there and then. Not so warm and friendly, but an artificial grace like others were.

    "Well, then, my lord, let me introduce to you our honored guest." Eleanore spoke in a voice that lacked any kindness towards her husband-to-be as she turned, parting with Joseph's arm to stand closer to William's side so she could gently point her hand at Joseph. "Lord William, this is Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Frederick Straton. Lieutenant Colonel, please allow me to introduce to you, lord William Harry Arthur Grosvenor, the eldest son of the Duke of Westminster." Standing aside, she let the man to do the rest of the honors.​
     
  12. Joseph had met various bureaucrats he would much rather prefer the company of as opposed to the heinous presence of the supposed lord, knowing almost the individual had to do in life was wait for his father to die or abdicate. As such, Joseph kept a more stern face about himself as he extended his hand to shake William's, though the latter of the pair had such an infantile grip it was almost laughable. Joseph gave a warm verbal salutation, though in the recesses of his mind he was swearing like he had joined the Navy.

    Just by looking at Joseph and William, one could immediately draw various distinctions about them regarding personality and physiology. Joseph stood a few inches taller than William, and while both men were lean Joseph also had muscles, scars, and sinew underneath his frock coat whilst William had little more than some of the padding sewn into the tuxedo jacket. In regards to posture, it would be noted that Joseph often rested in military positions due to force of habit, which would display him as a character of honor and discipline as he body was loosely rigid. William also had a form that was rigid only in sense of belief and culture, as from his very walk it was exceedingly evident that the lord had not truly earned anything, nor had he worked a day in his life.

    As such, Joseph strained himself to listen to the obnoxious tenor voice, who had been prattling on about "the sanctity of the first dance" for a good few minutes now before Joseph interjected, the bass voice bringing a more positive note.

    "So I see you have quite the passion for forms and etiquette, Lord William. That could do you quite well in the right career. Perhaps, with a little exercise, you could join as an officer in Her Majesty's Royal Army or one of the other British armed forces?"

    William scoffed, soon to err as he spoke far too loudly for his own good.

    "Oh, and pray tell why I would want to the commander of a legion whose lives and purposes are about as valuable as a barrel of monkeys?"

    Everyone nearby looked at the young lord as almost the whole of the room was in a state of shock. For a moment, the band stopped playing and a few individuals on the dance floor almost tripped over themselves as William had erred greatly. Painstakingly and cautiously, Joseph forced his hand off of the handle of his revolver. The officer reminded himself that this was not the United States and that, although Queen Victoria was not present to hear the remark, he was Her Majesty's guest and was imbued with some of her honor as a result. Joseph then spoke with a calm severity that was akin to expertly cutting a wedding cake with a machete.

    "Lord William, were this the United States I would have drawn either of the two weapons I have wielded through warfare at my sides and would have regained the honor you have impugned from not only I, but my family, and even more importantly the honor of Her Majesty the Queen! I have known many soldiers, both allied and opposed to myself, who have proven themselves far better men than you could seemingly achieve. It is by this point I would issue a challenge to restore honor, but as Lady Eleanore and the women of the house did great strides to plan this night's event and as you are the supposed host, I will not take action. Instead, I shall leave it to Queen Victoria to decide what should be done, as if my soldiers are monkeys, so am I. After all, a commander is nothing without his soldiers."

    The amount of dishonor that William wrought was palpable as one of the servants left to find the Queen and inform as the court almost openly approved of how Joseph responded.
     
    #13 AceSorcerer, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  13. Eleanore stared at Joseph in disbelief. The audacity of his statement silenced the whole room and she could feel many nobles being reassured that Americans were just people without much sense for the finery of noble life. Her heart drummed in her chest not because she was taken with what has happened in front of her eyes, but because they both have just done some far worse. They complicated a smoothly flowing evening. With the Queen being alerted! It was almost as if her perfect house of card just got blown apart. She could not believe that William was so open with his remark and that Joseph almost drew his weapon. For the first time, she wanted to leave the party to escape the judgement. Of course she could not. And the queen has just arrived.

    Dropping into a deep curtsy, Eleanore could feel the rest of the room followin suit. As she straightened up, she noticed both families, William's and hers standing behind their respective offspring. But it wasn't up to her to make amends for a situation she unknowingly provoked. As much as she enjoyed the dance with Joseph, she now regretted daring to go against the tradition.

    "Your highness, please forgive these two young men." William's father stepped forth to do the talking as was customary. "Whilst I can't speak for our honorary guest," he said, his eyes running over the American, hues hardly masking the discontent he harboured for the man, he was swift to give his undivided attention to the Britain's ruler. "But my son might have had just a one more glass of wine and he has not been feeling entirely himself. With winter opressing us all..." The queen raised her hand elegantly, measuring both of the men with eyes filled with wisdom.

