A Quiet Fight – An Offer with Breakfast


An Offer with Breakfast

Edward held the bowl shaped champagne glass and nibbled on a canape. A set of young ladies from Cavendish area and were all a twitter about the horrible state of the fashion this year and the awful debutante season that was to come. It was the fourth evening of this that his mother had planned since his return. Other members of the parties politely included him and more politely did not ask about his “year in absentia”. This was also the fourth party to mention the Irish menace. One of the ladies was quiet and watching him. He excused himself, “Pardon me, I simply must have another of these mushroom puffs and my glass need refreshing.” Edward pulled himself up from the crowd and moved by the quiet one.
She said, “My glass need refreshing as well. A moment dears.” She stood and moved with Edward to the victuals table. “They are such dreadful bores. Prattling on about WHO got an audience with the Queen and what some dear man may have done on his service. It makes one wonder whether there is a meaningful thought in the collective group.” She held out her empty glass.
Edward filled her champagne glass and served himself some appetizers. “And what would you consider a meaningful thought?”
She took her glass and extended her hand. “Pamela Weymouth.”
Edward set down his plate and kissed the extended hand, “Charmed. Edward Wayland.” He returned to filling his plate. “What makes Pamela Weymouth a twitter with thoughts?”
She leaned on the table sipped her champagne and looked back into the room, “The decay of English society.”
Edward raised an eyebrow, “That seems rather harsh. The ladies are barely out of finishing school. They are vacuous I suppose but hardly threatening.”
Pamela laughed lightly, “Oh they are harmless. I think more about the laxity of society. Would you believe that the assistant at my dress shop had the temerity to address me directly.”
Edward sipped his champagne and mentally rolled his eyes, “Appalling. Manners and propriety are falling like leaves. ”
Pamela sipped her champagne, “Exactly. Though I am not surprised. She was clearly some foreigner. Probably from Africa.”
Edward stopped for a moment, “I went to school with a number of children of slaves.”
Pamela eyed him narrowly, “I would say that is further evidence of our decay.”
Edward return to watching the tittering young ladies, “How so?”
Pamela said evenly, “It seems odd to me that England should be subsidizing the education of savages.”
Edward filled her glass again, “You intrigue me Miss Weymouth, few would vocalize such a …vexatious position.” He raised his glass, “I found their presence distracting. I would not have viewed them as harbingers of the decline of England.”
She raised her glass in return, “A distraction that served no purpose. Good English folk should have gotten those subsidies.”
Edward took a sip and sighed, “Alas, it seems unlikely things will change back.”
She looked over her glass, “If we were all so fatalistic, you would be right. Not all of us are ready to watch the decline of the Empire.” She waved at the group of girls, “We should return Mr. Wayland, I fear our absence will drag the conversation further into the trifles of society.” She pulled a card out of her wrist, “Join me for lunch tomorrow and we can talk about this further.”
Edward took the card and tapped his brow, presented his elbow and returned to the circle of conversation that had devolved into spring hat fashions.
Edward showed up at the Weymouth house the following day at lunch time. He knocked on the door. A short, stocky balding man greeted him at the door, “Weymouth residence.”
Edward handed Pamela Weymouth’s card to him and one of his own. “Miss Weymouth asked me to visit today.” He bowed, “I am hers to command.”
The butler raised his eyes brows and drawled, “I shall inform…” he looked at the card, “Miss Weymouth of your presences Master Wayland. Do try to contain yourself in the future.” As he closed the door, “We value dignity.”
Edward stood up and looked around, “Value dignity. Overrated I say.”
The butler returned, “Please follow, Master Wayland. Miss Weymouth has arranged a luncheon in the conservatory.” As Edward came in, the buttler relieved him of his coat, hat and cane. He followed the short and stocky man and noted his prominent balding spot. He was led into a large enclosed glass patio full of greenary and statuary. There was a stove on the side that radiated warmth and probably kept the plants from freezing in winter. The air was very humid and a bit stifling. Pamela Weymouth was over by a work bench. She was dressed elegantly saved for the apron and the work gloves. She was working with a made and was repotting a large plant. The butler announced Edward, “Master Wayland, of London[Sydney, 12/7/2016 6:31:21 PM need a borough for Edward’s family].”
