November 25, 2013

I have never played poker, of course, but I have read deeply enough in the literature of the Regency gambling den to know this: when your cards are weak, attack. Accordingly I assembled a look of haughty dudgeon as I drew myself erect in the shrubbery. I realised from a curl of cold air and the upward voyage of one grey Horwin eyebrow that the confluence of cotoneaster spine and Paul Smith silk had not been a happy one. A slit had opened around my right nipple. I need not bob in the slough of my pectoral grooming to tell you that the sight was a painful one. I was not, I confess, stage ready.

I mounted nonetheless and charged.

“What in the name of Hades are you doing? Do you know how dangerous it is to wake a sleepwaker? I might have had an infarction, or punched you in the jowl. Penguin shall hear of this!” I may have added a “Fie upon you!” and thrust my index finger in the air. I certainly addressed her as “Woman!”

Two things disturbed me as I stalked away. The first was obvious: I had failed utterly to further my quest. I knew no more about the quiffed foetus than I did before my vigil.

The second did not coalesce until I was wrapped around a cocoa and watching Lulu struggle with the oatmeal-scoop. The expression in Horwin’s eye as I scolded her was neither fear nor anger, nor the aggravated boredom I had detected in our few previous encounters. There was a gleam of something altogether rarer, and a flickering involution of the skin at the outer edges of her eyes confirmed it. For all my angry umbrage, and the brute fact of my trespass, the Horwin was gazing at me with affection. 

I could not understand it, and a slow second cocoa brought me no closer to a solution. It was with bitten lip and furrowed brow that I bent to wipe up after Lulu. The Horwin liked me. What was going on?