"A Life of Duty" - Lady Josephine, Archie, and
Place: At "The Lion's Heart" tavern
Time: 12 hours since Archie and Edrington's arrival
Lord Edrington sat in the front sitting room with a cup of tea. Idly he
looked out the window to see a carriage arrive, and a young woman descend.
He could see she was stiff and sore from her travels. He looked around for
Archie on the supposition this was the mysterious "Lady Josephine Silverthorne",
but did not see him. Edrington watched as the woman's servants clustered
around her, but hesitated to let her enter ahead of them. Edrington moved
towards the doorway in order to hear her announced.
"I believe you were to have a room for me. My name is Lady Josephine
Silverthorne." the woman said in a clear voice.
"Lady Silverthorne, is it? I'm sorry, my lady, but who was supposed
to make these arrangements for you?" the tavern owner queried as he
looked through his books.
"Leftenant Archie Kennedy, sir." the woman coldly replied.
"Ah yes, Mr. Kennedy. He did say summat about a lady coming to join
him. Should I have him sent for, my lady?"
"That won't be necessary." Lord Edrington stepped out of the sitting
room. "Lady Silverthorne, would you be so kind as to join me in a cup
of tea while your room is readied?"
"I thank you for your kindness, sir, but..." Lady Josephine began.
"My lady, I am Lord Edrington."
"You know Mr. Kennedy then, my lord?" Lady Josephine moved towards
Edrington in anticipation of accepting his offer of tea.
Gallantly, he waited for her to precede him into the sitting room as the
tavern owner sent a girl in with another tea cup. Just as Edrington was
about to respond to Lady Josephine's question, Archie rushed into the room.
"My lo...Lady Josephine!" Archie's smile lit the room.
"Archie... Mr. Kennedy... I came as soon as I read your note."
Lady Josephine said as she crossed to him. She looked deeply into his eyes,
saw the pain behind them along with the shadows under them, and took both
Edrington looked away, embarrassed by their closeness and the feeling he
was intruding. He glanced back to see Archie gently lift Lady Josephine's
right hand to his lips. For a moment, they paused before her fingertips
brushed his cheek and she retreated.
"My lord, may I introduce you to Lady Josephine Silverthorne."
Archie announced proudly. Edrington bowed sharply as Lady Josephine dropped
into a graceful curtsy.
"My lady, it is a pleasure. Would you do the honours?" Edrington
asked as he gestured to the tea service. "Mr. Kennedy, may I have a
The two men walked towards the doorway. Edrington dropped his voice as his
expression turned serious. "Is it appropriate to have her here, sir?"
Archie looked over at her. Curiously, she gazed back at him. He turned his
eyes back to Edrington. "My lord, she is my intended. It has been some
time since we've seen each other, and I want her here. Shall we join her,
it appears she's finished pouring our tea."
"Have you completed the arrangements for her accommodations, Leftenant?"
Edrington asked sharply.
Guilelessly, Archie looked back at him. "Yes, my lord, but it will
be a little while before her room is ready. Her servants are seeing to the
final arrangements - for both themselves and her. After you, my lord."
Stiffly, the two men rejoined Lady Josephine. Archie took the cup of tea
from her, and lightly brushed her hand. Gruffly, Edrington cleared his throat.
"Lord Edrington," Lady Josephine started, "you must be curious
about my sudden arrival. I was surprised to see you as well, Mr. Kennedy
did not tell me you were here with him."
"You appear to be in mourning, Lady Silverthorne. May I offer you my
condolences?" Edrington asked after pointedly looking at her dress.
Archie looked at Lady Josephine with his brow furrowed in concern.
"My parents, my lord." She looked at Archie before continuing.
"They became ill with a fever. I was away at our country house at the
time, so I was spared. Mr. Kennedy, I am sorry I did not tell you. I did
not want you to be concerned about me."
"I knew anyway." Wryly he grinned at her. "My eldest brother
wrote to me. At the time he wrote, no one knew you were in the country,
so there were fears for your safety. However, before I had a chance to write
you, I received a second letter from him after he'd seen you."
"Ah, yes." Lady Josephine looked into her teacup. "He 'happened'
to be in the country, and stopped by our house to call on me. He brought
word of your mother's sympathy for my orphaned state, and her invitation
of sanctuary." Her tone had turned ironic. Suddenly remembering Edrington's
presence, she dropped her eyes while colouring.
