If you missed it yesterday, @wolfinthethorns had some wonderful ideas about John Segundus and Michael Godfrey being estranged siblings. I liked the idea so much that:
Here’s part 2:
John Segundus did not often visit places like these. Places (how to put it politely?) of no morals, where men of a certain stamp could find men of a similar stamp, and together they might discover ways of aligning those stamps in a most satisfactory way. It was, in short, a Molly house.
Poor Segundus feared the danger that accompanied such places: the threat of discovery. Thus he avoided them for as long as he could, living his celibate life in his small scholarly way and taking care not to think of anything that might lead him into longings of a carnal sort.
Alas, Segundus was unable to avoid such longings forever. Indeed, sometimes those longings grew so palpable, so thick, that he was forced to set about satisfying them. Hence this night, when he had felt driven to enter the Molly house, there to find some long-desired male company.
You must not think here that Segundus was an innocent in such places, and yet it must be admitted that he was not entirely au fait with them either. Why, he visited them only once every few years, to relieve his most urgent desires, and then he would quickly pack himself off to his life of quiet solitude once more.
In particular, Segundus was not au fait with the Molly houses of London (for he had been in that city but a few months). Not only did London host several such establishments, but Segundus had not quite expected how large the house he found himself in would be! How full it was of people!
Never entirely comfortable in large crowds, Segundus steeled himself for what must be done. Looking around at the busy room he had just entered, he fancied that he might do well to get himself a little drunk. Then he would choose the first man that showed any interest and gain as much knowledge of that man’s body as was possible in a short space of time.
It was upon the first of these tasks that Segundus set out, and he looked to find a serving boy who would provide him with some wine. As this first room did not appear very promising in that regard, Segundus passed through a doorway into another. This new room contained many candles, a large mirror upon one wall, and a group of Mollys listening to one (rather inebriated) gentleman sing a song about his “Dear Richard”.
Segundus frowned, looked about for a serving boy, and then returned his gaze to the group of Mollys. One of them, with a large blonde wig and a purple dress, had such a compelling sense of familiarity in her face that Segundus found he could not stop looking at her. He did not quite know… He had seen her before, had he not? Surely…
She looked up, and apparently felt that same stroke of recognition, for she did not look away.
They stared at each other across the room.
Segundus was at a loss for what to do. He did not wish to see any familiar faces here, and yet hers was so…
Thankfully, the Molly ended Segundus’ indecision be getting up and walking over to him. She placed a hand on his elbow and leaned close to his ear. “I have a room,” said she.
Then her hand was gone and she was heading to the doorway, and Segundus, blushing, followed.
It seems that the room the Molly had meant was a bedchamber, covered all over with lace and frills. There was a bed, a dressing table, and a changing screen. Segundus shut the door as he stepped through it, and the Molly turned to him. The paint on her face made her eyes look ever so wide.
Segundus, blushing some more, cleared his throat. “I beg your pardon for… but I… your face…”
The Molly nodded, and still looking at Segundus with those wide eyes, she took him once again by the elbow and this time pulled him over to the dressing table, upon which stood a looking glass.
They looked into it together.
“Oh,” said Segundus, quietly, as the reason for his confused recognition became all too apparent. It was no wonder that he hadn’t remembered where he had seen her before; it was not a face that he had ever needed to commit to memory, yet he saw it every day in his looking glass when he washed and shaved.
Her face was his own.
Certainly, it was true that they weren’t exactly alike, but the nose, the eyes, the mouth…
“Is it magic?” wondered Segundus. “But magic is no longer practised anywhere. It cannot be.”
The Molly frowned at him in the looking glass, then stepped away.
“Your name?” she asked.
Segundus turned to her. (And he was still so surprised that he didn’t even think to apologise for not introducing himself sooner.) “John,” said he.
She looked at him with an impatient air, then gathered up her skirts and sat down on the bed. “Your surname?”
Segundus flushed. He had not meant to give out his full name in a place like this.
The Molly appeared to understand his hesitation. “I will not use it against you,” said she gently. “It will not leave this room.”
Segundus flushed some more, but acquiesced. “I am John Segundus.”
The Molly frowned and scrunched up her face. (Segundus found himself wondering if his own face ever made the same strange expression.) “I do not know the name.” She looked at him. “In this place I do not use it, but in my public life my name is Michael Godfrey.”
Segundus took a breath. “Oh! But Godfrey was my mother’s maiden name.”
Godfrey looked at him some more. “Your year of birth?” She removed her wig, revealing a head of black curls.
“1771,” said Segundus. His heart was racing.
Godfrey nodded. “I was born in 1769,” said she.
Segundus thought about it, though he could barely keep his mind upon the figures. “That is the year before my parents were married.”
Godfrey nodded again. “Your place of birth?”
Segundus felt faint. “Kent,” said he.
“Kent also,” said Godfrey.
They looked at each other.
“I have never met my mother or my father,” said Godfrey. “I was raised by friends. Though they weren’t very friendly.”
Segundus realised that he was about to cry only a few seconds before the tears fell. “I…” said he. “Forgive me.” He sniffed and scrabbled in his pocket for his handkerchief.
It was just as Segundus had found his handkerchief and pressed it to his eyes that he felt two arms wrap themselves about his shoulders.
“I believe,” said Godfrey gently, “that you have found a brother.”