Main Event: The Madsmoor Fair

Be you young or old, noble or poor, you receive an opulent envelop with a golden seal in your letter box. It reads:

Most cherished Madsmoor resident,

It is with great pleasure that your humble lord, the Most Honourable Kelvin Madswitte, Marquess of Madswitte, and his wife the Most Honourable Colette Madswitte, invite you to an event unlike any other. Upon the sprawling grounds of Castle Madswitte, a grand fair and party shall be held on the First of June, in the year of our Lord Eighteen-Ninety-Nine.

This event will include such merriment as Madsmoor has never yet seen, with entertaining attractions in the manner of quaint carnival games, a carousel, games and puppets for young children, as well as a grand open buffet for all to partake. 

Join your fellows in the beautiful gardens, and explore the hedge maze, the fountains, and the charming assortment of topiary sculpture. You will have the opportunity to see his lordship and her ladyship, as well as their cherished family and friends, in person.

All goings-on will be free of charge, and events beginning in the afternoon at twelve o'clock, going on until eight o'clock.

We hope that you will join us, and show your appreciation for both the charity of his lordship as well as the strong, vibrant community of Madsmoor Village.

Lord & Lady Madswitte

The gardens of Castle Madswitte are lit with fairy lights and merry banners of green and yellow to celebrate the beginning of summer. All manner of games and party food are set up in booths and stalls about the yard and grounds, with some hirelings to man each, and some entertainers to perform for the guests. The largest attraction is a new-fangled mechanical carousel ride, imported all the way from London and controlled by a mysterious fellow in a hat with an oddly wide brim.

Though still understaffed, the domestic workers have worked themselves to the bone to prepare for this rather impromptu event. All instructions therein were given to them indirectly through Lady Madswitte, with some help from the Muzuran daughters on further communication. Still, there is little known about why or how his lordship has gone about agreeing to it. Nobody believes it was his idea in the first place.

As for the noble families and their guests, Lady Madswitte announced that she came to the decision jointly with her husband, and that all would be welcome to sit at the host table and greet the common folk at their leisure. She says that the open air and amusement will surely bring about Kelvin's jubilant nature once more.

In the distance. the mists of the moorland curl and wave ominously, with odd flickering lights now and then, in a haze. Some may find there is a cold tinge to the air, an electricity that surges through the bones and hardens the heart to the unknown.
Anatole was promptly awakened in his room by the brusque knocking of Lady Madswitte, who all but ordered him to put on his finest things and prepare to sing arias for the locals by twelve today.

The fair had been planned for at least a week or two, that he did know, but he had not been asked to volunteer his service to it until this very morning.

Thus, he scrambled through his sheet music to find something suitable, rehearsing in his room with only moderate preparedness. He did want to impress his hosts, as well as anyone else at the fair. They had been ever so kind during his stay, had clapped very kindly at his performing thus far, and were hospitable enough to supply a string quartet now and then, heard to be on loan from an opera house in Leeds.

For now however, there had been no call for him to scramble upon the garden's dias just outside of the hedge maze and warble out one. Instead, he was standing awkwardly among those of the Castle's guests had deigned to attend. He knew all of them vaguely over dinners, but had yet to speak to anyone very personally.
Violetta was more sour than ever. At this point she cared not a whit about Kelvin's well-being. He was rude and solitary like a vagrant hermit and she wished to return to Holland to her husband's house. That wasn't entirely possible, she knew, what with neither her title nor her marriage ever having been officiated. She had given up trying to hide it from the household, and had received more pity than resentment, which she was very lucky to get indeed.

But she had, at last, taken leave of her black attire. Opting for a dress in spring colours, still antiquated in style, but more cheerful for the eye to gaze upon. She was avoiding Dr. Deitrich pointedly, resorting to hiding behind a topiary or ducking into the hedge maze to avoid his seeing her. Her colour was as pale as ever, but she'd gotten more used to the English weather, so she found the notion of going outside not so very hideous on this day, at least.
René found the whole affair vaguely interesting, but a bit unpleasant. To think that villagers would be scurrying about in close proximity to him? He pulled his jacket about himself tighter just thinking about it. Not many had trickled in yet, it was still a touch early. But Mother had insisted that they all venture out to survey the set-up before anything were to open officially. The rather rough looking servants and hired men began to mill about and prepare their silly booths for the day.

He had been begged by Julienne to run into the hedge maze with her, but he'd dodged out of it, to his luck, when Mother told her to ask Yakova and that other visiting girl instead. He'd grown tired of playing with the girls. He was a proper man now. He should be mingling with fellows his age. But to little avail. Perhaps college was the answer after all...
He had never been one for any celebration of any kind. Begrudged to even set foot outside of his room and the library, torn from his studies. But he'd kept a small notebook just in case, and was scribbling in it with his pencil anytime anyone looked like they wanted to speak to him. He'd sent out an invitation for his colleagues to visit the manor, something he hadn't exactly gotten permission for. But no one else seemed at all interested in his work, insofar as he had seen, and to have a friend or two who had a similar mind and taste would surely save him the anguish.

