His Lordship was in the study at Downton Abbey when Carson, the butler approached and coughed discreetly.
“Go ahead, Carson,” said his lordship.
“I am doing a crossword in ‘The Times’ and I have found a word about which I am not too clear.”
“What word is that?” asked his lordship.
“The word is ‘aplomb’, my lord.”
“That is a difficult word to explain. I would say it means ‘self-assurance’ or ‘complete composure’.”
“Thank you, my lord, but I’m still a little confused.”
“Then, let me give you an example to make it clearer. Do you remember a few months ago the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived to spend a weekend with us?”
“Of course, my lord, I remember the occasion very well. It gave the staff and myself much pleasure to look after them.”
“Also”, continued the Earl of Grantham, “do you remember that William plucked a rose for Kate in the rose garden?”
“I was indeed present on that occasion, my lord.”
“And while plucking the rose, a thorn embedded itself very deeply in his thumb?”
“Yes,” replied Carson. “I witnessed the incident, my lord, and saw the Duchess herself remove the thorn and bandage his thumb with her own dainty handkerchief.”
“And that evening, the prick on his thumb was so sore that Kate had to cut up his venison, even though being from our own estate it was extremely tender.”
“Yes, my lord, I saw and heard what transpired.”
“Then the next morning, while you were pouring coffee for Her Ladyship, Kate enquired of William in a loud voice, ‘Darling is your prick still throbbing this morning?’
“And you, Carson, did not spill one drop of coffee! That was aplomb!”