A Quiet Fight – Infiltration


steampunk-computer

Fabio Freitas E Silva | Dreamstime.com – Steam punk vintage computer

Return to Society

Edward and Wynn arrived at Du univers meilleur café the next day. DC Beatrice Monroe was there drinking a cup of coffee and talking with Jolene and Stephanie. Edward sat down next to Stephanie. Wynn went in search of Kimberly for a coffee and pastry. DC Monroe sipped her coffee and said, “I understand you have some useful information.”
Edward tapped the table with his fingers and said, “Maybe.” He leaned forward, “Wynn found out a pub that was burned down a couple of weeks ago was being used by some “Chartist” elements. They are…were workers at the Kimberly Airship factory.
DC Monroe said, “You haven’t told me anything I don’t know yet. We believed those fires were connected. Now we know for sure.”
Edward said, “The connection is this. Someone we believe is making a major plot had contact with two main instigators from Dunstable – Cedric Michaelson and Chester Simms.”
DC Monroe nodded to Jolene and Stephanie, “They have been filling me in on those connections. They said you had more.”
Edward said, “Cedric and Chessie were chums and a graduate from Dunstable. Findley Brown. Findley Brown was very close friends with Winifred Stanhope, daughter of Andrew Stanhope…Chief Engineer and member of the board at Kimberly Airship.”
DC Monroe pulled out a pad of paper and started writing, “Now you have my attention. The connection seems a bit stretched.”
Edward sighed, “We know Findley sent…visitors to meet Cedric and Chessie. Cedric and Chessie knew Winifred and her crowd through Findley.” He shrugged, “That is how I know them anyway.” He leaned back, “We may find a connection to the group through Mr. Stanhope.”
Monroe snapped her book closed, “Damned aristocracy …so inbred Stanhope might be connected multiple ways or not at all.”
Edward smiled, “We are that.”
Monroe blushed a little and said, “Apologies…I hadn’t known.”
Edward waved it away, “Actually I’ll take that as a complement. I am going to head back to society for a bit. See if I can stir something up.”
Monroe said, “You should leave the policing to the professionals.”
Edward put on a rich aristocratic accent, “Really Detective…do you think we answer to you?”
Monroe frowned and the smiled, “Slimey bastard.” She tapped the table, “You keep me informed.”
Edward bowed slightly and said, “Within the limits of my role. It would hardly do to have a disgruntled member of the gentry fraternizing with constables.”
DC Monroe hurrmphed but was smiling as she grunted.

Edward stepped away from the carriage, paid the driver and carried his duffel bag up to the door. He banged on the knocker and waited. After a moment, a familiar deep voice said, “Wayland residence…” There was a pause, “Master Wayland…you’re back.” Nigel was shaking his hand vigorously. Nigel shouted into the hallway. “The young master is back.” Other staff came and shook his hand. A young man servant took his bag and Nigel escorted him into the residence. Nigel composed himself a bit and said, “You should have sent a note. You mother is having tea with the garden society and your father is at the office.” Edward walked around the room and looked at the furniture and pictures which had not seemed to moved in the months since he had been gone.
Edward sat in a large armchair. “I suppose I should have. However, I need a little bit before I face the full onslaught.”
Nigel said, “Would the young master like something to drink?”
Edward said, “The young master would like a neat whiskey and I would greatly appreciate a bit of your time.” He waved at the door, “Close the door if you are worried about bad habits being bred.”
Nigel frowned, but closed the door. He poured two moderate servings of whiskey into tumblers. Edward gestured to a nearby chair, “Sit Nigel or I shall have a crick in my neck before I finish.”
Nigel sat and swirled the amber liquid. “I gather your isn’t because you got bored.”
Edward smiled, “Hardly. I was learning a great deal with Mr. Miller and Wynn. My cooking has improved.” Nigel snorted. “Jolene sends her best and says to drop by the Du univers meilleur café for lunch.”
Nigel said, “I thought they were well ensconced in Dunstable.”
Edward said, “They were.” He then related the fight and the loss of the bar. He then told about the relation to the attack on the barracks. Finally he mentioned the potential link to Winifred Stanhope.
Nigel took a drink and then asked, “Why are you back?”
Edward smiled wanly, “Because I am the only one in the group who can get into Stanhope’s circles.” He looked at the coffee table. “I am going to need Mother to set up some parties and meets and get reintroduced.”
Nigel said, “Then you best have a good story as to why you were gone.”
Edward smiled, “I had a bad bout of some dreadful disease. On recommendation of family friends, I went to the country to restore my health.”
Nigel raised his eyebrow saying, “It has the advantage of being nearly true.”
Edward winked and said, “I am back in full vigor ready to be involved society high and low.” He closed his eyes and leaned back, “I hope can survive the entry.”
Nigel raised his glass and said, “I have some idea of your new character. I expect you will survive quite intact.”

