Maria heard the sound of the lorry as David wheeled it into the drive at the side of the residence, beneath her sitting room window. She was nearly to the bottom of the stairs as the butler opened the front door. She watched the Ambassador come in, followed closely by David as she rushed across the foyer.
"Thank God you're safe. I've been so worried." She tilted her head up to receive David's kiss, then melted into his arms.
The Ambassador smiled and sighed. "You two go on up. We'll see you at seven thirty for dinner."
As they climbed the stairs, David asked, "Still no blood?"
Maria shook her head with a wide grin. "Ten and a half days now." She giggled. "You're going to have to handle my mood swings. God, are they strange. Let me tell you about some of them." She led him into her rooms, and they stood in a tight embrace, then kissed deeply.
Later, after a bath, as they lay connected and gently moving under the duvet, Maria asked, "The railways?"
"All three lines are reported to be out of commission. We're not sure yet how seriously; the reports are still coming in." He gave a small pelvic thrust and kissed her forehead. "Let's concentrate on us, on here. Much more pleasant to think about."
"Are you pleased?"
"I'm ecstatic you're pregnant, that we've created a child."
Maria nodded and hummed as tears rolled from her eyes. She squeezed him tighter. "That means so much to me. I awoke this morning thinking you've changed your mind. God! Such strange thoughts. Stupid thoughts I'm getting these days."
"Your mother was telling me about the weird things that happen to women's minds and emotions during pregnancy. It sounds like you're normal from what she said." He gave her another gentle thrust. "We should finish here, then clean and dress for dinner."
"We could skip dinner, David. Stay here and enjoy each other. I miss this so much."
"Mr Grant Duff is expecting us to be there, and he has people for me to meet with afterwards. Also, Willy will be there, and I so want to talk with him about his writing." He chuckled as he gave another pelvic thrust. "Besides, I've barely the energy to do this. I've had only a small sandwich since breakfast."
"Roll onto your back and let me do the work, then." She giggled as she shifted more vigorously.
Later, in the dining room, Maria sat between David and Willy at the table, and the three of them enjoyed a flowing conversation through dinner, mainly about writing, but also about his Lancia. "I l-love the electric s-system. To st-start the engine, I s-sit ins-s-side and p-push a b-button. The l-lights are also el-el-el. They're b-battery-powered, not c-carbide, so I d-don't have to get out to light them."
David nodded as he listened. "That will certainly be easier than the lorry. Are the side curtains wind and rainproof?"
"There are n-no s-s-side curtains. It has a c-closed coach, s-so it's warm and d-dry. You use the l-lorry to deliver w-w-wine? Maria was telling me you w-work at the winery."
"Yes, wine and other things. How fast does it go?"
"It is c-capable of a hundred and t-twenty, but I rarely g-go over eighty." Willie chuckled. "I always think I'm going faster by using kil-kilometres rather than m-miles per hour, anyway. So strange what our m-minds tell us."
"That'll make my travel much quicker. The lorry's solid tires don't like anything over sixty."
After dinner, David sat with the Ambassador, Colonel Picot and Paul Whitely with snifters of Armagnac. "Hans Wilsdorf is looking forward to meeting you on Monday afternoon in Bienne." Paul took another sip of his brandy, then continued, "He's hoping you can make a few sales before the Christmas fever cools."
"There seems too little time for that. Even if I make immediate sales, getting stock to the stores would take until beyond Christmas, wouldn't it? Monday's the thirteenth, and I won't be able to make my first sales call until the fourteenth. That's cutting it fine."
"He's proposed you take a stock with you. My best sales are to the stores near the Army and Flying Corps training centres, and I also sell them directly to the officers. Hans has a fine range of sales literature, brochures, fact sheets and chronometer certifications, all in English, French and German. He's also been purchasing a lot of newspaper and magazine advertising in Germany. You'll find the Rolex name is already well-known and respected there."
"Interesting. Dealing directly with German military officers might give me an opportunity to catch some information."
Paul laughed. "It's not funny. I don't know why I laughed, but you'll be surprised at the information that's given to you. In England, I reprimand the babblers, but you don't have to." He nodded his head and smiled. "Guess that's why I laughed."
David pursed his lips and nodded with Paul. "I can see that. You were allowed into their messes?"
"I've often been invited to set up a table in the foyer or the reading room. Sometimes I'm invited to dine with them. You'll find they want to associate with quality. They want to share with you. It's as if it adds to their power. You'll need to learn every minute detail about the watches, their testing, their precision. Have a huge amount to share, and they'll give back."
David nodded his head. "And showing them how to use the watch as a compass. I don't think many know how to do that."
"I don't." Paul shrugged his shoulders as he looked at Picot and the Ambassador and saw their heads shake. "You're right. Not many know it's possible." He looked back to David. "Care to let us in on the secret?"
David grinned as he unstrapped his watch. "Hold it horizontally and rotate it until the hour hand points at the sun. The line midway between the hour hand and the twelve is south."
"You're a natural with this." Evelyn chuckled and raised his snifter to David. "Share your intelligence, and they'll share theirs. Here's to further successes."
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