A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 

 Xartis Psyxis - Chapter 9 "The Mustering" (part 8)

Go down 
Nobiles Barbariæ

Posts : 6081
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostXartis Psyxis - Chapter 9 "The Mustering" (part 8)

Titus felt that there was much regarding the issue of the Gaelic Earls that had been left unsaid, but all parties seemed to acknowledge that this was not the place to say it. The discussion returned to the rather more prosaic topic of which men had been selected for which posts in the new regime. Arran and Talbot had the names written on screeds of paper that they read from, and for the most part each name was met with a murmur of approval from Hamilton and the rest of the company. Sometimes Hamilton sought some clarification of someone’s identity, and once or twice openly vetoed an appointment. But other than that, it was a monotonous hour for Titus and his two friends, as they listened to name after name of people who they neither knew nor cared about, and the obscure positions to which they were destined to be appointed. At last Talbot reached the end of his litany of lieutenants and captains, and Arran likewise rounded off his interminable list of judges, commissioners, aldermen, governors and mayors. It seemed to Titus that he was not the only one who felt relieved at its conclusion.

The monotony, however, had at least given Titus time and peace to think about this extraordinary gathering to which he and his two companions had been privileged to be invited, albeit as an afterthought on the part of DeLacey in the case of Sarah and Jack. He had been at pains to imagine why even he should be asked to have witnessed it, except to impress upon him the enormity of the role he had undertaken, and to thereby ensure that he apply himself to that role with all the diligence, intelligence and tact at his disposal. But if it had been designed to impress him, then it had failed. Instead, once the initial awe of being amongst such august company had diminished, he had found himself looking jaundicedly at the drama as it transpired before him and querying the motives of the players much more than he would ever be impressed by their eloquence or the terrible nature of their purposes. Even to a man like Titus, for whom politicians represented a side of life hitherto to be kept at arm’s length, and only contemplated at all when their designs interfered with his own, the issues discussed before him raised obvious questions that had not been answered, or even asked for the most part. What of the dispossessed in this new state of affairs? What if the Tories failed to heed the ‘signal’ of insubordination to Rochester? What if the Whigs regained power? What if James himself was unwilling, or unable, to deliver on his promises? And then there was the obvious question, the one that Talbot had asked but had not in fact received an answer to. All the men in this room stood to gain from what they planned bar one, and he was the one who had apparently convened the meeting. Talbot had seemed dubious about Arran’s intentions once the reins of power were transferred, and Titus could only share his doubts. Arran’s retort had been so glib as to convey no meaning, and Hamilton, he thought, had been very quick to change the subject. But the question persisted. Why would Arran, a Protestant and most eminent lynchpin in a Protestant administration be so willing to accelerate the transfer of that administration into Catholic hands? Did his love for his country so far exceed in importance all other considerations, not least his own personal security? He had spoken earlier of what he called a threat to his and his colleagues’ careers. Yet no matter what happened next, it seemed to Titus, Arran’s career was over. No amount of assurances from the Stuarts or their officials could ever guarantee him the power and prestige that he already held, courtesy of his father and in the service of a Protestant king. But still he acceded to their wishes, facilitated them in their designs, and was now even going so far as to risk his own political survival, if not his very life, on this very strategy. Only a simpleton would assume that this was self-sacrifice on Butler’s part. There was obviously a deal already in place to ensure that Arran was well rewarded for this ‘selflessness’. To Titus, for all the grand talk and strategies discussed, the whole affair smacked of a deal such as thieves might make in advance of stealing and dividing the proceeds of their theft. Yet he could not quite put his finger on what was being stolen. He just knew that his distaste for politicians had not been dissipated in the slightest in seeing them at such close quarters. Grand men they may all be, and circumstances might well have been forced on them, but there was still something essentially sordid about deciding the fate of a country in a rustic tavern, like small children secretly planning a raid on an orchard. As if to punctuate his thoughts, two distant shots from somewhere outside caused an abrupt end to proceedings.

