Sunday, April 22, 2012

7.3 A Suspect Cheese

"What sort of cheese is this?" Helen's father regarded the yellowish wedge with suspicion.

"Local speciality," Helen said. "I'm sure it's delicious, try it."

The bread looked delicious indeed, and the cured ham could equal their own Mr. Hitchcock's usual efforts. The wine left something to be desired, but they would surely have better offerings once they got to France.

Or so Helen attempted to persuade her father.

"I suspect I may begin to wish myself in Katmandu," her father said grumpily as they gathered up the leftovers to take to Signor Romano.

"You've been fine so far, everything's been fine," Helen said before hastily adding, "Except of course for the murmuration. But that's unlikely to occur again, especially out over the sea."

"No, it will probably be some kind of leviathan." He had his stick today. Helen noticed that he had not much used it on the way to the inn but now that they were returning to the ship her father leaned more pronouncedly upon it.

"Papa, there is no such thing."

"Can you be certain? 'There are more things in heaven and earth...'"

Helen laughed. "Mother would be most amused by your citing Shakespeare to me."

"You make it sound as if I were some kind of uneducated boor," her father growled as he limped along. "I have read a few books, you know."

"I realise that, Papa. I'm just surprised, that's all. And I think it would amuse Mother." she noticed he limped less as his annoyance grew. "I suppose you had some education after all, beyond riding to the hounds and growling at servants."

Her father muttered some words that she was probably just as happy not to have heard. "My father did send me off to university where I may not have distinguished myself as much as some but I did master holding a pen in my foot for the occasional scribble."

Helen laughed. "You should have studied more of nautical skills, then you would be better prepared for our journey. While we ride the winds rather than the waves, many of the skills are the same."

Her father snorted. He had begun to outpace her. "I have been on plenty of ships and maintain a fine pair of sea legs. The idea!" He gave a sharp bark of laughter. "I have sailed across half this known world, my girl. You have never been on a storm in the middle of the Atlantic, waves as high as the York Minster's towers, winds set to throw the strongest sailor overboard."

"True enough, Papa," Helen said, watching the fire burn in his features. "But the air will not give you the opportunity of surviving that the waves offer."

Ahead the ship waited. Romano waved. Helen imagined he was likely famished and found herself glad that she had hustled her father along quickly from the inn.

"I do not plan to fall out of the ship like some novice," her father said with scorn.

"Things do not always happen according to plan," Helen said, "But I have confidence you will be up to the challenge, Papa. I couldn't ask for a finer sailor."

"France," he rumbled with embarrassed pride. "If only it were somewhere other than France."

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