The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 52

Adam had been invited to join the Duval family for a meal on Sunday evening, when the caf was closed. Georges had instructed him to take the lane which ran up the side of the building, and to come into the family’s apartments by the back door,As he did, he heard the clamour of conversation punctuated by bursts of laughter, and crossing through the open door, he came upon a low-ceilinged room almost filled by a large table, which was in its turn filled by a large collection of guests. Ushered to his place, he recognised the baker, the man who worked in the vineyard on the slope behind the caf and the owner of the little shop where he and Rhuari bought cheese.“Ici Adam.” Georges introduced him with a flourish and there were greetings all round. As wine was sampled and the conversation ebbed and flowed, Adam surprised himself by being able to get the gist of most of what was being said. Gallic shrugs and gestures explained a great deal, and Georges sometimes translated in his fractured English.There was no sign of Madeleine, and Adam fought a feeling of disappointment which disappeared as she helped her mother bring food to the table. There were platters of salad, crusty bread and two steaming serving dishes of what looked like a stew. It smelled delicious.“Cassoulet,” Madeleine whispered, smiling as she served him a large helping. She sat opposite Adam, toying with her food and drinking just a little wine. They exchanged smiles, and once or twice their hands accidentally brushed as she pressed more food on him.For a moment or two, they formed a pool of tranquillity in this noisy, good-humoured room, before Adam was caught up again in the whirlpool of warm companionship.Looking round the room, he felt the comfort of friendship, of acceptance. Adam smiled to himself, realising that the warmth he felt was that of belonging.Here, he was an equal. He was not the poor boy from the East End of Glasgow, his face pressed to the window of high society, waiting for someone to let him in. Here, he was Adam Gray, artist, whose talent was recognised and who was now somewhere that set him free to be himself. Georges Duval had become, in a way, his patron, and his beautiful daughter his model.Some day soon, he told himself, his work might well be shown in one of the smart galleries in the centre of Paris!The meal over, Madeleine, her mother, her aunt and the baker’s wife set about clearing the table. Georges brought out a pack of cards, and the men slapped one another on the back in anticipation of the fun of a game of chance. Adam suddenly felt the room becoming overheated, and made his excuses. He smiled at Madeleine and nodded at the back door, which was a little ajar, hoping she might step outside and enjoy the last of the evening with him.He was to be disappointed. With a slight shake of her head, she glided in the direction of the kitchen.“Occupe,” she murmured.


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