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DV Fic - A Gentleman's Education

Title:  A Gentleman's Education

Synopsis: Young Thomas and young Leonard have something to celebrate.

Warnings:  This much saccharine is probably detrimental to your health.


The agile, well dressed young gentleman bounded up the stairs in great haste casting a mischievous look towards the college porter.

“Good morrow to you, Master Doughtie.   " ‘Ave you come to visit Master Vicarye?” enquired the porter.

“Good morrow to you, Stevens.  I have indeed.  Know you if Master Vicarye be yet arisen?” the young man replied.

Stevens liked young Master Doughtie.  Having been porter at St John’s College for more than sixteen years he had seen many fine young lords and gentlemen come and go at Cambridge but it was his firm opinion that Thomas Doughtie was a young man of great distinction and most excellent disposition.

“I think, Master Doughtie,” he replied with a smile, “as it be an ‘oliday today Master Vicarye ‘as decided to take ‘is time ‘bout rising.”

“Verily,” said Thomas, “then I must put remedy to this, for today be not only the finest of summer days and a holiday but also Master Vicarye’s birthday and I would make good use of it to its fullest.”
 
Thomas continued his assent of the stairs to the upper floor where Leonard Vicarye occupied a small suite of rooms and arriving at the door slightly out of breath he knocked loudly to rouse his friend.  Leonard had indeed been taking his time about rising and when he opened the door to Thomas he was still dressed in his night attire with a cloak hurriedly draped around his shoulders; his hair showed no signs of having benefited from any attention this morning.

"Wherefore all this commotion and haste Thomas, be the building afire?” asked Leonard as he stood at the door.

Thomas entered the room without invitation. “Nay, Leonard, there be no fire; but what manner of greeting be this my friend, when I have come to take thee on an outing for thy birthday!” said Thomas in reply, a broad smile lighting up his face upon seeing Leonard so informally presented.

“My birthday, Thomas? But surely the celebrations are set for this evening at the tavern in the high street,” protested Master Vicarye.

“Verily Leonard, but the whole day be thine and I do wish to share the fullest part of it with thee,” said Thomas, “so to this end I have caused to have prepared a hamper of fine victuals for our sup and reserved a trap to convey us to Midsummer Common for our leisurely enjoyment of this day.”

Leonard smiled and acquiesced,  in truth he could think of no better way to spend his birthday than with his friend young Doughtie so while he dressed for the day’s outing he left Thomas to occupy himself browsing the shelves of his sitting room.

Leonard’s rooms were cluttered with books, pamphlets and assorted paraphernalia collected over the more than three years of study at the college; a sharp contrast to Thomas’ rooms at Trinity College which were always scrupulously tidy and well ordered.  There were many differences between the two young students both in upbringing and expectations, but they had become firm friends since meeting at Cambridge.

Leonard Vicarye was the third son of a gentleman from Honiton in Devonshire.  With no prospect of inheritance and only a small annual income he needed to find an occupation that would provide him with a living suitable for a gentleman.  He had decided upon a career at law and was now completing his final year at Cambridge before commencing his studies at the Inner Temple in London.

Thomas Doughtie, in contrast, was the eldest son of a gentleman from Surrey.  His father had died leaving him a considerable fortune but also the responsibility of two younger sisters and a younger brother.   It was a hefty burden for a young gentleman of his years and he undertook this duty seriously.  At seventeen he was in his second year at Cambridge and had a keen interest in a diverse range of subjects; Latin, Greek, Poetry, Philosophy and Rhetoric being among his favourites.

Leonard completed his toilet and the two friends departed the college in the trap which awaited them at St John’s Gate.   The dappled pony, its platted mane festooned with flowers in celebration of the holiday, moved at a leisurely pace along the road to the Common and  the driver whistled a merry tune while passersby waved and called greetings to the two friends as they proceeded. 

It was Midsummer’s day and there were many revelers already on the common enjoying the fine warm weather.  Thomas had taken a good deal of trouble in his preparations and had chosen a site near of copse of oak trees on the edge of  the common where they could observe the festivities without being unduly disturbed by them.  Removing the hampers from the trap Thomas dismissed the driver, tipping him handsomely for his efforts and instructing him to return later in the afternoon.  He spread a rug beneath a gnarled old oak which provided ample shade from the warm summer sun and lay out the contents of the hampers he had ordered to be prepared.

