The Duchess Visits The Drinkwaters
I could smell the ocean in the wind as the carriage turned from St. James's St on to Silver Pl. I looked up and out of the canopy into the clear blue sky. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day for Brighton at this time of year, but I certainly was not complaining!
My carriage came to a halt in front of a townhouse, one in a massive bank of Regency style townhouses - all built in stunning white stone. Mr. Piedpiper, who was serving as my general servant and footman on the trip, assisted me from the carriage. I ascended the short flight of steps and rang the bell.
A thin gentleman of about sixty years of age, and wearing a fastidious black suit, opened the door. "Good day Your Grace." He spoke perfect English, but with a slight accent...hmmm...I tried to place it. "Welcome to Brighton - Madame Dowager Drinkwater and Mr. Drinkwater have been eagerly expecting you." Ah ha! That accent - he's of German origin, clearly.
The butler lead me into the townhouse. "Please follow me Your Grace." He looked at Mr. Piedpiper - "You may take Her Grace's bags upstairs to our guest suite - it's the first door on the right at the top of the stairs sir." He lead me through the hall, towards the back of the house, and into a lovely salon. The room was filled with bright sunlight, as the walls were nothing but large windows that looked into a small garden, filled with apple and pear trees.
"Thank you Michael." I turned at the sound of the voice, and found myself presented with a lady of advanced age, yet so elegantly attired. She was petite, almost birdlike in her appearance and manner. Her hair was swept up into a fashionable pompadour, delicate pearls at her ears and throat, and oh! She was wearing the most lovely lace (it *must* be Venetian!) gown. Her smile was warm and genuine - I could not help but smile back.
I stepped forward and clasped her hand. "Madame Drinkwater...it is an honor to meet you at last. Mr. Drinkwater has spoken of you fondly and often." The Dowager Drinkwater replied, "Jean-Jacques has done the same on your behalf Your Grace. He tells me about the 'goings-on' in Caledon, so I feel as if I know you already!"
"Madame Drinkwater, please, call me Gabrielle.", I offered. She smiled and said, "Then I am Camille for you my dear." "And where is Mr. Drinkwater?", I asked, looking about for my dear friend. Madame Drinkwater smiled, "This way dear!" I followed her into the kitchen...and then stopped and laughed at the sight before my eyes.
Mr. Drinkwater looked up from kneading the dough - quite the sight in the shirtsleeves of his Library Militant uniform - "Your Grace!", he grinned, "Welcome to the family home of the Drinkwaters!" I smiled and nodded, "Mr. Drinkwater. You *do* seem to be enjoying yourself!" "Indeed I am Your Grace.", he replied, "I am preparing the Drinkwater Family's Christmas Bread."I removed my jacket and rolled up my sleeves. "Then it's time for me to introduce you to the Throckmorton Family's secret weapon..." Madame Drinkwater laughed and Mr. Drinkwater's eyes widened as I grabbed a bowl and started tossing ingredients into it.
To be continued....