“Honored guests!” The quarrelers fell silent as Bludergard rose to his feet, clanging a spoon against his wine glass much as a best man at a rather trying wedding reception would, and punctuating his remark with a loud hiccup.
I winced. “This cannot possibly go well.”
“Alice!” I could hear the reproach in Clarinda’s voice. “Let him have his say. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, you know.” I nodded and held my tongue as Bludergard resumed his speech.
“Look at us!” he said, swaying slightly. “Quarreling over such trivial things. Which breed is best. We all love these marvelous creatures, and no breed should be placed above another.” I could hear murmurs of “Hear! Hear!” from the crowd.
“Is this how we honor the memory of Trenton Fotheringay, the greatest of us all?” Bludergard continued. “We should respect each other’s opinions. We should focus on what brings us together.” I could see people nodding in agreement or dabbing at their eyes.
Next to him, Stibbins nodded and lifted his wine glass. “Well spoken, guv’nor!” he said.
Bludergard snatched the glass from his valet’s hand and held it high. As Stibbins glared at him, he said, “I propose a toast to that most marvelous of birds!” This was met with another, louder round of “Hear! Hear!”
“Honored guests…” Bludergard paused and smiled drunkenly. “To geese!”
Stibbins sighed deeply. “Not so well spoken, guv’nor.”
As Bludergard drank Stibbins’ wine, most of the other guests glanced at each other, then at him. They began to mutter threateningly. “Clarinda?” I said. “Your clock analogy failed to take into account that one that always runs several minutes slow is never right.”