du Tertre, the River, chapter
By the end of the afternoon, abundant and
persistent hunger pangs told Elizabeth she needed to search for
some food. Although Jane convinced her she couldn't hold her food,
Elizabeth insisted she should at least eat some clear soup.
"You stay here, and I'll make you some."
"Like I would run away," Jane faintly
replied. "This bed is way too comfortable anyway. I feel I
could spend the rest of my life here."
"Hmmm, I guess not the bed but the house
perhaps?" Elizabeth teasingly said to her sister. "Charles
is nice enough, isn't he?"
"Don't be silly." Jane denied it
a bit too fiercely, making her grab her head immediately. "Ouch,"
she groaned before softly continuing, "Yes, Charles is nice,
and my boss. <I>Just</I> my boss."
"He was quite concerned about you. Are
you sure he is <i>just</i> your boss?"
"Lizzy, please don't tease me. He is
my boss and as he is so
he can't be more." Again Jane
groaned a bit from her headache.
"I'm sorry sweetie, I didn't want to
tease you. Perhaps I'm seeing things that aren't there and he is
only concerned and no more. Now, you lie down and I will bring you
some soup." Elizabeth fluffed up the head pillow and put another
glass of fresh water on the nightstand before she went in search
She found him together with William in one
of the front rooms, which was fixed up as a study, and heard that
both Charles's sisters had left early in the afternoon to go shopping
"I expect them to eat out," Charles
said. "We can order something if you want to."
Elizabeth, who was actually in the mood to
<I>do</I> something after such a quiet afternoon, suggested,
"When I washed the bowls this afternoon, I saw that Mrs. White
has flour, sugar , enough milk and eggs. I can make pancakes."
"I haven't eaten pancakes in years,"
"Yes, that would be nice," Charles
added with a beaming smile. "I love pancakes."
"Then you'll have to come down and eat
in the kitchen. They are best right from the stove onto the plate."
Elizabeth beamed back at Charles, happy to be able to pay him back
at least a bit for the shelter he gave her and her sister. "Give
me a few minutes to mix the ingredients and then you're welcome
She quickly made her way to the kitchen where
she easily found the equipment to make the batter. Soon she tuned
Mrs. White's little radio to her favorite radio station and sang
along with the <i>Back to the Seventies Show</i>. She
danced to Donna Summer's <I>Love to Love You Baby</I>,
simultaneously whisking the mix to the subtle sound of the percussion
hidden for attentive ears beneath the infectious voice of the singer.
Love to Love You
" She put the bowl
on the counter, and while rocking her hips provocatively to the
music, opened the fridge to collect butter and bacon. "
Love to Love you baby, hmmmmm
William leaned, arms folded, against the
doorpost, and smilingly looked at the dancing Elizabeth. As it was
already dark, the lights were on in the half-subterranean kitchen.
But somehow at that moment, the atmosphere was much brighter than
the other evenings when William had gone downstairs to the kitchen
on an hour he didn't consider it necessary to bother Mrs. White.
His eyes followed the movements Elizabeth's body made, and he wondered
if he had seen her this cheery before. His mood was lifted by her
pleasing voice singing along with the radio, he couldn't help but
move slightly with the rhythm
until she turned and noticed
she wasn't alone. The sexy tone altered halfway in a catching laugh.
"Hi," Elizabeth nervously said.
She stopped dancing and turned to the counter to put everything
she needed together.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
William smiled and approached her. "Anything I can do?"
"Do you like pancakes with apples? You
could pare some. Here's a corer." Elizabeth handed him the
utensil and together they ended the preparations.
Charles arrived and set the table. The men
took their places while Elizabeth cooked pancake after pancake.
The conversation went from easy and pleasant to cheerfulness, and
William told Charles how he had caught a singing Elizabeth unawares.
"You should have seen her face turn beet red," William
"Hey you, do you want another pancake
or not?" Elizabeth pointed her spatula at William with a quasi-threatening
"Yes, Ma'am." William obediently
answered. "Don't worry, your singing is lovely."
"Yeah, right." Elizabeth turned
and made the same throaty noises she did right before she discovered
William was watching her, although she didn't dare to utter them
as flirtatiously as before.
"Hey, I mean it." William smiled.
"Careful, Will," Charles joked.
"Otherwise, you'll have to make you own pancakes."
"Shouldn't be a problem."
"And I should believe that?" Elizabeth
turned away from the stove, with the pan in her hands. "Can
you turn over the pancake with just a flick of the pan?" She
showed own prowess and after a nice flip, she caught the cake upside
down in the skillet.
