Pollovic is trying to relax over his morning tea. Often, on a weekend, he goes in to the office anyway, but this week he's decided to stay home and spend some time with his mother.
Pollovic might, under other circumstances, enjoy a visit from Eulalia... a short one. But when she's got a bee in her bonnet, as she seems to have this time, he'd just as soon not have to deal with her. That is not, however, an option now that she's here.
Pollovic is glad, at least, that the Agriculture Committee seems to be back on track, thanks to his dinner party. The Budget Committee, though, is still occupying far too much of his time and energy.
Pollovic wishes he didn't feel so tired, so constantly. He takes another sip of tea.
Eulalia hobbles into the breakfast room with the help of a cane, having relinquished the footman's arm just the other side of the door.
Eulalia does have her pride, after all, and she doesn't want to appear just another crippled old woman to her son.
Eulalia studied practical strategy and tactics rather intensively at the Peabody Select Finishing School For Young Ladies, and graduated summa cum laude.
Pollovic, however, has been honing his battle skills on the floor of the Senate, these last few years.
Eulalia: Good morning, Brenn.
Eulalia notes with ~~ approval ~~ that her son isn't lazing about in bed.
Pollovic: Good morning, mother. You're looking well, this morning.
Pollovic actually thinks Eulalia is looking every year of her age today, but he'd never dream of saying so.
Eulalia: That's sweet of you to say, Brenn, although I admit my joints are acting up.
Pollovic: Would you like some tea? I've got regular black tea, or trin.
Eulalia: I'll have my usual. Two lumps, and cream.
Pollovic is, himself, sipping on trin. It's easier on his stomach. He pours for his mother, from the other teapot. He passes her the cup, then takes another swallow of Naros' finest Orange Orgasm. It's become his favorite.
Pollovic: I hope you slept well?
Eulalia: Well enough, although my bones will be glad when warmer weather arrives.
Pollovic nods sympathetically.
Pollovic: It's turning out to be a cold winter.
Eulalia: Yes, it is. Still, I'm well enough to start work on drawing up the guest list.
Pollovic: For your ball?
Eulalia: Your ball, Brenn. It's your house, after all, and you're the head of the family.
Pollovic: There's something we need to discuss about that, Mother.
Eulalia has never aspired to being head of the family; just the all-powerful Power Behind the Throne.
Eulalia: There is, indeed. The guests I intend to invite may well leave suddenly if your... guest becomes known. Perhaps she could move out to the Sime Center, or something?
Pollovic: Hajene Katsura stays here, as long as she needs to. But I'm not going to risk having her presence discovered by those who would use it against her. I'm willing to rent hotel space for your ball.
Eulalia: A hotel? That would certainly set tongues wagging, when the Pollovic ballroom is so spacious.
Pollovic: It hasn't been redecorated since father died. I'm sure people will understand that it's in no condition for so grand an event as you have in mind.
Eulalia: That's plausible. Especially if we have workmen in to mess with the drains and such. Or to redo the plaster -- that always causes a mess.
Pollovic nods in relief. That was an easier sell than he'd feared.
Pollovic: I'll see to it.
Eulalia: And I could swear that the velvet curtains in my room have been nibbled, and not by moths. Better call the exterminator as well, to fumigate.
Pollovic nods, and takes the little notebook from his vest pocket to jot a reminder for himself.
Eulalia: Now, Bernice Tsibola and I came up with a preliminary guest list.
Eulalia pulls a beribboned notebook out of her own pocket and fumbles it open.
Eulalia: It's smaller than I'd hoped, but this is the off season.
Pollovic: Feel free to invite whomever you wish, Mother. It's your event.
Eulalia: Well, then...
Pollovic doesn't really care about the details, so long as Mother knows enough not to put Senator Hawthorne and Senator Grimm at the same social event.
Eulalia would never dream of doing so, at least not without taking suitable precautions to put them on their best behavior. She names half a dozen prominent families, many of whom have eligible daughters, and all of whom are more politically conservative than her son.
Pollovic nods, only half listening. He has no interest in any woman his mother might pick for him anyway, so it doesn't really matter. He wonders if Tsibola might be willing to move on the wool tariffs, in return for something with the copper.
Eulalia: Now, it's all well and good to remove the ball itself to a hotel. However, we will have to announce our joining the social scene before then.
Pollovic: Do whatever you wish for yourself, but don't expect me to take part. I'm more than busy enough already. I'll attend your ball, but not anything else.
Eulalia: You can't avoid all your social responsibilities, but I'll try to keep your part light. A dinner or two, I think, and an evening at the theater.
Pollovic: I'll pencil those in for some time after the end of the spring session. Really, mother, I'm simply too busy.
Eulalia: Brenn, if there's one thing I learned from your father, it's that filling your social responsibilities makes handling your political ones easier.
Pollovic: I attend committee dinners. I attend all the official functions. I do lunch with the caucus twice a month. I'm not shirking, Mother; I just don't have time for frivolity. You go ahead and have your fun, but have it without me.
Pollovic takes out his notebook and jots another reminder, about something he wants Ilvin to add to the opening statement for his next press conference.
Eulalia: Brenn, I assure you that the "official functions" of the Senate are not where the true work of politics gets done. It happens on the ballroom floor, or at a house party. And a great deal of it happens out of sight and hearing of any Senator.
Pollovic: Well, then, there's nothing I can do about it anyway, is there?
Eulalia: Of course you can do something about it. Bernice and I used to iron out the compromises required to get legislation passed all the time, while shopping for stockings and such.
