Dinner passed pleasantly. Stewards served black bread, borscht, potatoes, and fish, whisking away dishes and refilling glasses with speed and efficiency entirely out of keeping with Cannon’s expectations. Later, the stewards deposited a tea tray in the Russian style on the table: a teapot full of boiling water, in which the tea steeped without respite; a samovar, to provide hot water with which to cut the concentrate in the teapot; and a sugar bowl, to cut the bitterness. The tables on the balcony got Lomonosov china.
The evening stretched on. In the morning, they would set their clocks back two hours, to account for their westward progress, so nobody was in any particular hurry to retire. Cannon and Iseabail whiled away a few hours chatting with Wailani, on everything from archeology to their imagined home in England. Iseabail waxed eloquent about their country cottage outside of York, while Cannon filled in details of their shared career, working from his exploits with the Long Nines and mixing in bits and pieces from recent news in the field.
Eventually, they made their excuses, returning to their cabin. Cannon prepared to curl up on the divan, but Iseabail would have none of it: “Ye dinnae fit, cap’n, an’ I do.”
Cannon protested, but Iseabail was nothing if not stubborn, and after a bit, he gave up. Soon, she snored away on the sofa, while Cannon covered his ears with a pillow. Some time later, he was asleep.