Edward finished unpacking in his old room and changed into some dinner clothes and came down. The staff, having made their hellos now moved aside for him as he walked around the house. He had not noticed the motion before and now it seemed annoying. But that was what was required. As he came down his mother floated over, “Oh Edward it is so good to have you back. Your father will be so pleased.” She guided him into the sitting room. She sat on the couch with a sherry.
He moved to the fire place and stood. Nigel provided a drink without asking. He nodded thanks and took a sip. “I doubt Father will be all that pleased. I still don’t have a job.”
“But you are better?”
Edward smiled and said, “Never felt so good in my life.” He straightened up, “Maybe Pater can find me something to do while I am looking.”
His mother said, “I thought you didn’t want to follow him into the business. You thought banking and investment was boring.”
Edward shrugged, “A bit of boring might be the trick right now. And who knows? maybe I will catch the investment bug. At least with banking, hours are regular and I can get back with my old friends.”
“Oh my you really have changed. When you left, you were rather down on them.”
Edward took a drink. He was down on them. His society friends were too caught up to help out. Not that he would have been much good at that point. “Well I am back and you wouldn’t have me lead a life of solitude, would you?”
“Gracious no dear.” His mother looked thoughtful, “The Kiplings are having a dinner and party. There is to be some sooth sayer or some other party favor there. It all sounded dreadful. But it might be a good occasion for you to return.”
The Kiplings lived near Regents Park. “A capital idea Mum. My old coats are hanging a little loose, I may have to get a new coat for the soiree.”
His mother took a sip of sherry and waved her hand, “Nigel will arrange something tomorrow.”
Nigel bowed and said, “Of course, Madam.”
His father came in and handed Nigel his coat and hat. “Edward, your back. Good to see you.” He came over and gave Edward a firm hug. Nigel returned with a drink for the elder Wayland. His father found the cigar box and took one out and lit it. “Damn, I was worried about you.” Edward could see his father’s eyes were red.
Edward stammered, “I did write. It was difficult to explain…”
His father waved the comments away, “I know but it was all so odd. Nigel here has been the soul of your discretion. Wouldn’t breathe a word other than to say, sometimes a man needs some time.”
Edward sat in the chair. The glass in his hand shook a little so he set the glass on a table. “The time away was more debilitating that I thought. I found a private …sanatorium up around Dunstable that was excellent for my peculiar issues.” Nigel smiled into his hand and then waved a discreet finger. Edward took it to say not to embellish too much.
His father paced by the fireplace, “That was bloody trouble, no one had a clue what your ‘peculiar issues’ were.”
Edward said shortly, “I feel much better now…I was hoping there might be some lowly position in your firm for a University graduate. I’ll admit it’s not accounting or business. But I know numbers. And I have a fair good idea where things will be going.”
The subject changed to something his father could expand on, “Investing is a fine profession. Keeps the economy going. Never understood why you didn’t like it before. Kept you in clothes and school. Anyway, they can damn well find a place for you somewhere in the office. We have enough women and foreigners around taking up space. You ought to get a chance.”
Ah. Dear Old Pater back to form. “I would appreciate the chance and I will take whatever the firm can find for me.”
“None of that silly humility boy. I know you can do great things.” He sat down and began to talk about the day, “Today has been hell. The markets are spooked over that damned attack. Seems the Irish are behind it. But they couldn’t pull it off so then the question is whether it was someone else. Then there is the damned war in America killing …absolutely killing the cotton market…” His father droned on about this market and that market. Tedious investors who wanted money out. Edward knew why he didn’t want to be an investor. They didn’t do anything. It was engineers who built things and changed the world. The investors provided money. But that was like saying the workers provided the steel. All necessary but …His father’s accounting of the day and Edward’s drifting mind were returned with Nigel’s announcement, “Dinner is served.”

Author’s Note

There was a chapter before this with Cedric and Chester selling the weapons to the Irish.  I figured that way there would be credence to “Young Irelanders”. But it isn’t very interesting. This chapter, as it was written, alternates between Edward and Wynn. Wynn sets himself up in Kimberly Airships. You’ll see more of that later.

 

 

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