"Have we any idea where Edmund is?" Helen looked at her father, who seemed to be quieter than usual.
He did not answer immediately, and she was on the verge of prompting him again, when he said, "Your brother's whereabouts remain uncertain."
Helen tutted. "Have the lawyers not located him?"
Her father sighed. "Where's our food?"
"Don't change the subject."
"Our subject was food when we came in here."
"Yes, but it has moved on while we wait."
Her father sighed dramatically. "I don't necessarily want to speak about your brother."
"Yes, but the last I heard he was still missing after being sent down. Has he been located? I think it is rather important information to know."
"He could become a pirate. That would at least show some gumption."
"Papa," Helen said with definite severity. "What do you know?"
"Well, it's not piracy."
"So—? What is it?"
"They're not certain." Her father frowned and his countenance took on the appearance of clouds. "The last the lawyers knew, he was booking passage for Katmandu."
"Well, maybe it was only Köln…"
Helen stared at her father with narrowed eyes. "You are not being very helpful."
"He is somewhere in Europe, I think. But I do not know."
"Well, that's better than hearing that he is in Katmandu."
"For you, perhaps."
"Indeed. I am glad to hear my brother hasn't gone all the way to Tibet in a fit of pique for he is no adventurer, prepared for wild climates."
"It would appear that he is seemingly prepared for very little," her father said with a sniff.
"He's a university student. Not a bold adventurer, however much he may want to imagine himself to be one. He is simply a failure."
"Papa," Helen said with a decided shake of her head, "Someone who does not live up to expectations is not a failure. He—or she—is simply finding another avenue of work."
"I don't think that applies here."
Her father expelled a rather long breath. "Because your brother has had all the necessary advantages of auspicious birth and parental largesse that should allow one to succeed in life and yet he has not."
"Papa!" Helen said with animation.
"Well, it's true. Your brother has had all the advantages and failed to put them to much of any use."
"At least he's not a pirate, as you suggested before…"
"Madamoiselle, your viands." A waiter suddenly appeared at Helen's elbow.
"Yes, of course. Put it here." She indicated the table. The waiters put the large weight of sandwiches and nibbles on the table. Her father turned toward the food with a zealous interest.
"This looks like an adequate feast." He rubbed his hands together with glee.
"We need to take some of it back to Signor Romano, too," Helen reminded her father. He tended to consider the Italian out of sight and out of mind.
"Oh, pshaw. That Italian doesn't need much in the way of food."
"Papa! He needs as much food as you do. More in all likelihood."
"Yes, he has a job to do, unlike you!"