“It was a lovely ceremony,” Patrick said. “He finally got in death what he lacked in life–respect and a decent suit of clothes.”

“Don’t, please,” said Tricia. “I’m finally starting to put things back together, and I don’t need your meanness making things worse.”

“And that’s exactly why I feel free to be frank, now that some time’s passed. I didn’t say anything at the funeral, after all, out of respect.”

“Stop it,” Tricia said.

“All right, all right,” Patrick’s face softened. “I can see you’re still too upset for me to be my usual crusty self.”

Tricia nodded. “A lot’s been going on.”

“Enough that you need a vacation, eh? Foreman’s been working you too hard?”


“Well, then, I’m not going to beat around the bush, Trish. Why’re you here? It’s certainly not for the pleasure of your brother’s company, or the hard mattress in his guest room. The company doesn’t give days off lightly, especially when it means taking a skiff back mid-route.”

Tricia glanced downward, her hands on her stomach. She didn’t need to say anything; Patrick could read her face as if it were one of the Thoreau volumes on his nightstand.

“Oh my God,” he said. “How long?”

“Four months,” Tricia said. “At least, that’s the best the ship’s doctor could say.”

“Is it…?”

“Of course it’s his,” Tricia said. Seeing the look on her brother’s face, she continued. “We were engaged, Pat! ”

“It’s still a sin, Tricia, until the priest asks you that question!”

“Don’t be like that,” she said. “Please. I can’t take it.”