When they reach the food tables, there is not the curiosity from others concerning who is who. Most are intent about filling plates and returning to their tables.
Everyone at their table is getting steak except for Betty, who has opted for the salmon. She also opts to carry Allan’s plate as she sends him on to the bar to get another round of drinks. She looks at Ed and Lee.
“Are you two satisfied with tea and coffee? Those drinks they are going to bring to the table, carried by sadly inexperienced students.”
“That’s fine with us,” says Lee. “And we can always snag some bottled water.”
Plate in hand they return to their table. In their absence a plate of rolls and butter has been deposited in the middle. There is also a bottle of red wine, with a bow and a note attached.
“Well, well,” says Betty, wanting to immediately open the unaddressed envelope. “I’ve never seen the like of this.”
“A modest but decent bottle,” says Alison Alexandra.
“Maybe you have a secret admirer,” says Betty.
“Maybe you do,” says Alison Alexandra.
Betty Dragger is taken by surprise at the idea and snorts. She then sees Big Stakes Gamble approaching, and clears some space for the drinks he is carrying. He is fast at a sip of his beer before he speaks.
“Who got the wine?”
“We don’t know,” says Betty.
“Then someone should open the card.” He picks up the bottle and hands it to Ed. “And that sounds like a job for an officer of the law.”
Ed is not sure if a joke is being played, and if it is being played on him. He is as curious as not, so he takes the knife beside his plate and slits open the envelope. He reads the card and laughs.
“Well?” asks his wife.
“’For the long service of our respected teacher’.” Ed hands the bottle back to Allan. “’With thanks’.”
There is not a lot of conversation as they eat. Each of them is adequately hungry, and the food is appreciated. Allan offers to open the bottle of wine, but Betty and Alison Alexandra are content to keep with what they’re drinking. They suggest he take it home. When he suggests another round, they are happy to let him get it. Servers come to collect their dishes. They ponder whether to go and get dessert. Betty says ‘in for a penny / in for a pound’, so they, en masse, swoop down on the apple pie and ice cream. Then they are well and truly sated.
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