The Power of Suggestion: episode twelve
It is our business to be thoughtful about our surroundings; not unpleasantly critical, hurting people’s feelings for the sake of things, but we should form intelligent opinions about the objects in our homes. Far from being indifferent, we must either like or dislike everything and know definitely the reasons for our feeling.
Household Arts and Sciences
Helen B. Cleaves
At Union Station, wheeled carts rattled, commuters whistled and shouted, bunched together and broke free; while in the background, noise echoed and reverberated, aggregating into a roar, breaking off into individually distinct voices. It was 3:00 p.m., and Malcolm-Webb, weaving his way among the bench seats, stepped on American toes in a manner he would not have employed at Victoria. He found Greta where they’d arranged to meet, perched on a lunch counter stool. He had puzzled, since their last parting, over this question of how he might see her before he knew it. A conventional phrase, he supposed, but unless she were disguised—
He spotted her easily. She looked smartly turned out, with her cherry-colored beads, a suit of navy admixed with green, the hue Malcolm-Webb had been taught to call Prussian blue.
“I missed you at the Taggart affair,” he said.
Greta stared at him. “You mean I wasn’t there. I went shopping.”
He glanced at her hat, which was asymmetrical and trimmed in grosgrain ribbon.
“You’ve seen the hat,” she told him. “I bought new shoes. These earrings are new.”
She was using a tone of voice. Malcolm-Webb offered a weak compliment. “Yes, of course…I remember.” He didn’t. “But I quite enjoy seeing it again.”
The coffee they ordered cost a nickel; the lemon meringue pie ten cents.
“How do they determine,” he speculated, hoping to recover from some undefined error, “that pie ought to cost twice as much as coffee?”
“It doesn’t cost twice as much—it costs a dime.”
“I didn’t realize that.”
“’Cause you’re cheap. You think that’s money, ten cents. Anyway, since lemon meringue is all they’ve got, it’s not a question of how much…it’s a question of take it or leave it.”
“Travelers’ economics.” The speaker was Van Nest, who joined them, or had somehow been there all the while, unnoticed…in the midst of such activity, Malcolm-Webb could not be certain.
“All you got is lemon meringue?” Van Nest asked the waitress.
(copyright 2014, 2018 Stephanie Foster)