“Well, well!” Wislydale yawned, tipping his glass into his mouth. “Here we all are again, what? Jolly grand to see you all.”
“And you too, cousin,” Junapa said, as Wislydale staggered into the room and sat with a cavalcade of creaking wood in-between Junapa and Edmund. “And just in time! We have only just been served our meal. It looks quite delicious.”
“Soup again, I’ll wager,” Wislydale smirked viciously as the cart approached. “That daft old maid of Matron’s doesn’t know a bisque from a biscuit.”
Edmund took another spoonful of his own soup while he wondered what he would say when the rest of the family arrived… or if he would say anything at all.
Ung had just finished wheeling the serving cart back to the wall when the door burst open, revealing Kolb in splendid dinner dress. He strode three steps into the room, raised his hand above his head, and slammed his foot down on the floor like an actor making his entrance. He stood still, posed like a statue, and waited.
Edmund glanced around and saw that none of the other cousins were looking anywhere near Kolb, so Edmund watched on their behalf.
After a moment, Kolb winked at him and strode like a king to the chair on Edmund’s left at the opposite end of the table from Wislydale. Flicking his coat-tails out of the way with a twist of his wrists, he sank into the chair without a single squeak.
“My cousins!” He said, his sudden booming voice startling Pinsnip into almost inhaling his soup. “I’m honored to join you at your repast!”
“Melodramatic twat,” Wislydale muttered into his glass as he emptied it. Pinsnip suppressed a snicker.
“And what lovely feast do we have to look forward to this evening?” Kolb snapped his napkin into the air like a whip and tossed it neatly into his lap. “A gathering of grouse? Perhaps a cluster of chicken? Or… yes! A soupcon of soup!” He clapped his hands as Ung lowed his ladle to Kolb’s bowl. “How delicious and unexpected!”
“It could use a little salt,” Junapa smiled innocently at Ung, who gave a nod as he headed for the sideboard, his thick hands reaching for the salt cellar.
“Nonsense!” Kolb grinned as his hands making several passes over his bowl, vanishing and reappearing the spoon with a flick of his wrist before taking a loud sniff of the bright green liquid. “I have never had a bit of the old gel’s cooking that wasn’t spiced to perfection! I do not know where Matron found her, but it was a stroke of genius hiring Mrs. Kopple’s as her cook!”
“Mrs. Kippling,” Edmund corrected, before he could stop himself. Instantly, the hairs on the back of his head shot straight up as four pairs of eyes landed squarely on him.