Chapter 4 Of Bear Claws, Birthmarks, and Scarves

The captain popped into the kitchen to find Martha humming, stopping to sip coffee, then humming again as she folded laundry. "Good morning, Martha."

"Help yourself to coffee. There's also half a grapefruit in the refrigerator if you're hungry."

He poured himself coffee. "Martha, if I said anything yesterday to offend you . . . ."

"Offend me? I don't even remember - oh wait, the cookies and the weight. Hey, you didn't by any chance send me a dream last night?"

"How did you know I have the ability to shape dreams?"

"Christmas. Sure, I didn't know you were still hanging around back then, but give me some credit for putting two and two together."

"Why would I send you a dream?"

"Good. Because if you ever do, remember two words: Errol and Flynn. And in that case I wouldn't mind being young again, but otherwise forget it."

"Errol Flynn? What about Ed Peavey?"

"Hey, a girl can dream. Which reminds me, I need to make a call. Listen, Captain, if you're hankering after sweets, there might be two bear claws hidden behind the bread. Just leave me one, ok?"

Bear claw in hand, he listened just long enough to ascertain Martha was speaking to Peavey. He finished the pastry and then brushed any crumbs off his face before materializing in the master cabin where Carolynn was typing. "Good morning. Martha seems to be in a merry mood today. I sent her a dream last night in which she was young and considerably lighter."

"Captain! You didn't! That's horrible."

You underestimate Martha. She's a pragmatist, and is, as you would say, 'comfortable in her skin.'

"Well, I'm glad everything worked out between you two."

"You need not apologize for having concerned me that I spoke out of turn to her."

"How thoughtful of you," Carolynn said sarcastically.

"You're welcome, my dear. Now, about that birthmark you mentioned."

"I decided to show it to you." He nodded, a gleam in his eye, eyebrows arched, and saying nothing. She reached in her sweater pocket and handed him a black and white photograph of herself as a baby. "See, it's right there, over the right hip." Holding the picture, he began to laugh wildly. "You think my birthmark is funny?"

"Of course not! I'm sure in person it's quite enchanting. It's just that I was expecting . . . then you hand me this . . . ." He laughed again.

Martha tapped on the door and entered, holding two scarves. "Sorry for interrupting the party, but Ed is picking me up soon and it couldn't wait. I'll make and leave a casserole in the refrigerator; all you need to do is set the oven to 350 and bake it for an hour."

Carolynn and the captain spoke at the same time. She said she'd be glad to, while the captain said, "It IS my galley and I CAN cook. Go have fun and leave the kitchen duty to me."

Martha smiled fondly at him while Carolynn told him, "I do appreciate a man who cooks." Martha's smile turned to a wicked grin. She'd have to get Carolynn to tell the captain she adored a man who did housework.

She held up both scarves and asked, "Which should I wear, the olive green or the sky blue?"

Carolynn squinted her eyes, deciding, while the captain told her to wear the blue since it's a good color on her. "It is? Well thanks, Captain."

As she left the room, Carolynn jokingly called out after her, "Don't do anything we wouldn't do!"

The captain smiled wistfully at her and murmured, "I believe you mean 'couldn't,' my dear, not 'wouldn't.'"