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Lord Phillip Longfellow

        

My Cate knows most of this story, and Moyra knows some, but Lucinda, you asked, and so to pass some of the time while we wait, I shall tell you the tale of Phillip - the more outrageously unlikely it seems, the more likely it is to be true, as my lovely wife can attest.

          I was born in Durham, born simply "Phillip", third son to a cadet branch of a landsman’s family... I was spared the hardships of physical labor by the good Benedictine monk who recognized a burning zeal to learn in the tall thin boy I was. As I grew, I learned bits of several foreign languages and became quite adept at turning phrases and rhymes in English - my head for numbers soon had me accompanying the reeve on shire’s business, and as I grew,various others appended "Longfellow" to my name, both to distinguish me from other "Phillips" and out of a recognition that I would outstrip my humble origins. Came the day the Reeve had my 14 year old self at a port town, and I fell in love... a sleek corvette that whispered of speed, and adventure and daring far beyond what my present then held. I enlisted, and soon proved better with my head than my hands, although I took the time to study well the ways of the saber that officers wore - after a sea cruise, my Captain sponsored me to the Royal Navy Academy prep school, which I was allowed to leave mid-year to join regular classes... having noted the respect which my Captain had paid to his Navigator, it was there that I bent my path, and soon achieved my dream of the time, Navigator aboard one of TRM’s fastest ships!
         

The Captain passed away, the details of which would do no good and so shall not be spoken of, but the officers aboard were suddenly over our heads, and made the best of a bad situation for the rest of the tour... it was this that determined I would never allow myself the luxury of ignorance again, and  so learned all I could about everything anyone would teach me. Of course, verifications from trusted sources were obtained, including some interesting personal experiences...

In due time, I was given a command of my own, then a Frigate as I proved myself, but the bureaucracy and system whereby "nobles" got promoted because their grandfathers were good sailing men began to chafe... I had done more than a few good turns in my time at sea, and had become known among the merchant houses, where I decided to try my hand - the least stuffy of those merchants, Lord Spenser, "liked the cut of my sails", and gave me free rein with his second-best ship to prove myself anew... I’d met his snip of a daughter, all rambunctious and fire, nowhere near proper at all - I should’ve known I was hooked by the depth of reaction she got from me, but my mind was on business. The riding lessons were embarrassing enough without her laughter, but I began to form a plan, figuring that she could laugh in her element all she wanted, I’d find a way to get her into mine. Business boomed, as did our guns on a few occasions, and I’d done everything I felt a man my age could do, but came a quandary - her father was dead, she was being raised by a monastery, and I knew what a proposal would look like - a commoner marrying for money. Come to find out she’d been being courted by a German of questionable ancestry, one "Muerk" by name, who had in fact planned what I was trying to avoid. In my defending her honor, he died. ‘'Twas then the negotiations began in earnest, and a more shrewd business person I’ve not met, but I suspected her true feelings for me when orders were cut for me to move my command to the flagship of the House. As negotiations were concluded, she relaxed and showed the confident innocence of the young girl she will always be. No more laughing at me when riding, now we laugh together, mostly at the horses’ enthusiasm or occasional lack thereof.

More recently, Tours de Grosse: He was in more ways than appearance much like myself, but bolder, louder, sharper in some ways... he was very like me in beliefs concerning nobility stemming from deeds, not blood, in knowing that personal competence is a man’s only value to his fellows, and in knowing that when intentions have been forgotten, results endure. He gave his life to save the life of a woman he could never have, and in telling of his feelings for her, remained true to his own code of honor (and probably, if truth be known, saved my life as well, giving me the only real reason to stay alive when anyone else might’ve given up) He never spoke much of his time away, except to smile and shake his head, almost ruefully. The one time I pressed him about it, he muttered something about love not being enough to feed the family, and damning the meddlers who arranged marriages for status...

Enough of me, and I am sorry my speaking of Tours has caused you hurt - I’m ashamed to admit that when he died, I had no idea what to do with his personal effects... They’re in one of my trunks....

<Noting looks of discomfort on Cate’s face> Dearest?

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Spencer Longfellow
Trading Company