“So, how was it?” asked Honor McCoort, leaning over the table.
Yuah Dechantagne shrugged.
The two of them sat at one of the tables in the outdoor portion of Finkler’s Bakery, Port Dechantagne’s first eating establishment. The outside portion had recently been expanded to twelve tables, but the inside remained small, accommodating only three. Summer squash soup and cress sandwiches on herb bread were the order of the day.
“The play was very nice,” said Yuah. “I thought the young lady in the lead was smashing.”
“How about dinner?”
“Oh, Café Ada is always lovely. They had wiener schnitzel in honor of Oddyndessen.”
“And Mr. Wissinger?” asked Honor, leaning forward once again.
“He is a brilliant man—a pleasure to talk to.”
“That sounds like faint praise indeed.”
“I can’t help it,” said Yuah. “He just seems so old to me. He’s my father’s friend.”
“Yuah, he’s not that much older than you. You’re forty-seven. That’s no longer middle-aged.”
“My body may be forty-seven, but my brain still thinks I’m thirty. I still expect some handsome young cavalry officer to sweep me off my feet.”
“I can understand that,” said Honor. “Maybe it isn’t realistic though.”
“Says the young woman married to a still younger man,” responded Yuah. “Don’t presume to understand me until you’ve spent a day in my corset.”
“I’m not that young,” said Honor, absentmindedly running her fingertip down the length of the scar that ran from her cheek to her chin. “It’s not my fault that Geert is younger. Who else would have a one-legged woman with a scar face?”
“You’re face is beautiful,” said Yuah, her eyes starting to fill with tears.
“Now, don’t start that.”
“I can’t help it,” said Yuah, as the tears spilled over. “It’s all my fault. You were almost killed and it’s all my fault!”
Honor got up and stepped around the table, and hugged her friend from behind.
“It was an accident.”
“I forgot to set the relief cock! It was my fault!”
Honor stepped to the side of the chair and Yuah hugged her, pressed her face into the younger woman’s bosom, and wept.
“It was a long time ago, and it was an accident,” said Honor, running her hands over Yuah’s hair. “I don’t blame you, and if I did, I would have forgiven you by now anyway.”
After about three minutes, Yuah gained control of herself and Honor returned to her side of the table.
“Now, do you feel better?”
“No. I feel horrible.”
“Well, show me that stiff Brech upper lip. You’re only allowed a twice-annual cry about my accident. Now people are looking at you.”
“I don’t care if people look at me,” said Yuah, not bothering to check. “They look at me all the time anyway. I might as well be doing something worth watching. Oh, no.”
“What is it?”
“I’ve gotten snot all over your dress.”
“So you have,” said Honor looking at her simple but nice brown dress. She picked up her napkin and wiped it. “Well, it will all come out in the wash.”
“Why are you never upset about anything?”
“That way you can be upset about everything,” explained Honor, “and we even out.”
The two women stopped speaking as a tall man in a black suit with a green waistcoat stopped beside their table. He appeared to be in his late forties, with a touch of grey in his dark brown hair. There was no grey in his handlebar mustache.
“Mrs. Dechantagne? Pardon my intrusion.”
“Do I know you, Mr…?”
“Galbright. We met at your sister’s office a week ago.”
“Oh, yes. My sister-in-law’soffice.”
“Yes, of course. When we were introduced, I did not realize that you were entertaining suitors, or I would have given you my card.”
He stuck out his hand containing a social card. Yuah looked at it like it was a poisonous snake.
“Pardon Mrs. Dechantagne, Mr. Galbright,” said Honor, reaching out and retrieving the card. “She’s out of sorts this morning.”
“I quite understand. I caught you both unawares. Please pardon me. I look forward to seeing you again, Mrs. Dechantagne.” He bowed at the waist, turned on his heel, and walked out of the eatery.”
“Ask and ye shall receive,” said Honor.
“What are you talking about?”
“Didn’t he look like a handsome cavalry officer?”
“No. He looked like a middle-aged shipping tycoon.”
“Well, what do I know?” Honor pushed the card forward. “It seems the word is out that you are receiving callers. There will be many of these forthcoming, I imagine.”
“I don’t want it.”