Monday, March 7, 2016


The Dowager stayed for breakfast. It was a warm morning, relatively speaking, January in England can be like that. They assembled in the 'little' dining room, Robert, Cora, Isobel and Violet. Just them. Just the 'old guard.' The 'young set' --- odd to think of them that way when they hold so much power over the place--- had their own social schedule and were already on their way into 'The City.' They  hold the reigns... and no one feels that more than Lady Violet. 

She smiles. She nods. She nibbles at her plate. Most of all, she looks at Isobel... and she thinks about the future. So many weddings and one yet to come, the union of Isobel and Lord Merton... two people from her own generation, more or less, yet still so much a part of things.

Nineteen Twenty six, how unbelievable. The Americans are celebrating their Sesquicentennial. Mrs. Levinsohn sends telegrams. She'll be staying with friends at Greyfaire, on the Mainline for the opening. Some of the family will be there with her. But not Violet. Too much of an ordeal for a seventy eight year old. Too taxing for one who was quite extent during The Sepoy Rebellion. Would that is were not.

She was born into a tumultuous year... eighteen forty eight. Europe was in revolution. Britain sailed ever deeper into The Victorian Age, as the second daughter of an unassuming English baronet first burst upon the scene. They had a house, quite dignified, though by no means palatial and a well kept estate in the home counties. Gentlefolk through and through and stalwart members of the gentry, if not the nobility. But, as Dr. Wayne Dwyer says - Self actualizing people must be what they can be... and the little girl who played 'marauders of the Punjab' with her cousins in the rose garden adhered to that philosophy, even if she'd never heard the actual words.

Violet remembered everything. Weddings bring that out. She stared at the table cloth. Robert said - Are you all right, Mama?.... She smiled and nodded..... Then the new puppy romped in, begging for treats and stealing the show. While all eyes were on the dog, the dowager dabbed hers.

Robert and Cora were having a few notable, local couples in for an almost casual New Year's Day dinner, but the dowager went home well in advance. Isobel left too, but she had her 'intended.' Violet had nothing like that.

With the darkness came the cold. Denker lowered the shades and closed the draperies. Sprat set the table for one. The dowager dined alone. She sat there listening to the wireless. Many people dining 'alone' did that. Sprat would ask - Does my lady have any preference?... The dowager would say - No, Sprat. You pick..... But he knew she liked a show called 'Cocktails With Roger And Adele,' where a well spoken West End theater couple pretended to casually circulate among guests at a London night club, stopping to chat with glossy entertainers during breaks in the music. When it was over, she went into the parlor and sat gazing at the fire. And she thought about the future. Would it truly be a future, or merely extra time? Would it be her dotage, or maybe something else?

Then she got up and went toward the staff room. Sprat held down one end of the long, rustic, polished table. Denker guarded the other. The soon-to-be-celebrated-advice-columnist-butler worked on his magazine piece. Denker drew facial hair on actresses in a movie magazine. Greta Garbo looked quite dashing.

When she entered, her usually bickering henchmen 'snapped too.'.... Anything wrong? - asked Denker.... Sprat just stood there..... Lady Violet said - No, it's quiet in here. Such a lovely change. But I just wanted to say we're three people of somewhat advanced years, that fate has seen fit to put together and how we spend this time is up to us. Sprat, I think you know how much I approve of your new career. There's nothing wrong with the spotlight. I see that now. Enjoy it.... Yes, my lady - went the butler-advice columnist.... And you, Miss Denker, the sun goes down soon enough. Let it be on a clear sky. No more storms, please.... Of course, my lady - said the lady's maid...... Well, that's all - said the dowager.... But before exiting, she thought for a moment and said - Sprat, I'd like to host a luncheon in a week or two. See if you and cook can come up with some menus?... He nodded.... And you, Denker - went the dowager - brush up on your calligraphy, because I want this to be a very special occasion..... Then she left, humming a dance tune all the way.....

That's how it is.....

Just when you think it's over, it's not...

Life, as it always does, goes on.

<more Letters From Downton Abbey next time>


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