Epilogue 6

Exactly at two o’clock we rang the bell at the Embassy and were
admitted to its confines by a junior minister, so junior in fact that
he looked as if he had just left college that very day.
Carole had arranged for us to see the Consul who dealt with all
Asian matters. His name was Richard Fortescue, and I
couldn’t help but think he suited his name down to the ground.
Tall, dark and slim, very handsome with a crisp white shirt and the
most beautifully cut suit with a rose in his lapel. I couldn’t
remember the last time I had seen a man with a flower in his
lapel. Perhaps my father had been the last one.
He greeted us cordially, actually pecking Carole on the cheek.
I hadn’t realized she knew him that well, but there again
Carole seemed to be on kissing acquaintance with almost everyone
we met, and that was a lot of people. She was still very popular
obviously. I decided she really must ask Carole exactly what
it was she did in her job, it seemed to bring her in contact with
some very high up people if Mr.Fortescue was anything to go by.
Richard Fortescue took my hand when Carole introduced
us and spoke in the most dulcet Oxford tones.‘I am very pleased
to meet you Emilia, any friend of Caroles is a friend of mine’.he
said.
I hoped he would feel the same after he had heard my story,
or would he send for the paddy wagon to have me carted off to the
funny farm?
We were shown into a beautiful room, from whose high windows
the sun seemed to be shining, even though I knew it was not.
The walls had magnificent carved frescos and wonderful pictures,
mostly scenes of ancient places painted obviously by great
painters. I couldn’t help but compare it with the National
Gallery, it was quite exquisite, and showed the antique furniture
off a treat.
There was an enormous Adams fireplace in the centre of the wall
facing the windows andI was amazed to see there was a real
fire burning brightly there. As I gasped in amazement and
reached outmy hands to warm them I couldn’t help but remark.
‘How wonderful, a coal fire.’
‘Not exactly, a very good gas replica I am afraid’. said Richard
Fortescue. ‘Smokeless zone and all that you know’.
‘Its still wonderful no matter what it is’. I replied .‘It gives
such a real and wonderful atmosphere to the room.’
‘Can I get you some refreshments, Tea? Coffee? Whisky?’ he
enquired.
‘Tea would be gorgeous’. answered Carole for both of us.
.Richard Fortescue pulled on a long beautifully embroidered bell
pull hanging at the side of the fireplace and almost immediately the
door opened and the young man who had seen us in appeared.
‘Tea for all of us Robert please, and see if you can find something
to eat there’s a good chap.’ said Richard to the already departing
figure of Robert.
‘You never can get much to eat here on a Sunday, most of the
kitchen staff are safely at home on the weekends, its only idiots
like me and Robert who stay to man the fort, so to speak’.he said.
Carole had kicked off her shoes and had curled up in one of the
luxurious brocade chairs, reminiscent of a contented cat, I thought
I sat on the edge of my chair almost afraid to move in
case I damaged it.
In almost no time at all it seemed to me, Robert appeared with a
silver trolley loaded up with cups, saucers, plates, large silver
teapot,milk jug and sugar basin, tiny sandwiches and cakes. I
had no idea how he had managed to gather everything together so
quickly and so thoroughly.
‘Right whose going to be Mother?’ enquired Richard Fortescue
positioning himself with his back to the roaring fire.
‘Robert will you do the honours?’ he asked.
Robert poured the teas and handed round the plates for us to
help ourselves to the refreshments. I had never in my life
seen such tiny neat sandwiches and couldn’t help but wonder who had made them. There were several kinds of cake, the Chocolate
cake looked absolutely delicious, but I was not sure whether
Icould even keep down one of the dinky sandwiches my
stomach was in such a turmoil of emotion.
‘Right now. Who will begin? What is this all about Carole? You
made it sound so mysterious on the telephone. I must admit I was
intrigued.’ said Richard Fortescue.
I gulped on the tiny sandwich, but fortunately Carole spoke
up, and went headlong into explaining everything I had told
her over the last few days, for which I was very grateful, I
didn’t think I would have been able to express it half as well as
Carole was doing.
Richard Fortescue listened silently his eyes never leaving Carole’s
lovely face. Robert on the other hand stared and stared at me,
until I had to look down at my hands with embarrassment. I
did not blame him he probably thought me quite mad.
From time to time Richard Fortescue glanced at me as if to
confirm that I didn’t look totally mad, but he did not interrupt
Carole’s flow. When at last she had finished her narration he turned
his full attention onto me, stroked his chin and said ‘Hmm.’
He appeared to be lost in thought for several minutes, which to
me seemed liked several hours as I listened to the clocks in
the room tick it was so quiet.
‘Right.’ he said as if suddenly making up his mind about
something.
‘Have you any idea at all where your friend Nick is it?Or might
be?’ he asked me.
‘Not really, the only clue is that he speaks the same language that I
spoke whilst in Tibet but of course Tibet is a vast area and
although there are many dialects the people are nomadic so even
people with the same dialects can be many hundreds of miles
apart.’ I felt I was gasping the last few words out because I
had hardly drawn breath in my eagerness.
Richard Fortescue nodded his head. ‘Perhaps we had better have a
dialect’s expert in on this. Professor Hartman at the University I am
sure will help. Robert can you get Reggie Hartman on the phone
for me please?’ he said turning to look at Robert as he said the last
few words.
As Robert moved over to the table to make the requested call,
Richard Fortescue brought his attention back to me. ‘You really
had a rough time of it didn’t you?’ he asked.
I just smiled. He did not know the half of it, I had told
Carole only what I wanted to tell her, I still could not bring
herself to admit to anyone other than myself the feelings of
deprivation I had felt whilst in my prison. I had given Carole
a glossed over version of most events, anything pleasurable of course I had gone into great detail over.
Now I just smiled at Richard Fortescue and said nothing.
Robert spoke from the other side of the room.‘Professor Hartman
for your sir.’ he held the phone for Richard Fortescue to take the
call.
‘Hello Reggie, how you doing old chap?’ there followed a brief
resume of what had been said previously, with pauses in between
whilst he listened to what the Professor had to say. Then finally
‘O.K. Grand, we will expect you in about twenty minutes
then.Chow.’ he handed the telephone back to Robert to replace and
came and sat near me.
‘Old Reggies a grand chap, he is coming over, he wants to hear you
speak the dialect, he’s quite excited, apparently he is working on
something of the kind at the moment and thinks this will fit in with
his research nicely. A real break that, then we are not running away
with his valuable time he is a very busy man, in great demand all
over the World. He is a dialect expert amongst other things, vastly
travelled, but a real good sort.’ Richard Fortescue finished speaking
and got up and refilled his cup from the teapot. ‘Anyone for
seconds?’ he asked.

Epilogue 6

hilarydougill

Co Durham, United Kingdom

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