Miss Weymouth spoke something to the made and then immediately removed her gloves and apron and came over. She gave a peck on each cheek and said, “Mr. Wayland, I am so pleased you could join me.”
Edward, “How could I resist such an intriguing invitation? Miss Wayland” He looked around, “Very impressive. You keep this all up?”
She took his arm and moved him to the center, “Oh heavens no. This is mostly my mother.” She nodded to the maid who was finishing the repotting, “and they assist. Do you garden?”
Edward looked around, “I never caught the bug. While I was …at the sanatorium, I spent some time in gardens. But nothing this elegant or formal. I find them relaxing but far too much work.”
“Ah well, then it is good I have done a bit of the work so you may relax. If we are to converse, it would be far easier. Please call me Pamela.”
Edward bowed, “A pleasure, Pamela. Call me Edward.”
Pamela guided them to a table at the center of the conservatory. A tea pot and dainties were already on the table. A man servant assisted Pamela to her seat and gestured Edward to his. He then poured tea and asked, “Will sir require any juice?”
Pamela added, “The orange juice is fresh.”
Edward said, “I shall have some orange juice then.”
Pamela added, “Tell cook to get the main ready. I am sure Mr. Wayland is famished.” The servant bowed and left.
Edward raised his cup, “A lovely start. Your staff seems very on the spot.”
Pamela took a sip of hers, “As they should be. I am told we are a prize position. Mother requires stringent references for most positions. And all of our staff must be of good breeding.”
Edward sipped the smoky Assam tea. He pursed his lips, “Your efforts show you well.”
Pamela leaned back and sipped her tea, “I am surprised you have no position yet, Edward. Surely your father has some pull. He is a banker for half the industry of London.”
Edward frowned, “I have been away for awhile and lost touch with society.” He smiled and raised his cup, “I thought it would be better to reconnect before I started asking for favors. Just seems a bit more by the book.”
Pamela smiled, “We need more of you in London. The city is awash with people who have forgotten the niceties of congress. All rushing about making a pound here and there.”
Edward said, “Coming back from a break, it does seem rather rushed. No time to appreciate a cup of tea, enjoy a garden, or a meal.”
Pamela laughed lightly, “such the compliments.” She set her own cup down and said, “having regaled taking time, I must now get to business. I am a member of a group who wishes to return England to her former glory.”
“We rule half the world. The sun never sets…and all that.”
“True…but our cousins across the pond are growing stronger. And Germany or France would crush us in a heart beat and the rest of the continent would be cheering them on.”
Edward shrugged, “Just a bit jealousy.”
She countered and “Immigrants, Irish, and Africans are demanding rights. Rights that working class never should have gotten in the first place. English are meant to be ruled by their Lords and Ladies, their baronets.” She waved her hand dismissively, “Since Cromwell’s ‘Glorious Revolution’ we’ve lost the Americas, the Irish continue to revolt, and we have had to give up our useful labor in the Caribbean. We have become weak.”
“France has tried to conquer Europe …twice and we beat them both times.”
She smiled, “Only because they are weaker. They removed their intelligence with their reign of terror and the purges.”
Edward sipped his tea. And the food and juice arrived. Conversation was stopped momentarily as the servants saw to their needs. After she and Edward had been served she sent them away. “I trust the staff. But somethings are delicate.”
Edward took a bit of a delicious eggs benedict and made appropriate noises. “Oh my, your cook is a miracle worker. The sauce is perfect.” He took another bite, wiped his mouth and said, “Why are you telling me this, Pamela?”
Pamela took her own delicate bite then cleaned her mouth. “I am working with a small group of the right folk who feel like I do. We have a plan, but it will take time, commitment and a willingness to …act severely in the greater interest of England.” Edward shrugged and had another bite. She continued, “You are talented and unemployed.”
