Lord Lipton sat in his library a few days later and mulled over the card that was in his hand. To be sure, Lord Lipton was fond of explaining and understanding text, but the card that he was holding defied expectations. So, rather than to fret and worry about it, he decided to await the arrival of the man himself.
He did not have long to wait. A gentleman stepped into the library and introduced himself with what was likely a false name. Lord Lipton noted it but did not question it.
“What brings you here,” Lord Lipton asked.
“Like everyone else, I have been interested in what you had to say about your life and views on various subjects.”
“That’s good to know, I suppose.”
“I imagine you do not know who I am.”
“I do not, and your card did not necessarily make anything more clear, but I suppose that is by design.”
“You suppose correctly. I hope you are not offended.”
“I am familiar enough with your line of business to know that you only reveal who you are to who needs to know, and I do not suppose I need to know.”
“I’m glad you have the right philosophy about such matters.”
“Is it curiosity alone that drives your visit here?”
“It is not my only motive.”
“Well, what are your reasons then, at least those you are willing to acknowledge. Let us lay them out.”
“I have two main purposes in talking with you. The first was to ask a few questions relating to the statement you made to the House of Lords and which was then published. The second was to convey some information to you that you might be curious to know.”
“You have piqued my curiosity.”
“I am glad for that. Let us begin with the second one, because it is the shorter one. I would like to inform you that the various libels that have been written about you will no longer be written. The people who have written them have agreed that it was not only incorrect but also impolitic for such things to be written. To be sure, many of the people involved in printing and distributing the material were unaware of your true character, and you can rest assured that things will be made right on that front, though you have admittedly made that task easier yourself with your open behavior.”
“I am glad to hear that.”
“I still have some questions, though.”
“Go ahead and ask them.”
“You are aware that the Hanoverian monarchs have often had a tense relationship between parents and children, are you not?”
“I am aware it, but I must admit that my knowledge of and expertise in court politics is admittedly limited.”
“Do you have any kind of alliance with any members of the royal family?”
”I do not.”
“Are a you a client of the king or of any of the royal dukes?”
“I am not.”
“Are you seeking such clientage?”
“I am not.”
“Are you hostile to any of them?”
“I am not.”
The man scratched his chin thoughtfully. There was a bit of silence. “I am to assume that you are particularly interested in royal politics?”
“I am indeed asking questions because of that interest.”
“Well, you can rest assured that I have no desire to entangle myself in court politics. I am a patriotic man; I will support and sustain the well-being of England and its rulers, but I have no desire to get involved with any arguments that are between them.”
“I can certainly respect that. I trust that if I have any further business to discuss with you that I will be welcome to come by and visit?”
“I see no reason why you should not free to visit so long as you desire information that it costs me nothing to share.”
“Very well then. I hope that we will only meet under friendly circumstances.”
“I hope the same,” Lord Lipton answered sincerely, and with that the interview was ended. The gentlemen exited the library and tipped his cap to the servants in the hall before leaving the house and returning to his usual business, aware that Lord Lipton was, as he had suspected, no threat to his own political interests or those of his associates. This did not mean that he would not pay attention to the Viscount, but only that the man was clearly not going to be the subject of any particular operation.
Lord Lipton’s thoughts were less sanguine but ultimately not hostile either. He took the gentleman to be someone who was deeply involved as some sort of agent of someone in the royal family making sure that the interests of the crown were upheld. Whether he was representing the king or the crown prince or one of the other royal princes, he did not know, but it was ultimately irrelevant as Lord Lipton was not closely tied to the royal family, and if he could help him he would not be.
Before too long, Lord Lipton had a much more surprising visitor. It was Mr. Sandwell, the local vicar.
“What brings you here, Mr. Sandwell.”
“I would like to tender an apology to you.”
“Have you written it down or would you like to convey it verbally?”
“I wished to convey it to you verbally. I am sorry that I was unwilling to come and visit you because of my fear about my own reputation and your own character.”
“I am glad that you feel my character has been vindicated.”
“I would also like to apologize for any reference to you personally that you took in my late sermon.”
“I am not offended and have no grudge against you.”
“I appreciate your charity.”
“It is your job to caution members of the congregation about the sins which they may fall in. I had urged you to do such a thing so I cannot be angry at you that the first time you followed my advice I happened to be the implied object lesson.”
“I do not know if very many people would have been so charitable, especially among the peerage.”
“You are probably right about that. All the same, you happen to be fortunate enough that I felt no personal attack from you and will not judge you accordingly.”
“I trust you will continue to be a loyal member of the parish?”
“I have no plans of moving elsewhere. I will send winters around here as long as Parliament is in session and then spend my summers at home in Yorkshire. I do not know how many trips I will make coming and going because it takes more than half a week to go each way during the course of a year, but I see no reason why I would attend a different congregation.”
“I appreciate your kindness.”
“You are very welcome.” And after Lord Lipton bid Mr. Sandwell farewell, he sat in his library and wondered what unexpected guest he would next have, but fortunately for him there was no such guest today.