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Downton: May 1894


Cora sat up in their dark bedroom and quickly realized it was still the middle of the night. She had been sleeping rather fitfully these last few days. It was just so hot in their room tonight, and when she had turned over for what seemed like the hundredth time, she found that Robert was no longer asleep beside her.

"Over here," he whispered.

She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the dark room and saw that Robert had pulled a chair over to their now open window and was fanning himself rather forcefully with the book he had been reading earlier in the evening.

"Did I wake you, Cora? I just needed some air. It's stifling in here." He stopped fanning to look at her and wiped his brow before standing and returning to sit on the bed beside her.

"No, no. I'm not at all comfortable either, Darling. I've been tossing and turning all night. Was it this warm last night? How ever will we last through the summer?"

"Well, that's an English summer for you; we'll be lucky not to melt before September. If only we could get a blasted breeze through the window," he said with a frown. "I had half a thought to ring for Carson to bring some ice, but I suppose it would melt before it could be brought all the way up here..."

"Perhaps we should make some minor readjustments?" Cora smiled at him before looking mischievously at the pile of blankets on their bed and swiftly kicking them all off with a single movement of her legs. They both dissolved into a fit of laughter before collapsing on their pillows in resignation. Even without the blankets, their room was still incredibly warm and if the last few weeks of weather were any indication, it would likely be getting worse.

"Robert," Cora turned onto her side to face him before continuing. "Hear me out before you answer; I have an idea that I think perhaps could solve this predicament we seem to find ourselves in."

"Cora. I've already told you, we absolutely cannot have a swimming pool dug out behind the house. My mother would certainly not allow it."

"Robert! That is not what I was going to say," she said with a playful swat to his arm. "No, I have a much grander idea than that." Her playful grin worried Robert (as that grin usually accompanied her most elaborate ideas), but he said nothing as she paused for dramatic effect before revealing her idea.

"I think we should go visit my Mother in Newport for a few weeks or maybe even months."

"Cora-" he tried to interrupt but before he could answer, she forged ahead still enthusiastically trying to explain her master plan.

"Just hear me out, Darling. We could travel by steamer to New York and then be to Newport soon after. The sea is so lovely at this time of year, and there are just the most wonderful parties all summer long. Of course we would stay at my Mother's, she would just be over the moon at the prospect, and it would give Mary the chance to see America and visit with her Grandmother."

Cora was sitting up now, looking down at Robert expectantly, and already knowing her Mother's summer-house was likely the last place he would want to spend a few months vacationing. Yes, Robert was always diplomatic about these things, but after being married to him for six years, she could nearly always guess what he wanted to say before he actually said it. She held her breath, though, hoping perhaps he could still be convinced.


Robert was about to tell her that perhaps the fall would be a better time for a trip, or next spring even, but looking up at her, her eyes so full of hope and excitement at the plan she had clearly given so much thought, he could not bear to disappoint her. After being married for six years, Robert too knew just about everything Cora was thinking, and he knew she would not have asked unless she really wanted to go. Perhaps Newport was not where he had envisioned spending his summer but if it made Cora happy it would be worth it.

"I think that does indeed sound like a grand idea," he said, smiling up at her. "Perhaps they will even have a swimming pool for you in America." Robert chuckled as his smile became more mischievous and he pulled her close to kiss her gently, feeling her sigh contentedly against his lips. Even though they were both quite warm, Cora settled happily into his arms before leaning back a bit to look at him once more with a slightly skeptical look.

"Do you mean it, Robert? Really, you want to go, truly?"

"Truly. If your grand plan gets us out of this room then I am all for it. Besides, Mary would be thrilled at the prospect of such an adventure, don't you think?"

"I do." Cora replied with a smile.

They both grinned at the thought of their little Mary who was fast asleep at the other end of the long hallway. Though she was only two, she was already quite the force to be reckoned with and was never one to turn down an adventure, much less the very grown-up prospect of traveling as a lady on a steamer to visit her Grandmamma (who had not been to Downton since her birth, years before). Mary would no doubt be excited by the news of their trip.

"Alright Darling, it's settled then. I will speak to Carson in the morning about procuring tickets for Mary's nurse and for the two us. I suppose we'll need my valet and your lady's maid as well? Perhaps you could write to your mama tomorrow to confirm some dates. I think we should travel sooner than later, lest we all spontaneously combust from this heat!"

"That all sounds perfect, Robert, thank you. But, I may have already mentioned some dates to my mother and she said she would be thrilled for us to come anytime." Cora kissed him once more before rolling out of his arms with a grin and fanning herself with his book.

"Oh, well then should I have you procure our tickets as well?" He asked, laughing at her careful planning. "I suppose we can just discuss everything you and your mother have planned in the morning. Shall we try to get back to sleep now?"

"Oh it's no use, I cannot sleep in this room." Cora was still fanning herself as she sighed before hopping out of bed with another grin.

"I've just had another grand idea, Robert."


Robert sat up again to look at her, and as he did, he again noticed a mischievous flicker in her eyes.

"Yes. I think I'll fill the bath with some cool water." She said, smiling coquettishly at him. "Would you care to join me?" She grinned at him once more before tuning toward the washroom door and looking over her shoulder at him in question.

"The bath?" He repeated before blinking in realization and nearly leaping out of bed to follow after her. He tossed off his nightshirt and stumbled on the heap of blankets she had kicked to the floor earlier before grinning widely and calling after her.

"Cora, you've just had the most wonderful ideas tonight, Darling!"