Open Main Event: The Bonfire

To all staff of Castle Madswitte,

As the master is away, I have decided to send you all off for the day. Do as you will, perhaps have a 'bonne fête' outside while the weather still permits?

Lady Violetta Muzuran
If the wellness of Madswitte meant more and more free alcohol, then it was his duty to engage within himself a change of heart in his lordship's regard. What a poor fellow. How heartening was it to see him well again. Truly, the noble class was still needed. Peerage, how very timeless, how very essential to the identity of England? God bless.

Kel had already had approximately two and a half pints of beer within the hour of his arrival. Fancier sort than he was used to at the Bluff. It was actually enjoyable to drink.

He had been trailed by Ennis and Manus this time. To his mild chagrin, but if it meant he would be praised for distracting the children for a few hours for the peace of his mother, then why not? There were child servants they'd surely latch onto in due time.

To all three, Darina had given little leaf and daisy laurels. It was the most cheerful thing she had done in ages, and it had amused Lee. So it was worth it in the end. It was to be seen how long they would be able to stay on their heads, however.

He fiddled with it a little, then fiddled with his fiddle, which he had brought assuming the alcohol wasn't snough to entertain everyone as the night went on. Then glanced about in a cautionary search for Cecil.
Lucy was changing her mind about Violetta. Of course, she hadn’t much of a chance to speak with her directly, but everything she had heard from the serving staff told her that the woman was probably high strung, high maintenance, and unpleasant. Yet here she was, letting the staff off in the middle of a parlour party, even! No rushing up new dishes. No cleaning up until the next morning! Lucy not only wanted to shake the woman’s hand, she wanted to be Lady Violetta now.

Crouching next to the fire, Lucy lit her cigarette off the flames. She took a long drag before letting it hang casually from the side of her mouth. Her eyes narrowed as she scanned the faces of the rest of the staff. With everyone letting their hair down, it was her chance to show off more than her usual cook maid look. She had a feathered mask and far too much cleavage, but that was as close to a costume as she intended on wearing. No use hiding a good hairdo under a garish hat.

She craned her neck in the direction of a couple of the boys to look for someone game for a dance.
With some caution, Robbie returned the look that Lucie Plumley had cast in the general direction where he stood with some of the other lads. He had to admit, the unexpected allowance for a fete came as a very welcome opportunity to release some pent up unhappiness – by way of getting quite drunk. The more-to-be-expected opportunity to find some other form of release – in the way of the girls and young women gathering for the do – was equally as welcome. His recent attempts at seduction had met with flat failure – three times over! He could really use a warm and willing body to steal away with, to some convenient, private spot. A bonfire for the servants, with drink provided, was sure to present at least a few possibilities for fulfilling that need.

The caution was born of a young man’s conflicting and often difficult-to-arrange desire to get his needs met while not making promises he might be later expected – or forced even – to make good on. Lucie was a familiar face, although that  acquaintance had been broken off some time ago when she’d left for York. At the time, it could not in honesty be said that Robbie had pined over the loss of a close friend. She’d been more of a pest, really. Now though, well…even from this distance he could see the swell of her breasts peaking out not-so-coyly from the bodice of her dress. It signaled without words that the young woman had wares she wished to display – for what purpose, though, was the kicker.

The mask hid her features for now. Robbie had only seen her in passing these last few weeks since her return. The rumor mill ground night and day and there were any number of conflicting stories about her sordid – or not so sordid – sojourn in the city. Robbie didn’t know what truth lay at the heart of Lucie’s reappearance. But…he was intrigued. She had blossomed into a nice enough looking girl. She had shown some interest in him in the past, when he’d been younger and not so prone to jump on opportunity. Perhaps tonight…he’d be a wiser man.

He smiled in her direction, unsure if she was really looking his way, due to the mask. Well, if not, the night was young and there was ample ale to consume. He could be patient, up to a point.
An evening off, with the promise of several distractions, was just what Felix needed to get his mind from dwelling too long on the awkwardness of serving his father at table. Or worse, fretting over how often his father was missing dinners lately. Not that he needed to be thinking about his father at a time like this.

Felix was not entirely sure how the serving staff were meant to be dressed, but even though his appearance did suggest one of the Romantics it could hardly be called a costume as they were his own clothes. He spent far too much time fussing over both his appearance and that of his shared bedroom, and as it was arrived rather later to the party than he'd intended.

After a few moments Felix spotted Kel with his fiddle, then immediately looked away as if he hadn't been staring in the other man's direction, turning to the nearest young lady. "Good evening, Lucy isn't it?." He smiled at her. "That's a terribly becoming dress."
Likely, it was the drink; he watched both Robbie and Felix honing in on the same woman and felt a touch of reverberation in his chest. This was quelled shortly as he swung his drink back again, then removed the fiddle from its case and went to the open area where he expected everyone would go to dance, just to the left of the fire. He flattened his back against a tree as he began to tune, trying to keep his attention averted from any one individual's face. He heard his brothers tramping about and making bird calls nearby.