Leonard looked on with a bemused expression until Thomas, with an exaggerated bow declared, “Today, my good friend, I am here to serve thee. Sit thyself here beneath this tree and we shall partake of this fine repast in celebration of thy birthday.” 

Leonard laughed heartily and made his own exaggerated bow in response to his friend saying, “Why, never before have I had such an extravagant feast spread so daintily before me, Thomas.”

The two friends enjoyed the fine assortment of foods which Thomas had provided.  Pies, bread, cheese, fruits, sweetmeats and marchpane and jugs of red wine were in abundance. They chatted amiably at times or quietly enjoyed the sounds of the music and merriment drifting across from the further reaches of the common.  A gentle breeze stirred the leaves of the old oak and the crickets chirruped happily in the soft summer grasses and meadow flowers around them.  From time to time the sounds of other celebrations reached them; laughter, singing, and the gasps and cries of appreciation as the jugglers performed their feats. 
                    .
As the sun climbed higher and the day warmed further the two young men lounged languidly beneath sheltering oaks.  Leonard leaned back against the tree and let the pleasures of the day wash over him, satisfying all his senses.  The warm summer breeze that caressed his face; the soft perfume of the wildflowers crushed beneath them; the taste of sweet strawberries lingering still on his lips; the exotic pattern of the old tapestry rug etched vividly in his mind when he closed his eyes and the melodic resonance of Thomas’ voice as he read from a book of Chaucer; all these indulgences melding to create his perfect day.

Leonard looked across at Thomas as he read.  A shaft of sunlight penetrated the leafy canopy and illuminated his young friend’s face, the soft fringe of his eyelashes casting long delicate shadows over his well defined cheeks.  Leonard mused that Thomas showed every sign of becoming one of the most beautiful young men at Cambridge; an attribute that would do him no harm if he wished to find a place at court.  The Queen had, after all, an eye for handsome men and Thomas’ looks combined with his wit and grace were certain to bring him to the attention of his Sovereign.

After a time Leonard turned to his friend and said, “Thomas, I do thank thee for this day, I can remember no birthday I have enjoyed half so much.”

Thomas’ pleasure at hearing this could not be disguised as he replied, “’Tis but a small repayment for thy kindnesses to me, dear Leonard. Thou didst take me under thy care when first I did come to Cambridge as a shy and gauche lad. Thou hast been the truest friend that I have e’er had.  I will miss thee sorely when thou hast taken thy place at the Temple.”

“Ah, Thomas and I shall miss thee also.  But certs thou canst visit me at the Inn and mayhap, when thou art completed of your studies here, thou wilt join me at the Temple and take on also the study of law,” Leonard replied with sincerity for it had been on his mind much of late that he would greatly miss his dear friend when he left for London in the autumn of this year.

“Visit thee I shall without doubt, and ‘tis possible also, Leonard, that I will study at the Temple, though I must confess that I am possessed of the desire for adventure which I fear will not be sufficiently sated by the study of law,” Thomas replied offering Leonard more wine.

As Leonard sipped the wine he thought back to the day he had first met young Doughtie.  The boy had just alighted from the coach from London.  Small and thin, so very, very thin, his dark hair and his huge dark eyes an astounding contrast on his milk white skin, he looked younger than his fifteen years.  He was immaculately dressed, Leonard remembered, his garments of such fine quality he was unmistakably the son of a well to do gentleman.  The boy stood proud and to his full height but his long delicate fingers clutched a cherished copy of Cicero just a little too tightly to successfully convey the image of maturity and self confidence to which he aspired.   Leonard, recalling his own first terrifying days at the university, wasted no time in making the young man’s acquaintance and welcoming him to Cambridge.

His friend had done well at the university, Leonard thought, with just a hint of possessive pride.  Thomas had grown in stature and confidence and now at seventeen he no longer had the look of a gangly youth.  He was tall and while still lean he was well muscled and projected an air of strength and confidence.  He studied hard, spoke well at disputations and was a most able swordsman.  Leonard had no time for weapons; he was by nature a peace maker, his talents lay in negotiation, but he admired the grace and skill of his young friend with a rapier.  Master Antonio Scarlini, the Italian fencing tutor, considered Thomas his prize student.

