Chapter 36 - Wet Paint

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∞ 36 ∞


Coursonne soberly opened the door of the car and Lucius was bending his head to step in, when Sander stopped him. "My Lord, did you not want to look for the paint?" he offered casually.

"Huh? Oh... Ugghh. I cannot be bothered with these, Mug--uh 'philistines' today. If a specialist in London cannot make it right, I doubt I should have any luck in this small city."

"Hmm. Yes... I did see a painter who sells their paintings in the market. It looks like they paint with this colour you want. Yellow, but more citron – ehmm more green (a little) «non» the yellow with the red. No?... But uff, myself I am «non civilizzato»," Sander shrugged.

Lucius looked at him with a purposeful air of agreeableness. To be polite and especially because Sander was so strong in the art of reading thoughts, he wanted to mask his real thoughts, which were: 'I am sure it couldn't possibly be the specific cool yellow that I am interested in acquiring, which is indeed rather more pale lemon than that of the skin of a banana. I do appreciate your concern Lysander, but I doubt (being a man of arms) that you could recognise such subtle differences between the two.' As Lucius was such a master of Occlumency he ordinarily had no worry of insulting those who were skilled in the art of reading the thoughts of others, but Luthomequi were extremely difficult to get past, so he had to be especially vigilant around them – Sander especially.

Whether Sander read Lucius's true thoughts or not, he maintained his casual air – nodding in the sort of respectful way that acknowledged it was none of his concern.

"Also, just to say My Lord (it is not my position to tell) but I believe you are still behind by two on 'Contacts with Muggles' this week – and for the previous two weeks. Just to remind you. If you speak to the painter, it will count for one." He continued with the same manner of telling Lucius what he ought to do, while maintaining the necessary stance that it was of course up to Lucius, being his employer and Head of Household. It 'not being his position to say', he added that he thought Lucius might fare better speaking to someone he at least had something in common with – "only to judge from the last disaster with the woman from the «lavanderia»... and the man at the petrol station, the time before this," said Sander.

"What, didn't the waitresses count as two?"

"Yes My Lord, this is why you are now only down by four for the month," Sander said and smiled sympathetically.

Sander took Lucius to the row in the market where the painter's stall was and pointed in the general direction he needed to go... Huffing and puffing, as if he had been asked to complete some strenuous mission, Lucius set off alone toward the stall, which was on the end of the row at the back entrance to the market. The stall had several small, yet varying sized impressionistic paintings, painted on roughly cut wood blocks. Although hastily painted facsimiles of only a few themes, they were quaint and pretty. Lucius kept his distance, pretending to look at some flyers on the notice board at the back entrance, but he could see they were mostly pastoral scenes: wildflower meadows, orchards, farmhouses, geese, goats. The girl at the stall was looking dolefully at two of the largest little paintings that appeared to be ruined. The paint wasn't completely dry on all of them (which a handwritten, paper sign at the front pointed out, in several languages). A browser had unluckily found what were probable the wettest two and for some reason had pressed them face to face sticking them together, then complained that she not only no longer wanted them –naturally, as they were defective– but that she wanted money for the smear of paint that got on her (supposedly) nearly new and very expensive shopping bag. The young woman looked hollowed out. She was seemingly uncertain of what to do with the ruined paintings and also whether she ought to first remove the other not-quite-dry paintings. She went about glumly testing the paint on several random blocks with the edge of her fingernail, damaging them very slightly as she went along. She seemed to forget which she tested from which she hadn't and then looked even more frustrated by the oil paint she had caked under her fingernail. She had nothing to remove the paint with and looked on the ground with an air of persnicketiness for some spare bit of paper that wasn't too filthy to do the job. Then she must have noticed for the first time that there was paint all over the thighs of her jeans. The exasperation on her face was as if she were that camel people always spoke of, upon whose back someone had just placed the last straw.

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