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Chapter 6

The Welcome Home

The flight from Sydney to London was uneventful other than the excitement of first time fliers trying to look out the windows not wanting to miss anything. Lord Helmsley's chauffeured limousine was waiting at the airport as Michael and his group arrived. The luggage, which there was plenty of considering the number of suitcases Eve brought would be sent to the Helmsley estate known as `Dove's Lake' later.

As the limousine pulled into a gated entry onto a long tree lined drive, Ian turned to Michael, and asked if this is where he grew up as a child. Smiling Michael said, "Yes this is home, and I can't wait to see mother and father again."

Eve asked how they should address his parents when they meet. He told them it should be Lord Helmsley and Lady Elizabeth upon meeting them but said his parents will say they wish to be addressed as Robert and Elizabeth. "We're quite informal at home so just relax and enjoy yourselves. You'll find my parents are a delightful loving couple."

Michael looked at his friends and started to laugh. Ian gave him a punch and said, "What's so funny?"

Still laughing Michael said, "You all look like you're going to meet the executioner rather than my mother and father."

Eve said, "Of course we nervous Michael it's not quite the same as meeting the owner of the local pub you know."

They all laughed and relaxed a bit until the car rounded a curve approaching `Dove's Lake' which was a sprawling home that was several stories high and appeared to be something the Queen might summer in.

Peter asked, "Why are all those people standing by the door?"

Those are a few of the servants; they are there to greet you along with Mother and Father. Michael took Ian's hand and realized he was trembling. Ian turned to look at Michael who leaned in and winked before kissing him. That seemed to calm Ian as the car pulled to a stop.

Michael stepped out followed by Ian, before Michael could introduce Ian Lord Helmsley pulled Ian into a bear hug saying how wonderful it was to finally meet the man who won Michael's heart. "I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to settle down."

Before Ian could respond, Lady Elizabeth took his arm and gave him a good looking over before saying, "I believe you are the most handsome man I have ever laid eyes on, no wonder Michael fell head over heels in love with you."

Ian said, "It's good to meet you Lady Elizabeth..." she interrupted saying, "None of that around here, you're family now so it's Elizabeth and Robert." She then gave him a warm and welcoming hug.

Michael made the rest of the introductions and within minutes Ian, Eve, and Peter were relaxed and chatting as if they were all old friends. He thought, "Thank you mother and dad, how did I get so lucky to have been blessed with such thoughtful parents."

Minutes later, Lord Helmsley and Lady Elizabeth hugged their son for the longest time knowing he was safely home and happy.

The staff was excited to meet everyone and thrilled to have Michael home again. It was obvious that Michael had been missed by everyone.

Dove's Lake was exquisite and Eve, Peter, and Ian couldn't wait for a tour of this remarkable estate that has been a part of the Helmsley family for generations. Conversations continued late into the night before they were shown to their rooms. Michael's mother inquired quietly of Eve if she and Peter would be sharing one room or would they require separate bedrooms considering they weren't yet married.

Eve blushed as she explained they would need separate rooms, Lady Elizabeth spoke to one of the maids who directed Eve and Peter to their rooms. Preparing for bed Peter opened the door to his left that opened to a bathroom. After stripping down to his shorts he washed and brushed his teeth, turning to go back into his room the door on the other side of the bath opened and there stood Eve dressed only in her robe.

Eve said, "How did you get in here?"

Peter grinning widely answered, "Through this door from my bedroom."

Eve said, "There must be some mistake, we could easily go into one another's bedroom."

Peter gave Eve a quick kiss on her lips as he winked, "I don't think there is a mistake, but I'm sure there is a lock on your side of the door if you're worried that I might take advantage of you during the night."

Eve checked and saw that indeed she could lock the door that led into her bedroom. Looking back at Peter standing in his shorts she started to giggle. Peter asked if she hadn't seen a man in his undershorts before.

"Yes, of course I've seen Ian in his shorts many times but never in your condition."

Peter looked down and realized he was fully aroused. He grabbed a towel quickly covering his embarrassment as he stepped into his room closing the door behind him.

Eve knocked lightly saying there was no reason to be embarrassed we'll soon be husband and wife. Standing on the other side of the door Peter answered, "I know Eve, it just caught me by surprise, I hadn't realized I had become aroused."

Eve giggled again, "Well now I doubt I'll get much sleep."

"That will make two of us Eve. Good night sweetheart."

Eve replied, "Goodnight darling."

Michael and Ian were up early and dressed for a casual day, Michael suggested that Ian knock on Eve's door to see if she was awake and Michael did the same to Peter's room. Both were dressed and ready to get their day started. One of the staff arrived and told Michael that his parents were downstairs and breakfast would be served shortly.

They were seated in what could only be described as an elegant dining area that looked out on what appeared to be miles of gardens. Elizabeth greeted them with a cheery good morning. Michael said, "Good morning mother and father." The others said good morning Lord Helmsley and Lady Elizabeth. Robert stood and said in a very gruff tone, "The very next person who doesn't address us as Elizabeth and Robert will be made to sit in the corner."

Ian, Eve, and Peter laughed and agreed to do as they were told.

Later Elizabeth asked Eve if she would like a tour through their home. Eve of course was delighted. Robert excused himself and asked Michael if he would mind giving his friends a tour of the grounds since he had a few things to attend to before joining them.

It turned out to be a wonderful day with everyone enjoying themselves immensely. Eve and Elizabeth had really hit it off, and all the historic information Eve learned about Dove's Lake thrilled her. Robert asked Peter what type of farming he was into, when Peter said he was a sheep rancher and had just finished shipping a load of prime wool to the Scotland and London mills Robert almost came out of his chair.

