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3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Emma Vickery on Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:22 pm

"It was not entirely the Navy who kept Napoleon from invading Britain's shores, my Lord. After all, if not for the Army, he would have regrouped and tried again to invade - and if he had managed to cross the Channel, who would have defended us but the Army?"

Emma was very grateful that Lord Alconbury had not asked her for a dance this evening; to have to put up with his boorish behaviour at such close quarters was more than she was prepared to deal with, even if it meant that she would have to spend the rest of the evening sitting out.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Isabella Walham on Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:08 am

"I believe, Madam, that, as in all matters of politics and finances, the knowledge of a gentleman will always surpass that of any well-bred lady on this subject."

With these disdainful words his lordship turned away to lead his partner into the last figures - Implying quite clearly that such knowledge in a lady was a sign of bad taste. He had been too engrossed in his exchange with Emma to hear Willoughby's words.
--------
James slightly bowed.

"I would never assume anything else - and our brief aquintance gave me no reason to believe otherwise either. So when he stiffens, there is more reason than with some others to be watchful."

He parted from her for the last Grand Chain, keeping a wary eye on the two hussars.
-------------
"Oh, would you at one time show us? It would be proper, wouldn't it?"

Otherwise her mother would rant and roar and utterly forbit her to see it - although she might make an exception if the inviting horseman was a lord, but Charlotte really preferred if that was not the reason she was allowed to go.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:21 am

Anne smiled, agreeing with James that even with her cousin one needed to be watchful when he was not at his merriest. It was not that one needed to fear him, for she hardly could imagine her cousin to have hurt, let alone killed anyone even if French, but then these were the matters not discussed at home and Willoughby never started such a conversation either, since returning home. She followed the last steps of the dance, joining back with James as the music died down. She turned towards him and bowed lightly and gracefully, her gaze merry, though a bit sad that the dance was finished. Even with the tiny mishaps, she had really enjoyed herself."After what you have done to prevent that catastrophe I believe not even my cousin could see ill of you." She chuckled, linking hands briefly, though quite timidly.

"I have most enjoyed myself, thank you, commander." She spoke, a genuine smile on her face.

++

Willoughby nodded an idea already forming in his mind, perhaps fueled too much by the pride that had been wounded.

"Perhaps we might show you ahead of time, though a second session can also be arranged." He answered without thinking much what he was just agreeing to. He bowed his head as the dance was ended and smiled politely at her. "Would you excuse me for a moment."He began then turned around. He tried to seek out Charlotte's mother to return her daughter to her as would be more polite, than to just leave her standing, even if for only a few moments. "I might arrange for a showing" He said distractedly then looked slightly apologetic to her. She did not deserve a half treatment only because he was quite upset with that man! Perhaps a better choice, and much closer to take her to, was Bella herself. They were friends and they might wish to exchange first impressions about the dance. "Would you like to see Lady Isabella?" He asked.

He had already seen one other hussar begin on the path to approach Alconbury and wished not to have a scene caused by his 'kind' while also quite unwilling to have this slight be passed as nothing.

Leaving Charlotte in safe and friendly company of Bella, he could then proceed towards Alconbury for a certain amount of clarification of things of importance. He had caught a short slight which the man had bestowed on Emma. While unpleasant in some ways it was not the opinion that only a few shared. Still it was certainly uncalled for.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  John Vickery on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:15 am

"And any gentleman who stays at home should not be surprised to find that his knowledge in turn is surpassed by that of a gentleman who has been to war and who may, in turn, have communicated such knowledge home to his family," Vickery put in, in chilled tones, as the last figure of the dance brought him close to his sister's set and Lord Alconbury.

