Cock and Donkey
“No, Virginia, I will shoot the blasted Bloody Lord, and I do not care what happens to me then. He had no right to proposition you, and we almost lost Lady Dorothea,” shouted the enraged Humphrey. Virginia agreed and also wanted to do something to the Bloody Lord Huntington, but did not want to be so obvious about the doing and most definitely not speak of it publically in the Cock and Donky attended by students from Cambridge.
Everyone disliked or even hated the Bloody Lord, but everyone also feared him. It is rumored that he knows things about people and, in this way, keeps a firm hold on influential aristocrats and politicians. Anyone who displeased him, at best, became a societal outcast or, at worst, was jailed or simply disappeared. Even Lady Dorothea’s widowed father, a member of the House of Lords, was powerless. No, they would have to do something clever to the Bloody Lord covertly.
Roger, still in love with Virginia despite her marriage to Humphrey, hissed, “Virginia, I will take you back to our cottage before we get the Bloody Lord’s guards attention on us. It may be a little too dangerous to speak about such matters so openly.”
Roger had been one of her father’s choices as a preferred suitor for his only daughter. Her mother had another in mind, a Mowbray, but she never met either until Humphrey, and she was already engaged. Roger was devastated by this; he also admired Virginia from afar and did not try to approach her. He even danced with her at her debutante ball, and she did like him, but not love him as she did Humphrey. He still put a rose on her breakfast setting each morning.
Virginia spoke, “Roger, thank you for the offer, but I will stay with him. Humphrey, settle down, and control your temper. Eat your port and black pudding sausages, relax, have a drink, then we will make a plan.”
Virginia feared what Humphrey would do if he knew that the Bloody Lord took to her legs with a cane as he had to almost every girl that attended his classes. That was the better deal as the high and mighty Lord Huntington molested most any woman he could, shamelessly and openly. With influence, no one spoke about such matters publicly but kept them to themselves.
She felt sorry for the young Lady Dorothea Magenta Schwabe, who had also resisted the Bloody Lord’s advances. Magister Lord Huntington stood her up in morning assembly and belittled her writing style, comparing it to that of a five-year aged monkey with no style, grammar, or proper punctuation. When she broke out in tears, he made this an example of why women should not be allowed to study and remain unschooled at home until a suitable man needed them. He refused to sign her graduation papers.
Sanctimonious Lord Huntington did not like female students at all and chose to be generous with his pernicious opinion in this matter, finding females student’s work vastly inferior. Rumored had that he would improve your marks if paid, not in coin but in favor of such, this feeding his opinion of female students further.
A few drinks later, Humphrey remained quietly brooding, one of their fellow chaps, William Albert Thomas son of Lord Silverthorne, hailed as Lord Wat, implied we play a buffoonery. Quietly, in the privacy of their corner, under the influence of several warm beers, a few suggested some plain stupid and dangerous pranks.
William Hugh, Will, the future Lord Marquard, suggest that they start a rumor that the Bloody Lord was ill and dying. Another suggested cutting down the Bloody Lords statue, and another to set Huntington Hall on fire. Humphrey, their best plotter, and planner remained quietly brooding, but suggested, “We need more information about the pig.”
Freddy or Frederic Phillip Westerton, future Lord Norden said that he heard from a church bell in town, a talkative woman, well a wag-tail, a whore, that the Bloody Lord Huntington was her customer. She bragged that she would be his guest at his annual fancy dress ball in a few days. Humphrey’s mood improved, and he spoke, “Yes, a public humiliation would perfect. Some of his own medicine turned back on him.
Ambrose Horace Morris, (Ambi) son of Lord Feltham, whose father is a well-known botanist and a member, well, was no longer a member of the House of Lords because of the Bloody Lord, taught Ambrose some tricks. He knew how to make ‘itching dust’ from dried roses. Ambs said that he had done this a few times to fellow students, to those who bothered him repeatedly. Ambs experienced how effective the itching powder is when he was not careful in preparing his first batch. Over the next few days, he had scratched himself raw in places.
At this, Humphrey almost smiled but said nothing. He saw connections where others saw irrelevant information. Virginia guessed Humphrey’s thoughts, but they still needed more. None of them had access to the well-fortified and heavily guarded Huntington Hall and estate. They were due to steam home in five days. A few more suggestions had Humphrey exclaiming the obvious, “But how do we gain access to the Bloody Lords home?
William Horace, Willy, son of Lord Sparatling, no relation to Ambrose Horace Morris, said he could obtain invitations but for just two people. His father, the Queen’s Keeper of Keys, suspected Lord Huntington’s hand in the recent assassination attempt on Queen Victoria. He could not prove it and had men on it, but he would not support the Bloody Lord by showing up to his tasteless Fancy Dress Ball. Everyone stilled when they saw Humphrey’s smiling face!
Virginia just loved Humphrey for his sharp and devious mind. Well, she loved Humphrey period, but especially so when he started plotting like right now. It was always exciting, dangerous, and almost always successful when Humphrey formulated a plan.
Humphrey questioned, “Ambi, how quickly and how much of the powder can you make in a short while?” Ambi answered, “Well, I need roses, of course, and then I need to dry them over an oven, then grind them down. It is all fairly simple, and aside from the roses, I have everything I need, including a good stove and a mortal with the pestle. I will need to unpack the mortal and the pestle, but I know where I packed it. So, how many roses can you get at short notice, Humps?”
Richard Thomas Tharrington, another American and son of Therrald Thomas Tharrington the Railway Tycoon, volunteered himself, and Roger, to gather the roses Ambi needed. Richy Rich, as he was known back home, quipped, “Roger knows very well where to find roses, getting one each day for our Lady White for breakfast, not so Roger? I will help you get them, and then we will help Ambi as we also reside in the Cock and Donkey.”
Humphrey, continued, “Willy, how quickly can you get a hold of the invitations, but without allowing your father, Lord Horace, to know that you have them.” Willy answered, “He usually throws them into the fire after the event. For him, the invitations are no more than fule to the fire of the deceit of the Bloody Lord, including ruining a good friend of his. I can have them to you tomorrow.”
Percival Andrew, Lord of, Hole, yes, unfortunate naming by his mother. Percy became the Lord of Hole during his studies when his father fell off a horse and broke his neck. Percy said that he knew where he could source a respectable carriage with four white horses. Humphrey suggested that Percy tell one of the others to get it instead of him, someone that is not as well recognized hereabouts as he. Then everyone looked at Humphrey, his wicked smile, meaning that he had a plan. But he knew better than to tell everyone and would disclose each part in turn, and they all knew it. Humphrey asked, “Can anyone get another two white riding horses?”
Virginia suggested, “It is a costume ball, so we need costumes for us all.” Humphrey countered, “Yes, but only you and I will be in ball costumes. Everyone else will be in livery as our servants, footmen, driver, and the like. But that is all I will say. Let us get to bed as we have a lot to do over the next few days. And everyone, pack and get your luggage away to London. After the event, we will not be returning, and we will want to be away from Cambridge quickly. So, everyone for themselves.”