Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saturday morning along the Thames

by Claudia Rey
“Catherine, you have to wait your turn”, said the young father. The brat nodded seriously. “I have to wait my turn.” Then, after two seconds: “But dad, I want to go on the boat now!”

“I know, sweetie, but we have to let other people go first.”

“Why, daddy? Why?”

“Because there’s a queue. And they were here before us. We have to wait our turn.”

“We have to wait our turn”, repeated the brat wisely. “But I want to go now!”

The father sighed, patiently. “In a minute we will be there. Just a minute, Catherine.”

We were waiting to board the London Water Bus to Camden Town. The girl – maybe four years, curly brown hair, big brown eyes,  pretty pouting face – pulled her father’s sleeve. “I think it’s our turn now!”

“No, Catherine. You have to wait. Be a good girl and do as I say.”

“Good girl" said the brat dubiously. "I have to wait.  But how long, daddy?”

“Not that long. Let’s look at the ducks instead.” The father pointed at a duck, its beautiful green head almost metallic in the pale sun, gliding majestically on the brownish water. “You see? Nice, isn’t it? So quiet… try to be just as quiet, Catherine.”

“But daddy, the duck doesn’t want to go on the boat! He is already in the water!” That’s why he is so quiet, clearly implied the little girl.

I smiled at the young father. “She has a point” I whispered.

“Oh, she has so many” was the answer.

Catherine looked at me with enormous, jealous eyes. “Daddy? Don’t talk with the lady” she ordered.
“Talk with me!”

“You see?” meant the father’s lopsided smile.

They went along the pier, Catherine pulling her father’s hand and the young man following , then came back after a while. The  queue was still long. I waved at the little girl: she looked at me very seriously and didn’t wave back. “I don’t know the lady” she said in a stage whisper. “So I don’t have to say hello to her, right? Right, daddy?”

“You could be nice and smile at her” suggested her father.

“I don’t want to be nice. I want to go on the boat!”

“Yes, I know. But…”

“But we have to wait our turn!” shouted the girl somewhat triumphantly.

Good for you, Catherine, I thought. Having the last word at your age. You certainly have your point.

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