When he was ready, and had steadied himself enought to play with proper footing, he started up Keep the Country Bonnie Lassie, and hoped the flowers wouldn't fall and tangle up with his bow.
Lucy spotted Robbie among the crowd. He certainly had filled out his shoulders since she had left town… though his prospects didn’t seem to have improved much. Still working at the Manor. She had thought it terribly impressive when she had been a teenager… hard working boy and handsome to boot. She had never been able to get his attention, though.

Was he smiling at her now? Lucy turned around, just to make sure there was no one more likely in her direction. Her eyes rolled behind her mask. Now that she had a decent dress, he was all smiles. Her effort to smile back shown more like a grimace in the bonfire light. There was something far more appealing about someone she couldn’t have. She pushed her mask up to her forehead. Still, he wasn’t bad on the eyes…

Her evaluation of the groundskeeper was cut short by Felix’s introduction. “Yes. Thank you.” She grinned more sweetly this time. “And you’re the doctor’s son.” There were plenty of rumors, but none made it plainer than their striking resemblance. She tilted her head, “Do you still fetch wine off-duty? I’m awfully thirsty.”
His smile faltered somewhat at the way she referred to him. Felix hadn't been under any illusions that the staff was completely oblivious to his relationship to the Marquess' current attending physician, but he could at least pretend. "Yes, that's me, the doctor's son. Or Felix, to my friends." 

Felix laughs lightly, glancing over admiringly at Kel as he began to play for a moment before turning back to Lucy. "I honestly thought I was leaving that title behind me for good when I left Cambridge, but here we are. And I suppose I could manage a glass or two on my night off. I'm not much of a beer drinker myself. Do you have a preference?"
Meril emerged a bit later, after ascertaining that no one had been left behind in the scuffle, and that the ridiculous remains of makeup and frivolous bows and laces from (mostly) the girls preparing themselves were cleaned up. She did not wear a costume, it was bad enough that they had to go out and celebrate at all. A day to herself with some quiet was her idea of a holiday. But she did wear a green frock instead of a black one.

The beer was not much to her taste, but she poured herself a glass, not a ridiculous tankard, and went to sit by the fire. Frowning at the little boys, surely Featherstons, and hoped they knew not to jump head first into the flames. Sometimes Featherstons were quite stupid.
Lucy seemed to be looking back, but then the footman – Felix – was speaking to her, and she turned her attention to him. Eh, well, women! Robbie snorted only the tiniest puff of air out his nostrils and solaced himself with a long swig of ale. There were plenty of girls about and the entire night stretched ahead of him. He heard the draw of bow to fiddle and looked over to where Kel was making a start on some music for the evening. Tankard in hand, Robbie wandered over in the general direction of the young man, coming to rest with his shoulder against a convenient tree, content to listen and watch for a bit.
“White is fine.” Lucy replied with a sickly sweet smile. The expression all but faded when Meril took a seat nearby. She eyed the housekeeper warily. This was supposed to be their night off, but with their boss around, one could hardly pilfer from the kitchens. “On second thought, beer will do fine.” She said a bit grimly, before nodding with her chin in the direction of Mrs. Benbow.
"If that's your wish, then white it is, for the lovely lady Lucy." Felix smiled again, relieved that she had - at least momentarily - dropped the topic of his father. Perhaps is would be a pleasant evening after all, even if he was still about to sneak a bottle or two out of the kitchens. Just another debt he'd be paying back later. As Lucy changed her mind at the arrival of Mrs. Benbow, Felix frowned slightly. "Perhaps later we might take a look at the indoors party. To check if they need anything, I mean. For now, though, would you like to dance while there's music?"
At the news of a ‘bonne fête’, Jean scoffed in both derision and suspicion. But at any cost, while he was likely to make complaints – after all he was French – he still made his way out onto the grounds, though much later than a good number of the others. He caught sight of his room-sharer, the English Casanova and made no indication to greet him. Not that he disliked him but there was alcohol to be had, cigarettes to smoke to his black heart’s and black lung’s content. Not long, the old cook, red-faced, had made some indication to dance with him and he uttered something in his own tongue that he would rather strip himself in the flames before she moved onto newer and more willing prey.
Lucy’s expression went sour with confused distaste until she looked up and saw the mischievious glint in Felix’s eye. “Aaah… I see.” She gave him a knowing smile. She stood up, adjusted her bodice and smoothed out her skirt. “A’right. A dance can’t hurt.” She agreed, offering him her hand.

Stomping around the bonfire was hardly the elegant ballroom dance she had practiced and practiced so she could accompany her last lover out on the town. Still this was familiar and natural to her, and Felix seemed like a bloke who’d be light on his feet.

Over his shoulder, she couldn’t help but spot Jean. The surly footman seemed to be having even less fun shooing away the cook than he did during his work hours. Still, he was terribly handsome, and French. Lucy caught his eye and made a motion for him to join in the dance.
Jean caught sight of the undercook, it was clear that he had seen her, though he made no further indication that he saw the friendly gesture that had come along with the rest of her. The cook and the undercook would be the death of him that night. He tapped away at his cigarette, ash fluttering onto the ground, and smoked. Perhaps, there was time for things to steal indoors again.

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