"Sure." William hoped he sounded
"Okay, you can make my pancakes then.
I haven't eaten any so far," Elizabeth challenged.
William rose and let Elizabeth willingly
put an apron on him. Sure, he could cook something as simple as
a pancake. Elizabeth took her place at the kitchen table and together
with Charles they cast amused glances toward the man at the stove.
"Okay, watch this." William turned
to them and held the panhandle with two hands. "One, two, three
At the first two counts he slightly moved the pan up and down. At
the third count it appeared that he had held in the first two times
because with a firm swing he flung the pancake in the air. To his
audience's great amusement, he not only had underestimated his strength,
but the height of the ceiling as well. With a "plop" the
half-baked batter attached to the surface. Charles and Elizabeth
both screamed with laughter. That wasn't the end of the comedy show
though. When William looked in amazement at the ceiling and the
pancake, the partly cooked batter slowly came off and fell
right on his face.
Tears from laughing rolled down her cheeks
as Elizabeth quickly stood up and closed the distance to William.
"I can't believe it," she laughed. "Even in the absolute
cheapest slap-stick comedy they don't let this happen, but you managed
to get it right on your face." She gently drew William towards
the sink. "Here, let me clean it off." William put the
pan back on the stove when Elizabeth wet a face cloth. The bigger
pieces could be picked out his hair easily. For the smaller dough
spots she used the cloth.
William's hands hung in mid-air as Elizabeth's
one hand held his shoulder and the other covered with the cloth
rubbed his face, firm but gentle. Slowly his arms went down until
his hands found a place to rest on her waist. The question of whether
this was inappropriate hadn't even reached his brain, when his thumbs
pointed towards Elizabeth's belly button and he slightly spread
his fingers. What a slim waist she had, slim but not bony. A pleasant
feeling of warmth and familiar intimacy reached his consciousness.
Nothing was wrong with his bold hands, they belonged right there
where they were lying now. <I>Why didn't I dance with her
at the party? I could have held her like this the entire evening.</I>
Elizabeth continued her ministrations, gently
wiping off the batter from William's face. She felt his hands closing
on her waist, his fingers brushing towards her hips in a tender
movement. As if a sunbeam suddenly descended on her, warmth spread
through her entire body. Although there wasn't any visible spot
on his mouth, the face cloth automatically moved towards William's
lips. Barely touching it, Elizabeth's index finger, hidden in moist
cotton, followed the line of his upper lip. Slowly her eyes moved
from the scarcely opened mouth to his brilliantly beaming, golden
brown eyes. Gazes locked and the grip on Elizabeth's waist deepened
ever so lightly. For him it felt like deja-vu. Had they done this
Suddenly, for a split second, he stood in
a sun-soaked, yellow surrounding. An invisible power gently pushed
his head forward. Someone
something pulled on his mouth with
her lips as the ultimate goal to reach.
"Charles, where are you?" The loud,
clapping noise with which Caroline slammed one of the back doors
shut and her question, which had the right construction but lacked
any intonation of a typical query, abruptly broke the spell.
In the blink of an eye, William was in the
kitchen again. He released his hold on Elizabeth's waist. "The
faucet is leaking." With a firm turn, he closed it thoroughly,
only to watch Elizabeth immediately turn it back on to rinse out
the cloth. "I'll make you another pancake," William offered.
"You'd better use the spatula to turn
it this time." Elizabeth laughed while she whisked the mixture
again and William put some butter in the pan.
"The broth is boiling." William
lowered the burner.
Charles couldn't possibly fathom what just
happened before his eyes between William and Elizabeth. However,
he sensed that the earlier easy-going atmosphere transformed into
another, indescribable sentiment, and with the slam of the door
it vanished, suddenly making many mundane chores at the counter
and stove necessary to be done immediately. With an audible sigh
he rose, opened the kitchen door to the basement hall, and called
in the direction of stairs to the main floor. "Caroline, we're
"You won't believe this," Caroline
snorted. Her spike heels ticked crossly on the bluestone stairs
leading to the basement. "Some idiot hung a dead animal on
the cullis. I wanted to show Louisa the stables. We were scared
to death. What kind of savage does this? The poor rabbit."
Caroline barged into the kitchen and in her
wake was Louisa, who fanned herself with an exaggerated air. On
seeing William with an apron on cooking something for himself at
the stove, Caroline abruptly stopped. Louisa didn't, bumping into
her sister causing her to inelegantly stumble into the kitchen.
