Wislydale, for his part, didn’t seem quite as nervous as Junapa or Kolb. He was dressed in the fine white-tie outfit Edmund had chosen, rimed with bright gold trim and sporting a deep cut neck. The collar was wide and sweeping, giving him a coiffed look. He looked clearer eyed than Edmund had ever seen him. He strode into the room confidently, reaching out to Patron Vanndegaar and shaking the reluctantly offered hand.
“Samsuel, old boy!” he said, a small smile playing about his lips. “Good to see you again.”
“I wish I could say the same,” Patron Vanndegaar said through gritted teeth. “Hasn’t Grigori kicked you out of the Bonne family yet?”
“Not at all, old chap,” Wislydale shrugged. “My dear Patron seems to agree with me that it’s best for the family if I keep the name. Less scandal all around, what?”
“Am I to take it Tricknee is around as well, then?” Matron Scower sniffed, looking back towards the door. “I seem to remember hearing you both tend to follow one another around, these days.”
“Someone has to keep an eye on the old fellow, what?” Wislydale gave a stiff bow to Matron Scower, his smile slipping. “And Patron Bonne thought who better than the goat’s own son? Ah! Tunansia, how… splendid you look?”
Edmund looked to see Tunansia walking into the room, her usually scowling face forced into an unnatural smile. It was unsettling, seeing her trying to look pleasant. Gone was the same thin yellow dress she had worn almost every day that Edmund had seen her, But she was not wearing the bright blue dress Edmund had picked for her. Instead, she was wearing an elaborate pearl dress covered in purple ribbons, and a large bow sat slightly lopsided on her head. She walked unsteadily through the room, heading straight for Patron Vanndegaar, her arm outstretched like the reaper claiming its victim.
“Patron Vanndegaar,” she said breathlessly when she reached him. “I’m so pleased…”
Edmund stared. Was she purposefully making her voice higher? Patron Vanndegaar seemed as bemused as Edmund as he slowly took Tunansia’s hand and gave a small bend at the waist. Instantly, Tunansia’s face blossomed into a sincere blush, and she fumbled at her waist for a ornate lace fan, flipping it open and fanning herself as Vanndegaar dropped her hand.
Well, thought Edmund, I wasn’t expecting that.
A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention, enough to see Pinsnip slip his way in, with his angry glare locked on Edmund. The others didn’t seem to notice him; or if they did, they didn’t care to react. He was wearing most of what Edmund had purchased for him. The suit was remarkably similar to what he had worn when he first met Edmund, tall and black with the collar that passed his ears. Oddly, though, he was not wearing the tall silk hat. An odd protest, Edmund thought. Pinsnip slipped to a corner of the room and sulked, his hands combing over his jacket sleeves and collar, like a nervous fly.
“Enough!” Matron Scower shouted, her eyes flashing.