"Men at some time are masters of their fates."
When the fashionable noble houses had fled their ancestral lands to build newer and better family seats in the capital, the House of Gloucester had stayed put. Lord Gloucester would forever be merely one of a crowd if the family had followed fashion. On his ancestral lands in the Cirenwade district, he was a king. Numerous generations on, Lord James Gloucester currently reigned over a quasi-court comprised of his extended family and local gentry who had outgrown the inelegance of nearby Port Gale. Though he lacked a throne room, the lord's study, a lonely place with no buffer and no escape, loomed as large as any royal audience chamber ever had.
After twenty-eight years of these command performances, Neve still hated to be summoned. It was so often a waste of patience and time. Her father-in-law liked to assert himself, and one method of doing so was to call for a person and then make them wait in the hall. Exceedingly rare was the occasion when a caller was admitted immediately. How many hours of her life had she spent here, pressing her child's hand - usually her son's - between hers and assuring them that all would be well? Her son was in the study without her today. Fortunately, God had blessed her with a wonderful distraction.