Biting her lip in order not to laugh, Elizabeth
put the tray she had found for Jane's broth down on the counter
and turned to Caroline. "I'm
William interrupted her. "If I remember
correctly, we ate at a nice restaurant not so long ago and you had
no objections to the rabbit on your plate," he answered with
extreme calm while facing Caroline, keeping one eye on his pancake
as much as he could.
"That was different," Caroline
"How do you think that animal came to
be on your plate?" William smiled lightly. "It's rather
hypocritical to enjoy a good piece of game in a restaurant and imagine
the meat has no further history than lying in a sealed styrofoam
Caroline's mouth was already open for a reply,
but she slowly closed it after William's calm remark.
In Elizabeth's view, the word hypocritical
was rather harsh and she couldn't help but feel sorry for the hurt
look in Caroline's eyes. "I hung the rabbit there," Elizabeth
admitted. Surprised by the reaction, she decided to ignore the short
but very dirty look Caroline sent her. "I suppose I shouldn't
have hung it where it was so easy to see. Sorry it scared you."
William stepped aside so Elizabeth had the chance to get the soup
from the little pot on the stove. Their hips touched, sending sparks
up her spine.
"Your pancake is ready to turn."
William lifted the pan from the stove.
"Here." Elizabeth fetched a pan
lid from one of the cupboards. "You can use this. Slide the
pancake onto it and then put it up side down with the lid on the
"Thank you." William took the lid
from her. "It won't take long now."
On hearing this, Charles offered, "Let
me bring the soup to Jane, so you can quietly eat your meal."
At Elizabeth's nod he quickly took the tray from her.
Caroline was astonished to see all the busyness
at the counter. "William, I'm sorry you have to cook."
Dropping heavily onto one of the kitchen chairs, underlining her
mood with an exaggerated sigh, she continued, "I can't imagine
that this would happen at Pemberley?"
"Why not?" William didn't bother
to turn from the stove.
"Pemberley is such a large estate. Surely
there would be staff all the time. If I remember correctly, you
have several cooks, not to mention the other kitchen help, and now
we're only talking about dinner. When was it we had that lovely
gathering with your relatives from France? Do you remember Louisa?
We had that ten-course dinner that night." Caroline shifted
her look to her sister who nodded affirmative.
"I think it was late August." Louisa
also took a place at the kitchen table. She pushed away Charles's
plate, sticky with molasses-drenched leftovers, with a disgusted
"I'm surprised you don't remember we
hired extra staff that evening." William lifted the pancake
slightly with the spatula to check if the bottom was done. He shook
the pan to loosen it from its base and let it swiftly glide on the
plate Elizabeth had ready. "Next one with apple?" He shortly
glanced at her to see her reaction.
An engaging smile played round the corners
of his mouth; one that Caroline wasn't likely to perceive because
after Elizabeth's approving nod for the apple pancake, William turned
to the others and with this little movement, his expression swung
180 degrees. In a serious tone he continued, "I owe it to my
ancestors to keep Pemberley well-maintained. The house and the gardens
are a result of many generations and it's my duty to ensure it remains
that way, and improve where possible."
Elizabeth silently took her place at the
kitchen table and listened to the interesting conversation.
"You've certainly improved it, buying
antiques that suit the house whenever you can. Oh, Elizabeth, you
should see the house," Caroline said. "It's a living fairy
"It is beautifully situated on a little
hill. The light-colored façade has a neoclassical design
and the entrance hall alone would take anyone's breath away."
Louisa's words complemented her sister's.
"Every lady of that house must have
felt like a princess." Caroline's eyes went heavenwards giving
the impression she'd like to be that princess someday. "Imagine
the parties one could give in the large rooms."
"I don't consider my house something
out of a little story." William turned towards the stove again
to make sure Elizabeth's pancake wasn't burning. "As far as
I know, there have never been titled persons in our immediate family
and certainly not royalty. Besides, running a house like Pemberley
is not always a party. You might even call it work."
"Of course, you're right. It's a huge
responsibility." Then Caroline's eye fell on a little grease
spot on William's pullover. "I'm sure your guests would never
have to cook their own meals. What happened to your clothes?"
"We had a little accident." William
winked at Elizabeth which did not go unnoticed by the two sisters.
"I'm so sorry William, I'll have it
cleaned this week," Caroline frowned. "I'll also talk
with Charles. If Mrs. White has a day off there must be someone
else here to replace her. It's ridiculous that you had to cook your
"I didn't, Elizabeth made pancakes and
they were delicious."