He asked Peter what area his ranch was in and what marking he used on the wool that he shipped. Peter explained that his wool was all marked P.H Wool and seemed to be in great demand; in fact he said he had more orders than he could fill.

Robert got up and walked over to Peter and shook his hand. "Young man your wool is the most desired wool in the United Kingdom." Our sheep have had a serious illness that has left the locals with a very poor quality of wool. May I inquire as to what you're charging per bundle?"

Peter gave Robert the desired information and Robert slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. "Peter, I want you to raise your price three fold immediately, the wool mills here in London will pay that and be happy for it."

"Peter said, "You think I could actually get that much per bundle?"

Robert laughed, "In three months I suggest you raise the price again; the mills here claim the wool they get from your sheep is the best they've ever seen."

Michael had a big smile as he thought to himself, and I bet good enough to get Peter knighted by the Queen, considering wool is the main fabricate used throughout the United Kingdom.

His mother said, "Michael I've seen that smile enough to know that you have a scheme percolating in that over active mind of yours. Want to tell us about it?"

Michael put on his innocent expression and replied "I had just been thinking of what a wonderful day we've all had together."

Smiling at her son Elizabeth said, "And you know Eve and I will figure out what you're up to don't you?"

Michael returned his mother's smile as he thought, "I doubt that mother, but I know you'll give it a good try."

Eve started laughing, "You folks are a lot of fun, and you obviously know your son, he's pulled that same innocent smile on all of us more than once."

Michael's mother said, "Wait until you meet Queen Elizabeth, when she and Michael get together its every man for himself, those two can make you crazy with their mischief."

Eve looked stunned. "We aren't really going to meet the Queen are we?"

"Why yes dear, Elizabeth called this afternoon, we're all invited for a formal dinner this Wednesday, didn't Michael tell you?" Lady Elizabeth gave Michael that same sly smile he had given her earlier."

"Now mother, how could I have told anyone since you've only now just told us, he returned his mother's smile with a look of such innocence in his eyes that it was hard not to believe he didn't know."

Ian, Eve, and Peter just kept looking back and forth as Michael and his mother traded innuendos, none of the others being aware of what was really going on between them other than it was a game of chess between mother and son and it was obvious they both loved the challenge.

Robert coughed a couple of times before saying, "I never know what's going on so I don't bother asking. Would anyone care for a game of billiards?"

Eve had been sending daily letters home by airmail to her father and aunt keeping them abreast of what was taking place in London. Today's letter was informing her father that they have been invited by Queen Elizabeth to a dinner Wednesday evening at Buckingham Palace, that bit of news would send Mildred Thompson into fits of jealousy.

What Eve was unaware of is that the local paper has been filled with stories of Peter Holbrook, Eve and Ian Thompson's stay at Lord and Lady Elizabeth's Dove's Lake Estate just outside of London as the guests of Lord Michael Helmsley.

Their Aunt was already at her wits end trying to explain why she did not accompany her niece and nephew to London. Michael had been sending telegrams keeping the paper informed of events as they happened which had everything to do with the coming event of the Knighting of Peter Holbrook by Queen Elizabeth II.

Wednesday's event arrived with Lords and ladies, Earls and Dukes of various families joining the occasion. The Helmsley's and their guests were seated in the place of honor next to the Queen and Queen Mother. Eve made a mental note to ask Lady Elizabeth about the placement of guests wondering why the Helmsley family seemed to be the most prominent.

As the evening went on Michael saw his opportunity to turn the conversation in the direction it needed to go. Before he could make his move Lord Robert Helmsley stood to make an announcement concerning one of his guests staying at Dove's Lake. "I have discovered that one of my guests is responsible for single handedly keeping the Kingdom supplied with the finest wool available for the last two years. I wish to propose a toast thanking Peter Holbrook for his great service to her Majesty and to the nation. Please stand and take a bow Peter."

Peter stood and thanked Lord Helmsley for his kindness. It appears Michael had been out maneuvered by his father.

Queen Elizabeth then rose and announced that Peter Holbrook would be knighted for his loyalty and kindness to the Crown in providing the much needed wool that possibly saved the United Kingdom and her citizens from suffering severe illness throughout our cold winter seasons. Queen Elizabeth then said, "Peter Holbrook will on this day, January 20th. 1954 be henceforth known and addressed as Sir Peter Holbrook."

The guests applauded and congratulations were given to Peter, the actually ceremony would be held privately.

Robert leaned over so he could whisper in Michael's ear, "You didn't think I knew what you were up to did you son."

Michael laughed, "You caught me totally off guard, you and mother are the best, I love you both so very much."

The look of surprise on Michael, Ian and Peter's faces convinced Eve that this was a complete surprise to them as well as her. What she didn't know was that the surprise to Peter, Ian, and Michael was Lord Helmsley's unplanned and unexpected involvement in their plan.

Eve reached Peter to give him a kiss and congratulations. As Michael and Ian walked up to Peter; they all looked at each other oddly and said, "Well that was a surprise."

Eve thought what a strange thing for them all to say, of course it was a surprise, or was it a surprise; well something surprised all of them. Why am I questioning something so wonderful, I can't wait to write father and Aunt Mildred and tell them all about everything that's happened?

The following week Sir Peter said that he needed to get back to Australia, His friend Quinn and nearest neighboring sheep rancher had his son Martin taking care of Peter's ranch. Martin was good kid, but leaving him in charge too long wasn't necessarily a good idea. Michael made flight arrangements for Peter and Eve to fly home the following Thursday. Eve's father said he would meet them at the Sydney airport.

Michael and Ian had decided to stay at Dove Lake at the urging of Michael's parents and Ian was glad to accommodate them, knowing they had missed Michael for far too long, two years in seminary and then the time Michael spent travelling plus the time spent in Australia.

Chapter 7 will follow: (Peter discovers Martin) Wink