“So we’re going over to the shop again,” said Sir John to Marie. She looked up from the book she was reading and stared absently at her husband.
“We’re hoping to find out more about this possible Clackprattle link from this Osvold chap,” continued Sir John. “You’re welcome to come if you have time.”
“Non, mon cher,” she said, lifting the book, “I should finish this reading.”
“You’ve…” started Sir John, “you’ve been reading that rather a lot. Which, of course, is fine and, and completely understandable. I just wonder whether some fresh air might, er, lift your spirits.”
Marie looked at Sir John quizzically.
“I’m fine mon cher,” she said and then looked down at her book.
Sir John stood for a moment more. His mouth opened then closed. Then he nodded a little, and left to go.
“I shouldn’t be too late,” he said as he left.
Marie barely registered him leaving the room. She came to the end of the book and put it down for a second. Then she glanced down at it and picked it up again, opening it at the start.
“Where are you?” she said quietly.
There was a knock at the door.
“Room service!” said the voice and Marie went over to the door, her eyes fixed to the pages in the book as she did. She opened the door without looking and a maid came in with a trolley.
“The usual place?” said the maid and Marie nodded.
The maid laid out two bowls and some cutlery on the table Marie had been sitting at. She then reached down and took a knife and napkin that had been lying underneath the table.
“These must be from lunch,” she said with a forced cheeriness. She walked towards the door and hesitated just at the entrance.
Marie looked up briefly at the maid, eyes unfocused. Then she blinked.
“I’m sorry,” Marie said and reached into her purse. She took out some coins and dropped them in the maid’s hand. The maid glanced down and then smiled and bobbed enthusiastically before leaving the room.
Marie sat down at the table, and, without glancing, used the fork to spear some of the food in a bowl. The fork was raised to her mouth as she kept on reading and she took a bite. She pulled back at the taste and looked at her fork, realising she had taken a fork full of the fruit salad and not the casserole on her table. She rearranged the dishes and the knife fell onto the floor. Marie ignored it and speared some of the casserole with the fork.
She read some more and a small tear ran down her face. There was a knock again and Marie looked down at the food on the table and then at the door. She walked over and opened it up.
“Hello Marie,” said Pook.