After a couple of days Charles received a wire from Interlaken: When Charles had digested this he happily made a note in his engagement book and then muttered in the presence of Sir Malcolm Bingay's secretary: 'I don't mind okay, but MAKE it... Had he been born half a century earlier he would probably not have been nicknamed 'Stuffy' by his colleagues; perhaps also in those halcyon days he could hardly have escaped becoming an Ambassador or Minister in one of the South American or smaller European capitals.'After you're fifty there'll be something wrong with you if you don't get a Legation,' he had been told on taking up his first post, but his informant had himself been a Minister who had modestly added, in echo of Lord Melbourne: 'There's no damn merit about it that I can see.' But perhaps, if not merit, which Charles had possessed, there had been other things, including luck and a Zeitgeist, that had counted against him; at any rate, he had not been given a Legation, and for the last year or so had been sticking around at the Foreign Office.During such a regrettable but prudent exile Charles had written to his son regularly every week, and once, being on a mission that had sent him across the Atlantic in the autumn of 1941, he had been able to spend a convenient weekend with the Fuesslis at Parson's Corner, Connecticut.
'And perhaps the truth is that some of us in England are TOO old-fashioned... She looked very impish and provocative in such a mood.
for instance, I was twenty-one before my own father ever took me out to dinner.' The Fuesslis looked incredulous. 'Because he'll grow up fast in America —our boys of seventeen are almost men.' Charles thought that this might possibly be true if by men she meant (as she doubtless did) American men; and he reflected again how charming she was, and (with a rueful glance at Mr. 'Gerry dear, wouldn't you like to have your dad take you to dinner in a big London restaurant on your seventeenth birthday? Gerry, make sure you remind him when the time comes... Anderson—remember that.' Charles, basking in the thought that Mrs. Gerald, you and I have a date.' He laughed, and hoped the Americanism did not come from him too solemnly.
For the time being it had been and still would be undeniably reassuring to think of him safe and sound and well fed, while his father breakfasted on Spam and put out incendiary bombs on Whitehall roofs. 'Gosh, no—think of what this place would be like if they let the kids come in alone!
Another thing that troubled Charles slightly during his brief visit to Parson's Corner was that the Fuesslis seemed to have odd ideas of how to treat a youngster. ' 'They look a little tired—the children, I mean.' 'Oh, it's just the drive. Besides, you can't leave 'em at home without a sitter, and you can't always get a sitter, especially on Sundays.' And true enough, when at last their turn came for a table Charles observed that the dining-room was quite overpopulated with children—some, like Louise, young enough to occupy high chairs supplied by the restaurant. ' Charles mused, still grappling with his private astonishment. ' Charles thought of it, and found the speculation indeed appalling.
On the night that Charles arrived at their house it was doubtless excusable that Gerald should be allowed to stay up past his usual bedtime, but it seemed strange to Charles to have to sit at the dinner table not only with his own youngster but with the Fuesslis' daughter Louise, aged three. He noted meanwhile that there was even a special children's dinner at half-price —which Gerald and Louise both ate with relish. Festive but good.' 'Was that where your father took you?
He ascribed it to the kindness of his hosts and the natural good manners of both children that such an extraordinary situation passed without untoward incident. The sea-food, incidentally, proved to be excellent, and the Californian wine that Mr. ' 'Oh no, I don't think Michelet's was in existence then.Anyhow, his career had not been unworthy, and his small dinner parties in various parts of the world had even been notable— until the break in his life that occurred during the Second World War.It was this, when it came, that had persuaded him to send Gerald, then aged five, to spend the rest of the war years in America.Do you remember (no, I daresay you were too young) that time at Parson's Corner when I visited you there and the fun we all had making plans for your seventeenth birthday?Anyhow, I'm enclosing a small gift in case you're still in Switzerland on the great day.Charles and Gerald were placed together in the back seat of the Buick, and the boy, who certainly seemed happy enough, pointed out many local landmarks, such as Woodrow Wilson High, the new Sears Roebuck, and the place where a holdup man had recently been shot in a police chase. 'I guess you have to stand in line for EVERYTHING in England,' said Mrs. 'I believe my housekeeper does it very often,' answered Charles, gently. 'You mustn't think I don't appreciate your taking Gerald with you like this. After all, there's a good deal of ritual in it— how to explore a French menu, the wines that go best with various foods, clothes to wear on different occasions, what people to tip and how much —quite a lot to learn.' 'Don't you think one can pick up things like that without exactly learning them? Charles enjoyed dissecting the joke (for it had always had for him a flavour incommunicable perhaps to those who had not known Lord Curzon professionally); he hoped it might at least convince the Fuesslis that he had a sense of humour. He broke off by adding: 'Please don't think this is an old family tradition or anything absurd like that.