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Old Friends and Wartime Acquaintances

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“I can’t let you . . .“ Rose Roberts tried to explain to the fair-haired man.

“British Foreign Office, I think you’ll find everything is in order,” he said, in a clipped aristocratic accent, and flashed some papers at her, brushing past her, past the Telephone Company façade and into the heart of the SSR-New York.

“Excuse me, but I’m looking for Peggy Carter,” he said to the tall man who stepped forward to block his progress.

“You can’t just . . . “ replied Jack Thompson.

“British Foreign Office,” he said, again producing the papers.

Thompson shook his head, in annoyance. “Carter! Some guy from the Foreign Office to see you,” and turning to the visitor said, “You can’t just swan into our operation like this.”

“I’ll think you'll find that I just did,” said the man, and before Thompson could reply, Peggy Carter had joined them.

“Your Lordship!” she exclaimed. “How lovely to see you! What on earth are you doing in New York?”

“My wife’s American publishers finally inveigled her to come see them in person. She’s getting some sort of award, and has to give a speech. We’ve brought our boys, thought they might as well see a bit of the place.”

“Your Lordship?” said Thompson, wrinkling his nose. “Really, Carter?”

"Where are my manners?” Peggy said, glaring only slightly at her boss. “Your Lordship, may I present Jack Thompson, director of the Strategic Scientific Reserve New York offices. Jack, this is Lord Peter Wimsey.”

“You haven’t heard, then,” said his Lordship. “For my sins, I’m actually now Your Grace. Inherited the title not six months ago. You’ll have heard about poor St. George, and I was next heir.”

“I was so sorry to hear,” Peggy nodded. “Howard Stark was devastated; he and the Lieutenant were such good friends.” She turned to Thompson. “A correction, Jack, this is the Duke of Denver.”

“You’re putting me on, Marge. Like in Colorado?”

“Rather more like in England,”said his Grace, severely. “Mr. Thompson, I’m afraid I need to borrow Miss Carter for the afternoon – important Foreign Office business.”

He swept her out of the office.

Once they were out on the street, Peggy asked, “Foreign Office business?”

His Grace snorted. “No. I just thought you might rather catch up on news somewhere that Mr. Thompson wasn’t going to hover over us the whole time. I was so very sorry to hear about Captain Rogers, by the way. I never had the chance to meet him, but my nephew was terribly impressed.”

“Thank you,” said Peggy, and looked away for a moment. Then briskly, “What did you have in mind? Would coffee be all right?”

“Just the thing.”

Angie would be delighted to meet an actual Duke, Peggy thought. “There’s a rather American phenomenon called an Automat, just around the corner. My flatmate works there. Anyhow, I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard the story about the time your nephew and Howard inveigled me to go for a drink. Just one, they said, but of course . . . “