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“I wanted to talk to you too.” John said, as David followed him into the drawing-room. “Leave the cards.”

“OK.” David threw another log on the fire and they settled themselves. “Let me go first.”

“What’s up?”

“Switzerland - I spoke to Uncle Jack on the phone today and suggested you for Assistant Registrar. That’s if you’re still keen? The only thing is, I thought you might go in the autumn, but there’s a bit of a problem and they need someone sooner. What do you think?”

“I’d like that, but maybe - I think Rix needs help here. If I were around, he could go back to surgery…”

“He’s getting an estate manager. The san’s done well and the best thing you can do is go out there and make sure it’s going to do well next year too. Rix said he was going to mention this to you when you spoke this evening?”

“He didn’t really get chance. OK - if you’re sure he’s going to be able to cope. I suppose I could come out for six months, or whatever it was you said.”

“Oh, yes, just until Christmas. Uncle Jack was thrilled, he suggested you have some rooms at Freudesheim. Look - there’s some problems with the current Registrar, he’s the husband of Aunt Joey’s pal actually… We knew her in Tyrol. He’s ill and needs to take some time off. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, he’s a nice chap, but he could do with a bit of time. Some things have been allowed to slip. Uncle Jack’s stepped back quite a bit now, and it’s being run more or less by Reg Entwistle - you know, Len’s husband. He and I don’t always agree. Since Dad’s been in Australia, I’ve had to get more involved, as you know, and I really can’t miss the opportunity to get someone I trust in there. Do you understand?”

John looked at him, feeling in his pockets for his cigarettes, despite his desire to stop smoking. “You want me to spy for you.”

“Steady on, old man! Not quite that! I’ve seen how you’ve sorted the estate office and all the orders and rotas. Rix told me how much easier everything is now you’ve done all the admin. You even found that funding.”

“It wasn’t hard, Rix just didn’t have time…”
“I know. Look, we’ve always been pals as well as cousins. I wouldn’t ask you to do this if I didn’t need you. Now listen - Rix has Mary-Lou, and the kids. Don’t take offence, but what has Lyndhurst promised you? I know you went there this afternoon.”

“He hasn’t promised me anything. What do you mean?” John was curt.

“Is he the reason you want to hang around here?”

“He lives in London. He doesn’t spend much time here.”

“Apart from when you were here, then you couldn’t keep him away from the place. OK - pax. It’s none of my business. If there’s nothing keeping you here, will you go to Switzerland or not?”

“If it really is just for six months and if Rix is getting an estate manager - I will. I want to know everything before I go though. I’m not walking into problems I don’t know anything about.”

“I’ll probably come out with you. We can travel together. Have you ever met Entwistle?”

“Once or twice. I can’t say he made a bad impression.”

“I don’t know what Uncle Jack’s promised him, but I’m the majority shareholder, after Dad anyway, and I want to know a bit more about him before he ends up running the bloody place.”

John gave in. “I knew I’d be spying for you. OK - fine. I’m sure he’s decent enough. Rix gets on with him.”

“Rix takes every waif and stray under his wing. You and I are different; more choosy with who we pal up with properly. Apart from this Lyndhurst aberration.” David grinned. “I’m joking. He’s all right. Arrogant though.”

“I thought he was too, at first, but he’s not.”

“What did you want to talk about?”

“It was about Daniel,” John told his cousin everything he’d discovered that day and his conversation with Fred Brentford. It took a while to cover everything but David was patient.

“How awful. I did hear something about this when we were studying, but I’d forgotten about it.” David looked thoughtful. “I knew his parents were dead. I worked with him when I was training.”

“He wanted me to know but I don't really see why…”

David understood people. “He wants a life with you. Listen, I don't have a problem with how you are, despite what I've said in the past. I've homosexual friends. I'm going to offend you again but are you sure you can support someone with so much past unhappiness? You've been through a lot - he should support you.”

“Anyway,” he continued immediately, “You said he’ll be in the States until November and you'll be in Switzerland. I know I’ve got a vested interest, but you can use the time to figure out what you want. If I were you - and you can ignore this advice if you want - I would write to him and then say you need time and space to think. Don’t rush into a decision. Have a bit of life - not that the Platz is very lively, but there’s the Casino in Interlaken and you could do some travel at the weekends.”

“That would be good.”

“You could even go back to the Tyrol. The Maynards have a holiday house.”

John nodded. He barely remembered the Tyrol, but it might be interesting to go back. David wished him good night and went upstairs, leaving him to write to Daniel, which he did, frowning over it until the fire burnt low and he could address it for sending the next day.

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