83 - A Tray of Hors d'Oeuvres

The Guardian Dolphin

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Yes. Things were going very well, finally.

William stepped in front of the others, and closed his eyes for a moment, imagining his little top, spinning confidently.

He cleared his throat.

"Could I have your attention please?"

The music stopped.

A few people looked his way. Nick picked up a glass and tapped it with a fork.

"Please?" William said. "Everybody? Thank you."

The crowd quieted down, and turned his way.

William cleared his throat again.

"Many of you may have been wondering exactly what the occasion of this celebration is. Well. I'm here to—to dispel the mystery, because the reason for this—this extravaganza, is the announcement that I am about to…

Sam, who was seated only a few feet away, shouted, his elbow propped on the back of his chair.

"For God's sake, William. Just say it!"

The crowd laughed.

William nodded, smiled nervously, and started fresh.

"As most of you know, my nephew, Tim, has been visiting this month, and he's a very fine boy, though not always as punctual as I would like…"

He glanced back at Tim. But it was Julie who caught his eye. For some reason he found himself thinking that she didn't look happy.

He shook off the thought and continued his speech.

"Well, while he's been here, he has managed to meet a wonderful young…"

"Excuse me."

One of the waiters interrupted.

William looked up, smiling, and thinking that there would be hell to pay for this guy after the party.

The waiter continued.

"I'd like to say a few words before you begin."

There the guy stood, in his white uniform, holding a tray of hors d'oeuvres, square in the center of the deck—tables of guests on all sides of him. And he was asking to make a speech.

William revised his opinion.

This would have to be dealt with right now. The only question was how to do it without ruining the moment.

He looked the man over carefully, trying to decide how to handle him.

"Would that be all right?" the waiter asked, and then continued, "William?"

A vision of his top, wobbling irretrievably, passed through Williams brain.

His mouth dropped open, then closed again, and finally managed to speak.

"Dudley?"