“And now, Morgana,” Abigail said, “we are going to hear our children’s grades on your coaching them with their gifts, and you are going to get a reasonably solid dinner. And tell us about the specialist support you arranged for Trisha. Dinner was not meant as a suggestion. Young people like you are too careless about eating properly at the right hours.” Abigail turned to the sideboard and began bringing dishes back to the table.
Morgana looked at the ceiling. “Patrick, you really didn’t tell your dear wife what you know about me through the tenure committee, did you? I know you promised, and I understand that you Americans are very strict in respecting the privacy of private personas, but under the circumstances…” He really had not told his wife, she thought, and that bit of New England propriety was about to create an interesting conversation.
“Young lady, that is we Americans,” Abigail said, “since Patrick did mention that you were an Englishwoman but had taken American citizenship, just like several of my ancestors did, five and seven centuries ago. Yes, Patrick has completely respected the privacy of your private persona, enough so that I knew there was a Professor Morgana Lafayette, and I knew there was a public persona Sunssword, but I had never met you, the Professor, to know that you were Sunssword. And now you have half of a roast chicken, shoe peg corn, sliced potatoes with sautéed onions and sour cream, and what is left of the tossed salad with Roquefort dressing. Oh, yes, several croissants with butter. Brian was too busy with his cooking to snatch any of my chocolate fudge, which is just as well as chocolate would have gotten him into all sorts of difficulty. Now I can sit down and hear what is going on.”
“I hope you don’t mind if I eat while we’re talking,” Morgana said. “There are ways to cheat on eating, in an emergency. Your cooking, from the smell, is absolutely superb, far better than the alternative. My cooking has never poisoned anyone. Well, not recently. At least, not accidentally. In any event, to use a line almost as old as I am, the kids are just fine. The worst problem was that Janie has an extremely rigid and accurate sense of gifttruth, at the level that leaves people paralyzed with fear that they have done something wrong. She got over the fear. Fortunately, she got over the fear before The Emperor Roxbury’s robots showed up at her school, because she had to do something violent to deal with them. She did. She’s absolutely fine.” And in a few moments I get to explain just how she overcame her fear.
“I was more worried about Trisha. Flying faster than sound could be dangerous. What if she accidentally left the Earth’s atmosphere? I told Patrick that she needed specialist coaching, but he assured me that everything was in good hands,” Abigail said.
“Ummh, I think we all agreed that so long as she was not doing anything dangerous, I would be trusted with my professional judgement on coaching her,” Morgana said. I talked it over with Patrick, she thought; I’m sure he understood what that statement meant. And Trisha actually is too cowed by her parents to talk to them about how wonderfully good a flier she actually is. I should have leaned harder on her, so I could find out what she’d told her mom and dad. “So I was the specialist.” Morgana paused. Abigail stared at her. Trisha hadn’t told her that.
“You’re the specialist?” Abigail asked. “But, then, I inherited grandmother O’Rigamy’s second sight. I saw what you had on the table, Morgana. You are no mere hedge witch, are you? That was a full ritual casting.”
“I think I’d better go back a step, Abigail, since you have absolutely no idea about my other public personas,” Morgana said. Abigail nodded. And I dodged the question, Morgana thought.