79: The Family’s Attire

Kolb was dressed in a fine white-tie suit that looked very similar to his earlier attire. The red fabric with yellow trim had been replaced with white cloth and black trim. The suit seemed almost too small, as his thick neck strained against his tight collar and cravat while his jacket sleeves seemed to struggle towards his elbows. His roguish smile never left his broad face, and the faint five-o-clock shadow that covered his chin under his long mustache gave his face a sallow and angular look. He ate his soup quickly and silently, without slurping or spilling a drop, and his chair never creaked. His eyes were bright and clear, and he seemed to always be looking at something–whether another person at the table, a painting on the wall, or the chandelier, his eyes never looking below table level for more than a second.

Tunansia was dressed in the exact same clothing she had worn before–a pale yellowish white blouse and skirt, with silver jewelry covering her fingers. Her tan skin glowed in the gaslight, and her eyes were highlighted by the red ribbon she still wore about her neck. The only change from when Edmund first saw her was her hair–it was done up now, off her neck, in a silvery net that cling to her head like a crown. Her broad mouth only ever seemed to open just enough for her to slide a spoonful of soup in, and then close. Periodically, she would finger a small silver locket that hung around her neck. She wasn’t looking at anyone; her eyes remained locked on her food, and she moved with a smooth still purpose that made her look very old.

Pinsnip was also dressed in the same clothes Edmund had first seen him in–his clothing was jet black, with a tailed coat that reached the backs of his calves. His collar was high–almost past his bright pink ears–and the only piece of white on his person. It made him look a bit like a pencil with a face that had put on a suit. His small black tie wobbled up and down when he swallowed; his salt-and-pepper mustache quivered as he ate. The large top hat was absent, revealing a matted pile of graying hair that stuck to his skull like paint, with only one small spot on the crown where the hair was thinning. His eyes darted around the room, and then back to his soup, like he was afraid of catching anyone’s eye. He hunched over his bowl, his thin face hidden in the shadow of his brow.

Junapa was bedecked in a shimmering gray dress with elegant gloves and fine lace. Her shoulders were bare, and her pale slim face was framed by glittering diamond earrings and a necklace that formed the shape of a perfect V as it plunged down her chest. Her hair was tightly tied in a bun, sitting almost on top of her head like a tiny round hat. Her eyes were sharp, glancing for a few moments every minute or two around the table, and returning when her spoon dipped into her bowl again.

Wislydale was only half focused on eating. The other half was drinking. His hand still gripped a glass full of some foul smelling liquid, and the other hand held the spoon like a pencil, scraping up the soup and pouring it into his open mouth like he was ladling it into a bowl. His suit was a very well fitting white-tie affair, and his pencil thin mustache and carefully combed brown hair gave him an air of quiet confidence, while the faint red nose and the few flips of hair that had become uncombed belied how much drink he had already swallowed this evening. His eyes wandered lazily, never settling on anyone or anything, like a tired fly was buzzing around the room. He alternated between pouring soup and pouring drink into his mouth, giving a contented sigh every time.

As Edmund watched him, he set his glass down and cleared his throat, preparing to speak.