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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 91: Slade 119
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“Mr. Slade! Mr. Slade!”
Slade and Shella had already cast their insignificancy spells, and Lieutenant Lyson ran right past them calling his name while heading toward the exit.
“It sounds important,” Slade said to Shella. “Do you think I should find out what he wants?”
“Well,” she answered, “I don’t know what could be important to us, but it certainly seems to be important to him.”
“All right then, but you stay cloaked, just in case,” he said, and dropped the spell. “Lieutenant?”
The adjutant came to a skidding halt and whirled around.
“I--I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”
“Don’t apologize, Lieutenant, you weren’t supposed to.” Slade smiled. “Did I forget something?”
“Oh--I--I don’t know. Colonel Mlambo told me to ask you if you would come back for a moment. He didn’t tell me why; he didn’t want me to miss you.”
“Well.” Slade thought for only a moment. “If the Colonel has politely asked to see me, I suppose the least we can do is accommodate him. Lead on, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Lyson led them back into the Colonel’s office with a cursory introduction.
“Mr. Slade,” Mlambo said enthusiastically. “I forget my manners, sometimes, and indeed, it’s more than that. I was wondering whether you and your lovely wife might dine with me this evening; you may certainly avail yourselves of our facilities for the night, if it is more convenient for you to resume your travels in the morning. You are one of the most interesting people I have met in a long time, and I think it would be a shame to have you vanish without having at least sat down once just to chat.”
Slade’s jaw did not drop, but his eyebrows certainly popped up. “I don’t know what to say, but,” he paused, “but my wife says you’re basically a good and honorable man, and I would have to agree, so I think we would be honored to dine with you. I don’t know that your men will be comfortable with it, but then, I haven’t really been worried about making them comfortable so far.”
“Then it’s settled. Lyson, let the kitchen know I have two guests for dinner.”
It was not clear that Lieutenant Lyson approved of dining with ghosts, but it was clear that he was a responsible officer who would follow his commander’s orders.
“Well, I assume we have a few minutes. With your permission, we’ll settle our things in the room and get cleaned up--we’ve been in the field for several days. Where and when should we meet you?”
“I will send someone to escort you. It should be about an hour and a half from now, maybe a bit sooner but certainly not less than an hour.”
“Very good. We look forward to it.”
As they left the office, Slade said to Shella, “Well, I’m surprised. Maybe we did change something in our time here.”
“Yes, m’lord, I would say so. But I told you he was a good person. I think he learned something from us.”
“So, do you want the first shower, or shall we crowd in together?”
“Whatever you prefer, m’lord. I don’t consider it crowded to be together with you.”
“Then together. I don’t know that it will be faster, but we can pretend it will.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #257: Verser Relationships. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: