A Game of Hide and Seek

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor, Caleb Crain Read Free Book Online

Book: A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor, Caleb Crain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Taylor, Caleb Crain
Tags: Classics
drink the sun. They drift, tack across pavements, trailing hands along railings; stare; bemused, idle; given up to growing; they string out along the roads, separate, humming to themselves; heedless of time passing.
    Only hunger jolted them. Like middle-aged parents, Vesey and Harriet settled the children to their lunch at a window overlooking the High Street. The Tudor Café had beams of stained deal tacked across the ceiling and diagonally across walls. Bottle-glass windows of a greenish shade obscured the light, coats-of-arms and wicker furniture looked wonderful to the children.
    When the waitress came, Harriet decided quickly. Indeed, for vegetarians there was no choice. She was lucky in liking macaroni-cheese.
    â€˜A chop,’ said Vesey, and if he had ordered a magnum of champagne Harriet could not have been more alarmed. ‘Have a chop, Deirdre,’ he added.
    â€˜I don’t know what is a chop,’ Joseph wailed.
    â€˜A chop is meat,’ Deirdre said, glancing at the waitress as if for confirmation.
    â€˜Please, Vesey!’ Harriet whispered timidly.
    â€˜Old stick-in-the-mud Harriet!’ he laughed.
    The waitress took the weight off one leg and stared out of the window above their heads, yawning.
    â€˜I don’t know what is a chop,’ Joseph said again.
    â€˜A chop is a little piece of meat with a bone and some fat and it is grilled,’ Vesey said, so distinctly that people at other tables could hear him.
    â€˜I don’t know what is grilled,’ Joseph said, enjoying himself.
    â€˜Three chops, one macaroni-cheese,’ the waitress said, beginning to write.
    â€˜They have never eaten meat,’ Harriet told Vesey.
    Deirdre turned accusing eyes on him, but said nothing. She gave him a steady assurance of blaming him later. Innocent party, her face said.
    â€˜Four chops,’ Vesey said suddenly. He nodded mockingly at Harriet.
    â€˜Vegetarians live cheaper,’ Deirdre said, reading aloud from the menu. ‘Macaroni-cheese is only eightpence.’
    â€˜Hush!’ Harriet implored. ‘You must lower your voice, Deirdre. You are not at home.’
    â€˜We certainly aren’t there ,’ Joseph said, as the chops were put in front of them. He became very loud and swaggering and took up the too-large knife and fork and began to cut his meat, which was on a level with his shoulders. Vesey took off his own jacket and folded it neatly for a cushion. Perched on this, Joseph wobbled insecurely. ‘Blood comes out,’ he said looking uncertainly at his plate.
    Across the table, Vesey and Harriet smiled at one another, Harriet catching in her lower lip with her teeth. ‘Caroline will be angry,’ she said.
    Vesey touched his tie and cleared his throat. ‘My children!’ he began. ‘It is clearly understood, I hope, that this repellent orgy of corpse-eating will not be mentioned to either of your parents . . .’ Deirdre smiled to herself as she chewed . . . ‘and, in fact, will be obliterated from your minds the moment we leave the precincts of this more-or-less baronial hall . . .’
    â€˜We cannot teach them to tell lies,’ Harriet said in a low voice.
    â€˜We cannot do that,’ Vesey agreed. ‘We should have come to the task too late. We can only prevent them from telling the truth.’
    â€˜Meat is nice,’ Joseph said.
    â€˜We do not often get the chance,’ said Deirdre.
    Harriet thought that she and Vesey threw out a beautiful protection over the children. Everything she shared with him seemed hallowed, even this guilt of eating chops.
    â€˜We can get bread any day,’ Joseph explained to the waitress who handed him a basket of rolls. His elbows stuck up like wings as he tried to cut his meat. When Vesey leant over to do this for him, Harriet whitened – she felt her face blanching – with an extreme tension of love, with a momentary awareness of his

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