“That is my signal, my boat awaits.” When Hamilton stood to retrieve his cloak all stood with him. “You will keep us informed through the usual channel, Lord Arran. Good day all. Au revoir.” And with that he was gone as suddenly as he had arrived, through the kitchen at the rear. Soldiers stood with muskets at both front and back doors barring the egress of anyone else for a few minutes longer. Hamilton was obviously a man accustomed to precaution. Finally the assembled group broke up, Arran amongst the last to leave having again wished Titus good fortune and speed in locating his father. “Now you can see why he is so urgently sought and why your task is so vital. Great changes are afoot and require the imprimatur of a great man. We are at a pitiable loss without him.” Titus noticed that he did not mention that he either missed the man for himself, or even that their relationship extended beyond their political affiliation. If such was the norm for families of high political office, it merely confirmed in Titus’s mind his own contempt for the species, but he assured Arran that within the next two weeks he planned to be in Ulster and that his serious enquiries would then be underway. Arran’s response had been a terse “Good!” followed by an equally abrupt exit. The clamour of horses and carriages outside then filled the air as each delegate made his departure until very soon only the original trio of Titus, Sarah and Jack, along with John DeLacey, were left seated inside.

“We had best not linger too much longer,” DeLacey said. “I have arranged for a carriage to meet me at the home of a friend of mine in Kinsealy, it is not far from here.” He turned to Jack. “You are from Balbriggan I believe, Mr Quinn?” Jack nodded. “Then I recommend you return there. There is a man whom you may know lives not too far from you, the bailiff Christopher Malley.”
“I know his daughter,” Jack said with a smile.
DeLacey ignored the interruption to his order. “He has contacts that may be useful. Tell him I sent you and explain about the disappearance of Mr Perry’s secretary. There isn’t a stone moved in this area that Malley won’t know about. And if he doesn’t know, he’ll find out. Make yourself available for whatever chore he sets you and report back to Mr Perry or myself in the Castle tomorrow. If Malley takes longer than that, report what you know tomorrow in any case and tell him to do likewise when he has completed his investigation, and be sure to tell him also how urgent this problem is. Speak nothing of this to anyone, even your family. Inform anyone of what you saw or heard today either, and I assure you that your worst imagination could never equal the delights that await you in our dungeons. That is not a joke, Mr Quinn.”

Poor Jack, thought Titus, agreed to fetch and carry for a mapmaker only to be suborned into appointment as castle spy and a keeper of state secrets. Still, the young man seemed delighted at the task set him, obviously the prospect of having a valid excuse to call at Malley’s house and visit his daughter met with his approval. “Don’t worry, sir. And Mr Perry, if Flitch is to be found I won’t give up until I do just that. You have my word!”
DeLacey glared at Jack. “That is precisely the task you have been assigned. It is not your word that is required now but your arse in movement. Do you understand my meaning?”
Jack leapt to his feet as if struck.
DeLacey smiled. “Much better, Mr Quinn. Now, god’s speed on your way.”
Titus smiled at him. “You had better get used to this, Jack. I know you will do your utmost to fulfil your task. We’ll talk tomorrow. Goodbye.”

After Jack’s exit DeLacey turned to Sarah. “You represent a different challenge completely. You will stay with my friend in Kinsealy.”
“Begging your pardon sir, but I’m safe enough where I am!” Sarah said. She was not used to being told what to do, Titus knew, but he reckoned she’d met her match in Sir John.
“You are anything of the sort. But don’t worry, you may like the billet I’ve arranged for you. Do me the honour of looking at it first before you decline it. Should you accept it, then we will transfer your belongings within the hour.”
“Very well,” she said uncertainly, “but you will be sure and send me my dog if I do. I would not put it past the constabulary to interrogate the poor mutt in their pursuit of me. They delight, it seems, in tormenting wretched creatures.”

The old lady at this point emerged from the kitchen. If she had any suspicion regarding who her guests had been and the exalted positions that they held or were about to hold, she showed no sign of it. The small purse that Arran had passed her obviously had not assuaged her wrath sufficiently to inhibit her from voicing her opinion on the gross intrusion she had suffered that afternoon. As she noisily returned the tables and chairs to their former arrangement all that the three remaining could hear were muttered oaths against the “Bloody English” and “Bloody military!”
“Madam!” shouted DeLacey after her as she retreated into the kitchen. “One more treasonous remark and I swear I will have you in the stocks by nightfall!” He turned back to his companions with a smile on his face, just as a cabbage head came flying with some venom from the depths of the kitchen and hit him squarely on the back of his head.
“I think you’ve found your new army's first recruit, Sir John,” Sarah said with mock earnestness, daintily picking a cabbage leaf from DeLacey’s shoulder. “She has an eye for the right target in any event!” For the first time since they had met, Titus heard DeLacey laugh.

