|The Equerry's Hush
Author: cruisedirector PM
It's not his place to speak. A drabble series about the man in the background.Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama - & Bertie/George VI - Words: 536 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 5 - Published: 05-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7005243
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Harold Campbell knows how lucky he is to have his job. It is whispered that Queen Mary got rid of his predecessor for courting a woman.
James Stuart had admired the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore before the Duke did. Now Campbell must pretend not to know that, though he thinks of it whenever he bows to the Duchess.
As the Duke's equerry, Campbell is privy to secrets, overheard conversations, dictated correspondence, one-sided discussions over the telephone. He knows who the Duke calls, and when, and often why.
He is trusted not for his devotion, but his silence.
Campbell glances at the messy pile on the desk. On top sits a half-written letter to the Duke's brother, words crossed out, bottom of the page torn. Campbell's impulse is to straighten the pile, but he knows better than to touch anything.
The Prime Minister has rung again. Whether this constitutes a sufficient reason to interrupt the Duke's speech lessons, Campbell can't say for certain. It's easier to stall the secretary and the man for whom he works.
Campbell can say for certain that if he interrupts the Duke and Logue for less than an emergency, he'll suffer for it.
No matter how disastrous a speech might be, it is Campbell's job to remain impassive. He may offer no words of reassurance beforehand, no comforting jokes afterward.
He can see the Duchess weeping at Wembley. He can't miss the Archbishop's frown at the Accession Council. Yet he is not permitted to react to the Duke's misery nor the dismay of others.
The Duchess once guessed that Campbell's job must be terrible on days when the Duke is in a temper. But in truth, the temper makes it easier. Repressing his own anger stops Campbell feeling the Duke's pain so keenly.
"Tell him that I'm b-b-busy."
He knows immediately that that isn't what the Duke really wants to say, but it isn't Campbell's place to contradict a prince.
"What shall I say if he offers to wait?"
The Duke's closed fist strikes the desk. "Tell him that I'm very busy."
"Very good, sir." It isn't very good, but it isn't Campbell's place to say that, either.
He exits the office, delivers the message. Logue shows no sign of anger; he nods once, thanks Campbell, and departs.
It certainly isn't Campbell's place to tell Logue that the Duke is being an idiot.
After the coronation, Campbell will become Groom of the Robes, a grand title for a more ceremonial position.
Ironically, the elevation will leave him with less access to the man he has served for so many years. He won't know the details of the King's life as he did of the Duke's.
Still, Campbell will be honored with the CVO, and a few years later, so will Logue. Some of the loftier gentlemen at court will scoff at that: an Australian, a commoner, a man with no degree.
Campbell may have to hold his tongue, but silently, he will approve.