But he did dress in his most radical colours; violet and aqua. It certainly would draw attention, something he did not think of when dressing at all, ironically. He might have been in for a frustrating afternoon.
As usual, she was slated to spearhead the organizing of grunt work. She had sought all the hirelings on the new telephone, something she still had to get used to, and had the pleasure of forcing all the rest of staff to work double time in preparation. Hauling out tables, chairs, preparing food and drink. The gardeners worked their hands to bleeding preparing the topiaries, the hedge, the flowers, the fountains, the new decorative lights.

For a moment, she was able to stand still, her hands at her hips, surveying the fruits of their labour. Not bad. A bit garish and ucnecessary, but that was the Madswitte way....
He was rubbish at topiary, but he was rather proud of the thing he'd made; a fish. Or dolphin. No matter. It was there and had vague animal shapes and that was enough. Kel wound his way through the hedges, making sure they were trimmed away evenly, no stray branches primed to poke anyone in the ribs, and the like.

Some fellows from the village were attending, ones he often played fiddle with at the tavern. His family might turn up too, he thought. Which might get in the way of visiting said fellows, mind, but surely he could get away for a few thirty minute bouts...He squinted from behind the hedge maze entrance to see if any of the hired help were recognizable.
He'd been slated to take charge of putting people onto the carousel horses, while some pendejo in a silly hat was operating the machine. He'd tried to make conversation but to no avail. Odd bugger.

For now, as things were still just beginning, he sat on one horse, and found it quite uncomfortable for an individual of his size, and quickly jumped off again with a wince. Not so kind to the family jewels, that thing.
Apparently, Lord Muzuran had allowed his daughters to request that rabbits, foxes, and doves be brought from the hunting grounds to a pen for petting. He was trying to explain to a hired boy that you mustn't throw a rabbit them in a water tank, or pull their ears, or chase the foxes about with heavy boots.

The doves had been set in their cages, cooing in unison, something that calmed his nerves while standing amid the odd and voluminous fair equipment. He rested his chin in his hands and leaned against the paddock fence.
Having no particular liking for indulging herself in carnival games, and finding no novelty in exploring the grounds and gardens, Louisa had taken a seat not far from the family table, where she might keep an eye on the doings of the marchioness, as well as wait and see if the marquess himself would make an appearance...

She had dressed with extra care that morning, and wore a handsome cream-coloured skirt and jacket (cream was such a timeless shade...surely no-one would notice that the suit was four years old...) and a wide-brimmed hat topped with the rich ruffles of three soft feathers which curled back over the crown.
Agnes had been working even harder than was usual, to prepare for the party, and scarcely had time to draw breath or think what was to be done next before she was already late in doing it.

She had to halt and gasp when she saw the carousel, though. Such a whirl of colour and the figures of horses! Somewhere there was piped organ music playing merrily as the thing went round and left her dizzy just to look at it! It was like nothing Agnes had ever seen. Surely it was like a festival in fairyland!

It wasn't for the likes of her, however. While everyone else had on their best clothes in honour of the day, Agnes had dutifully donned her uniform and apron and tucked her hair as tidily as possible beneath her starched white cap, and went about to serve tea and coffee and all manner of refreshments to those that wanted them.

Agnes wanted them. Her tongue seemed to burn for a drop of lemonade, and her stomach growled as sweet and savoury dainties were loaded onto plates and borne away before her eyes.

Seizing her moment at last, she secreted a little vol-au-vent beneath her apron and ducked behind a hedge so she could cram it into her mouth, brushing the crumbs of pastry from her lips and collar even as the bulge in her cheek gave her away.
Ben had wandered about the grounds with his hands in his pockets. He'd arrived early, and took the chance of having a nose around the garden for its own sake, as well as hoping to run into his sister or his cousin at their work. Spying Kel peering out from the hedge maze, he grinned and forced his gait into a too-casual saunter as he whistled up at the bush Kellan was clipping.

"...all this, and yet you're overdue for a haircut," he teased.
Roseline had made her way to the event with her son in her arms, more excited at the prospect of finding him some entertainment than any of the more mature festivities of the event. Still, eventually she had to grow up and be more an Earlessa than a mother, so leaving her son with a nursemaid she made her way over to the feast to begin with the socializing for the evening.
Kel wrinkled his nose at Ben, folding his arms as he came up. "Hah, I en't cuttin it. Since when's tha become some mother hen type..." He noticed a servant girl running among the hedges in an odd manner out of the corner of his eye and stared a little. "Hope they give out free wine..."
"I've become the mother hen type since your mother told me to keep an eye out for you and an eye on your brothers," he protested mildly, though he reached over to ruffle his cousin's curls. "Free ale will do me just fine," he admitted with a shrug. "No sense in developing a taste for wine now, if I may never taste it again in this life."

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