Are You Jealous (conclusion)
She stared as though a beam of hallowed light had fallen, making her squint. Presby’s smile was benevolent; he gestured, with a sweep of the eyeglasses, showing her Eva and Henderson Young. Eva and Henderson held out their tiny celadon plates, their empty tumblers.
Comprehending…blushing…then calculating, weighing odds, the girl said, “Can I bring you anything, Mr. Presby?”
“Have you, my dear,” he said, “tried the Blood Orange Shandy?”
“I don’t know.”
She seemed overawed.
“I recommend highly that you do so. And you may bring another for me.”
They watched her collect glasses, plates, slow at a cluster of conversation, break free. Presby’s indentured servant achieved the catering table.
“My dear,” said the man who shared Gabriel’s bench. His companion elbowed him, and repeated, “My dear.”
He rather liked them for that, decided he might face the room. The resumed their discussion.
“Glazes vary in composition,” the woman said. “Raw materials may have been more abundant in certain periods, or in certain regions. The chemists were jealous.”
A new server approached. Canapés were offered, rounds of dark bread with melted cheese, topped possibly by truffles; at any rate, by some pebble-shaped fungus. The man took two. The woman declined. Gabriel scrupulously accepted one. He had been admonished, at the age of ten, for “taking too much”; he had been self-conscious on such occasions ever since. Another server came their way, with drinks.
“Of their formulas,” the man said, imparting in increments, eating and sipping. “Some factories… “
He paused, finished a canapé.
“…kept meticulous records, however.”
“Uranium,” the woman said. Here she glanced at Gabriel, including him. As before, he participated with a nod. On such small evidence, he could offer no opinion.
Are You Jealous
(2014, Stephanie Foster)