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Topic: 1847: A Gentleman's Honour (Read 40 times) previous topic - next topic

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1847: A Gentleman's Honour


[ Stablemaster Morgan Song | Penhurst Manor | Kent, England | March 23rd 1847, late evening ] attn: @Auctor Lucan

The whole estate was in turmoil. You wouldn't know it to look at it, of course: that was the point, to make every luxury look effortless. But from the heights of the head butler and housekeeper all the way down to the lowliest scullery maid and stable boy, every servant had been working round the clock in preparation to host the master's guests.

The guests, when they had arrived, had mostly passed Morgan by. They'd arrived on Friday in the early evening and quickly been ushered inside the house; the majority of them had come by carriage, and so Morgan had little to do with them. The few who had brought their own horses he had been briefly introduced to before overseeing the stabling of their mounts, but even then it had been little more than a cursory exchange of nods before the gentlemen had been on their way. Since then, he'd only seen the guests from afar as they toured the estate, or briefly through a window when they came close to survey the grounds.

He'd liked it this way, honestly. He knew his way around a stable, always had, but he'd just be a fish out of water if they'd called him into the house. He could only talk to Sir Stanley because he'd known the man his whole life; if any of his fancy guests wanted to speak to him he wouldn't know what to do with himself.

The day of the hunt was first approaching -- the main event, and the reason for all this trouble in the first place -- and so far Morgan's luck had held. Today, Sir Stanley and his gentlemen guests had set out on a short ride to familiarise themselves with the terrain and their mounts: most of the party were being loaned animals from among Sir Stanley's own stock, and though all the horses were well-trained (Morgan had seen to that), horse and rider would still need time to get used to one another.

Morgan had been up since before dawn making preparations, ensuring all the animals were groomed and tacked properly so as to look their best. The few horses brought by the guests had taken longer to prepare than Sir Stanley's, as their tack and character were still unfamiliar, and Morgan had assigned those creatures to himself so as not to overburden his stablehands. His promotion to this position was still new enough that he felt his duty to do well more keenly than most, and he was determined not to let Sir Stanley down. Everything had to be perfect.

He thought it'd gone well. Sir Stanley had shown off his horses without needing much input from Morgan, and he'd been happy to fade into the background. In the end, all the gentlemen had seemed pleased with their mounts, and they'd been out riding for a good few hours before returning ruddy and energetic, in high spirits all around. Morgan had been relieved that none of them stopped to say much of anything to him before heading back to the house and an apparently well-earned supper.

That had been several hours ago. Morgan had sent his stablehands to bed early as thanks for their work, and was now working alone as it grew later. There had been a couple of small jobs to mop up -- Third Degree had a loose buckle on his saddle, Lady's Man had managed to catch a pebble in his shoe -- but if he was honest, he'd mostly stayed to groom the dappled grey Holsteiner one of the gentlemen had brought with him. A stunning and powerful stallion, it was more wilful than Sir Stanley liked his horses, and there was something about that very fact that drew Morgan to it.

He was brushing down the creature when a noise from the main stable caught his attention. He'd sent everyone else to bed, who... ? He stepped out of the horse's stall, shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow and a little disheveled from work, only to find one of Sir Stanley's gentleman guests had finally decided they wanted to talk to him.

Darn it all. It had been going so well.
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2)

Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor

Re: 1847: A Gentleman's Honour
Reply #1
[ Lord Liam Herrold of Belmont House | Penhurst Manor | Kent, England | March 23rd 1847 | Late Evening ] @fiendfall

When the fresh air hit his face, the young Lord Herrold took a deep breath, as to rinse his lungs from the stuffy atmosphere in the salon. Perhaps it wasn't so much the air as it was the company, and the poorly veiled attempts to make him fancy either of the present daughters in the Manor. Like breeding stock, they were ushered forth to him, as if he was some kind of animal. Compared to the awkwardness of those conversations, the regurgitated stories of Sir Stanley and the other low nobility ware preferable.

It had been seven years since the attempted assassination of the Queen Victoria, and still they went on about it. What may have happened and what wouldn't have since then. Then of course there were the current exploits of the Queen, frequenting France of all places to improve relations at the expense of her own people, and they spoke of her as if she was their neighbour. When Liam was near, there was talk of Baron Harris - of course - and how he had shipped off to Trinidad to be governor, leaving Belmont House to the Harris family and it's off-shot bloodline of Herrolds. Liam being a 'Lord' was merely a courtesy title, but as far as Sir Stanley and his ilk were concerned in marrying off their corset-strangled daughters, he was the bloody heir of George Harris and due to be a Baron himself! As a change of pace, the Belmont House had been lauded for it walled garden, the orangery with its exotic trees from all over the world, and of course the architecture. Oh, the architecture! How could one spend ten minutes talking about methods of masonry without Liam offering one word in return? The whole affair was an endless, dreary repetition of monologues.

As Liam adjusted the sleeves of his laced linen shirt, which surely had retreated underneath his dark blue frock coat out of boredom, he took a slow stroll down the garden path. In the cool air of the late evening, the vest he wore over his frock coat - embroidered with a set of silver wings - made more sense than the insides of the stuffy salon, and without having to look proper any more, he tore off his cravat and pocketed it in his breeches. He had forgotten his top hat in the antechamber, but it wasn't like he was about the return anytime soon now that he'd tasted the fresh air Kent's countryside.

