You see, Sir Richard and his 'silent partner,' Lord Castle-Ross kept close watch on Lucas. If they lost him, they'd lose the whole thing. What proof would they have? So they tailed him day and night. A few days back, when he stopped Lady Mary in the street, or when he did the same to Lord Robert, they knew about it. Such things only helped move the plot along. But as Carlisle and Castle-Ross were watching Lucas, Mr. Bates was watching them. Few realized the Crawley's employed one of the best 'fixers' around. Most thought he was simply a dedicated valet. Well, he was, though that was simply his cover. John Bates did his job well. No fuss. No noise.
It was easy to find a nice looking creole gentleman of indeterminate race in London, the Empire's a very big place, after all. And when he crossed the lobby of a certain respectable hotel and exited through the front door a certain dapper, business type surrendered his leather club chair and fell in behind. Ten minutes later, the real gentleman in question, Lucas, came down in the lift and exited a side door. That's how he gave them the slip and wound up at Lord Beryl's office. Bates wasn't even there when it happened, but he has people too. Look, if you want to succeed in the world, 'people' are nice to have.
So now Lucas was on a mail flight to Calais, en route to his ship. Seven days hence he'd disembark in Baltimore, spend a week or so being tutored in the fundamentals before boarding a cross country luxury train for Los Angeles. 'Hollywood' is a wonderful place, indeed...
And to say that the Carlisle / Castle-Ross plan was in disarray might be a bit of an understatement, for those in the know swore that Sir Richard Carlisle had what appeared to be a minor stroke, thus freeing his notorious, press-lord friend to gleefully ruin another prominent family. The working classes ate it up. What other revenge did they have?
Life went on at Grantham House and Lady Cora never knew a thing. Tom and Henry commissioned the team at a highly recommended 'machine' shop to draw up plans for their soon-to-be luxury motor car, the Branson-Tolbert 'Dragon.'... Of course they might only make five B.T. Dragons in all of year one and subsequent cars would be by order only, but the estate took care of day to day expenses. Any profits would be immediately plowed back into the business... a sweet deal and it just might work. Long and sleek... a 'sporty' town-car sedan, available in dark, glossy gun-metal, midnight navy blue and ebony. Next there'd be a meeting with Count Cosimo di Lorenzi for coachworks and interiors. Then the fun begins.
Up north, in 'The Abbey,' things were happening too. Lady Violet's literary salon took off. There were weekly teas (like casual dinners) and the dowager really detested the informality of it all, but such was life. Memories poured like wine and before long they had more than enough transcribed reminiscences for a year of monthly runs in some magazine or another. Her mature colleagues hinted at Lady Edith's publication, but the Dowager Countess of Grantham wasn't sure they were ready for such notoriety, though deep down, she rather liked the idea... 'The Age of Innocence' English style, but true in every way... She chuckled to herself. Denker asked if she wanted a charcoal pill and got a dirty look for her concern. What business was it to these salon types how her digestion operated? If only Denker understood such things.
Thus was February, 1926, with The Crawleys... a close call... some exciting business news and a bit of potential media fun.
Martha Levinsohn's as yet unannounced springtime visit was still two or three months in the future... a sudden regret at missing the weddings and a need to see her great-grandchildren, you know.
Once she discovered that Lady Mary was expecting, who knew how long she'd stay? At her age, she'd want to see the birth.
But by then they'd likely all be crazy...
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