David HTML version

The scars were certainly noticeable, one in particular crossing the man’s scalp
and stretching clear to his cheek bone, deep and livid in appearance. As the
penetrating whispers continued, the young woman turned her head and stared at the
older women, who returned the stare with arrogant interest. Resolutely she rose to
her feet. The man grasped her hand and spoke in a low voice, but she simply shook
her head and crossed the floor to the opposite corner. What she said nobody could
hear, except for the recipients of her anger, who quickly picked up their belongings
and left the cafe. The young woman came back to her companion and sat down again,
while the other customers turned to their refreshments and following the usual
conventions, continued their own private conversations and pretended they had
witnessed nothing.
’That didn’t take long,’ remarked the man, mildly. ’What did you talk about?’
’I simply told them the truth. Where, and how you got those scars, and just why
I think you are the most handsome man in the world.’
He raised an eyebrow, distorting his face in the area of the deepest scar. ’Is that
all? They seemed to leave in a bit of a hurry.’
A flush rose on the woman’s face. ’Well, I may have said one or two other
The woman’s eyes looked away for a moment, gleaming with amusement, and
she pursed her lips. ’They claimed they had never been so insulted in all their lives,
so I invited them to listen a bit longer, as I was sure I could improve on my speech. I
may have used some strong language, too.’
He gave a short, barely suppressed laugh. ’Only may?’
’Oh, all right. I know all the words, and I did use some strong language. That’s
when they left.’
’You didn’t make friends then?’
’I didn’t, but nobody abuses the man I love, not in my hearing, anyway. After
what you have been through, David, I have no intention of letting you suffer that sort
of foolishness.’
He took her hand, stroking her slender fingers pensively. ’I’m not as young as I
was, but I’m not exactly deaf. I got the distinct impression they insulted you as well.’
’Well, yes. That doesn’t matter. I’ve heard that sort of thing all my life. There’s
nothing very strange about it, you know that.’
’Yes, I know,’ he replied. ’I guess you never really get used to it. If it was me, I’d
be fighting back and giving as good as I got, if not a good deal better.’
’I tried that once,’ she said. ’It doesn’t really work. On the contrary, it tends to
encourage more of the same. You just have to learn to ignore it.’