Alexandria was sitting in the lounge frowning at a sheet of paper the following morning, when Darius arose.
“Need a hand?” He asked, absently, wandering towards the kitchen.
“I've got some of it.” Alexandria followed him, then veered off to hug Netty and slurp at the breakfast she was cooking. “'Miss Rayne' it says on the envelope. I got that no problem. 'Der Miss Rayne' ... Dear? Yes. Dear Miss Rayne. Do ...ctor and Mers Samsoon ...”
“Dr and Mrs Samson? Earl Samson?” Darius interrupted in surprise.
“Probably. It says E Samson on the bottom.”
“Here, let me see.” Darius nodded.
“Can I try first?” Alexandria kept hold of the letter. Darius smiled and nodded. It was probably the first letter Alexandria had ever received in her life. “Doctor and Mrs Samson re ... re ... cow ... request! See? 'qu'! Request yowr coom ... pany at three viler to kel ... erbatee the birth ... day of theer son, Axel. Oo! Nearly the same as Alex! Only I don't like Alex. I once slapped a bloke silly for calling me Alex just to annoy ... OK don't glare at me! Weh look forrewared tow meeting yow tong ... nighit at seeven, ac ... compan ...eyed by Master Hawk, off cowers. Yowrs sincrelyy, Doctor E Samson.” Alexandria beamed proudly at Darius. “That's half a page there and some big words too!”
“You did extremely well. I'm very impressed and very proud of you.” Darius nodded. “I'm very surprised, I do admit.”
“Oh well thanks, you git.” Alexandria said moodily. “Bubble goes pop!”
“No! No I didn't mean that. I'm surprised at the letter's contents.” Darius explained. Alexandria just looked blankly at him. “Do you know what it is?” Alexandria scowled at the writing, then handed it over. “'Dear Miss Rayne, Dr and Mrs Samson request your company at their Villa to celebrate the birthday of their son, Axel. We look forward to meeting you tonight at seven, accompanied by Master Hawk, of course. Yours Sincerely, Dr E Samson.'”
“A birthday party?” Alexandria's eyes opened wide. “Are you sure it's for me?”
“Your name is on the envelope. I'm just added as a guest.” Darius nodded. “Axel Samson will be twenty one this time.” He frowned at the invitation and glanced at Alexandria.
“I understand.” Alexandria saw the look of apprehension on Darius' face and it bordered on trepidation. “I can't go. I know.” She smiled weakly and went into the lounge to her books. Darius sighed heavily. He hadn't realised he was so transparent and easy to read.
“May as well get Bowles to stand guard outside the door.” Netty quietly commented from the stove.
“Netty I just don't think she's ready for a social function of that standard, not yet. I know the Samsons are very nice people but I don't think Alexandria would cope with it.” Darius tried to explain.
“Why? What do you think she'd do?” Netty asked, serving up the bacon and eggs. “She'll be fine at the table, you know that. She has the hang of all that now.”
“She has, I know.” Darius said absently. “I wonder why they invited her? I have to admit, I'm a bit suspicious.”
“Oh don't be so paranoid, Master Hawk.” Netty tutted. “You just said yourself that the Samsons were nice people. Have you ever thought that they may have invited her out of good old fashioned hospitality? She's a young stranger in town. I think it's very thoughtful of the Samsons to invite Alexandria.”
“And I think I'm being ganged up on. Is this a girl thing?” Darius frowned.
“It's a 'noticing when a professor doesn't want to risk losing face' thing, even though the risk is minimal if you ask me, which you did.” Netty nodded firmly.
“Did I?” Darius said in confusion. “You're starting to sound like her. Netty it's her I'm thinking of, not myself.”
“It's not tosh, it's true!”
“It's still tosh. Let her think for herself.” Netty bustled off with a tray for Alexandria.
“Is this OK Netty?” Alexandria handed Netty a note. 'Dear Doctor and Mrs Samson. Thakyo for yur invatishon. I carnt com sori bacuz mi stods ar mor impotit. Yours Sincerely. Alexandria Rayne.'
“Studies. I'll fix that. Is the rest OK?” Alexandria asked seriously.
“Fix it to 'Thank you for your invitation. I'd be honoured to attend your son's birthday celebrations.'” Darius said from the doorway and Netty smiled.
“Can I?” Alexandria looked delighted. “We can go? I'll behave myself, I promise I will and I hardly drool at all now. I'll have a bit of cake or something before we go, just incase. I always remember my handkerchief too now so I won't have to wipe my nose on my sleeves. Sleeves! Netty I haven't got a party dress! Do we take a card and a gift Darius? Is there dancing? I don't think I can do that bit. I have three left feet, not just two. Darius will you write the notes while I wash my feet and armpits? If I do it I'll need a bit of paper the size of that rug.”
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