And young Doughtie, it seemed to Leonard, lived up to his name in all he did.  He was forthright and generous with his friends, respectful of his betters and considerate of those of lesser standing.  He did have, however, an alarming habit of speaking the truth and of not backing down when he believed right to be on his side; a habit which had on more than one occasion earned him a sound thrashing from one or other of the masters and the admiration of his peers.  Leonard, waiting outside the master’s room, would wince at the sound of each stroke but Thomas would remain silent, bite his lower lip, focus his dark eyes on some imaginary distant point and give no ground.  At the conclusion of his punishment he would bow politely to the master and take his leave, his dignity in tact. Study for the next few days would be conducted standing at a lectern in the library of Trinity College.

At length Leonard’s reminiscences were interrupted by a question from his friend.   “Tell me Leonard, what be thy plans?  How dost thou envisage thy life unfolding?” Thomas asked in a quite serious tone.

“My circumstances be right different from thine Thomas, as thou knowest,” Leonard replied after a moment’s thought, “I must need obtain a living from my studies at law.  I will work hard and hope to be called to the bar to practise law at the completion of my studies at the Temple.  If I can provide myself with a sufficient income then I shall take a wife.  A pretty young lady with an ample bosom and an equally ample dowry would be my preference; then I would purchase a house in London and fill it with a dozen children.”

“A dozen children, Leonard!” Thomas exclaimed almost choking on his wine.

“Aye, indeed, a dozen a least for I do believe that it is in large families that true joy is to be found.  A household of happy children and a pleasant wife to spoil with gifts and posies would go well towards fulfilling my life’s ambitions.   But what of thee Thomas, you have already the responsibility of a brother and two sisters, what dost thou wish for thy future?” asked Leonard in return.

Thomas did not need to give much thought to his reply, “I, Leonard, I would travel; to France, to Italy, to many diverse places.  I wish to experience life in some other great cities -Venice, Florence, Paris.   There is much of the world I would see beyond fair England’s shores.  And I would have adventures Leonard; mayhap I will go soldiering for our Sovereign Lady and our country if I be needed.  And then, one day if God would have it so, I think that I also would seek a pretty young gentlewoman for my wife.  But I had not thought to have half so many children as twelve!”

Thomas and Leonard laughed and talked more of adventures and dreams until the air began to chill and it was time to make preparations to leave their idyllic site.  Suddenly Thomas exclaimed “Leonard, when I have completed my studies here and perhaps a year or two at the Inner Temple then thou couldst join me on an adventure before thou settlest to family life.  What sayest thou Leonard, shall we two not go adventuring together?”

“Aye, Thomas.  That sounds a most excellent plan.  We shall indeed go adventuring together!” agreed Leonard who was now in such a mellow mood that he was like to agree with any plan whether it be stealing oranges from the Chancellor’s private garden or plundering Spanish gold on the high seas.

“Then let us make a pact, dear Leonard, that we should complete this bargain and thou canst write the contract ‘twixt us that we can thereupon put our names and seals,” suggested Thomas brightly. 

Leonard laughed putting his hand upon his friend’s shoulder and said, “Oh, Thomas.  I think such friends as us need not a contract of paper to bind our promises to one other.” 

For a moment Thomas sat quite still looking thoughtfully at his friend and Leonard feared that he had insulted the young gentleman, but eventually Thomas said quietly, “Thou art, of course, quite right my friend.”  Then leaning forward he kissed Leonard lightly upon the lips.

The kiss was delicate, chaste.  There was nothing carnal in this unexpected response; just an innocent expression of gratitude that Thomas, despite his new found poise and eloquence, had been unable to voice to his friend.  It was a sweet, fleeting gesture but for Leonard time suddenly stopped; the very globe itself seemed to have shuddered to a halt leaving his head spinning on detached from reality.  When he opened his eyes Thomas was sitting back on his heels, his head tilted ever so slightly to one side, looking earnestly at him.  Leonard blinked and wondered momentarily if the kiss had even happened; perhaps he had imagined it; the effects of too much wine and a too warm day.  Then Thomas smiled at him shyly and in that instant Leonard Vicarye knew that the pact had indeed been made and he would follow Thomas Doughtie to the ends of the earth, and back, if that should be his friend’s desire.

 

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
entropy_house
Jul. 26th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
Awww, with all the bitter in our fandom, we can stand a little sugar, too. And I love the illustration. :^)
nautile26
Jul. 26th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
It's hard to think of young Thomas and young Leonard being anything but sweet particularly as depicted in Manga style. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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