“As a matter of fact, I do,” Wislydale tipped his drink into his mouth, smacking his lips noisily. “I intend to rebuild the Moulde family name. Ever since the Great Agreement, the Mouldes have been considered little better than scoundrels and criminals, what?”
“Quite correctly, too,” Tunansia muttered. Wislydale ignored her.
“On top of that, there’s been quite a lot of scandal in this family, with Kolb running around in jungles and on mountains, and all that trouble with South Dunkin recently, well… It doesn’t take a bally lot of the old brain to see we’re in a spot of bother. I say we throw out some of the riff-raff and start to behave like a real founding family, what? I say let’s get our respect back.”
“Hear, hear!” Kolb shouted, pounding loudly on the table with his fist. “Let’s rid ourselves of the bandits and bashi-bazouks that burden our beloved family. Let me see if I can think of anyone who might fit the bill…” Theatrically, he placed a finger to his lips, and seemed to lose himself in thought.
“I’m sure what Kolb is so eloquently not saying,” Tunansia said, staring coldly, “is that a washed up member of a family of leeches is hardly what the Moulde Family needs to regain respect. Farmers don’t ask locusts for help when rebuilding a farm and I likewise will not trust in your good intentions.” For a moment, Tunansia and Wislydale locked eyes, until Wislydale sighed and looked away, sipping at his drink.
“What about you, Pinsnip?” Wislydale said, clearing his throat. “We’ve all been sharing our ideas, what about you?”
“I…” Pinsnip looked suddenly very ill, glancing around the table, not looking at anyone or anything for very long. “It’s… I think they’re… all very nice, but, well… I mean, I think we’d get better return on… what we have.”
“Pinsnip, would you please pull your pitiful tongue out of your palate and proceed?” Kolb rubbed his temples with two massive fingers. “I don’t think I can take too much more of your stammering.”
“Well…” Pinsnip swallowed, running his fingers over his mustache nervously. “I think… Yes, I think it would be best to keep most of… that is, the rest of the money in the estate. The Moulde name still carries weight, and we could do things with it, like… well, like hold festivals, or… or things for the common good?”
A shift in posture rippled around the table, and suddenly everyone was smiling, and chuckling quietly. Edmund couldn’t help but think someone had told a joke, but he hadn’t heard it.
“I’m finding this a damned delightful dialogue, truly–I only wish one of us had asked this question earlier.” Kolb turned to Tunansia. “And you, dearest of dear cousins? Would you care to join in and explain your enterprising endeavors?”
“No,” Tunansia said. She kept her eyes on her soup, eating pointedly while the others all stared at her.
“Don’t be a spoilsport dear,” Wislydale admonished, waving his glass about like a wand. “Tell us something. If you can’t think of anything to say it will be most disappointing, what?” Tunansia didn’t respond, but simply continued to eat, her free hand aimlessly playing with her locket.
“Yes, well, there you have it,” Junapa nodded to Edmund. “We all have our reasons for wanting the estate–some better than others, of course.”