As they rode along the lane to Kinsealy, DeLacey questioned Titus about his impression of events. He brought his horse alongside Titus’s. To the east a flock of seagulls, mere specks against the bright sea sky, fought madly against the April gusts trying to blow them ashore. Their loud screeches carried on the breeze and forced the man to raise his voice in competition. “Well, Mr Perry, do you still think we can trust Lord Arran then?”
“If you ask me do I trust his intentions then yes, I believe he speaks his mind truly." Titus lied. "However what he said about his nephew worries me though.”
“His nephew James is young. He has been given an important military command. It is understandable if he does not readily want to risk losing it over a plan hatched by his older relative. What brought about this interest in Lord Arran’s intentions, Mr Perry? I must confess I did relate your suspicions to him earlier, as you gathered. He was in need of a spot of levity after hearing about Rochester’s forthcoming elevation!”
“I am glad to have been of service in cheering the man up then, though his ill humour may have been down to more than the news of Rochester alone.” He briefly contemplated should he pursue his point but immediately decided that this was something it would benefit DeLacey to know and benefit himself to see the man’s reaction. “You see, I heard him and who I believe was Lord Ossory arguing in the dead of night, and so in fact did Captain Briar, as I discovered this morning. When they spoke in the courtyard there was talk of a ‘last chance’. What do you think that meant, Sir John?”
DeLacey simply shrugged. “It was an odd spot and hour for a meeting I allow, but I assume Lord Arran was giving James one last opportunity to come aboard before today’s council.”
“No, Sir John. It was his nephew James who used the term and it engendered much rage in Lord Arran. The meeting almost ended in blows at that point.”
DeLacey did not answer. Instead he quickened his horse’s pace beyond Titus’s, forcing the others to do likewise to keep up. For a minute or so they rode thus, in single file and in silence with DeLacey setting the pace and Sarah taking up the rear. When Titus realised that he was not about to receive an answer he dropped back to his companion and pulled in alongside her. She turned to him with a serious expression and he knew what was on her mind. “What about Stafford? Ask him what that shit was doing there?”

There was nothing wrong with DeLacey’s hearing. With a loud “Whoa!” he drew his horse up and turned to face his riding companions.
“John Stafford is our guarantee that the municipal authorities will assist us. Some of us remember when the Corporation of Dublin opened the city’s door to Cromwell. Without that one action at its outset his entire campaign might well have foundered for reasons of simple expense, though an expense that was nothing in comparison to that which their action cost this country I can tell you. I admit Stafford is a man I would rather not normally spare the phlegm to spit upon, but I believe he will do as he has vowed. Why do you ask, woman?”
“This woman asks because this woman knows the shit well!” Sarah was furious. “And furthermore, Sir John, if your grand strategy depends on avaricious murderers like Stafford then it is doomed from the start. I wish you well in your venture, but don’t start painting harps on your gatepost just yet!”
The two glared at each other much as fighters might do before engaging in a sparring contest. Titus thought that he had better intervene. “Miss Reilly is of the opinion that it was Stafford or someone close to him who had her father murdered, Sir John, and it’s not idle conjecture on her part either. I have to say from what I have learnt of the man’s character and past behaviour that she is more than entitled to entertain the suspicion.”
DeLacey coughed. “I apologise ma’am. I must confess I have been already vexed by what Mr Perry has related to me. If truth be known, I advised against Stafford being admitted to today’s council. Lord Arran feels however that he is a man easily swayed by contact with officers of high status.”
Sarah acknowledged Sir John’s apology. “I forgive you then, Sir John. It is good however to hear Stafford is easily swayed, it will hove him well as practise for the gallows!”
“You are a shrewd lady Miss Reilly.” DeLacey adopted an ironically deferential tone. “Women may be debarred from high office under the law as it stands, but if you will accede to office when we reorganise the affairs of state I will surely support your application.”
“Lord Chief Justice will do me,” was Sarah’s prompt retort.
Back to top Go down
Share this post on: diggdeliciousredditstumbleuponslashdotyahoogooglelive

Xartis Psyxis - Chapter 9 "The Mustering" (part 8) :: Comments

No Comment.

Xartis Psyxis - Chapter 9 "The Mustering" (part 8)

Back to top 

Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: Our Members' Blogs ... :: Xartis Psyxis-
Jump to: