The Study of Julian Prospero

“Is the port to your liking, Sir Brian? It’s from Cockburns – an ’88 of course. I had it decanted a week ago to be ready for tonight.

“Thank you, Bates, the fire is quite well established and I see more logs at the ready. I don’t think we need you keep you up any longer. It’s liable to be a long evening with many a tale to tell.

“Please, Mlle. De l’Arete, help yourself to the cigars. They are Habana, mild with rich flavor, I find. Not as well known as the Dutch varieties, but likely to become more popular as others discover them, I think. There are matches on the fireplace.

“Would you prefer a whiskey, Major Radcliffe? There’s a bottle of Highland malt on the sideboard. Please help yourself. I’ve a siphon of soda water somewhere.

“Ah, here it is, behind the aspidistra.”

One by one, Prospero settled his guests in his study with drinks and smokes to their liking. When they were all sitting comfortably, he stood with his back to the fire and offered a toast.

“To your good health, my friends.”

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