My grandmother is awaiting me in the dining room for lunch.
“Poor darling, you had to eat your breakfast alone! We came home rather late and I didn’t want to wake up your grandfather getting up too early this morning. It was a wonderful performance! All the singers were outstanding and the orchestra surpassed themselves. It has been so long since I have seen your grandfather so fulfilled! I was blissfully happy, my little one! As if we were young again and...” my grandmother stops dead.
“You poor little darling, how inconsiderate of me! Yet don’t despair, Irenchen! A little bird told me your beloved would be back sooner than expected! I hope Leopold’s father succeeded consoling you. Look, those lovely bouquets of white and pink carnations came in with the florist’s messenger. Won’t you open your card, sweetheart? Here, have a look at mine.” She proffers me an envelope with von Zwettlers’ coat of arms.
I scan her card and open my envelope hesitantly. -Just a line to say thanks for your company. - Greatly relieved, I hand the card to my grandmother.
“It’s always a pleasure to deal with a man of the world!” My grandmother smiles delighted with this token of my irreproachable manners.
“Now let’s tackle a very urgent matter: what will you wear for the Medical Ball tutoring, Irenchen? Of course, you could always use the gowns you wore at the Dancing School. Though that will hardly be necessary! My personal budget is more than enough for sweet little gowns for my darling! Your father doesn’t need to know. Not that he’s thrifty. He just has no idea about bringing a young lady out properly. I don’t understand how we could have forgotten to think about your wardrobe! Of course, with all that excitement about Antibes and your betrothal, we were going around with our heads in the clouds. No use crying over spilt milk. We’ll work it out. I discussed the problem with Hanna Vodolska. It’s difficult but not impossible. Naturally, we must be ready to compromise and agree upon something not very complicated and...”
I eat in silence unconcerned by my grandmother’s excitement over “rags”. I am plagued with my own dilemma. How will I cope if Milan assists Mr. Mirak at the tutoring?
“Irene! You know we haven’t any time to lose!” My grandmother interrupts my brooding.
“Call Mr. Tichy to forward the car and bring me my astrakhan coat, hat and gloves.”