Tuesday, March 8, 2016

London in 1927 & 2013 ..Downton goes on ... 3/9/16




They shared a Spartan meal, sliced ham, bread and cheese. At first neither man spoke. They didn't even look at each other. They chewed and swallowed. Daisy silently entered with a pitcher of lemonade and two glasses... cool lemonade, not icy cold as you have it in 'The States.' British people are far too disciplined for that. At least they appear so. But then Daisy left and shut the door behind her. If any other member of the household suddenly needed comestibles, they'd have to make do with whatever they could find in the pantry.

Soft, winter light washed in through the large windows. Bates poured. He offered a glass to the tall, gentleman with the eye patch. The man nodded and drank. Bates just watched him for a bit, then spoke. He said - How long has it been? Since Stellenboch, or Capetown?... The man said - Perhaps one of the lagers? ..... Bates didn't respond... They ate a little more... The man with with the military bearing said - How did you know I was coming?.... Bates didn't say a word. Few knew he paid one of the errand boys to constantly watch the driveway from an upstairs window. The Earl knew. No one else did.... The man didn't press him. He knew better.

The kitchen clock ticked on. Bates winced. The man said - I see you still have 'the leg?'... No response, but then Bates asked - Why are you here? There were inquiries. It's all been settled. It can't be because of the war?.... 'The war' - said the visitor. Do you think those events had anything to do with the war, or do you think the war simply provided a convenient way to hide them?..... Bates just glared.... The man said - Actually, I'm not here on my behalf..... Who's then? - went Bates..... A certain 'connection' of Lord Grantham's. Is it truly safe to talk in here?... Bates went - If I say it's safe, it's safe..... The visitor exhaled and went - Then I'll tell you.... Please do - said the 'fixer.'.... The visitor nodded - While stationed at a post north of Durban, Lord Grantham had a certain dalliance with a girl..... Is that supposed to shock me? - asked Bates.... Whether it shocks you, or not, is immaterial to me. I'm just here to relay the facts - said the man..... Bates listened..... The man went on - This wasn't just any girl. She was a Bantu girl, a Zulu, rather high born too, 'House Buthalaisy' and all that. Oh, those people are not without a certain level of political power, even in South Africa..... And? - said Bates.... There was a child. She had a son, a bright handsome lad too. Here, let me show you.... And he passed a photograph from his breast pocket to the 'fixer.'... Bates studied it. The bone structure was very much the same. There was no denying that. Even the hair had a certain similarity. What he saw was a younger, light brown (although skin color is hard to tell from a photograph), slightly tweaked edition of Lord Robert. How earnest he looked..... Then he slid it back and said - Tell me more..... The visitor smiled - He's here. The young man is in London..... More power to him - said Bates. But he has no claim on the estate, being illegitimate and 'all that.' We can't help you there..... Can't you? - said the visitor. You've probably pegged me for a solicitor by now. Certain people hate this house and they have reasons. Should the truth come out and by the way, the truth about Lady Edith's brat too, it won't be pretty.... If you don't mind, how do you know about that? - whispered Bates.... Oh, come on - said the man. You have your ways. I have mine...... They sat in silence..... Then the visitor said - Not in residence, I suppose? The family, I mean.... Bates shook his head..... Well, where could they be? This is January. I know English practice. They're in London for 'the season.' Am I right? How fortuitous - said the visitor. Gives you time to think. My God, how many scandals can this place take? And that includes you too. Well? The balls in your court now.... Bates sighed... The visitor, the man with the slight Afrikaner accent softly laughed. Then he took another slice of ham... and laughed again...

CUT TO - The dowager's house.

Lady Violet and Denker sit across the French writing desk. The dowager talks. Denker writes.

Ah, yes. We must include the Pembrokes. Publishers, you know. Quite respected in the City, Edinburgh too. The old man's retired, but the son's very active in the trade. One of the first peers to openly and eagerly engage in 'business.' Not bad to have him in our pocket. The social climbing little snot will probably go berserk with glee. Put him down. Put him down. Put him down. I'll find the address. He's part of it too.

Denker scribbled....

Oh, goody goody! I can see it now.. the dinners, the working lunches. All we have to do is talk? The stenographers will take it all down? Is that what they're called? Is that how it works?.... Yes, my lady. So I'm told - went Denker. The literary whirl is quite new to me....And I as well - said the dowager. That's why it's so much fun! Do you suppose Roger and Adele might interview me on the wireless?.... Oh, undoubtedly - went her henchwoman.... Well, I too can play 'the Churchill' - chuckled the old woman...

And that was that...  'Lady Violet's Literary Salon and Luncheon Society' born....

While in London, other things began to happen...

<more from Downton Abbey next time>

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