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Before television and the radio, and in an era of poorly-distributed literacy when the theatre was sometimes illegal (and always disreputable) you had to make your own fun. Unless you were very very wealthy; then you could pay other people to make your fun for you! A reading party might be one such thing, getting a new author to read their latest work of verse. It's causing quite a stir--some critics say it contains veiled criticisms of the King, while others say that no, it contains a satire on the Church, as cunningly hidden as it is blasphemous. The dissolute Lord Barstead is always willing to fund such outrageous artists. But what good is a shocking subversion of society's values without some Society to be scandalized? The gouty Squire and the parson are, naturally, invited. And that means vast quantities of rum punch and sherry. Also a nurse for the Squire's latest brat, as his lady wife is taking a rest cure. And of course, an extra special guest, a scintillating conversationalist, duelist, and ex-privateer laden down with the wealth of the Carolinas. Here's Lord Flashheart! (Pirate Lord, 03635a.) (There is, of course, a bitter rivalry between the Lords, and certainly both of them will be intriguing against the other.) Oh, and of course the domestic staff is on hand. Who let that pig in, anyway? In addition to several kegs of the controversial "tobacco" (the fame of which is sweeping the nation), Lord Flashheart has also brought a scientific curiosity, an exotic bird from Foreign Lands taken from a Dutch merchant vessel. He loudly and drunkenly proclaims it to be the ugliest [blasphemous oath] chicken he's ever seen. All in all, an occasion that will be gossiped about for months to come. The corpulent Squire, the Nurse, the Hog Maid, and the Man of Letters, as well as the tables and chairs and china, are from Eureka's Captive Audience. It's value for money. We've seen the Parson and the Socialites, along with Lord Barstead, before. They are from NorthStar 1672. Keen eyes will notice a certain Entrance, 77640, features prominently in the Barstead estate.
The parson from this four-figure set showed up in my recent post on the Salem Sisters. Let's ratchet several notches up the social scale for the other three. First, some Ladies at Court: Or courtiers, or courtesans, it's not easy to draw the line in King Charles II's time. Lots of flounces and furbelows, lots of gossip. "Of course the Barsteads have wealth piled upon wealth. It is said that the family were blaggards and privateers who got rich off of Spanish gold in Queen Bess's time" "Well, *I* heard that the Barstead fortune came from a devil's bargain! The coffers will never run empty as long as the Good Folk take the firstborn to pay the tithe to Hell!" "Hm! The way the family carries on, it seems Old Scratch got the worse end of the deal, paying up for what would rightfully come his way in due time with no effort on his part." And here is Lord Barstead himself. Rouged cheeks and mad eyes, definitely drunk and dissolute. The sort of person who would horsewhip the servants and call people "cack-handed slatterns." The kind who will squander the family inheritance on cards and drink. Maybe enclose the Commons later, on a whim, or start a tobacco plantation in the New World, or just sentence a peasant to hang for poaching. "...Very old family, the Barsteads. In the War of the Roses Sir Ranulf Barstead invented the Barstead sword. Why, back in the Conqueror's day half the nobility in this part of the realm were Barsteads. Demned upstart vagabonds these days, jumped-up weavers and tradesmen get a little money and start thinking of themselves as Peers? Why, it makes a Barstead's blood boil!" "You DARE? Insolent whelp, I'll see you dead and damned at dawn! Pistols, or swords?"
"Hickory, dickory, dare, The pig flew up in the air. The man in brown Soon brought him down; Hickory, dickory, dare." ---Old nursery rhyme I mostly have enough Weird West stuff to resist the temptations of Dracula's America, but I'll be expletive deleted if the Salem Sisters and Guardian weren't exactly what I needed for this early modern project. The Guardian's trousers are a bit anachronistic, but that buckled hat and kerchief more than makes up for it. Our Sisters--Maiden, Mother, and Crone--are tremendously full of character, and those bonnets and collars sell it. Again, I tried for colors that are not quite black and grey, but still look dour and joyless. The Man in Brown, the parson, is from NorthStar's 1672 line, part of their Civilian pack; a perfect fit for this setting. (He comes with a foppish aristocrat and two ladies in fine silks--the sort of thing that would be Frivolity and Idleness in this region. We'll see them later.) I didn't intend to make the parson so sinister-looking or surly, but it's a happy accident. There are definitely multiple ways of parsing this scenario. Perhaps he's the warlock, trying to get some hard-working women accused of witchcraft so he can buy their land. Perhaps not! Perhaps it's poltergeist activity from the worryingly intense child. Who can say? Extra pics: