Copyright © 2021 Robert Loney
The Birthright
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The Birthright

An excerpt from Chapter 6

A Dinner Invitation

Christine has just delivered a baby and Amanda was up all night in attendance as a nurse. She is staying at her sister's home and has invited John over for dinner...

   John arrived at Christine's place with military precision at six o'clock sharp. "You look refreshed," he remarked, as Amanda took his coat. "Sleep well?"
   "I did all right.... How have you spent your afternoon?"
   "Watching the clock, mostly."
   "John..." She led the way to the kitchen.
   "I did go over to the falls."
   "Which one?"
   "The one with the Indian name."
   "That's a pretty spot. I'm sorry I missed out on that."
   John sat down at the table while Amanda finished grating a cabbage. "And I walked around downtown a little."
   "Which downtown?"
   "The other one."
   "So you've just come from the falls. It's just over here."
   "Yes. Actually, I got there two hours ago. I've been killing time in the park since."
   "If I'd known, you could have come sooner. I've been up for an hour anyway."
   "Oh, well. Is Richard still at the hospital?"
   "He was home for a while. He left a note saying he was going back."
   "Did the others get away yesterday?"
   "Olivia lives in town. Virginia was planning to leave today. She may have lingered to see the baby. I'm afraid to phone Mother's to find out. I don't know who might answer."
   "A new addition to the family might provide a welcome diversion."
   "Let's hope so."
   "How does your lip feel?"
   "It's not sore anymore. It just looks hideous. When people ask, I tell them I bit it. In a way, I did - with a little help."
   "You're getting along fine with Richard now."
   "Richard has never been the problem the other two have. Virginia and Livy had to marry such buffoons."
   "Can I help you some way?" asked John, feeling a little too idle. "I could set the table."
   "We're not eating here," replied Amanda, mildly impatient with his relentless humility. "I've already set the dining room table.... You could take these things in." She placed a salad and a basket of rolls in front of him.
   John found the other table set meticulously. And he could see that Amanda was preparing no ordinary meal in the kitchen. She must have started more than an hour before. He wondered how much trouble she would have gone to had she felt ambitious.
   The dining room opened onto the parlor. John spied a grand piano therein. He propped the top open and tested the keys, finding their weight to his liking and the instrument to be in proper tune.


Story links:

At the piano

The previous day