Eulalia: Our husbands had to pretend not to compromise, some silly idea about how it would make them look weak, as if accomplishing something wasn't more important. We'd work out the details, then she'd inform Ruthven and I'd tell your father. It worked very smoothly, most times.
Pollovic: You had your methods, Mother, and I have mine.
Eulalia: And are your methods working, Brenn? If nothing else, you seem to be working yourself into exhaustion. Being a Senator is a job for two. You need a partner.
Pollovic: There are a lot of responsibilities. I'm on four major committees, chairing one of them, and seven or eight minor ones. All of those are things I have to do myself; I can't delegate any of them.
Eulalia: That's where you're wrong, son. You can't delegate them to your staff, but a wife could speak for you -- unofficially, which can be very useful.
Eulalia: Believe me, a great deal of the work of the Senate is accomplished over tea in the drawing room, or at a sewing circle. Without the ability to send a representative to those caucuses, you're at a huge disadvantage. I'm not surprised that Ruthven Tsibola keeps getting the best of you: Bernice is no slouch.
Pollovic sighs and reaches for his mother's guest list.
Pollovic: And you think some of the... young women... on this list would be capable of speaking for me?
Pollovic glances down the list of family names.
Eulalia: Bernice said that some of the best prospects aren't in town at the moment, but there are several candidates there that are worth a look.
Pollovic: Mother, I'm resigned to the necessity of marrying to produce an heir. But the women you've listed here are from some of the most...
Pollovic hesitates, searching for a polite adjective.
Pollovic: ... conservative families in New Washington.
Eulalia: I told Bernice that I wanted girls with intelligence, a proper education, good connections, and an interest in politics. Naturally they come from established families. But has it ever occurred to you that it might be very valuable to have a wife with connections on the other side of the aisle? One who knows where the bodies are buried, and who has influence over whom?
Pollovic: One who has no concept of my priorities, and would work against my goals rather than for them? One who'll further the Tsibola agenda?
Eulalia: Oh, nonsense, Brenn. Since when has every child shared her father's politics? There are a dozen or more good candidates to choose among, according to Bernice. I'd be very surprised indeed, if at least one of them wasn't perfectly content with your priorities.
Pollovic: Would she be willing to host Simes at my dinner parties? Or would she refuse to darken the door of a Sime Center?
Eulalia's nose wrinkles in ~~ distaste ~~.
Pollovic: I'm not going to insist upon marrying a donor, Mother. That sort of thing has to be a personal decision. But any wife of mine has to be able to get along with Simes, professionally and socially.
Eulalia: Oh, with your reputation as a Simelover, any girl smart enough to be a candidate will understand that. It's a pity: there are some very nice girls who don't meet that qualification.
Pollovic: It's a necessity. My wife must be able to greet a Sime without broadcasting fear or disgust for every Sime in the place to zlin.
Eulalia: If Ruthven Tsibola can manage it, I'm sure you can find a wife who can do likewise.
Pollovic is getting an idea. He reaches for his mother's list again and jots "Hajene Seruffin and Guest" at the bottom, then adds the names of a couple more channels he knows.
Eulalia looks at the list, noting that Brenn's "houseguest" is not on it. She thinks that's a bit odd, unless the woman is... no, even Brenn has the normal urges, right?
Pollovic: A problem, Mother?
Pollovic speaks in the dangerously quiet voice that announces, to anyone who knows him well, that in this matter he will not be denied.
Eulalia: I notice your "guest" isn't on the list.
Pollovic: As I told you, she can't afford to have her presence here known. The Heir of Sat'htine, at a New Washington ball, would not be ignored by the press. Nor by the people she's trying to hide from.
Eulalia: It all seems a little -- underhanded. Undignified.
Pollovic: What's undignified is what was done to her Donor. I'm only trying to help set things right.
Eulalia: As long as she's chaperoned, I suppose it can't be viewed as actually... Not Respectable. Not prudent, perhaps, but that can't be helped at this late date, I suppose.
Pollovic: Chaperoned? She doesn't go anywhere without her Donor.
Pollovic is deliberately misunderstanding his mother.
Pollovic: I'm told he takes excellent care of her.
Eulalia: No one will care about his morals, as long as yours are above reproach.
Pollovic: Surely you don't think I'd act improperly towards the Heir of one of the most powerful Householdings in the Tecton?
Pollovic is tired of seeing his mother act as if Kat is something she'd scrape off the bottom of her shoe, and is determined to put a stop to it.
Eulalia: As long as she doesn't presume on the acquaintance, and since you've already installed her in the guestroom, I suppose I can make sure she stays upstairs when there are guests. I don't suppose your high-and-mighty Heir is too proud to make herself useful?
Pollovic: I don't know. You'd have to ask her. What did you have in mind?
Eulalia: It's a large guest list, and invitations don't write themselves. My hands don't take kindly to such work, any more.
Pollovic: You can certainly ask her. Her handwriting, at least, is a lot neater than that of most doctors from this side of the border.
Eulalia: I shall.
Pollovic: You might want to ask her, too, about other names you should add to the guest list. Oh, and expect me to add a handful more, once I've had a chance to think about it.
Pollovic intends to ask Hajene Seruffin for some suggestions.
Eulalia nods, reserving to herself the right to "lose" any invitations to unknown individuals who don't appear respectable.
Eulalia: Now, then, if you will fetch me a muffin to go with my tea, I will start figuring out what must be done.
Pollovic: Certainly, Mother.
Pollovic rings for a servant, then turns his thoughts back to the matter of beef imports.