Tuesday, 4 January 1916
Maria ran to answer the knock on Tuesday morning, speaking through the door as she approached it. "Yes?"
"Miss Maria, I'm to inform you that the chauffeur has just left to fetch the Ambassador from the rail station."
"Thank you, Alice. Please tell the butler we'll be down shortly."
"Very well, Ma'am. Is there anything else I may do for you?"
"No, that's fine, Alice."
"Thank you, Ma'am."
Maria turned and headed back into the bedroom, giggling as she approached the bed. "You're up for more? I thought we had just finished."
"The sight of your cheeks as you trotted toward the door."
"A quick one, then. They'll be here within the half hour."
Twenty minutes later, they sat on chairs in the foyer and watched as the entire household staff was assembled and inspected by the butler and the housekeeper. David leaned and whispered in Maria's ear. "This is so like the Army. The discipline, the pecking order, the inspections."
At the knock, David and Maria stood and approached the door; then they greeted Evelyn and Edith as they entered. After hugs and kisses, Edith said, "We'll go up and refresh. I'm so pleased you've returned early. I've so much to share. Will you join us for lunch?"
"I will, but the men may have matters wanting attention at the Embassy."
Edith glanced over at David and Evelyn talking quietly off to the side. "I suspected something from his concern on Friday. So difficult to get answers over the holiday. What is it?"
"A loose cannon. Henry's replacement. David says the staff have him pretty much under control. Once they realised."
"Evelyn will soon have that sorted." Edith turned back to Maria, her face beaming as she took her hands. "It's happening, Maria. They've all agreed, and Henry's been put in charge."
Maria looked askance for a moment, then she mouthed a silent scream, her eyes stretched wide. "The prisoners? They've agreed?"
"Yes, and the first should begin arriving within a few weeks. We've much to do."
Maria took Edith's hands to her lips. "This is like another dream."
"We need to do all we can to make it real. And we will." She looked again at Evelyn and David. "But we have other things to discuss. Come, accompany me as I go up to refresh. Tell me about your wedding, your Christmas."
Evelyn paused as he watched the women head up the stairs. "Best we go over to the Embassy and sort this out before it goes too far." He signalled to the butler.
"Inform Jacques we need to be driven to the Embassy immediately."
"Very well, Sir."
"Oh, and telephone Miss Hutchins to have her tell Colonel Wyndcom not to go to lunch. I'm on my way over, and I wish to meet with him."
"Very well, Sir."
Evelyn chuckled as he watched the butler leave. "And I don't even have to dress." He lifted his hat in a gloved hand. "Scurry up and get your coat and hat so we can get this resolved."
A quarter hour later, David sat in the Ambassador's office telling him about his meeting with Mr Lloyd-George when there was a knock on the door. "Come in."
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