He turned back to Miss Sylvia Bromwell as the dance came to a close and bowed. He would not be asking her for another.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Emma Vickery on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:19 am

Emma raised her chin determinedly and ignored the put-down as best she could, although she sent her brother a quick yet thankful glance. It were better for Lord Alconbury that he had never opened his mouth, and in such company - really, quite half the gentlemen in the room were military men. If he were to continue with making such ill thought-out opinions known to all and sundry, someone would be sure to call him out.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Edward Torrington on Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:30 am

Alconbury glared at Vickery, but was unable to come up with an adequate reply. He did not consider Vickery's opinion valid - he was a soldier, after all, and therefore had neither the mind nor the opportunity to study the intricacies of the situation; but to say so openly was an invitation for desaster in this company, and even he realized that. So he took the opportunity the last measures of the dance afforted and coldly turned his shoulder on them.

----------

James bowed over her hand before escorting her over to where Bella and Charlotte were already waiting. "The pleasure was mine entirely, Miss Anne. I will very much hope to have it again before I have to leave England again."

---------

Miss Sylvia Bromwell gave Vickery her best dazzling smile and asked sweetly:

"Would you mind escorting me to my mother, Major? She does not like me being on my own during such a crush."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:58 am

Willoughby excused himself briefly from the growing group of ladies, promising that he would return and take Charlotte elsewhere, should she wish so, and also greeting Bella and later even his cousin as Anne arrived with James. To him he gave an approving nod.

Before Anne could protest that he should go any further, for she could make a rather good guess at what Willoughby's haste was fueled by, the hussar captain had crossed half the distance between them and Alconbury. The rest was passed at a slightly slower pace, though he made no attempt to completely conceal the reason of his arrival.

"Lord Alconbury." He spoke nodding a more formal greeting. "I apologise. But I have been hard pressed not to overhear your experience of the poorest manner in the ways of how the cavalry is trained these days. Should it have been truly as appalling as you have said, I would have most certainly bemoaned the current state of the matters with you." He smiled, it was a long way around to what he wanted to say but a bit of theatrics, overly formal talk, pretend friendliness had been a fun touch to it.

"Since it is not, however, and I wish you not to live in err, for a man such as yourself most certainly looses credentials for spreading untruth, I am willing and I am certain that my brother officers are equally eager to present to you their skills in horsemanship." He smiled politely, too politely. "What would you say to a friendly competition, a display of skill to which you may invite any of your friends and I shall have three or perhaps five of mine, whichever number of competitors you might prefer, asked to do the same. Of course, I will take part as well." He shrugged lightly.

"Should you accept, we may agree on a date, and should you not, I will politely ask you to halt your impulse and your tongue on the matter."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  John Vickery on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:02 pm

"Certainly," Vickery said, offering his arm to Miss Sylvia. He would deliver her back to her doting Mama and hopefully be able to excuse himself from their party in time to ask someone else to stand up with him for the next dance.

The sets were breaking up and the gentlemen beginning to escort their late partners back to the ladies' parties when Willoughby paused near Vickery to address Lord Alconbury with a challenge that, while not being precisely a duel, carried enough undertones to suggest it had all the weight of one.

Vickery had already had one reminder of his early Peninsular time brought to his recollection and here was another - he clearly remembered a particular day when he and Torrington had ridden out to inspect a bridge, accompanied by Estefania da Almeida and Lord Gwydyr (Private Willoughby as he had been) and now Lord Gwydyr himself had brought to mind another memory, of that day in fact. He and Torrington had succumbed to the boyish pleasure of a spontaneous race through the countryside and they had joked about setting the precedence of challenging each other to a duel with horses as the weapon - a duel of riding skill.

And here Willoughby had done precisely that thing.

If Estefania were present, and had not engaged herself to another gentleman for the next set, he would presume on their old acquaintance, and ask her himself, which also solved the issue of how to escape Mrs Bromwell's clutches once he had surrendered her daughter to them.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Emma Vickery on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:25 pm

Lord Gwydyr had just issued a most unconventional challenge to Lord Alconbury, a challenge that was not illegal (as a conventional duel would be) yet was unconventional enough that Lady Caroline's ball would likely be the talk of Town for the next week or more. Whether it would develop into a more scandalous sort of duel remained to be seen.

