Frances Stuart patted the seat beside her. "Of course," she replied to Alexandra's query. "How is it that you are so known to the Merry Gang?"
Meanwhile, across the room, John was trying to piece a limerick together. "Fork, yes. That could be good." Arthur revealed it as a psuedonym for swiving. "Really?"
"Come come Burgoyne," Rochester called out. "Empires have risen and fallen in the time it has taken you to construct five lines."
"Be kind," Merriweather retorted.
"That's a fine word coming from a person like you," Rochester observed drolly.
John cleared his throat, looking at Arthur for support. "I must preface this by saying I have never composed a limerick before." There were few sympathetic looks from the audience.
"There is a Duke of York ... " he began, hoping to get a nod.
"They say he's talented with a fork." John looked to Arthur to see if he was using the pseudonym properly.
"Um, they say he's dull as a wooden bowl ... " He paused as he thought of a finale.
"And, he's as dangerous as uncooked pork." He almost ended it as a question as he looked for any sign of support.
There was a silence.
"You can tell it was your first limerick," Rochester offered uncharitably.
"I think it a valiant first effort," Sedley proclaimed. "Not as bawdy as we might like, but he touched upon a good theme and was close to delivering a good laugh. Had he another ten minutes, it would have been especially good."
"Yes, I think it both brave and inspired," Frances joined.
"Believe me, there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman is placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard." Edgar Allen Poe