    "It would be foolish of either of these gentlemen if they so actively sought to ruin an evening prepared for us with such precision." The queen spoke into the quietness of the room, before giving both of the man a last look and walking past them back to the chair designated for her highness. The court almost audible sighed in relief and chatter slowly spread. It was hard to say whether they approved of either conduct, as it was shocking to see on both sides, but not everyone was agreeing with what has just happened and rumours would most certainly spread.

    "Eleanore." A stern voice of her mother sounded in the intimate space between them. One look was enough for the young woman to know that she was about to be told off in privacy. Giving the small group a curtsy and a mumbled excuse, she left with her mother who was the etiquette referee in her family.​
     
  14. As the mumbling began to return as the nobles saw that one of their own wasn't about to be struck, Joseph's understanding of British court etiquette as well as the subtle gestures of the good doctor showed that it was his turn to present his case, ever so silently and to Queen Victoria's ears alone. Carrying himself with his errors crawling down his back, the officer would genuflect before Her Majesty the Queen whilst she sat in her chair until she motioned for him to come forward and stand beside her.

    "Your Highness, I speak for the actions I and only I have done and caused. As such, I am fault for the exchange that occurred, Your Majesty, for I asked the Lady Eleanore to dance without inquiring as to whether or not she had danced with her betrothed. As such, my behaviors were a catalyst for the aforementioned exchange, independent of Lord William and Lady Eleanore. The same applies for my hand's magnetic pull to the revolver at my side, for it is an action and instinct that one grows accustomed to in times of war, and war has left me somewhat overly cautious and quick to act. Therefore, the fault and blame for the exchange that has occurred is mine own, and therefore it falls nobody else."

    Queen Victoria seemed to be pleased with the apology, her lip curling into a small smile as she looked outwards and spoke in her her wizened voice. "Well, Lieutenant Colonel, your apologies are duly noted and are accepted. Your penance, however, will be the telling of your stories. Courier! Gather the attention of the party! It is time to listen."

    With that, Joseph would begin to speak, having decided what he would speak about.

    "I will tell of the latter half of the Civil War, near the end of the Year of Our Lord 1864.

    "The snow fell crisply from the sky, just like tonight, on that Christmas Eve in northern Arkansas. I was scouting the forward position with my platoon, searching for a safe passage through the woodlands so that we could continue our march into the American Deep South in order to pincer Confederate battalions that were attempting flee from General of the Armies- then Major General- William Sherman's March to the Sea and the battalions he was sending westward in pursuit. The main camp was near the southern border of Monroe, Arkansas, which our battalion had retaken from the Confederacy a few days earlier. That morning, before my platoon began to scout, we received our orders via telegraph to begin the pincer movement and meet up in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a naval company, a marine company and various army companies to ensure the capture of the generals that the March to the Sea had set on the run.

    "Personally, I was somewhat nervous. I had only recently received my commission as a second lieutenant and it was worrying me. I knew the men in my platoon, for I was a corporal there until the previous commanding officer, First Lieutenant Marcus Phillips, was killed in action roughly one month prior.

    "But soon enough, one of my sergeants pointed out a fire rising to the west and we started to head that direction, only to spot a church that had seemingly taken damage from skirmished in the years past. It was there that, as midnight came upon us, we spotted a Confederate platoon preparing to attend a Christmas Eve mass. The church, Episcopal in nature, was closed as the priest and his family was preparing the sanctuary for the first service they would have held in a while since the war had taken a turn for the worse for the Confederacy. My soldiers had their muskets at the ready, pointed towards the bonfire the Confederate soldiers had created.

    "We were about strike, but it was then that I saw them, hardened and wary. And when the time came, we simply walked forward to the edge of the clearing. We could overtake them, but there was no chance that we could successfully capture them. I had one of my squads bring out the other platoons, and in time we had all assembled and the Confederate company was completely surrounded. I gave the signal and we began to trod forward, emerging from the clearing with muskets ready to fire. But it was then that, despite my own ignorance, I truly saw the nature of the company; they were frightened and afraid. They quivered with fear in their eyes, silently worrying that they would never see their families or their homes ever again.

    "I couldn't give the order to fire.

    "There was no way I could, not after I realized that I saw myself in them. Even then, I saw even more than that: I saw my brother, Isaac, for the first time in ten years.

