the adventures of pandora paddington, gentlewoman - 2: a son of the wind
by laurene de lampeduse
illustrated by danny delacroix and eddie el greco
mr paddington having gone for his fateful walk - the fatefulness of which had not yet been made manifest - the routine of his establishment was little disturbed.
the rain continued to fall. perhaps sal, desultorily chopping a potato for the evening meal, yawned a little wider than usual as she did so.
perhaps bill bikes, with a slight premonition of the changes about to be made to his comfortable existence, sat a little closer to the fire as he stuffed his master's best tobacco in his pipe. but perhaps not.
in any case their reveries were broken by a loud banging on the kitchen's back door.
neither bill nor sal moved to answer it. it continued.
"are you going to open the door, my lady?"
"no, are you?"
the pounding continued for a while. then it stopped, and only the rain beating on the window could be heard.
bill stared at the door. "he'll be back."
"indeed he will."
"he will be back with a stick, to half break the door down."
"that's a fact."
"maybe we should just let him in."
"you always do."
the perspicacious reader may have deduced from the brevity of this dialogue that it was one long practiced and often repeated.
"if you are so keen to let him in," sal contnued, "go open the door and call him back."
but bill did not move. "maybe it wasn't dennis."
"it was dennis."
bill now had the pipe filled to his liking. he took a piece of straw off the floor and stuck it in the fireplace. he was lighting the pipe with the burning straw when the pounding on the door began again, louder than before.
"didn't take him long to find a stick."
bill did not answer, being occupied in lighting the pipe.
the pounding continued, and with a sigh, sal put down her knife and went to the door. it opened with a fearful creak, letting in the wind, the rain, a foully blackened bowler hat, and a mass of patched clothing brandishing a stick.
sal dodged the stick and roughly pushed the mass of clothing aside. "no need to be so loud, dennis. you know we'll let you in, you're more bother out than in." she closed the door, which groaned even louder than when it had been opened.
"where's me seat?"
"on the floor," bikes answered. "where it always is."