Edith had what I like to call a “rising presence.” Her involvement in any meeting or debate followed a predictable pattern:

Stage 1: Listen and observe. Edith would carefully absorb what she could about the information in play, the personalities behind it, and the opinions of her fellows.

Stage 2: Asking questions. Edith would ease her way into the discussion by asking questions. Innocent ones at first, then more probing.

Stage 3: Wading in. Having formed, or reinforced, an opinion, Edith would charge into the debate, scoring critical hits with well-placed rhetorical blows informed by all the information she’d gathered.

Few opponents could withstand the last phase, and those that did were usually driven into ossified and ultimately untenable positions. So when Edith slipped in five minutes after the meeting began and started scribbling notes, my heart sank. She might have been a nonentity then, and for the next several rounds of discussion, but her “rising presence” would make itself known soon enough.