    "I walked up to him, a private in one of the platoons and I dropped my musket as we marched forward. A silent truce came about as no one dared fire their musket, a silent truce overcoming us all, with tears almost falling from my eyes and from his as I held my brother for the first time in ten years. Everyone met and greeted one another, and soon enough the priest opened the door for mass, which had to be held outside given we couldn't fit in the church. We celebrated Christmas that night and through the next day as it no longer mattered if we served the Union or the Confederacy, we were all soldiers. We were all humans. Even the freeman of color under my command faced no ill bearing from the Confederates, as for one day, every man was equal.

    "After the prayers were said and communion was given, we shared what resources we could spare with them, improvising a feast that night and later the next morning and afternoon. We all played cards and soccer and baseball, enjoying Christmas as Americans, with no divide between the North and the South. Even our wartime photographer was in on the action, taking photographs of us, including one of my brother and myself. It was a feeling so immaculate, I may never be able to convey it again so long as I live.

    "That Christmas evening, the lieutenant colonel in command made sure we gave the Confederate soldiers time to leave. 'If we see them again,' he stated, 'it will be too soon. Gentleman, what we have witnessed is one of the sacred rules of warfare. Never shall it be broken.'

    "I will never forget what he said.

    "That morning, we began our march to New Orleans. We thanked the clergyman and his family, giving them what funds we could spare before we left. On the thirtieth of December, we united with one of the artillery companies we were meant to meet up with and regrouped. They had trouble moving their cannons, so we helped solved their problems by aiding in repairs before we continued on our way.

    "It was then that we found ourselves ambushed. We rushed to our positions and covered the artillerymen as they set up the cannons, eventually beginning a bayonet charge before we unleashed a volley of rounds, forcing part of the enemy into retreat, but not before we had their commanding officer prisoner.

    "As was my custom, I walked the battlefield to identify if any of my company had been killed. Thankfully, none were. However, I did find my kin slain, a musketball lodged into his heart. I fell to my knees, seeing Isaac lifeless. Carrying his body, I went to my commanding officer, requesting permission to bury my brother as opposed to burning him on a pyre or placing him in a bit. I was granted permission, and as such I grabbed a spade and began to dig a grave for Isaac near the grove where the Confederate forces took their stand. I neither slept nor ate until the pit was dug and Isaac's body was resting in his coffin. I took only his dog tags, putting them in my pocket to give to my parents should I ever see them again. I could only make a crude headstone from a few stones and bits of wood. I swore that when the war was over, I would return to give him a proper headstone. As such, so I did, replacing a decrepit wooden cross with a proper stone slab engraved with his name and rank and dates of death and birth.

    "But I believe I have spoken what I wish to and what I can muster without going into further detail of the gore that warfare brings. Such stories are not meant to be spoken in a formal setting such as this. Therefore, I do conclude my story, wishing all of you a Happy New Year."

    It was then that Joseph left the Queen's side after she motioned he was allowed to, going up and drinking a glass of the bourbon to ease his nerves after recounting one his utmost emotionally shattering experiences. He then chased that glass with two of his water as the army officer was determined to keep his wits and sobriety about him. But soon enough he saw Eleanore, and needing to apologize to her. He finished his current glass before walking up to her and getting her attention politely, looking to her orbs and sighing.

    "Lady Eleanore, I must offer you my greatest and utmost sincere apologies for any troubles I have cause you and your betrothed. It is my own ignorance for not inquiring into if you had already danced with your betrothed that led to the issue before, and the blame will fall to me alone. If I have ruined your plans, only let me know you wish for me to leave and I shall take my leave."

    His tone indicated a genuine sincerity that somewhat rare among the dentriloquistic smiles of nobles and the obscure lies of politicians, for- though it was unbeknownst to Eleanore- Joseph possessed a great yet hidden affection for her.
     
    #15 AceSorcerer, Jan 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  15. Everybody knew that what has happened was not solely Jospeh's fault. Eleanore was in position where she could have declined the invitation in order to maintain the tradition but she too chose not to. However, her guilt was to be carried in front of the family and the court as the Queen was not to be bothered with matters as private as this. Eleanore knew she would have to stand in front of her betrothed and his parents and plead for their forgiveness. They were higher in hierarchy and any fail to recognize that even in relation to the engagement could be used to break the bond between her and William, which only further infringe upon her own family.

    She wasn't much far into the desperate explanation, fear of realization crawling over her skin as her mother tried to be stern yet understanding, calming her child who had reality coming crushing down on her. The courier found them, somehow, requesting their presence in the main ballroom for the war story. Eleanore had to take a few deeper breath and use or her willpower to subdue the nervous look in her eyes, her trembling hands and smile that just would not feel so artificial. Once she was ready, she rejoined the crowd next to her husband-to-be who regarded her with as little as a side glance anyone would give to a servant. It hurt her pride, but she knew she was in the wrong. Having taken a seat comfortably, she listened to what the honored guest had to say.

