Dinner at the lakeside
When we got to the eating-house a young man let us in and showed us to a table at the window (as I’d asked; they have large glass windows on the side of the water). Riei asked for a screen so we could be on our own a little, and the young man brought that too, and then the mistress herself came to bring us a jug of very light sparkly wine and four small glasses. “Ooh, I like this so much!” Mialle said, and I liked it too but I wanted only half a glass.
“Thank you, I’ll wait for the water,” Riei said, and Jinla said the same thing. She doesn’t like drinking much, even though she’s almost a Mighty Servant! But perhaps that’s because the old Mighty Servant has drunk himself so ill that someone else has to do the work now.
Another young man brought a jug of water and a plate of small fishes and crawfish and pieces of vegetable that had been dipped in batter and fried in hot oil, “very light batter and very hot oil,” Riei said, and she explained that that was why it didn’t taste greasy. (We did get a bowl of warm water to wash our fingers in.) “And I can’t even ask for the recipe, because you can only make this when you have all the right things, and that means being right at the edge of a clean lake.” I ate a bit of everything, but not so much that I wouldn’t want the fish that I knew was coming.
“Could you bring us tea, or anything that tastes like something besides water but won’t make us drunk?” Riei asked. And what we got was so cold that the water condensed on the outside of the jug, and it tasted like all kinds of different herbs with honey, without being too sweet or medicine-like. “I suppose what’s in this jug will cost as much as the whole meal,” Riei said to us when the server was gone, “but I don’t care. Oh, and keep in mind that I am paying for this meal.”
Then the mistress brought the fish! It was a different fish from the one we’d eaten with Meran and his boyfriend, bigger, and slit every inch or so with onions and greens in the gaps. “I hope you can portion it for us,” Riei said, and she did, with two spoons that looked like a knife with an angle in it so she could be very precise. And there was very fresh white bread, still warm from the oven, and a big bowl of different small salad leaves with oil and vinegar.
“I can’t get the recipe of this either!” Riei complained. “It’s all in the ingredients, there’s not really something you can do to get it this way. You need to have this fish.”
The mistress overheard that and grinned. “There’s a reason we’re right on the lakeside,” she said. “And I remember a time that nothing could swim in this lake, not even people, you’d get sick and die before you could get yourself back to shore.”
We talked, of course, while we were eating. Riei asked Mialle if she liked Jinla better in her priestess cloak or all made up like she was now. “Well,” Mialle said, “I like it when there’s something to celebrate and she looks all festive, but I’m so looking forward to seeing her in the cope on the Feast!” and that got her a resounding kiss from Jinla.
Then Jinla remembered that she’d actually bought a house for us when we were off to
arrest bandits Silvermine, and she told us where it was and what had to be done to make it suitable as a summer-house. It’s half in the hillside so it’s cool in summer and warm in winter (we’ll only be there in summer, but of course the people who we’ll employ to keep it for us will live there all year), and it has a kitchen garden and quite a large vineyard but it’s all overgrown. After the old wine-growers died nobody wanted to live there, it’s much too steep to grow anything except grapes (except the flat bit where the house and the kitchen garden are), and it’s not actually in High Penedin but you have to turn off the road and climb up just before you get there. “I’ll put the Ishey on it to set it right,” Jinla said. The house had been going cheap because it had been empty for years, so there’s a lot of leftover money to pay the people working on it and buy materials.
We’re leaving tomorrow so we don’t have time to go and look at it the way it is now, but Jinla showed it with her mind, and it looked like a good place but yes, needing a lot of work.
I must write a letter to Venla and the others before we go! Because of course they’re still in Silvermine, or perhaps they’re on their way back now. I’ll leave them a copy of my notes too, so they won’t have to wait until we’re all back in Veray to read them.