Archie glanced at Edrington, and saw how stiffly he was sitting. "My
lord," Archie's tone had turned dead, "I had hoped to introduce
Horatio to Lady Josephine, but..." his voice trailed off.
Abruptly, Edrington stood. "Perhaps I should take my leave of you,
Mr. Kennedy, Lady Silverthorne."
"No, my lord, please sit down, finish your tea." Lady Josephine
answered, gesturing for him to sit. "We have been leaving you out of
our conversation. Although you would never say, you must be curious about
me, our history..."
"I do not want to pry, my lady." Edrington said as he sat back
down. "However, I am a bit curious."
Archie, happy to have any distraction, eagerly took up the narrative. "My
lord, Lady Josephine and her family have been acquaintances of the Kennedy
family for generations. Our lands are adjoining, and though both families
are titled..." He glanced at Lady Josephine with a slight grin.
"Your father is an earl, and mine is...was...not. He was only a viscount."
"Only one rank lower, not too bad." Edrington commented with a
well-hidden smile at their exchange. "You have lands, Lady Silverthorne?"
"Yes, my lord, as well as the house in London." She replied conversationally.
"I am the only offspring of my parents, so the family title passes
to my husband along with all my lands. With the three male children in the
Kennedy family, the opportunity presented itself to form an alliance of
our lands and titles."
"Why were you not promised to the eldest son, my lady?" Edrington
"He was promised to the daughter of a duke." Archie answered with
a grin. "Unfortunately, the family of that young lady has fallen on
hard times, and as there was no formal engagement, my parents extricated
him from that entanglement."
"That happened whilst you were missing." Lady Josephine commented.
"They tried to marry us then, but I refused to be released from our
formal engagement until you were declared dead."
Edrington looked from one to the other of them with a slightly confused
expression. "While you were missing, Mr. Kennedy? When was this?"
"For three years I was imprisoned, first in France, and then I was
moved to Spain. This was just prior to the mission in Muzillac. Horatio
saved me from death during that imprisonment." Archie lapsed into silence.
Mutely he looked at Lady Josephine, who reached over and touched his hand.
Embarrassed by their obvious attachment, Edrington forged ahead, "That
explains how you avoided marriage to the eldest son, but aren't you the
third son, Mr. Kennedy?"
Archie looked at Lady Josephine, smiled vaguely, and looked back at Edrington.
"That is true, my lord. Even while we were children, it was obvious
to all that an alliance between Lady Josephine and Edward would end in bloodshed
- probably his. Whereas Lady Josephine shares many of my interests, and
we would spend hours playing together. I looked on her as only a playmate,
but that changed as we grew older."
"I knew an alliance was being planned with one of the Kennedy sons,
but I was never told which one." Lady Josephine said, taking up the
narrative. "One day my father took me aside and asked me which one
of the three of them I would choose - if I were given a choice." She
smiled and shook her head at the irony. "Without any thought, I answered
'Archie'. My father smirked, and commented 'How convenient.' That was how
I discovered who my intended was. From that time on, we were closely guarded
until our engagement was formally announced."
During her speech, Archie had moved closer to her. Without any thought to
appearances, he had taken her hand and was lightly caressing it.
"Your room is ready, my lady." Edwards announced from the doorway.
Both Archie and Josephine jumped at the sudden return to their surroundings.
"Thank you, Edwards. Has Anna ...."
"Yes, my lady. All is settled." Edwards answered.
Archie suddenly saw the fatigue etched into her features. "My lady,
Josephine, are you all right?"
"I think I would like to go to my room for a while, we were traveling
all night." Lady Josephine responded.
"I'll escort you to your door, my lady." Archie said, rising to
his feet. Wearily Lady Josephine allowed him to assist her.
"Lord Edrington, it was a pleasure meeting you. We shall speak more
later. I have a feeling there are some things we need to discuss."
Lady Josephine said looking over her shoulder.
Edrington had politely stood as soon as Lady Josephine began to rise. "Until
then, my lady." He answered.
Without another word, Archie and Josephine left Edrington alone in the room.
Thoughtfully, he drew a chair over to the fire and sat down, lost in his