Emma took Mr Courtenay's arm to return to her mother, sending her brother a sympathetic look as they passed him. She wondered who would next ask her to dance - and remembered that she had already promised the waltz to Lord Torrington. She still had some spaces on her dance card, but had given out enough dances that she was assured her evening would not be too dull.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Edward Torrington on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:47 am

Now that the dance was over, the argument had begun to draw attention, and several guests turned to see who had issued this rather remarkable challenge. Several men in a variety of uniforms began to gather around Willoughby, among them such noteable members of society as the Marquess of Worcester, better known to his military friends as Major Henry Somerset, one of the Duke's most notable ADCs.

Alconbury blustered.

"If you really can offer such fine skills, of course I would want to see it. But you will agree that some long-practiced party trick will not be adequate proof. Eight officers of my choosing from among those present tonight, that should be a much fairer test."

-----------

Edward slightly bowed to Emma as she passed, not wanting to stop her if she wanted to return to her own party, but giving her the opportunity to do so.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:01 am

Willoughby debated whether he was taking the noose to his neck by agreeing on the terms Alconbury set. He knew the hussars, even if from different regiments, would be able to perform together well while he was not quite sure all officers at the ball had the finest skill or idea how to ride. He had heard that some naval officers had chosen their career, partially because there were no horses on board ship,.. or perhaps this had only been a joke among those who did ride.

He nodded curtly. "But choose fairly." He warned. "And the officers, that are chosen have the choice to agree to participate or decline it." Clearly he had no power over any of those who were superior to him or from other factions of the military.

He recognised several of the men that have now joined them. Some were people of power and great importance, others did not lag too far behind them. The hussars had been insulted for their 'lack of riding skills' but other officers have been insulted in a different manner and fashion so they had the right of retribution as well.

++

The commotion drew the attention of the Spanish Portuguese party as well. They approached, Estefania walked with her friend still in tow. They have both finished this dance and parted ways with their partners just moments ago.


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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Emma Vickery on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:16 am

Emma paused as she approached Lord Torrington, and smiled at him.

"Good evening, my Lord," she said and looked between the two gentlemen. "May I introduce Mr Courtenay? He is a neighbour of ours in Hampshire and finds himself in Town on business." She turned to her erstwhile dance partner to finish the introduction. "Lord Torrington is the Earl of Gleve's son and was lately in the Peninsula - he is a close friend of Major Vickery's."

"My Lord," Courtenay said, with a polite bow.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  John Vickery on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:21 am

Vickery delivered Miss Sylvia back to her mother. "Mrs Bromwell, Miss Sylvia," he said with a bow. "I fear you must excuse me, I have promised the next dance to an old friend," he said and stepped back, his excuse made.

Now to find Senhora da Almeida and hope that she had not engaged herself for the next dance. And there was all that contretemps going on between Willoughby and Alconbury, which he had more than a passing interest in, as it touched on Emma's honour and his own.

This was certainly turning out to be an interesting evening - perhaps too interesting...

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Edward Torrington on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:05 am

Fortunately their hostess was already known for her fondness of dancing close to the invisible line that divided acceptable from scandalous behaviour, because the crowd around Alconburry and Willoughby grew more and more. The first gentlemen began to return from the card room to see what this was about, among them the Earl of Uxbridge who, informed what the point of contention was, immediately pushed through towards Willoughby.

Alconbury raised an arrogant eyebrow.

"If anybody could decline, it would certainly not proof your point! But as we are all gentlemen here, I think nobody will back out just because I might be forced to choose a better rider than. Or shall we simply draw straws? That certainly would be the fairest method of all - and the best proof or disproof of the overall riding abilities of soldiers."

----------

"Miss Vickery. Mr. Courtenay, a pleasure to make your aquintance." Edward returned the bow, stepping back to make room for the pair in their circle.

"May I introduce Miss Charlotte Bromwell, who is a friend of my sister ..."

Charlotte blushed and gave a shy curtsy.

"Lady Anne Cumberland, a cousin of Lord Gwydyr, and my own cousin, Commander James Walham."