    It was an engaging story. Eleanore found it as intriguing as all the other stories she has heard or read, but aware of her recent failure she was very aware of her reactions. She had to become one of those common aristocrats, acting with precise measurement of actions and it took her all the self-control to not look at William with a disagreeing frown when he scoffed at the lieutenant's remark that he could not give the order to fire. But she could imagine the silent contempt in the lord's eyes as he considered himself more a man than Joseph despite never having killed, he was far from able to shed a tear and speak about it as freely as their American guest.

    The audience in general, however, oohed and aahed, some very taken with the story of kinship, understanding, solidarity but also heartbreaking truths of war. At the end, the whole hall erupted in applause, man nodding their heads in agreement of how cruel war can be, women whispering to one another about how different Joseph was with his openness. Soon afterwards, the crowd dispersed, music began to play anew and Eleanore, as advised by her mother, stayed by William's side not seeking out the American. She would have probably not come in contact with him at all for the rest of the night if he hasn't sought her out on his own. Being on William's arm, she noticed him about the same time as her fiance did and he was the one to give the permission to the honored guest to advance in a manner most snobbish. His words, however, tickled Eleanore's sympathy and if she were a single young woman, she would have reached out, placing her hand on top of his arm and assured him in a way so warm that he was not to blame. Alas, she could do no such thing. Instead she offered him a polite smile, appearing colder than when they met earlier that evening, but only due to the expectations of society and she spoke kindly, yet reservedly.

    "I could not ask you to leave, lieutenant colonel. You are our and the queen's honored guest. Please, do not worry about what has happened and enjoy the evening for it truly is." She felt a pang of need to shake of the mask forced upon her face and sound truly genuine instead of this artificial altruism that was regarded with a smile from William as he was fooled as man that his fiancee has realized her mistake and found her place by his side again. Yet to Joseph, who could clearly look into her eyes, he could see the unhappiness lurking just beneath her stark hues.​
     
  16. Joseph would look somewhat somber as he noted the inner sadness in her eyes, and as such he leaned in, whispering in her ear a promise kind and sincere that would escalate her mood. Afterwards, he then turned to William, speaking softly. "The world is about to begin its revolution once again. As such, let us leave our feud in the past. We can move forward, much like the world we stand on."

    William, as usual, seemed unmoved by the practically poetic words that Joseph had conveyed. Stubbornly stalwart in regards to swaying towards sincerity, William only nodded, barely recognizing that Joseph was a living being. It was then Joseph spoke once again, attempting to get William to engage in conversation.

    "I was speaking with Earl Henry Herbert of Carnavon earlier regarding the field of Egyptology. Earl Henry and his son, Lord George, have invited me to go on a dig in Egypt next month in the area near Saqqara for the first session and near the Valley of the Kings in the second. As such, I had heard you were versed in the Kemetan culture and mythology. He believed you would be a good addition to the dig team, but as he had to leave early with his son, he asked to invite you and on his behalf. What do you think?"

    "Hmm... intriguing... we will accept. Of course, I shouldn't have Eleanore stay for the full. She should return to England after the first session."

    "That works expertly, as I am using my paid vacation to attend the dig's first session. When I return to London, I will bring her with me."

    "Splendid, lieutenant colonel. I can see our previous spat as being mended."

    "Oh, and one other thing."

    "Do tell?"

    "Earl Henry asked me a rather intriguing question. If the one you loved asked you to beget your title to allow true happiness, would you? As for myself, I certainly would beget my commission. After all, I have many opportunities to provide otherwise. After all, I could make Egyptology a profession as opposed to a hobby and if not I do know that, with a year of study, I could easily become a doctor of medicine. But what about you, Lord William?"

    William remained silent, pondering the question. "It is... intriguing... I will have to think on it."

    "And midnight strikes soon, so I shall leave you two be for the traditional embrace. Have a pleasant evening, both of you."

    It was a few minutes later that the bells struck to a new year, after which many of the elder and youngest guests, including Her Majesty and her guards, took their as the snow began to fall faster. Joseph's kin also departed, as the officer would be returning to the base with the two soldiers that remained. The three soldiers, as well as some of more openly humble guests, would aid the servant in cleaning up after the occasion. After this, the snow began to block the manor's doorways, the weather became exponentially violent by the second as the falling snow whipped up into what Joseph almost thought was a tornado. But, even though it was merely a blizzard, it looked like the soldiers, the four noble families left behind, and the hosts would be trapped within the manor for a while.
     
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