Edward said lowly, “Yes, unfortunately my extended break kept me from keeping my commitment, I was recovered after hiring season and, to be frank, other companies weren’t keen on someone like me.”
Pamela said, “A travesty. I know a bit about your time at the university. You were respectable in key fields. A travesty and a ruse to hire less qualified ‘hardship cases’ – foreigners, darkies, Irish and the lot. You would have a job if they were doing what they were supposed to.”
Edward said slowly, “And that is working in the factories.”
Pamela had a bit of fruit. “You sound skeptical. Have I missed judged you?” She eyed him narrowly.
Edward drank his tea. “I haven’t said what you have said in so many words, but…”
Pamela said, “You know they are true.”
Edward said, “Certainly. I should have a job and the job I was going to have has been filled by the son of Jamacian slaves. But, I don’t know about all that folderal about the Greater England. Politics wasn’t really my forte in University.”
Pamela smiled, “The great delusion of engineers is that they believe they aren’t affected by politics.” She leaned in, “Open your eyes Edward. The world is burning. It needs someone to stop the fire.”
Edward said, “And your group has the hose?”
Pamela eyed him narrowly, “In the wilds, to stop a fire you sometime have to burn away the fuel. They call it a ‘back fire’.”
Edward set his cup carefully on the table, “That sounds…risky.”
“It is and it will be. But great risk returns great rewards.”
“Let’s say I am intrigued. I still need a job. What use have you for a chemist and mechanical engineer?”
“Several. We may be coming into some airships soon if all goes according to plan. We’ll need a chief engineer for those. I am told we may have access to some revolutionary fuels. Your chemistry will be invaluable. Hell…If you can aim a rifle, we have a use for you right now.”
“I still have the problem of a job…I am living at home these days. Pater and Mater will expect some effort on my part.”
Pamela stood up. Edward stood as well. She gestured to a path around the conservatory and he followed, “A minor detail easily remedied. I expect something can be arranged to keep appearences. “ She stopped in front of a collection of blooming orchids that held three colors. “If you decide to join us Edward, the commitment will be total. Our operations right now are disrupt the country. Expect a fight.” She turned and eyed him fiercely, “And if I think for a moment you are a risk, I’ll kill you myself.”
Edward paused, “What the bloody hell are you planning?”
Pamela misted an orchid, “Our group has the capability to bring down the government. We are going to take it over and return to a better time when the world made sense.” She looked at him, “We could use people like you, Edward. But only if you are fully committed.”
Edward looked at the orchids, “I’ve heard forest grows out of the decay of its predecesor.” He turned and bowed, “I need to think Miss Weymouth. But I would rather be the new shoots than the dying log.”
She crossed her arms, “When will I know your decision?”
Edward said, “I will have a job and position …for appearances sake?”
She misted another orchid, “a minor detail.”
Edward said smiling, “You’ve promised to kill me if I am a risk. I think it is wise to think about if for a day or two before I say.”
Pamela smiled back, “Don’t take too long Mr. Wayland…and don’t consult anyone else…surely you understand.”
Edward put his hands behind his back, “It is becoming clearer by the minute.” He turned to go and then turned back and held up his finger, “If I were to decide at this moment, I would probably join.” He opened his hand, “That would seem rash to me. And I would not want you to think I am a rash person.”
Pamela laughed lightly, “Mr. Wayland…perfectly understandable. But Mr. Wayland…Edward, if you join us you find out just how rash some of us can be. Make sure you are prepared to act when you need to.” She turned back to her plants, “I will await your decision. If I do not hear anything in the two days, I will assume you found our ambitions …risky.”
Edward bowed again and said, “You will hear from me shortly.” He turned and was escorted to the front door by the staff.

Author’s Note

As written this was interleaved with a scene from Wynn in the Stepney.  This is  a big chunk but by the end, Edward has an offer.  I have almost reached 50K words. I am still fighting with a plot issue in moving the story forward.  Look for more on Monday

 

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