Instead of granting Elizabeth an appreciating
look, Caroline sneered, "Perhaps you're used to cooking your
own dinner. I'm definitely sure William has more important things
Wondering what could be the real reason Caroline
was so catty towards her, Elizabeth acted as if she didn't notice
and cheerfully replied, "I wonder if William is as good at
those more important things as he is at cooking pancakes, because
this one tastes really good."
William gave Elizabeth a soft smile. "Thank
you. It was my pleasure to return the favor. I should do this more
often." Although he knew very well Caroline would reject it,
William turned to her, "Would you like one Caroline? I think
there's batter left for another." As expected, Caroline, and
after her, Louisa, turned him down. While repeating the offer to
have someone clean the pullover or if necessary even replace it
with a new one, and insisting William should leave it in Caroline's
room, the two sisters left the kitchen.
<center>* ~* ~* </center>
In the meantime, Charles climbed to the second level with the tray.
Halfway up the second flight of stairs he remembered the dumbwaiter
next to the kitchen. It was an old one and probably installed when
the house was built. It still functioned perfectly and Mrs. White
used it to transport dishes with food and other things from the
kitchen to the little closet next to the dining room on the main
floor. The little square shaft also reached to all four levels including
the attic. It would have been easier if Charles had placed the tray
in the elevator and walked upstairs without it, but as his offer
to bring Jane the soup was spontaneous, he hadn't thought about
it. Clumsily holding the tray in one hand, he carefully knocked
on Jane's door.
Jane's eyes dilated in surprise at seeing
Charles in her room. She greeted him faintly, automatically raising
her hand to her hair.
"Here is soup for the patient."
Charles kicked the door closed with his foot and cringed when he
heard the clapping noise and feared the impact on Jane's head. "Sorry,
I'm afraid I'm not good at this."
"Don't say that." Jane smiled and
tried to sit up.
Charles put the tray on a side table and
approached her. "Here let me help you." He plumped up
the pillow. "This isn't enough. Here let's put this one from
the couch behind it." Quickly, he grabbed two little square
pillows and placed them behind the big one from the bed making it
easier for Jane to sit up. Wrapping his arm around her shoulder,
he carefully let her lean back.
Partly uncomfortable and awkward, but simultaneously
feeling her skin tingle everywhere he touched it through her nightdress,
Jane joked, "I'm not breakable, you know."
"Is it okay? Do you want another pillow?
Wait, you will need a bed-table to put the tray on. Let me fetch
mine out of my room."
Before actually hearing what he said, Jane
watched his retreating back. Soon he came back with a pine bed-table,
placing it carefully over Jane's lap. "Does it stand firmly
enough? It's a very handy one, I use it often when my bed is way
too comfortable to leave and I have work to do."
Jane smiled at seeing him bustle about. "Thank
you, Charles, it's wonderful. Please don't go through all this trouble
"Of course I will." Suddenly Charles
stopped, eyed Jane profoundly and sat himself on the bed side. "You
scared me to death this morning," he continued in a low voice.
"I'm sorry." Jane watched how Charles
fumbled with the bed-table pretending to check to see if it stood
firmly enough. "Thank you for your help. You were wonderful
this morning." She bashfully smiled and continued, "And
you're wonderful for having me in your house. Sorry for all the
inconvenience I'm causing you."
Charles immediately dismissed it. "Please
stop apologizing. I'm glad to have you here. Besides, I owe you.
It was my horse that quarreled with yours and
"Yours? Caroline's you mean?" Jane
"Caroline's, it doesn't matter. If it
wasn't for that horse
"It was a silly accident Charles, don't
"I do. Besides
hesitated a little. "I took you to my house as a selfish act."
Jane raised an eyebrow. "I couldn't stand to be uncertain about
your well-being. If you're feeling any better I want to know immediately,
and that's easier to find out when you're close." His hand
hesitantly moved from the table to her fingers, and he tentatively
brushed them with his knuckles. They both followed the movement
meticulously without saying a word until Jane broke the silence.
"Perhaps something of that broth you brought me might help
me feel better?"
"Of course." Charles stood up and
brought the tray from the side table to the bed. "Here you
are. Now be a good girl and eat it."
When he sat on the bed again, Jane had to laugh. "You are not
going to watch me eat it are you?" Suddenly she felt uncomfortable
again. Every hair that was not in the exact, correct position as
she would have liked it to be, seemed to prick up on her head, telling
her she looked awful.
"Promise me you'll eat it then."
