8. Captain’s compliments at cabin 10.

I still haven’t met my neighbour in the next door cabin. I’ve been coming and going quite a lot – and thanks to Velma, probably more than is respectable, at all hours from the bar, or lounge. We’ve been gadding about and watching everyone else on-board (and increasingly being watched by everyone else on-board), but the most I’ve seen of the passenger in cabin 10, is a breakfast tray. It’s always sent with the First Class Cabin Steward, a knock, and the Captain’s compliments, though the Steward is quick enough to discard the tray at the door – he practically runs back to the deck above. Then the tray just sits there.

Twice now, Velma has insisted we take a peekeroo under the silver salver, just to see ‘what that other lot are getting’. Both times, it was the same: a steak, blue to the edges (Velma said she hates that metallic stink of blowtorched beef, griddled with just a huff of heat), no condiments (just as it comes), a coffee pot (Velma drinks extremely strong coffee to compete with the taste of the cigarillos, she says), one delicate porcelain cup, no milk, some fresh stationary – a little stack of cards – and that’s it.

This time, we replaced the salver with a clatter, as it slipped from Velma’s fingers, and we both ran away giggling – Velma kissing away a stolen fingerprint of juicy meat.

A moment later, on our way to the pool – bunny towels in hand – the tray had gone.

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