Sunday, February 05, 2012


"Would you like to stop for some cake?" Fabien asked as they walked back toward the house.

"Yes," Eduardo said, provoking excited squeals from Brigitte. The truth of the matter was that the Venetian lion generally always found himself ready to stop for cake, whether any was on offer or not.

Brigitte simply enjoyed anything that involved Eduardo—and she likewise found the idea of cake exciting despite being the child of a baker. One might expect that familiarity might breed contempt, but clearly that had not happened to this girl.

"I don't think we should," Maggiormente said with a frown. With the motor acquired all his thoughts leaped ahead to the use he could make of it. "There is so much to be done."

"But cakes, " Eduardo argued. "We need cakes."

"You ate this morning," the alchemist scolded him. "Don't be greedy."

"Oh come now, it is afternoon already," Fabien said, throwing his weight behind the clear majority. "A little sustenance before you return to your labours cannot be bad, eh?"

The alchemist chafed at the delay. However, he was not without some sympathy for his friend and his familiar. "I suppose a little cake and some coffee would not be a bad thing."

His acquiescence inspired cheers from the other three who immediately dragged him through the door of the bakery. The inviting interior welcomed them. The heat from the oven created a good portion of the warmth, but it wasn't the only source.

"There you are!" Madame Fabien gave her husband a look of mock severity. "I had begun to wonder if you had run off with the boulangereuse."

Fabien leaned across the counter to greet his wife with an enthusiastic kiss. "I thought better of it. I knew I couldn't last five minutes without you."

The alchemist looked away, embarrassed as he always did at these public displays of affection. I will never get used to Paris, he thought, shaking his head.

"Maman, maman!" Brigitte ran around the counter to hug her mother's legs tightly. "I rode on Eduardo's back and we flew all around the city."

"All around the city?" Adèle Fabien raised an eyebrow at her daughter. "I am wondering if that is in fact true at all."

"It is not," Eduardo said, peering at the selection of baked goods with quite focused attention. When it came to cakes, Eduardo exhibited a rather unexpected earnestness.

It is true that cakes are a very serious matter.

"Brigitte, you are exaggerating again." Her mother shook her head and tousled the girl's hair. "You mustn't exaggerate so much."

Brigitte folded her arms and frowned. "I imagined it."

"Exactly, ma cherie."

"If I imagined it, it could be real."

"There is some logic to that," Maggiormente said.

The others stared at him. Fabien laughed. Adèle said, "Is there, monsieur? I must admit I cannot see the logic."

"Can I have that cake?" Eduardo said, pointing at one covered in pink icing.

Adèle moved over with her knife poised. "You want a piece of this one?"

"Piece?" The lion blinked.

The baker laughed and brought the plate out for him.

"The logic," Maggiorment continued, noticing that no one had listened to his comment, "is the same one that animates my work."

"I am an alchemist?" Brigitte looked up with delighted surprise, flakes of her pan au chocolat scattered across her frock.

Maggiormente chuckled. "You are like an alchemist to be."

Brigitte considered this. "I am pleased. How am I so? I do not make things explode."

"One need not explode things," Maggiormente said, accepting a croissant from Adèle. "It is like the master wrote, 'What is now proved was once only imagined.' That is the true alchemy."

"This seems like philosophy," Fabien said frowning.

"Perhaps a little," Maggiormente admitted.

"That calls for wine!" Fabien and Eduardo cheered.

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