As Koa walked beside Peter he made an urgent and discrete hand gesture which Timonthy took to mean drink up quickly. He had nearly finished anyway so he slowly downed the dregs and put the tankard back on the table wondering how Koa thought the smell of the ale would not be noticed.
“Anyone for Ginger Beer?” Koa asked, and poured some in his own tankard and worked his way around the table. Peter took a sip of his drink, yawned widely behind his hand and said, “What have I missed?”
“Not a lot,” Stolid answered cheerfully.
“I’m sorry to rush away straight after you arrived but something urgent came up that demanded my attention.”
“We coped,” Stolid said. “We had a tour of the garden and the time just flew by.”
Peter lips twitched as if suddenly amused. “Did you find the time flying by, Koa?” Peter asked with raised eyebrows.
“No. it seemed to me to drag a little,” Koa admitted. Timonthy got the impression they were all enjoying a joke he was excluded from. He felt annoyed. Even Gerard had a smile lurking on his face which annoyed him more than the rest of them.
“Did you manage to appease Elena at all?” Peter asked casually.
“A little,” Stolid mused.
“Don’t you think sometimes, how good it would be to be able to go back in time to fix mistakes you made? You could for example, take Yan out of his bed now and take him back to Elena just as you were setting off for your walk. Then Elena and time would be appeased.”
“Well being able to travel in time would be useful in many ways,” Stolid pondered with a frown on his face. “But it would be so difficult to know whether what you were doing would affect the world for good or bad.”
“We all travel in time, in one direction or another,” Peter smiled. “Sometimes just to be there can affect the world like that.” Stolid looked thoughtful at this.
“What is your work, Peter?” Timonthy couldn’t help himself asking. He didn’t want to know after the recent revelations, wanted to keep himself clean and untainted from whatever was going on but curiosity wouldn’t let it lie.
He believed that Stolid would not be knowingly involved in anything that could exploit people but he was not completely convinced that he wasn’t being put upon.
“I am the chief executive of an international charity,” Peter said modestly.
“Anything I’ve heard of?” Timonthy prompted.
“Almost certainly not,” Peter admitted. “We don’t rely on public donations so we don’t advertise. We don’t even have a catchy name.”
“What’s the aim of the charity?”
“We try and help people,” Peter said simply and sadly. He had such an air of gloom that it was awkward to prolong that line of discussion. Thrre was such an impression of a man who had seen too many terrible things that to recount them would give him physical pain.
Still Timonthy was annoyed at the joke he had been excluded from so he had to ask. “Do you enjoy your job?”
“It gives my life meaning,” Peter warmly in a way that made it impossible to doubt that he meant this. “Without it I would be nothing”
After a pause he asked politely, “And what do you do?”
“I buy and sell beautiful old things,” Timonthy answered. For the first time in his life he felt a little ashamed that his chosen career was not more heroic.
“There should be more beautiful things,” Peter nodded. “And those that are old have withstood the test of time. We might have to do business with you, one day.”
“I never turn a customer away,” Timonthy said lightly. These were just common phrases often used and never relied on.