A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 130: New Friends and Old Times

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

Edited: Tarasandia, 5 May 2021

Of course, my short interlude to ponder approaches to the patent opportunity was interrupted far before I wanted it to be. Mrs. Byrne was there to escort me back to my new conference room, where she had a guest waiting for me. I was clueless about who it could be and curious about the need for privacy. My runners from the different teams had been sent directly to me at the bar; that shortened the list of who might be waiting for me.

I was stunned to be introduced to a well-dressed and attractive woman who appeared to be about my age. Mrs. Byrne introduced me to the widow Grace Langdon. Mrs. Langdon’s late husband had been a banker at the 2nd US Bank and had met an unfortunate end on a business trip to New York. To travel long distances in the early nineteenth century was risky business. Until the train lines were fully established, a trip back east could easily last three months, start-to-finish. A lot of dangerous things can happen in three months’ travel time.

Greeting rituals were completed and Mrs. Byrne quickly got to the point.

“Mrs. Langdon has found a fiscal shortage in the family accounts and is in need of a boarder to offset that shortage. She has a small but fine estate and a delightful home. I would prefer that you stay there during your visits, rather than that horrid place they call a hotel.”

It sounded like a decree more than a recommendation; I did feel a little rebellious at the implied responsibility. A beautiful and cultured woman can make that feeling fade quickly and Grace Langdon did so with a smoothness worthy of her name. She quickly pulled me into conversation, beginning with the well-appointed room provided for our meeting by the gracious Mrs. Byrne. I turned to smile at Mrs. Byrne, only to find that she had magically disappeared, leaving us alone together. Very suspicious, if you ask me. I was being lured in, like a helpless hungry fish. Damned women.

Suddenly, we were talking about the pommes frittes and what a magnificent new recipe it was. She had tasted them earlier and was astounded by the simple yet rewarding flavors. I was a bit taken aback by the effusive praise; I had to remind myself that the modern world offered us endless varieties of everything available on our handheld computer/phone.

Mrs. Byrne chose that moment to return with a serving of aforementioned treats and a variety of sauces to dip them in. Apparently, she was having a good time experimenting with this new dish. I asked for another round of beer, and dug in to snack. I listened to Widow Langdon describe the estate and various maintenance issues she was struggling with. Since her problem was money, I was starting to view this as more of a business proposition than a housing option.

My watch told me that the ‘Gretzky’s’ would arrive soon, so I let her know that I was expecting some old friends for supper and invited her to join us. I explained that I would prefer some private time when they first arrived to catch up, and if she could provide us a quarter-hour of privacy, it should be a fun supper. I would tour her house when supper was over. She had shifted to wine, so we drank a toast just as my visitors arrived. Mrs. Langdon took her leave and I greeted my new ‘slaves’ with a big smile.

I sat them down and got right to the point. “Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Gretzky we need to get our story straight, arrow-straight, and I envision something like this.”

“We met at a social function in Cairo while you were preparing for a trade trip to New Orleans. You were shipwrecked in an awful gale in the Gulf and ended up here, where I happily redeemed my friends and allowed them to return to society at their proper station.”

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