The day before, he had arrived by carriage - the Belmont House not being too far - and the height of the day had been the ride through the countryside. He'd had some trouble with his borrowed mount, unfortunately, and he'd yet to learn what had happened since Sir Stanley had led them back to the Penhurst Manor right away. He'd been given a large gelding, but it had been ill at ease with the ride, as if there had been something bothering him. Liam decided that he might investigate it, since he was due to ride out hunting on the morrow with this mount named Lady's Man. The stables weren't too far, and slowly, the sounds of string music faded behind him.

Upon arrival, the stables stood open, and Liam looked around to find anyone still there. He could hear sounds inside that didn't belong to the horses. Politely, he cleared his throat... which summoned a very tall man. Liam's eyes widened momentarily, the sight rare in regard to more than his impressive height. The man was of Asian heritage, and if Liam were to guess, the man was likely there because of the East India Company, or perhaps the man's mother was an ayah, a servant of some wealthy family, who accompanied their employers back to Britain when their stay in Asia came to an end. It was growing to become a more common sight, seeing Asian people in the countryside, and as far as Liam was concerned he certainly didn't mind, especially when encountering a gentleman as exotic as the one before him.

"Good evening," he said, finding himself at a loss of words or address. He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck before smiling to the man. He could but imagine how Sir Stanley would bristle if seeing Liam being awkward in front of the exotic male beauty before him instead of all those daughters back in the manor. "I was wondering if I could speak with someone concerning the horse I will be borrowing for the hunt tomorrow. Are you by any chance the stablemaster?"

Re: 1847: A Gentleman's Honour
Reply #2
[ Stablemaster Morgan Song | Penhurst Manor | Kent, England | March 23rd 1847, late evening ] attn: @Auctor Lucan

Morgan took the space of a few seconds to panic quickly, just a little. He'd thought he was safe! He'd thought he'd made it through the day! Sir Stanley had whisked all his guests away and should have been entertaining them even still, why had this gentleman gone astray and decided to seek out Morgan of all people? He should be sitting in the parlour smoking, or playing billiards, or whatever it was rich folk did after supper, Morgan actually had no idea.

He'd only had to interact with the guests twice so far, and both times it was Sir Stanley who had, in fact, done most of the talking. It wasn't that he couldn't talk to gentlemen, just that, well, he'd never really had to. He'd known the promotion would come with these kinds of duties, but it was recent enough that he'd been able to escape them so far. And goodness, he was so sure to say something improper -- look at him, only half dressed! While the gentleman cut such a fine figure in his handsome waistscoat.

Although, actually, as the gentleman spoke Morgan couldn't help wondering whether the man was just as ill at ease with the situation as Morgan himself. The gentleman's words were slightly faltering, perhaps even uncertain -- impossible, of course, but Morgan could've sworn he was... Well. Almost bashful. Between the lack of orders or demands in his speech and the awkwardness of his smile, the gentleman seemed equally out of his depth, for whatever unknown reason.

With this realisation, the brief flare of panic subsided, and Morgan began to unstick his tongue from the roof of its mouth whither it had retreated. The man only wanted to talk about horses, after all; that was something Morgan could comfortably do.

'Good evening, sir,' he said with a respectful nod. Now he was thinking more clearly he recognised the gentleman as the rider of Lady's Man -- one of the younger of Sir Stanley's guests, and strikingly well-formed. Rider and horse had made quite the handsome pair: if Morgan could be so bold, they had put the other gentlemen and their steeds to shame. What had his name been? The introductions had been brief and one-sided, and Morgan had only half-successfully tried to pick up names from context. Was this maybe a Mr Harold? Goodness only knew the man's title. Morgan hoped he wasn't anyone important. It'd be just his luck to accidentally offend a lord.

'I'm in charge of the stable here, yes, Stablemaster Song -- Morgan Song.' Already a mess, goodness, and barely a sentence in! He ploughed on: 'It was Lady's Man you rode?'

At the gentleman's assent, Morgan led him to the stall that housed the horse in question. Lady's Man came over as they approached, snorting curiously, and Morgan patted down his neck with a 'shh, good boy'. The horse was a beautiful creature, a gorgeous bay Arabian with black mane and tail -- and he knew it too, he'd prance and preen with the best of them. Needless to say he'd been well broken in and trained but he still retained his spirit, to say nothing of his stubbornness. He was generally the troublemaker of the stable -- if any other horse had caused as much difficulty as Lady's Man they would have been sold on, but Sir Stanley had something of a soft spot for the Arabian, and Morgan couldn't say he blamed him. This Sir Harold was both blessed and cursed to saddle the creature.

'Did he give you any trouble? He caught a pebble in his shoe during the ride, I hope that didn't bother you. He's a good horse: he can be headstrong but his stamina and endurance make up for that. Although, if you'd prefer something else, Sir Stanley has spares...' He trailed off, realising he had nothing else to say and in any case he should really be quiet and let the gentleman speak.
CPO Morgan Song - Engineering - Chief of Maintenance (V2)

Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor