In typical me fashion, I need to catch up. William has flown his familiarisation flights which will be told of soon, but first; the Christmas special (yes I know it's January). It's going to be long, so settle in! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lady Alice Stanley, Countess of Derby
Lady Alice stood beside the wide sweeping staircase that dominated the entrance hall of her London town house. As she welcomed her son home, Second Lieutenant William Stanley handed his bag to a servant. Now unencumbered, he rushed forward to embrace his mother’s hand. “William,” Lay Alice smiled, “I am so glad that you have been able to get leave. This will be a wonderful Christmas, with all of my children around me.” “So Edward and Oliver are home?” “Yes. I’m sure that they would want to each give their own news, but both of your brothers are back in England. Victoria is also spending Christmas with us since Neil is overseas.” “How is she doing? William asked. “She blooms, William,” Lady Alice smiled.
Edward Stanley, The Earl of Derby
Lord Derby was just leaving his study as William approached it. In his middle age, Derby was a heavy set man with a moustache that put many people in mind of a walrus. Following behind him was a moustache that was unmistakable. The face that wore it was known across the globe, but it looked ruddier than normal. William caught the tail end of their exchange. “...not enough. They’ll force the prime minister’s hand.” “I cannot stand for it,” the famous moustache gruffly replied. “Bad for the morale... I say. We have a visitor!”
Lord Derby looked up and saw William. “William! Lord Kitchener, this is my second son, William. He is newly qualified as a pilot for the Flying Corps.” Two watery eyes assayed William. “The other twin, eh?” “Yes sir,” William salute the Field Marshall, who returned the salute. “Lord Stanley is my brother.” “And a fine officer in the Grenadier guards, I understand.” Earl Kitchener’s moustache twitched as a thought occurred to him, “A prestigious regiment, much like Horse Guards. What prompted your change to an irregular unit, Stanley?” William had been asked this question before and so had an answer. “As a second son, sir, I must make a name for myself in the world. I joined the Royals because I share my father’s fondness for horses.” Lord Derby smiled as his son continued, “And also in the hope that some of the glamour of the cavalry would help my career.”
Lord Kitchener looked at William with interest. Usually men spoke to him in jingoistically patriotic terms rather than revealing the personal ambition that often lay beneath. William went on, “in the initial movements, we had action, but it wasn’t the cavalry charges that I was expecting. As time went on, I realised that the mantle of the cavalry has passed on to the flying corps. If I want to make a name for myself, then I must do so in a new theatre of war. Namely the air, sir.” Kitchener looked at him in silence for a moment. “So you seek personal glory?” “I do sir.” “Very good, Second Lieutenant,” Kitchener’s moustache distorted in a smile. “Ambition drives men to achieve great things. I wish you success in your endeavours.”
Edward Stanley junior, Lord Stanley of Bickerstaff
Edward and Stanley were not identical twins, but they were very similar in appearance. As William entered the drawing room, the tall, dark haired Lord Stanley of Preston stood from his chair with grin. He was wearing a navy blue sack suit and a moustache that looked like a starter version of his father’s. “Bill! I hear that you have sprouted wings. And I always thought it would be a devil’s horns! Congratulations!” “Thank you Eddie.” William smiled, “Mufti?” “Mufti?” their sister asked from the couch. “What does that mean?” The youngest of the family, Oliver answered from beside the window. “He is referring to Eddie’s wearing of civilian clothes, Vicky.”
the honerable Oliver Stanley
“Yes indeed,” Edward nodded, “I wanted to escape the army khaki for a while. If I can’t do it here, then where can I?”
“Alright. I shan’t report you to the white feather crowd” William teased. “Vicky! You look radiant. How are you?” Mrs Victoria Primrose smiled and touched the noticeable bump. “I’m better for seeing my brothers. Since Neil went to Egypt it seems that my only company is the clucking hens of London society.” She paused to take a sip of tea.
“ Of course, with the season open again, I should rather be dancing. However that is increasingly impractical in my condition. “I do hope that you have your dancing shoes, Bill. Father is throwing a soirée.” She lifted her teacup again and grinned mischievously, “With three eligible sons all home from the war, the debutantes will lay siege to the house!”
The war had strained the traditional London season. Most of the aristocracy’s sons had gone to war at the first opportunity. As the war dragged on a second season had begun and the youth of a generation had remained abroad fighting.
The other aspects of the yearly round of parties and courtly still went on. Mostly. Debutantes had not been presented to the King George at a lavish ball this year, although this did not stop them attending the many social gatherings in the hope of attracting the right sort of attention.
The season wasn’t just a marriage market. Businessmen made connections and put deals in place while politicians wove alliances over the hors d’ouvres. All to the delightful sounds of a string quartet.
As a future Earl, Edward was very popular. William had noticed that more than one young lady’s smile had dropped slightly when she realised that she was talking to ‘the wrong twin.’ However, even the second and third sons of an Earl were quite a catch and both Oliver and William had no shortage of flirtatious glances come there way.
“Oh, but that there were time to dance with them all!” William opined. He had noticed that Edward had spent a lot of time with Sibyl Cadogan. Perhaps one less to dance with.
There was a bump against his shoulder. “Oh! I’m so sorry,” a young woman with her dark hair in a bob and a pastel evening gown said, patting at William’s dress uniform.
There was something about her smile, William thought. A mixture of assurance and nerves. It was quite charming. “It no trouble at all,” William told the young lady. “I don’t believe that we have met. I am William Stewart; the younger of the twins.”
The young lady smiled warmly, “I know. I am Diana Baldwin. My father is over there arguing, I mean debating about conscription with your father.”
William looked across at the huddle knot of conservative MPs stood around Lord Derby. Diana realised that she was diverting the young man’s attention away.
“I say,” she rallied. “Your uniform looks a bit different. Are those wings? Are you a pilot?”
William was happy to admit that he was.
Lady Diana Baldwin
Last edited by Maeran; 01/11/1901:00 PM. Reason: Added a picture of Edward Stanley that I couldn't get to work yesterday