James smiled and bowed and muttered the appropriate phrases.

Not quite able to supress his curiosity, for he had been to far away to hear or see the actual insults or know of Emma's involvment, Edward asked politely:

"I hope whatever has caused this commotion has not bothered you, Miss Vickery?"

----

Miss Sylvia did a rather unattractive imitation of a fish for a second, while her mother only managed to warble a saccharine "But ... Major ...".

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Emma Vickery on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:25 am

Emma made her own curtsey. "Miss Bromwell." She smiled, turning to glance at what was going on behind her, before turning back to Torrington with a rueful look. "I rather fear I am partly to blame for its escalation, in fact, Lord Torrington, although I suspect Lord Alconbury's ungentlemanlike behaviour would have led to something of the sort sooner or later. He simply does not know when he should rather think something than say it, or moderate his tones if he simply must make his opinions known. I do hope nothing too scandalous should come of it - the gossip has barely died down about Lady Caroline as it is - and the Tatler would make so much of this. Thank goodness it is at least the Little Season."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:26 am

"We can as well draw straws, though we will need quite an abundance of straws, should we want to have each officer in the ball room draw one, as well as each other gentleman who has not taken the military profession." Willoughby answered, undeterred from this even as the crowd grew.

"Of course unrelated to how we decide on who else will participate in this challenge, you and I most certainly will. We thus may need only seven more men each." He tilted his head slightly to the side. "Would you prefer to draw straws, or allow those who wish to have nothing to do with this ordeal, to say nay?" He had not noticed the arrival of Earl of Uxbridge and still stood quite as proud as his horse Herrero did, even when in the General's presence.

He waited patiently for the decision, hopeful that either way fortune may smile on them and that those who would ride with him, would be mostly cavalry and not those who have not seen a horse for years because their chosen life had taken them to sea. He was convinced that though their heart was in the right place, their experience was certainly lacking.

++

Lady Anne curtsied politely as well and smiled saying the appropriate greeting before she looked on slightly more worriedly, seeing that there was a crowd, where before she could see her cousin disappearing. She dearly hoped that there would be no scenes, nor something as dreadful and quite illegal as a duel to be had. She would have much preferred if Willoughby had remained with Charlotte and in their company and ignored the jabs of that Lord. From the right she could see her sister who strained to see, without appearing too bold in that endevour, what was going on.

++

Estefania used the fan to cause a light breeze against her cheeks gazing to her soon to be married friend and spoke to her in Spanish. "..I would not have thought that there would be such excitement at this ball." She looked more amused than anything else.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  John Vickery on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:37 am

Vickery merely nodded to Mrs Bromwell, carefully extricating himself from her party before crossing to where Lord Gwydyr and Lord Alconbury were facing each other down - he half expected for them to call for swords and begin duelling right here in Lady Caroline's ballroom. That certainly would set the cat among the pigeons as far as the Tatler and other gossip rags were concerned.

"Lord Gwydyr, you need not offer me a straw, as it was my sister who overheard the initial insult and then received a put-down," he said quietly, coming up to the younger man's shoulder. "I shall be very willing to partake in this... display, and you need not fear I shall disgrace you, or our profession."

He turned to Alconbury. "As you have insulted the profession of soldier, it must needs fall to the soldiers here to defend our honour. The Navy men, gallant professionals though they are, have no reason to partake of this display, as I am sure you will agree."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Edward Torrington on Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:25 am

Torrington looked dismayed at hearing that Emma had been exposed to ungentlemanlike behaviour - and watched with dark foreboding as Vickery rather purposefully walked back towards the center of the commotion.

Making a quick decision, he bowed.

"Ladies, please excuse me for a moment!"

He exchanged a quick glance with his cousin and tilted his head; James seemed to understand, for he offered:

"Perhaps the ladies would like to sit down for a moment? There are several seats empty now next to my aunt, who would be very glad to make your aquintance."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Marashar on Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:43 am

From somewhere in the crowd a naval officer commented:

"You'd better, unless you want us to perform in rowboats! It would be a grand disply, but I think the Admirality might object."

