It is ever-practical Linda who knows a thing or fifty-two about what sailors who have been long on the sea want to eat and drink when first ashore, who suggests a menu, and is more than willing to prepare it all herself, but is convinced by Bridget that, in this instance, too many cooks will not spoil the broth.

“So what’s first?” asks Bridget.

“Always beer,” says Linda. “And a small bowl of nuts. And since this is so special, make them cashews.”

“That’s like a tease,” says Amanda.

“Yes.”

“And what’s next?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Potato canoes, with lots of bacon in the mix,” says Linda. “And cook the bacon at the time, so he can smell it.”

“Crafty,” says Bridget.

“Tricks of the trade,” says Linda.

“What’s up next?” asks Amanda.

“As fresh a salad as you can make,” says Linda. “If there are cucumbers and mushrooms, so much the better, because those don’t keep well on a ship.” Linda winks. “And throw in some dried cranberries.”

“You’ve entertained sailors home from the sea,” says Amanda.

“I have,” agrees Linda. “My father and my brother. All this I have learned at my mother’s knee.”

“Home cookin’.” says Alison Alexandra. “What’s the main course?”

“Steak – always,” says Linda. “Sirloin tip with the cap on – or better.” She speaks sternly. “And don’t overcook it – even though they say that’s what they want. They don’t. They want the taste, and will appreciate it.”

“I hope we’re all getting this,” says Amanda.

“And fried onions,” says Linda. “On the side.”

“For the smell,” says Bridget.

“Always a winner,” says Linda.

“Any other side dish?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Fried rice,” says Linda. With BBQ pork and onions in it.”

“But we already have potato,” says Amanda.

“They can’t get too much starch,” says Linda. “And they get to choose as much as they want out of the bowl.”

“Large bowl,” says Bridget.

“You bet’cha,” says Linda.

“Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“What about dessert?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We offer apple pie with ice cream, and rice pudding with a velvety skin on top.”

“That’s quite a choice,” says Bridget.

“Oh, those sailor boys will choose some of each.”

“Is that it?” asks Amanda.

“No.” Linda smiles. The end is a pot of bitter Chinese tea, a plate of thin, crisp, mildly sweet cookies, and a bottle of amber rum.”

“I’m stuffed,” says Bridget.

“Welcome home,” says Linda.