Whitworth staggered in response to the volume and enthusiasm of Sir Lionel's greeting.
"Oh, I am sorry, my dear fellow." Sir Lionel sensed the reason for Lord Whitworth's reaction. "One never knows whether you're plugged in or not."
Whitworth regained his composure. "The state of my hearing is of no interest to anyone but myself and the National Health." "But you, sir, are another matter. You, sir, and your...behavior." Whitworth rose from his chair.
"Oh, dear," Sir Lionel responded meekly, "Have I been all that outrageous?"
Whitworth studied his companion as a schoolmaster his most disobedient pupil. "Rose-Crofton, I think it's time we had a chat."
"By all means, old chap. By all means."
"Man-to-man," qualified Whitworth .
"Oh my," Sir Lionel said, intrigued by his own interpretation of Whitworth's tone, "sounds absolutely erotic."
Whitworth was unamused. "For God's sake, man, do take your mind out of the gutter."
Embarrassed by the reprimand, Sir Lionel followed Whitworth to a more isolated corner of the sitting room.
"Just how long do you intend to continue this habit of bringing foreigners to the Royal Derby?" demanded Whitworth with a bluntness that caught Sir Lionel by surprise.
"Foreigners? I'm afraid I don't quite follow."
"That Yank," pressed Whitworth. "What about that Yank?"
"Yank? Oh, you mean Walter Teasdale! Lovely chap. I must introduce you sometime. He's with the...Oh dear, I never can get it right..." Sir Lionel hesitated, searching his memory. "...The Association--yes, that's it--Association of American Newspaper Publishers...or something. Very influential group. We were going over the itinerary for my trip to the States."
Whitworth, shocked by the revelation, lowered himself into the nearest chair. Sir Lionel followed his lead.
"They're having me over to observe these 225th Anniversary festivities of theirs. And look here," he said, directing Whitworth's attention to his souvenir pin, "the official celebration emblem. Isn't it charming?"
"Charming," Whitworth responded sourly.
"I expect I'll be sending back at least one column a week. And then, most likely, one big story on the Princes' visit. It's all terribly exciting, of course. I mean being in the field again. You know, Alfred, it's one thing to publish a daily, but quite another to really get out the news."
"News!" Whitworth exploded with indignation. "You call this news?!" He thrust The Citadel under Sir Lionel's nose. "Now really Rose-Crofton! Just how many front-page stories do you intend to run about that...birthday party? And in red, white and blue yet! Really!"
"Yes, it is striking," Sir Lionel said naively, Whitworth's intended criticism having escaped him. "That was my idea, you know. My editor adored it! You know they're using colour all the time in the States. Even the New York Times has been doing it for some years now. Mind you if it's not the most important advance since movable type..." Sir Lionel leaned back in his chair with an air of tranquility. "My, but it will be lovely being a reporter again...lovely."
Whitworth jumped to his feet, pulling loose the arm of the chair onto which he had gripped with increasing anger as Sir Lionel spoke. "Striking..bah! Why the nation itself has existed for only two hundred and twenty-five years! Where's their tradition, man? And for history--why they've barely a past to celebrate!"
"Oh come now, Alfred," admonished Sir Lionel. "That's just plain silly. What about Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress, Lexington and Concord? What about George Washington, Nathan Hale, Madison, Franklin, Thomas Jefferson?"
"Anarchists!" Whitworth snapped. "The whole lot of them. Look here." He approached one of the busts on display about the sitting room. "My great, great, great grandfather, the first Earl of Gloucester. An advisor to the Crown! A founder of this very club! Why he spent years trying to civilize the colonies. And how was he repaid? With the humiliation of having to stand by helplessly while those ruffians poured cases of good English tea into bloody Boston Harbor! Confound it man, if it's history you want, just look around you." Whitworth motioned toward the momentos that lined the walls. "There's your tradition! Wellington, Kitchener, Haig, Marlborough! Over nine hundred years of history and leadership. Why not spread that across your blasted front page? Instead of America, America, America, why not print something that shouts This is England!"
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