Virgulle’s Vestral 57

Wednesday 28th December 2011

More discussions over tea and cake

ALL I had to do, Isobel reminded me, was exchange knowledge for freedom.

If I told the giants about Rheta, apologised for my criticisms of Guvver Munt, and learned how to smile for Papa Ratsy’s cameras, I would surely be rewarded with all manner of benefits and privileges.

I replied that I would think about it.

Meanwhile, having spent the morning trying to paint the view from my quarters – a wall of the main house, a corner of the swimming-pool, its attendant hedge, the cloudy sky – I decided, after Hugo had served tea, to show her one of my better attempts.

“Not exactly a turner. More like Jack’s son Paul Luck.”

“I am sorry. I understand not.”

“Never mind. Have you done any painting before? Back on your own world?”

“No. To paint is for the elders.”

“Elders? Are they your wise people? Your leaders?”

“I think I mean olders. The young always hurry, but to paint needs much time. When Rhetans have lived for many years, they hurry not. Then they paint and play music and make shapes with wood and stone… what you call, is it, scalp chewer?


“Yes. When I know how to paint, next I will do sculpture or the playing of music, if… if…”

It was a pleasing pause, much as I had practised it.

“…if Guvver Munt will give to me the permit.”

She wrote something on her notepad, indicating she considered my disclosure important.

“What happens in the future is entirely up to you, my dear.”

Our conversation moved on to music. She played me pieces by Bark, Shoo-Bert and Mote’s Art. I closed my eyes, floating in the soothing sounds of the pianoforte and ’cello. While the strings danced and soared, I imagined myself back home on Rheta, strolling by a giggling brook, singing in the harvest barn or warming my heart by the familiar hearth.

I was so enraptured by the music, so enchanted by dreams that, for the third day running, I forgot to ask Isobel if I could see Arthur, if my letters could be sent to Jenny or if there was any news of Emily.



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