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The home of the Viscount Luminary.

Hauke Hall, being a country house of such stature, requires a veritable army of servants to keep her immaculate and orderly.

The most senior of these is the Steward of the Lands - responsible for the administration of the vast Hauke estates, Mr. Ravenscroft. After him, the Head Butler, Mr. Golding, and the Head Housekeeper, Mrs. McCutcheon, followed by four under-butlers - Mr. Jameson, Mr. Protheroe, Mr. Amesworth, and Mr. Matching, on a par with Mordecai von Hauke's valet, Butterworth. These in turn oversee the head gardener, Mr. McCutcheon and his staff of forty, and the thirty-two footmen who do many of the hard manual labour tasks about the Hall. The Head Chef, Andre Lumieux oversees Hauke Hall's famous kitchens with a team of six sous-chefs. Mrs. McCutcheon supervises a team of three Housekeepers, each with a different section of the house under their authority and fifty maids of various shades to keep the place immaculate. Hauke Hall's stables and stud farm are cared-for by Mr. Aylesbury and his seven grooms - the Arabian blacks brought over at hideous expense from the Middle East, as well as palomino and cremello horses.

8/25/2009 . Edited 8/25/2009 #1

Wintry morning sunshine lanced through the broad mullions of Viscount Luminary's study, dancing in the crystals of the unlit chandelier and gleaming richly from the gilded spines of the books in their long cases that ranged against the walls.

Gilt shone from mouldings on the cieling and glowed from picture frames, and rare mahogany gleamed from the furniture, but this was a relatively workaday room - despite the two exquisite Canova marbles that guarded the entrance from the Cenotaph Library.

Luminary's desk was awash with papers and correspondence from friends in far-flung corners of the Empire, reports from the merchant empire his family's fortune rested upon and other important documents. A heavy golden fountain pen - an early design - rested in an elaborate bronze holder, nearly swamped under documentation.

The Right Honourable Mordecai von Hauke, Viscount Luminary, Viscount Rochester, Baron Hauke of Raipur and Agra and Lord of Rothes and Wincanton, leaned back in his plushly-upholstered chair and sighed deeply.

He had spent too long shuttered in the vast labyrinth of Hauke Hall, locked in this room with his correspondence and business papers. Lionel de Rothschild had said for years he spent too much time cloistered away, but always, before, Luminary had felt Hauke Hall quite big enough for him to deal with, thank you very much.

A decisive nod, physical evidence of his mind being made up, accompanied his arm reaching for the bellpull.

The summons thus endengered brought Golding gliding into the room, the double doors closing with only the faintest of clicks. "Ah, Golding. Fine weather today, is it not?"

"Unseasonably warm, sir," the butler replied equably."But bracing, nonetheless."

"Indeed. I think I shall go for a little constitutional this morning. Being hunched over my letters all day is inimical to proper posture, and I mislike the physician's twittering about it. The Long Walk and then a quick turn about the Promenade for me, I think."

"Very good, sir. I shall tell the cook to prepare a late luncheon, in that case - unless you would care for a hamper?"

"I don't think I'll be gone for as long as that, Golding, but the hamper is a nice thought nonetheless. I should be back before the bells strike two. If I am not, send out the huntsmen. I shall see myself out." Luminary smiled, and Golding permitted himself a slight crinkling of the eyes.

"As you say, my lord." Golding ghosted out, and several minutes later Viscount Luminary, sensibly - and warmly - dressed in estate tweeds and carrying his elegant cane, stepped out into the midmorning light, leaving behind reams of paper for the glowingly healthful outdoors.

A slow spiral along the winding pathways - the Long Walk of Hauke Hall - took the Viscount past follies built by old Luminaries - the family crest and its motto 'Fulgoris stellans ab sideris' - Brightest stars in the heavens - still carved deep, past the tulip terraces and the glasshouses that wrapped his mountainous home, slowly winding its way down towards the paths that would eventually take Viscount Luminary to the gentle and tame Promenade, to take a turn about the lakes and gardens there. Normally, his lordship went either at dawn or deep dusk, when there was little chance of meeting another.

This excursion, at a time when others might be enjoying the brisk air, was a most singular occurrence.

8/25/2009 . Edited by DaCivilWarBear, 8/25/2009 #2

((From the Promenade))

von Hauke focused mainly on the climb as he rose higher and higher into his family's estate, though he did note with a small pang of displeasure that the open gates were overgrown and virtually invisible beneath assorted evergreen ivies, and the sign for Hauke Hall itself had been lost from its mountings. A small worry solidified in his mind; the views from Hauke Hall's plateau were commanding and arresting, to say the least, and the glasshouse terraces would be a powerful lure to the curious.

Who could know that this place was private property, and, given that, who knew what manner of people would walk or ride about his woods and personal gardens? von Hauke hurried onwards, his path altered to check on his precious glasshouses before returning to Hauke Hall's welcoming white arms.

8/26/2009 #3

Fortunately for the Viscount's precious plants, no-one had disturbed the glasshouses, and so, after a detailed inspection, von Hauke returned to his white fastness, and sent for his Steward of the Lands, Mr. Ravenscroft.

"You wanted to see me, my lord?" the normally-dapper man asked. He was in estate tweeds, as was the Viscount, but his were splattered with mud from a hard day's work - he had been called in by runners straight from the fields and villages that sprawled behind Hauke Hall's mass.

von Hauke steepled his fingers and stared at the man on the other side of his desk. "Mr. Ravenscroft, you have given me very little reason to reprimand you in any way over your years of service - indeed, you are a fine Steward."

Ravenscroft relaxed somewhat, and gave a smile. "Thank you, my lord."

"However," von Hauke said, raising a finger. "I took a constitutional this morning, Ravenscroft. The front gates are nonexistent, there is no sign for Hauke Hall and the walls are in a parlous state. It looks like the place has been abandonded! That will not do, is that understood?"

"Yessir! I shall have Mr. McCutcheon and his staff reassigned from the Yew Gallery forthwith to clear the greenery and make a preliminary analysis of work."

"Good. I expect the entrance and driveways to look like someone actually lives here. Do you know, the Rolands didn't recognize me?"

Ravenscroft paused, unsure of whether he should answer. "No, sir?"

"You can go, Ravenscroft. I expect a preliminary report by tomorrow."

The man bowed and left. Viscount Luminary sighed, and then rang for his butler.

"Golding, do we have any record of who lives in the nearby estates?"

The butler bowed. "Certainly, sir. I endeavour to keep the Social Register up-to-date. There have been sweeping changes as of late." The butler ghosted across the floor and plucked a fat red volume from one of the many shelves. "Here we are, sir. Winter 1814 Social Register." He bowed, and, seeing his master had no further use for him, withdrew.

von Hauke studied the large tome for several minutes, before drawing a stack of stiff gilt cards towards him and carefully beginning to write.


Meanwhile, Mr. Ravenscroft had called in the Head Gardener and tersely issued orders. Now, Mr. McCutcheon and most of the gardeners were at work by the front gates of Hauke Hall, tearing greenery from the ancient walls and gates with billhooks and sulphurous swearing. The noise and activity was terrible, plants groaning as they gave up their hold on ancient stone and men swearing as ivies crashed to the floor. Runners had been sent into town proper, for the blacksmith - to examine the gates and see if they were salvageable - and for any strong and willing lad to help clear a decade of neglect.

8/27/2009 #4
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