Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?


Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery


“Absolutely not!” Teodor emphatically told his nephew. “I am not going to marry an old fashioned Hungarian woman. I came to America to escape the old fashioned.”
László choked back a laugh. He gazed around his uncle’s study which was strewn with books and pictures from Hungary. Coats of arms of the great houses of Hungary, depictions of nursery rhymes they had both been raised with, paintings of hunting and stags.  Even the curtains were heavy damask, as would have been normal in old-fashioned, conservative. Hungarian homes.
Teodor himself gave an air of old fashioned conservatism. He wore a high removable collar, and cuff links showing a family crest. László caught Teodor’s arm and peered more closely.
“Are these your family crests?” he asked his uncle.
“No,” his uncle replied, jerking his arm back. “I helped a friend out with some cash and he insisted that I take them. They’re gold, so they’re worth something. What is it to you?”
László stifled his smile. “Nothing at all. If they’re worth something though, why don’t you sell them and get your money?”
His uncle, chastised him. “László! They are the crest of the man’s family! I cannot treat them as if they are unadorned gold!”
László smiled broadly, “But they’re not your family. Why would you wear them?”
Teodor answered shortly, “My shirt sleeves needed cuff-links. Now stop pestering me. I’m not going to change my mind about this girl!”
“Uncle,” began László, “she is a modern woman. She has even served as a nurse. Look around this place; you need someone to help you.” László gestured to the piles of papers and cups and saucers strewn about the study. It was where Teodor spent most of his time at home. The smart young man added, “she’ll be a fantastic cook, too, and you cannot deny that you miss good home cooking.”
Teodor grimaced. “Nephew,” he said. “I do not want to be dishonest with you. I do not want a woman to cook for me, to clean up after me, or to be dependent on me. If I want the company of women, I can seek them out and leave them when I am bored. ”
László sighed, “Teodor, I don’t know what to do then. I guess I’ll have to go to Hungary myself.”
Teodor was irritated with him. “That is not the only solution! This woman can accompany your mother, but not under the impression she will be keeping house for me or marrying me. I just want to make that clear!”
László smiled. “Okay, I’ll take the train to New York to meet their ship. I’ll spend the entire journey from New York to Chicago telling her what an unpleasant fellow you are.”
Teodor drew himself up to his entire height of 5’7”. “You will not do that! I will go to New York and meet the train. I will make myself an obviously unsuitable bridegroom.” He flashed a smile, “I need to do some business in New York anyway, and you cannot afford to miss out on your studies. I may not like having women around me, but I do love New York, and I know how to handle women when I need to be a charming rogue. I will enjoy the challenge. By the time we reach Chicago she will beg your mother to find her a widower with seven children to care for!” He winked at his nephew and twirled his moustache.
László rolled his eyes, shook his head, and assented to the arrangement.

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