My Mistress set down her binoculars.
“Do you know something?” she said.
“What is that, my Mistress?”
“The only person I’ve ever seen walk past the gate is this little woman. Wearing a flowered dress. And a sombrero.”
“She always has a basket. With white flowers in it. I think she’s a hundred.”
She turned to me.
“Where do you think she’s going?”
“It is difficult to speculate,” I replied.
“Not really,” she said, resuming her observation.
“Where can she be going?”
“I wonder where she’s going…”
“Do you think she’s going to the cemetery?”
“My Mistress: the City Cemetery is forty-eight blocks from Rose Manor. It is not a probable destination.”
“Maybe there’s one closer.”
“Where else could she be going with all those flowers?”
“You can’t go around selling flowers. No one does that anymore. Isn’t that like prostitution?”
“She’s too old to be a prostitute,” said my Mistress, listlessly.
“Who’s too old?” inquired my Master, entering the room.
Lowering her binoculars:
“The woman. With the basket.”
“Woman with a basket…” whispered my Master, squeezing his bottom lip.
“And the sombrero. She goes by every day.”
“Goes by every day…”
“That woman who goes by. With the flowers.”
My Master reflected. He raised his finger.
“Ah. Miranda Ortiz. Widow of Eduardo Ortiz—you know, Ortiz Oil. A fortune hunter, people called her. An ordinary English girl. He lived … a year. And every day for the past thirty years she’s walked the five miles to the City Cemetery, just to lay a white rose on Ortiz’s grave. Every day—and it takes her all day—despite the weather. Despite her wealth (she could hire an elephant, if she wanted). Just lumbering faithfully on and on. Now… Would a fortune hunter do that, tell me?”
“How interesting,” said my Mistress. She lifted her binoculars—and again lowered them. Her subject had vanished.
My Master grinned. This is a rare occurrence. My Mistress regarded him, squinting.
“Go to hell,” she said.
My Master has a rich imagination.
“But you at least know who I’m talking about?”
My Master crouched down. He grasped his wife’s hand. He caressed it.
“Darling,” he said. “I don’t have the slightest idea who you’re talking about.”
My Mistress retracted her hand. She folded her arms. She observed the front lawn.
She did not answer, but maintained her surveillance.
My Master sighed. He rose. He touched his wife’s shoulder.
“I’ll see you at tea,” he said.
My Master left the room. My Mistress glanced back, as if to confirm his departure. She then picked up her binoculars. She looked out the window.
“How interesting,” I heard her whisper.
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