Others nodded, and one pointed out that the men of the Navy were only required to ride waves, not horses.

Feeling that he would loose that particular argument, Alconbury nodded:

"Agreed - no naval officers. But each branch of the Army should be present, don't you think?"
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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:54 am

Willoughby had thought first that this would be a display of the skills of riding for the cavalry as theirs had been questioned, but it seemed that it would take a broader spectrum of soldiers than that.

He nodded to Vickery, who had a personal beef with Alconbury. It had to do with the previous talk in which Emma had been present as well and some of the explanation was given by the rifles officer himself directly, of the problem.

"I understand. You have certainly a fine reason to seek justice in this." He spoke to Vickery then turned to the offending man.

"I expect you will not object to volunteers." As one had just stepped forward in the form of the rifles officer. "I have not spoken to any before coming to you, so that the fairness of this fashion of participant's choosing remains."

He was relieved that there would be no naval officers who would compete and that they were actually quite willing to accept what could have momentarily been considered a slight to their person as well. Good save. "We now have 15th Light dragoons.. Hussars, and 60th Rifles.." He spoke. "We need six more. It will not cover the amount of 'branches' or regiments that we might have present here.. I hope you are aware of that." This again to Alconbury.

++

Lady Anne had hoped to see what went on, though she would most certainly not abandon her present partner so she inclined her head. If James wished to distant them from the near scandalous event he was probably more sensible, than she.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  John Vickery on Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:58 am

"Do not consider me a Rifleman, for this, but an officer of Foot," Vickery said to Willoughby, with a smile. "Which is quite true, of course, despite my coat's being green not red."

If they had represented Horse, Foot and Artillery, that would be two officers from each, and how Vickery hoped the Artillery officers would be from the Horse Artillery, as being more used to displays of precision when mounted. He himself had never performed the exercise in question, but had seen it, once or twice - and he knew how to take orders and follow others' examples when doing something for the first time, too.

Although should Torrington choose to join them he would not object, either; he had a shrewd idea that the Engineer had some idea what he was about, on horseback.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Edward Torrington on Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:38 am

"Well, count me in, too! Somebody has to represent the general's staff as well!"

Somerset, who still held a commission in the shiney 10th hussars, chimed in and came to stand besides Willoughby and Vickery.

Edward frowned, secretly relieved that whatever the challenge was, it did not seem to be a duel. Pushing through the last civilian bystanders, he raised a questioning eyebrow at his friends, offering his services while at the same time inquiring what was going on.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:40 am

Willoughby nodded to Vickery. "Well, a rifleman is a foot soldier, only with a weapon that is more accurate and slight other differences." He had been in the company of riflemen in his first days after Bayard had died, almost like a pet hussar only he would never think himself as such.

"Do you have any objection so far, Lord Alconbury?" Willoughby asked and turned to the man, his smile not reaching his eyes.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Isabella Walham on Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:01 am

As he could not reasonably object to either of them, Alconbury curtly shook his head.

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:02 am

Willoughby glanced at Torrington and while he was waiting for the decision still whether the rest would be chosen by straws - which needed to be provided - or whether more men would step up to volunteer, he began to explain the situation to him. He began with the fact that Lord Alconbury had insulted the riding ability of the cavalry, which of course had sat most sour with him. Some of the others were listening in as well, for not all had understood why such a sudden desire to compete with horses.

Among these was also the Hon. Henry G. Bernard, captain of the 4th dragoons, who now quite impatiently waited for the Hussar's explanation to come to a halt. "..I have not heard much of the interaction that was between himself and Miss Vickery but as you can see, it had caused enough bad blood, as major Vickery has volunteered as well. And of what I was able to catch, I believe it just."

He straightened a little and just as he was to say something more, the captain of the 4th Dragoons stepped forward. "It seems you need another horseman." He smiled. "I should be glad to add to your number."

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Re: 3rd October 1814, All the Gaiety of a Ball

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