Bernard Graves ushered the footman into the room after brushing the dust off his shoulders, and reminding him of his manners. The Doctor and his wife were sitting in armchairs while Eliza served tea.
"Ah, Graves. About time."
"Sorry Ma'am. Jones was busy with the horses. I've arranged for someone else to assist, and brought him straight up."
"I think, Graves, that I can tell where he was, just from the odour. Jones, the lady of the house doesn't wish to be reminded of the activities in the stables, thank you kindly. I'd prefer you to wash before proceeding upstairs next time."
"Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir. Mr Graves told me there was some urgency."
"Graves, do I need to discuss this?"
"No, no Sir. I will take care of it. You have an errand?"
"Sir. You asked me to bring a footman. You had an urgent message?"
"Oh, yes. Damn it, Eliza, do you have to stand in the way? Graves, this is important. Can it be left with smelly Jones?"
"Certainly Sir. Jones, take the message. Doctor, he's reliable. I'll make certain."
"Fine, Graves. Don't let me down. Eliza, that's enough fussing." The maid curtsied and took a few steps back before standing silent, as was her place.
The Doctor continued. "Jones, please deliver this to the Admiral. He'll be expecting someone. Wait for a reply."
"And try to wash that smell off, first."
"Go, go. Graves, could I have a quiet word?"
The butler bent his head close to the Doctor's, and listened, nodding from time to time, but saying nothing. Eventually he stood straight again, his face a blank mask. The Doctor continued in a normal voice. "You understand, Graves?"
"Yes, Sir, I do. You are sure?"
"I told you, did I not?"
"Indeed. My apologies."
"No need. Just make it so."
"Ollie, what are the two of you talking about?"
"Man business, dear. Mind not. More tea?"
"No, Ollie. I've had quite enough. Eliza, take these..."
"No, no. Let her leave them here. Graves, take the girl with you, will you?"
"Sir. Thank you Sir. Ma'am. Come, Eliza."
"Thank you, Graves. Please report back later."
The second door closed between the drawing room and the servants, and Bernard stopped the maid at the top of the back stairs. "Lizzie, what were you doing in there?"
"What do you mean, Sir?"
"We are alone. Call me Bernie."
"Bernie then. I still don't understand."
"The Doctor asked me to pass on a message." Eliza's eyebrows lifted at this, but she said nothing. "He told me something I never guessed."
"That is the way that he wanted it, Bernie. He didn't want anyone to know."
"He does now."
"What is the message?"
"Lizzie, he said that you were flirting with him."
"Nonsense. He knows what flirting is. I was merely being polite."
"He said... that you were rubbing your body against him."
"And that your... I must be blunt."
"Please do, Bernie. I'm not easily embarrassed."
"I'm noticing that for the first time." Graves had his hands on her shoulders, holding her against the wall, and looked down from her face to the cleavage plainly on display. "The Doctor felt you were showing an unseemly amount of... he said breast."
"Just the one?"
"You think impertinence will help now?"
"How, Mr Graves, could it not?"
"He suggested, in addition, that your... garments were not sufficient to ensure you remain decent, even pouring tea."
"I assumed that must be the case, Bernie. He twitched."
Eliza pointed to his trousers. "Like that."
"Would you like the rest of the message, Lizzie?"
"Indeed I would, Bernard. Do you think you can manage to tell me?"
"He said... He said that you and he had been having an affair."
"Did he just?"
"And that it had been going on for some time. Four months."
"No, Bernie. Five."
"You are shocked?"
"Only in that I knew nothing. He also... well, he asked me to tell you something."
"Well then, Bernie, tell."
"He said that he would not be able to..."
"Well... see you. For some time."
"I see. Lizzie, that wasn't all."
"He also... he said I should ask you for proof of something."
"He did, did he?"
"Yes. The Doctor said... Lizzie, could you... Would you lift your skirts?"
"Lift them? You want to look at my legs?"
"Oh, I know now. You should just ask."
"I was afraid I might offend."
"No chance. Is this the question?" Lizzie lifted her skirts, little by little, up past her knees, and slowly further, until she stood with a grin on her face, and her skirts gathered around her hips. A dark triangle of curly hair was visible between her thighs. She wasn't embarrassed in the slightest.
Graves stood with his mouth open, as the lamp shook in his hand. "Yes, Lizzie. That answers the question. Good God, girl, why do you not wear your drawers?"
"He asked me not to. He said that he would sometimes not have a lot of time, and would like me to be ready."
"Oh yes, Bernie. I'm always ready for him."
.... There is more of this story ...