Kitchen Help [23 Hispis 4385]
I was going to go into Eigrach immediately after breakfast this morning. Unfortunately, it was an excellent and substantial vegetarian breakfast, produced by Calla and Mellilot. Not unfortunate for its own sake: it was delicious and nicely varied, consisting, as it did, of griddle cakes with strong cheese and olives, sweet apricot puddings, carrot halvah, onion salad, artichoke pie, tarrissy, and this and that of leftovers.
But, after breakfast, Thiane -- one of our useful collection of Cani -- went 'round to the kitchen to see which Herethroy had been crying into the puddings, and why. Which I didn't particularly note at first, for I was chatting with a rather limp Grinwipey and a rather bouncy Phaniet. But our conversation ran long, and so did theirs, and they were still talking when they came out to pick up the dishes.
I first noticed when I heard my name.
Calla:"That won't help. Sythyry's totally on her side."
Thiane:"Yeah, but maybe you can use that to your advantage. Phrase it as 'getting her out of work', instead of 'helping you', or something."
Calla:"No, I don't want to be any trouble to anyone. It's fine really. It's not like we won't be here for months."
Thiane:"It's not fine. It's not fair, and it's making you very unhappy."
So I called to them.
Me:"Sorry to eavesdrop on you, but ... what's wrong?"
Calla:"Nothing to speak of."
Me:"You are speaking of it already, with Thiane."
Calla:"Well, it's nothing big. You've got more important things to worry about. Like getting the ship fixed and keeping the pirates away."
Grinwipey:"And gettin' zir yanabloonie all over some swimmy's sweet, sweet jam."
Me:"I think that we are getting the ship fixed soon, and there are no pirates nearby."
Calla:"Never mind, Sythyry."
Thiane:"Do mind. It's your friend."
Me:"Oh, dear. What has Vae done now?"
Thiane:"Not that friend."
Me:"Nearly everybody aboard is my friend, though that may be pushing it in the case of Blenny, and I am not at all convinced about Dorze or my stepdaughter's new girlfriend. Could you be more specific?"
Thiane looked oddly shy. Mellilot tapped antennae with Calla. "It's really all right."
Calla:"If I must. It's Arfaen is the problem."
Me:"What about Arfaen?"
Calla:"Remember what we decided about the kitchen schedule?"
Me:"Yes..." That being, seven days a week, Arfaen is to produce breakfast and lunch and Calla dinner, and the other two, vice-versa.
Calla:"Well, we haven't been keeping to it so much."
Me:"I had noticed a few deviations here and there."
Calla:"Nearly every day."
Thiane:"We've been en route for, what, twenty-four days? And Arfaen has gotten Calla to take over nineteen meals."
Grinwipey:"That's dacking close to one a day. Some days more'n one."
Me:"And some days less than one, too. Hasn't she taken over a few meals for you too, Calla?"
Thiane:"A very few meals. Two, or fewer."
Grinwipey:"If'n it's fewer'n two, it's finger-slumping gotta be one, don't it? Or is there some kinda integer that you civvy gombered-up primes know that us simple shoggies don't?"
Thiane:"One of them was a lunch that she asked Calla to do, and then Arfaen came in halfway through to take over. Does that count as a one, or a half, or a none?"
Grinwipey:"Well, I'll be muppered with a dupper and left out to shump. You did find an integer like that. Daft tweezey little grownders!"
Calla:"And I know that Arfaen has a troubled puppy and a ... well, a lover, Mellilot..." Mellilot nodded grimly. ... and I know Arfaen's been getting more than her fair share of doom and all. And I know she started off with a bigger portion of the cooking than me, two meals to one-and-nighttime. And I know I'm single and not even dating anyone very much just now. But I still think I deserve some rest once in a while."
Thiane whispered quietly to her, "Calla, that was very well done; it was brave of you to say all that."
I put a very wise and/or sagacious look on my face, and chewed wisely and/or sagaciously on my tail tip until it wisely and sagaciously bled.
Me:"I knew that Arfaen was being a bit light on her share of the cooking. I did not know it was getting to be such a trouble for you. I will see that the situation is redressed, and not slowly either."
Calla:"I don't mean to be a trouble to you, Sythyry, or anything like that. Thiane put me up to saying it..."
Me:"Right, she did. Thank you, Thiane, for putting her up to it and making sure I knew about it."
Thiane shrugged, and rubbed at a spot on a table. "Seemed like the thing to do."
Grinwipey:"Thiane sez, 'Glad to kick you inna ribs 'til you ain't quite so dense as a load of multiply-compressed bricks, lizard girl'. Sure as shift Mellilot wasn't gonna go squeal on her girlfriend.'"
Mellilot:"Arfaen and I need to settle our differences privately."
Me:"Oh, dear. That doesn't sound good."
Mellilot:"It's not good. You can hear all about it from the rumormongers tomorrow or the day after."
Calla:"I really don't mean to be causing any of you any trouble. I can do the extra work, really I can."
Me:"I didn't bring you on vacation be a galley slave. For the next three days you are not to do any cooking. What Arfaen doesn't do, we will find someone else to do -- Este and Umbers and Zascalle perhaps. And have some of it catered from outside."
Phaniet:"Poor Arfaen. She's had a rough month, and nothing better is coming up for her."
Me:"Poor Arfaen, and, apparently, poor Calla, upon whom the shadow of Arfaen's rough month has fallen."
Mellilot nodded grimly.