The excitement of renewed acquaintances was in the air as I entered the dining room. The occupants of the Monastery all seemed to arrive simultaneously; the air was filled with high pitched laughter and the shouts of loud voices from people filing into the dining hall.
“By Gads, it’s good to see your face and I don’t even know how long I’ve known you.” Herb motioned towards me extending his arms to embrace me. ”I feel like we are in some strange episode of Gilligan’s Island, but on real TV,” he said patting my back. An attendant offered us a heavy chalice filled with a warm red liquid.
“Strange isn’t the word!” Jitters walked towards me extending his hand in a friendly handshake. I’ve never seen him embrace. He is always the businessman, talking on cellphones, making the next big deal, selling potential. “I’ve done some snooping,” Jitters told me, and in a loud whisper he continued, “I can’t find a phone, or a clock; I have no idea what day or time it is. The attendant seems to understand me, but doesn’t know what I’m saying. Just smiles and nods his head.”
Virginia spotted our little group and excusing herself from her new acquaintances, turned and headed in our direction. I take another sip from the finely chased goblet, savoring the flavor of its contents in my mouth while I watch Virginia make her way towards us. I reached out to embrace her and then took one step back to appreciate her beauty. I smiled with admiration as I told her, ”My you look stunning for a person who has been to hell and back.”
Virginia’s shiny black hair looked radiant against her milky white complexion. In the candlelight I admired her beautifully embroidered full length dress. It was made of a fine white cloth that, from the backlight of the candles, gave a teasing glimpse to the form of her legs. Her blouse was velvet green with puffy sleeves . A beaded purple sash around the waist gave a gypsy flavour to her presence.
“Oh, my God can you believe this? I thought we were all doomed out there in that boat. Then we are rescued by those whales that turned into men. What about that unbelievable ride on the dog sled, to a palace in the middle of a lush valley somewhere in the Arctic. It’s more than a poor girl can take.” Virginia teasingly placed the back of her open hand to her head and pretended to faint. In a round of laughter we cheer her rendition and summary of the last few days.
The softness of the candlelight made the large room cozy, warm and intimate. The room was shrouded by gold stitched curtains with tassels that draped in arches on the walls. A large Persian rug, soft to the foot, was atop the mosaic tile. At one end of the room a large wide dining table with place settings seemed to appear from the shadows. I noticed Colin seated at the table on a large pillow.