Charles's pleading eyes melted Jane's heart. On her almost invisible
nod, he rose to leave her alone. But before he went downstairs he
turned towards the bed again, ignored the little warning voice in
the back of his head, bent forward and kissed Jane softly on her
Jane found herself alone in the room again
with a huge bowl of broth she had absolutely no desire to eat. Staring
into the liquid, she tried to read the answer to the question that
was teasing her. Was it the accident that morning that had deprived
her of any appetite or was something else the reason she had no
desire to finish it?
<center>* ~* ~* </center>
It was the same muddled feelings of doubt that caused Jane to refuse
Elizabeth's suggestion to come downstairs for the evening. "I
feel a lot better than this morning, but I really think it's best
to stay here," she explained when Elizabeth came to pick up
Elizabeth went downstairs on her own, bringing
the leftovers of her sister's meal to the kitchen, then washing
the dishes. Not that there was much to clean, because the men left
the kitchen as neat as a pin. At least Elizabeth automatically expected
it to be the result of Charles and William, for she couldn't imagine
Caroline and Louisa dirtying their manicured hands on downstairs
Except for Jane, the others were all present
when Elizabeth entered the Chinese Room. Originally, Netherfield's
main floor had been split into several sleeping rooms as well as
the entry hall with the staircase, the room at the front, which
was the study now, and two rooms on the south side. One had been
an anteroom for guests and making music and the other had been the
drawing room. During a renovation at the beginning of the twentieth
century, those two chambers were conjoined to one large room. It
was called the Chinese Room because the original, painted, Chinese
patterned leather still covered some of the walls as it had since
the day the house was built. Charles spent the evenings there and
used it like a large living room. Modern equipment was cleverly
hidden in antique furniture, allowing the possibility of a breath
of ancient grandeur combined with modern comfort.
Charles suggested they could play <i>Settlers
Of Catan</i>, the popular board game, and both William and
Elizabeth agreed. The eagerness with which they did caused Caroline
to hesitantly agree to join the party as well. Although not very
fond of party games, she decided, nevertheless, that she simply
could not be absent from this merry little pastime, and persuaded
Louisa to join as well.
They decided to play <i>Catan</i>
together with the <i>Cities and Knights Expansion Set</i>
as it would not only lengthen the duration of the game, but also
make it less dependent on the dice and more on the strategic decisions
of the players. It didn't take long before William had a few cities.
Elizabeth noticed he not only knew how to use his own cards, but
had a particularly useful skill.
"Do you have a sudden clairvoyance?"
Elizabeth asked with raised eyebrows. "You know everything
we have in our hand, it's amazing."
William looked at the board, seemingly deep
in thought over what to do next. "If I want to trade, I need
to know what I can ask for from whom, right? You need stone because
I expect you want to build a road towards the mountain there, and
as you have at least two cards of grain and as the others are all
out of it, I ask your grain for my stone."
Elizabeth blinked in surprise. Indeed, she
had a grain card and, yes, he was completely right; she wanted to
build a road at the exact place at which he pointed. Lifting her
cards a bit and keeping them close to her eyes, she gazed intensely
at them before she raised her eyes just over the edge to send William
a mischievous glance. "I'm not so sure I want to trade my grain
Unmoved, William shrugged and picked up the
dice pretending to give them to Elizabeth for her turn. "Then
not. You need it, not me." He lied. He needed Elizabeth's grain
card but it was the last thing he would admit and squaring his shoulders
a bit he feigned disinterestedness and turned away from her.
"First, who says I need it. Secondly,
even if I needed it I would certainly not trade it with you,"
Elizabeth challenged and she rotated one of her knights on the board
so that the image on the little round disk was upright from her
point of view. At doing so, her little finger barely touched one
of William's pieces but he could see she pushed his inactive knight
that was lying close, a few millimeters away. He got her hint that
she was well aware he needed her grain card to activate that knight,
become the strongest player on the board and win a round from the
"I might as well trade my grain with
Charles when it's my turn." Elizabeth smiled at the other side
of the table were Charles suddenly cheered up on seeing he could
indeed use the grain as well. If he could activate his knight with
the grain, the barbarian's could conquer the board for the first
time it would mean William would lose a city.
"Of course you realize I will not forget
this." William teasingly said, put the dice Elizabeth had touched
seconds before on the right place again and smiled at the pleasant
thought he had found a player with skills equal to his.
"Don't worry, I'll help remind you before
<I>and</I> after I've played you off the board."
