Readings Sundays: A SURPRISING CURE (Part 3) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

“Edward, I want you to meet my new friend.”

I looked up. A tall youth with dark auburn hair and fierce blue eyes stood beside her.

“Robert Allan Nicol at your service, sir.”

His words were servile, his manner was not. As he pronounced them his eyelids half-lowered so that his smile, when it came, conveyed an attitude of arrogant disdain. He glanced at Miriam.

“You’ll be wanting to spend some time with your husband.” His soft Scotch burr lingered over each word, slowly and insolently.

My wife flapped a hand at him. “Don’t be silly, Robert dear. I want to show you around.” And taking his arm, she steered him firmly into the middle of the Drawing Room, pointing out our paintings, our photographs, our books, indeed enumerating everything we owned.

I trailed behind, cracking my knuckles. Then I rang the bell and ordered tea, sitting in my high-backed chair as I invited my wife and her new friend to join me.

Mr. Nicol flung himself onto the sofa and sprawled there with his knees apart, his hands in his pockets. I expected my wife to take her place next to mine and pour the tea. Instead, she rang the bell and summoned the maid to do it. While Daisy fussed over the tea cups and saucers, the cutting of the cake and the pouring of the tea, Miriam wandered over to our well-stocked bookshelves, running her fingers along the spines.

“Ah! Here it is!” She picked up Walter Pater’s Renaissance.

“Miriam, dear,” I interposed. “Why don’t you sit down and take off your hat? I haven’t heard anything about your journey, or your stay in Edinburgh.”

“Of course, my dear.” She seated herself beside me, and sipped her tea. [To be continued next week.]