“What’s for dinner?” asked Arthur.
“Cook it and see,” replied Miss Sevenpenny. “I am your work partner not your mum!”
Arthur smiled, “I am glad you said that. Dr Webster would always insist on being mother.” He rose from his chair and headed to the kitchen. “It has been a while since I have cooked for a guest.”
“What are you planning on making?”
“I don’t know yet, I always like to improvise when in the kitchen,” Arthur answered.
Miss Sevenpenny smiled and pondered what culinary delight, or otherwise, would await her on the dining table
It was about an hour and a half later that Arthur returned to the living room with a satisfied smile on his face; if the food was half as good as the aromas that had been emanating from the Kitchen she was in for a treat. “If you would come this way Miss,” he said in what was a misguided attempt at an impression of a French waiter and escorted the young lady towards what had been assigned as the dining room. It was a make shift affair with some old tea chests and a tarpaulin doubling as a table and cloth; a couple of dulled tumblers sat next to an open bottle of wine, there were mismatched pots on the table with serving spoons emerging from the not always fitting lids. “It isn’t exactly the Ritz,” said Arthur with a rye smile as her poured a measure of the wine into one of the tumblers and guided miss Sevenpenny to her seat, “and this is no way to serve a good wine.” Arthur crossed to the other side of the table and took his seat, “help yourself to the pots.”
Miss Sevenpenny nodded and opened the nearest two pots, they contained mashed potato and a mix of buttered cooked veg. She served herself a scope and a half-full of each and the gestured Arthur to pass her the remaining two pots, one contained some plain chicken breast and the other some seasoned chicken breast. There were a number of condiments on side, Arthur had meant business when he went into the kitchen, she wondered if this was due to him being a long term bachelor or if it was just a hobby he indulged in.
“I know it’s chicken and the wine is red but needs must under the circumstances,” Arthur said apologetically.
“Oh I am not fussy,” replied Sevenpenny as she tucked into her meal. She watched Arthur as he served himself, he was conducting himself in a very measured way, almost like he was at a formal dinner. She knew they were on assignment and not out for pleasure but she was surprised he was staying so ‘proper’. The seasoned chicken was a bit on the spicy side for her, clearly not everything made it to the records department she mused quietly.
The meal continued in almost virtual silence with Arthur only occasionally pausing to check on the food or if she wanted more wine, it was only when he served up dessert that conversation started up, naturally it started with talk about the food. “I hope you don’t mind Jam Rolly-Poly, desserts aren’t really my strong point.”
“That will be fine,” smiled Sevenpenny.
“Dr Webster always said he was very fond of Liz’s rolly-poly’s,” Arthur mused as poured the custard, “evidently I couldn’t get the mix right because he never seemed over keen when I served it up.”
Miss Sevenpenny looked up, “I don’t think he was being literal, I think he may have been deploying a. …. actually nevermind.” Was Arthur really that naive? Or was he treating her like a child again? She couldn’t really tell, he had been quite straight around her since their first case together but there was something sweet about his conduct as well which she couldn’t put her finder on.
“About the sleeping arrangements,” she began. Arthur sat up very straight and raised his eyebrow, “this isn’t exactly and ideal situation-”
“I’ll make myself a pallet on the floor in the front,” Arthur interrupted. “Sweet young thing like you needs her comfort.”
Was he begin genuine or a condescending? “Well you are considerably older than I,” she began, “wouldn’t it be better for you to take a proper bed?”
He smiled, “when you have been in the job as long as I, you make do with the worst conditions.” He poured himself more wine and topped up her glass, “so you hail from the exotic land of Oswestry….”
Arthur was woken by a sudden prod to the shoulder by something with a fairly sharp point, it took him a moment or two to bring the figure standing over him into focus but that wasn’t his immediate draw of focus. No, he was more alarmed at the now messily haired young lady whose head was resting on his upon shoulder and who rather amusingly appeared to be sucking her thumb, he looked down and let a too-audible sigh of relief to find they were both fully- if not very elegantly- dressed. The sigh caused miss Sevenpenny to stir and she mutter something unintelligible under her breath.
“So the sleeping beauties have woken,” tutted the figure standing above them.
“Very funny Snellgrove,” Arthur grumbled trying to force himself awake.
“I never thought you of all of our agents-” Snellgrove laughed…
“It’s not what it looks like,” said Sevenpenny, “nothing happened.”
“Well I advise you to make yourselves look presentable because ‘his nibs’ is due here in 20 minutes,” said Snellgrove. “I’ll be in the back while you sort yourselves out, it was very thoughtful of you to leave me something for breakfast.” With that that Snellgrove departed to the back room to polish off the remnants of the meal.
Arthur attempted to straighten his clothing out and looked a little sheepish at Sevenpenny who seemed more amused then embarrassed, “relax Arthur. We polished off the wine and I must have fallen asleep on you. That’s all.”
“Well, I suggest you get a shower. I’ll put the kettle one.”
“I hope our next dinner date is as much fun,” said miss Sevenpenny sweetly.