@butternuggets-blog Baldwin is a pilot in ww1 with the call sign “Copper Prince”. Matthew finds this out. They’re in a pub. Matthew nearly dies laughing.
“It’s hardly the Ritz!” Baldwin regarded the small village pub with snobbish disdain.
“Lighten up,” Diana rolled her eyes, “the kids need to stretch their legs and I need some tea.”
“Honestly Baldwin,” Matthew chuckled, “you are such a snob. It’s meant to be a nice drive through the Scottish countryside.”
“We could have taken the plane, it has windows, we can easily see the scenery from there.”
“It’s not the same,” Diana laughed, “besides, Douglas is expecting his second child any day now, we insisted he take at least a few months off to help at home.”
“I can fly a plane, don’t know why we even keep a pilot on retainer.”
“You can fly?” Diana asked, stunned.
“Yes, I like to keep up with my certification, designs have changed much since they came into being. I could have shown you, and gotten to Osborne’s home sooner had flying been an option.”
“Pip, Pip, they have swings!” Rebecca squealed with delight, grabbing her brother’s hand to pull him to the play area.
“Kids, don’t rush off.” Diana sighed.
“It’s fine,” Baldwin shook his head, “I’ll watch over them, cannot imagine this place has anything I would want.”
“Alright,” Diana shrugged, linking arms with her husband and leaving the children, both pulling their uncle towards the swings.
“Mmm,” Diana sipped at the comforting warm tea, “I needed this.”
“Wine selection could be better.” Matthew grumbled.
“Now who’s the snob?”
“Apologies Ma Lionne,” he gave a respectful nod, “at least the children are happy.”
Diana turned to see Baldwin push both on the swings.
“How was Hamish, last you spoke to him?”
“Um, a nervous wreck, but deliriously happy at the same time. Nathaniel and Sophie will be presenting young Margaret for flower girl duties with Becca tomorrow and Thomas’ nephew will be accompanying Philip as usher.”
“They’re going to look precious.” Diana squealed, suddenly aware of a commotion in the pub by the window.
“Dad,” the bartender started with gentle coaxing, “you know you’re the last member of your squadron, remember, we went to Harry’s funeral a couple of months back.”
“No,” the elderly man retorted with firm confidence and hobbled over to a photo on the wall, pulling it off to hand it to his son, “you tell me that isn’t him.”
Sighing, the man carefully looked at the photo and vaguely glanced out of the window before doing an obvious double take.
“See?” The old man stated smugly.
“My God, he has to be a relation, grandson maybe, it’s uncanny.”
“He is the total spit of Benoit.”
“Merde.” Matthew swore under his breath.
“What is it?” Diana asked, unsure of the problem.
“A recognition, we didn’t have it as much before but its become more difficult with things like photos and film. He knew Baldwin from the war.”
“So, what do we do?”
“We can’t let them meet, we need to distract the old soldier.”
Matthew took a deep breath and approached the man and his son.
“Excuse me, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation, and I just wanted to tell you that you are right. Baldwin’s grandfather was a pilot. My name’s Matthew, I’m his step-brother.”
“Would explain why you don’t look very much alike.” The man held out his hand for Matthew to shake, which he accepted.
“No, we do not, but I am very familiar with the proud military history of our family. Oh, and please let me introduce you to my wife, Diana.”
“It’s a pleasure,” Diana beamed, “could I-“ she stopped, thinking of how to delicately ask the next question, “I’m a bit of a history buff and would be honoured to perhaps take a look at the photo?”
“Oh yes of course dear,” the elderly man cocked his head in the direction of his son, instructing him to hand it over, “doesn’t he look so similar.”
“Yes,” Diana managed to contain the amused gasp, “not so much with the moustache though.”
The older man laughed.
“It was a bit dramatic, even for that time,” he admitted, “but Benoit was one hell of a pilot, there wasn’t an enemy gunner who didn’t wet themselves at the prospect of facing ‘The Copper Prince’ in a dogfight!”
“I’m sorry, the what?” Matthew summoned every inch of control not to combust with laughter.
“Yeah, he hated it but too bad you don’t get to pick your call sign,” he shook his head, “we got the idea from the girls in the postal barracks, always swooning over the handsome prince with the copper hair. They made up all sorts of ridiculously romantic backstories for him. Really, we knew very little about him so for all we knew they may have been right.”
“Could I perhaps snap a quick photo on my phone, I’m sure Baldwin’s mother would like to see her father as a young man?”
“I insist!” The soldier returned and Diana ignored the side-eye Matthew was shooting her as she snapped the picture and included every member of the family in a group message with strict instructions that Baldwin was not to know.
She had her time planned.
“You needed me for something?” Baldwin joined Diana in the room made up for the children.
Both twins were in bed but still listening intently to Diana’s story.
“Not me, these two insisted you sit in on the latest bedtime story, which you are interrupting.”
“Alright,” he shrugged, taking a seat by the door, “pray continue.”
“Thank you,” Diana turned back to the children, “where was I?”
“Oh, the prince didn’t want the room full of silver-“
“Yes that’s right Becca,” Diana praised, “because he wanted more. So, the enchantress offered him a second door and when he stepped through, the room was full to the ceiling with gold and precious jewels.”
“Accepting a high instant return is always more advisable that gambling an unknown, of course he too it!” Baldwin rolled his eyes.
“But he didn’t,” Diana smiled, “if the first room had silver and the second had gold and jewels, just imagine the riches beyond the third. At least, that’s what he told himself.”
“Then he’s an idiot.”
“No, he was greedy, even when his wife begged him to take it the gold he swore to her on his thick and manly moustache that the third door would be worth the risk and so he took it.”
“What was in the room?” Baldwin asked, surprisingly involved in the tale.
“No silver, no gold, no riches,” Diana sighed dramatically, “as soon as he crossed the threshold he was transformed into a bronze statue.”
“See, I told you, never go for the unknown quantity. He’s an idiot!” Baldwin snorted in derision.
“He was,” Diana admitted, “but that’s not what his people called him after that.”
“What did they call him?” Philip asked with interest.
“Ask your Uncle,” she smiled widely, teeing up her shot, “what would you call a prince who was forced to spend eternity as a copper coloured statue.”
“The Bronze Buffoon?” He offered to giggles from the children.
“Good suggestion but no, they called him,” she looked between the twins before fixing her brother with an unwavering stare, “the Copper Prince!”