Raven’s Run 32

Take my word for it, Ian is just about as broke as Raven.”

Evan Cummings looked politely disbelieving. “A yachtsman, broke? Really?”

Will said, “Really,” and turned to Raven. “The consulate has a fund for stranded travelers, but it is not official money. It comes from donations and fund raisers by the officer’s wives and it is never quite sufficient to our needs. For a friend, a small loan will be my treat.”

Cummings rose and we joined him. “First a photo,” he said, “then Will will show you how to make an international call.”

We trooped down for the photo, then Will led us to his desk, dialed the number Raven gave him, and handed her the receiver. “Daddy’s secretary said that my father would be out of town for another two days,” Raven explained as the connection was made, “so I’ll leave a message on his answering machine at home.” Then she turned her attention inward, her head bobbing slightly as she followed the recorded message. She said, very fast, “Daddy, if you haven’t talked to Elena, call her. She has the details of what happened to me. I’m at the consulate in Marseille. I’ve lost my money and I need you to send me a couple of thousand.”

There is always a moment of dissatisfaction at the end, when you’ve talked to a machine as if it were a human. Raven’s face registered it, then she passed the phone back to Will, who hung it up. Will’s face was full of mischief. He said, “A couple of thousand?”

Raven didn’t get it. She turned to me for enlightenment, but I was shaking from the effort of not laughing out loud. She looked irritated at being left out of the joke and became more irritated when it dawned on her that we were laughing at her.

Finally, I controlled myself enough to say, “I’m sorry, Raven. A couple of thousand is probably reasonable, for you and your family. Will and I aren’t used to moving in those circles. We both worked our way through college, where a ‘couple of thousand’ might have to last us a semester.”

“You two own a yacht!”

“We built a yacht. I had a rich aunt who gave me a job as a guard at her freight yard and paid me more than I was worth. She gave me the opportunity to work my way through college, but she wouldn’t pay my way. That’s the kind of person she was. Wahini was in the back of the freight yard, about half finished. It came with the property when my aunt bought out a bankrupt competitor who spent too much time dreaming of Tahiti and not enough time tending to business. When Will and I decided to finish her, she agreed to buy the materials, if we would do the work. That’s how we got her.”

“But it takes money to travel.”

“That depends on how you travel. Why do you think we ate canned stew all the way across?”

Raven grinned. She had forgiven us. She said, “I just though you had no taste.”

“Close. I have never had the chance to acquire taste. Unlike Will . . .; Will, how much did you pay for that suit?”

Will held the lapels back to display the perfectly tailored vest and chuckled, “Half of my first paycheck. I arrived at Marseille in blue jeans, with one cheap suit in a cardboard suitcase. Upwardly mobile, that’s us. Just a couple of yuppies.” more tomorrow

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