Elizabeth took the dice from William who had nothing else to do
with his turn without the grain. "Imagine, you used the grain
to make batter for pancakes," she teased and glanced toward
Caroline could not see the playful banter
between Elizabeth and William for the harmless challenges that go
together with party games, but she immediately recognized what Elizabeth
was referring to. "Charles, I said it before in the kitchen.
If Mrs. White is taking a leave, I insist you hire someone else.
It is ridiculous that we have our guests cooking for us."
She was the only one who was oblivious to
the sudden change of mood because she had no idea her statement
had a whole other meaning of cattiness with respect to Elizabeth's
remarks. Neither did she notice the annoyed look in William's eyes
when she smiled at him. "I am sure this would never happen
at Pemberley. I'm sure there's always someone to take care of your
sister, Georgiana." Absent-mindedly, she took the dice from
Elizabeth. "Actually, how is your sister doing?"
"She is fine, thank you," William
answered shortly. "She's in Switzerland this year."
"Of course, I almost forgot. It's for
her education, right?" Caroline forgot to throw her dice.
"Yes, it is a practical year."
William looked at his cards.
"Oh, how I would love to see her again,
soon." Caroline turned towards her sister. "Don't you
agree with me, Louisa. She is such a pleasant girl."
"Oh, yes. I imagine you must miss her
"I do," William answered politely.
"That reminds me, Caroline, I must ask a favor of you."
"Certainly," Caroline said self-assuredly
as though a request from William was a common occurrence.
"Next week, we will have one of our
business relations from Great Britain over and he mentioned he'll
be bringing his wife and daughter. Since Georgiana is not at home,
could you entertain them?"
"Naturally." Caroline beamed from
ear to ear. "When can I come to Pemberley?"
"Actually, we have some meetings up
north and it would be more convenient if they stayed here."
William glanced at Charles. "I expect Mr. King advanced his
visit because he has high hopes of the deal."
"Oh, is it Mr. King and his family?"
To Elizabeth's utter amazement, Caroline left the table and fetched
a little book from one of the drawers in the closet. "Here,
I have it." Caroline searched through the pages. "We received
that lovely Chinese lacquer box from him at Christmas two years
ago. It will do perfectly on the little side table there."
Carefully, Caroline collected the little black box from the closet.
"You actually keep a book of which gifts
you receive and from whom?" Elizabeth asked, surprised.
"Yes, Caroline does it. She always puts
a gift from one of our relatives or clients somewhere in the room
when they visit us." Charles explained.
"I suppose you've never entertained
business relations?" Louisa asked.
At Elizabeth's negative shake, Caroline continued,
"Louisa, don't forget not everybody entertains important guests."
"Of course not." Louisa turned
back from the table and watched Caroline place the box on the side
table. "You must be friendly, but not overly nice. You must
be able to detect what their interests are so you can converse on
a topic they enjoy."
"Of course, you must know a great deal
about many different topics to not only have a conversation but
one on a certain level as well," Caroline added.
"I think Elizabeth knows what you mean.
Shall we continue the game?" Charles laid the dice on the table
at Caroline's place to indicate it was her turn. His sister, however,
remained standing, prefering to continue focusing the attention
on the fact William asked her for a favor. "William, I'm sure
you're conscious about how important it is to entertain your business
relations or their family for that matter? One should be welcoming,
taking them to the finest restaurants and of course showing them
the best shops we have to offer. They must feel they are your best
"Yes, I know," William casually
said. "People behind a business who take care of those social
obligations are very important."
"They must be indeed if you have made
your entire education how to deal with them." Elizabeth smiled.
"Well, what do you expect?" Caroline
joined them again at the table. Methodically organizing the cards
in her hand she raised her chin a little and continued, "The
continuation of an entire company might be at stake, it's self-evident
one prepares thoroughly for such meetings. But I expect you never
have had to deal with them?"
Elizabeth wasn't completely sure, but she
really thought she saw William's lips twitching a tiny bit. "As
a matter of fact, I have had some meetings with business relations,
but I've never <I>pretended</I> to make them feel they
were my best friends. Staying polite and friendly should be enough
and if something does grow into a friendship, it will happen spontaneously.
In the end, they will feel if it's true or not. Honesty is the best
She looked intensely at her cards when she
spoke but she could feel William looking at her, smiling widely.
"Caroline, it's your turn to play,"
Charles urged his sister. "You have a week to organize where
to take Mrs. King and her daughter, and where to put their gift.
Let's continue the game, first things first."
Play continued, and after a long, strenuous
battle, William won the game
one point ahead of Elizabeth.