Henree is sweeping the floor of his saloon, preparing for what passes for the evening rush in Gumgeeville.
Henree thinks that for all the oddness of the past year, at least Jed Mullins has finally paid up his bar tab. He doesn't think that quite makes up for his daughter going crazy, but it helps.
Jed strolls into the saloon, earlier than usual.
Jed: Beer, Henree, when you get to it.
Jed takes his accustomed position at the bar.
Henree: Help yourself. You know where the tap is.
Jed goes for it.
Jed: Broke a strut on my new cultivator. Have to take it in to the Ford to get welded.
Jed still isn't patronizing Nergal, the local smith.
Henree: I guess you go pretty often, don't you.
Jed calls it his new cultivator, but it's actually the rusted wreck he bought and rehabilitated last year.
Jed: At least once a month, eh?
Henree doesn't dignify that with a response.
Henree: Lot of new equipment in town these days, isn't there?
Jed: Yep. Seen that maize sheller of Gegg's? It's really something.
Henree collects the sweepings and throws them out the door.
Henree: I've seen it. I have to wonder just why the Simes would throw something like that away.
Jed: Gegg says they have a pretty rich farm where he was staying. A lot of maize to shell, so it's worth it for them to get a new one.
Henree: Gegg says a lot of things. Not sure how much to believe. Even he admits he saw pretty much what they wanted him to see.
Jed: No need for him to lie, and he's not one to exaggerate much. I think he got a good look at that farm, for one thing.
Henree gives a ~~ grudging ~~ concession.
Henree: He does know good land when he sees it, I guess.
Jed: Good flat arable loam with hardly any rocks, he says. You won't find any of that around here.
Virla opens the door to the saloon without thinking about it, she's so excited.
Virla: Dad! Great news!
Henree: Virla, honey! What is it? Did your pickles get chosen to represent the town in the district fair?
Virla breaks out laughing.
Virla: No, a bit bigger than that. No.
Henree: You have a new beau?
Virla hasn't called her father "Dad" in some time, but she's reverting a bit.
Virla: Hardly. But we do have some new relatives. Or will soon enough.
Jed: Magit getting married?
Virla: Well, by Simeland rules she already is, living with that boy Kayar and all. But the point is, she's going to have a baby. Isn't that wonderful?
Henree: A baby? Is she in any position to raise a child? Last I heard, they were living hand to mouth.
Virla: Pretty much still true, but I'm setting up a small trust fund they can draw on -- just for the baby's expenses, not theirs.
Henree: Is that possible, with them being in Simeland and all?
Virla: I don't see why not. My man of business has a colleague in New Washington City who knows a law firm in Simeland Capital. So I'll just send him a letter, and in a few weeks, or a month at most, that'll be taken care of.
Henree: I guess there's time, if you've just heard the news.
Virla: Anyway, what do you think of that, Great-Grampa?
Jed watches all this, amused. He's not going to make any comments about Magit being shacked up with or knocked up by some feckless Sime while Virla's around, but he'll give some thought to how he can use this information in future verbal jousting with Henree.
Henree isn't all that worried about Magit's sexual adventures, since her being Sime is a greater impropriety than anything else could be.
Henree does a double-take as Virla's words penetrate.
Jed: Yeah, Henree. You can disown Magit for being a Sime, but what about her kids? They could turn out Gen.
Henree: How can I be a grandpa to a kid I'll never see?
Jed: You could go visit them.
Henree: Me? Go to Simeland? I'll leave that to the Geggs.
Jed: Me and Ma enjoyed our trip too.
Henree: I'm glad Magit is alive, but there are some things I still won't do. A town full of tentacles is not something I want to see.
Virla: Well, I do, or at least I'm going to. Of course Magit needs her mother there when she's birthing.
Virla knows that channels do the midwifery in-T, but there's just no substitute for your mother Being There.
Henree's jaw drops.
Henree: Go there? To Magit?
Henree has persisted in viewing Magit as functionally dead: never to be contacted again, except through occasional letters.
Virla: Naturally. If she'd moved to New Washington City it certainly wouldn't stop me, and one big city is much like another.
Henree: But... You've never been to Simeland.
Virla: I've never been to Cago either.
Henree: At least in Cago, you'd speak the language.
Virla: There have to be plenty of people who speak English there, not even counting all the ones who ran off from the border areas.
Henree: Well, I guess you'll do it, no matter what I say.
Virla smiles and says nothing, while thinking "You got that right."
Henree: Women. How come they're all crazy?
Virla: It's the men in our lives drive us that way.
Henree looks at Jed in an ~~ appeal ~~ for support.
Jed: Ma says I'm the one who's crazy.
Henree: Well, you are, but that's different.
Jed: She was the one who was determined to go to Simeland for Bart's graduation.
Virla: And you weren't? If you hadn't wanted to go, you wouldn't have gone, that's all -- it's not like Toria and her twins, after all.
Jed: Well, I wouldn't have pushed her into it. It worked out fine for all of us.
Henree: For you, maybe. But I've got the saloon to look after. And... I'm going to be a great grandfather. That's a bit old to be making radical changes, right?
Jed snorts and turns back to his beer.
Henree sees he isn't getting any support from the only other male present.
Henree: Do what you please, Virla. And... tell Magit I wish her well.
Virla: I will, Dad. I will.