"Now, Luiza, let's get this right -so that there will be no misunderstanding", Professor Fish, the history department chairman said, trying to keep a straight face. "You're saying Mr. de la Vega isn't sufficiently fluent in Spanish to do research in his field. Right ?"
"Right", Dr. Gomez replied. Her face was impassive. Her eyes darted back and forth from him to Prof. Victor E. Shrine, the Western European history specialist. They were sitting in Prof. Fish's office during lunch on August 2, 1986. The conversation was a spin-off from the interdisciplinary committee meeting on Hispanic studies on the Pasadena University campus which had just taken place. It was, of course, in the greater Los Angeles area. The meeting had taken place in one of the departmental lecture rooms. The committee was one of a number to which Luiza as a member of the staff in the Faculty of Arts was obliged to belong. She was a newly tenured member of the sociology department. Her main interest was recent Latino emigration in the USA. Next to Prof. Shrine sat Dr. Lance Sampson de la Vega, a specialist in American colonial history. An associate professor in the department, he was a cousin to the second degree of the applicant, Harry de la Vega. The latter, who was a lecturer at a San Bernardino area community college, was aiming for a one year contract to teach in Prof. Fish's department. Lance was a tenured member of staff, there. He was plainly apathetic about the issue though he tried to give the appearance of being interested. As a cloud of rose tinted smoke was emitted from Nelson J. Fish's pipe, he breathed in deeply. How he savoured that aroma ! At the same time, Prof. Shrine looked at Luiza with mild mystification.

A brief moment of silence passed while Prof. Fish puffed at his pipe several times in succession. Lance's head swooned. How he savored the aroma ! Then the chairman asked,
"Anything you care to add, Luiza ?"
"Those recommendations on your desk -"
"Oh, yes".
"- they're the result of a long campaign of special pleading and flattery on the part of the applicant".
"Oh ?"
"I know that for a fact. He himself boasts about it", 
Luiza replied with a smirk.

Prof. Shrine's eyes met those of Prof. Fish. Then they rested on Luiza. She continued to describe Harry's tactics in detail. He had badgered one man by claiming he would take his own life if no position were found. He had stated his whole future lay in the balance and he had nowhere else to turn. He also had said he was in debt up to his ears. He needed the post to pay it off. The man had become so concerned it seemed Harry had succeeded in making him feel guilty. In the end, Luiza continued, he had got his recommendation. More, the man had taken the unusual step of reading it out for Harry's benefit. She concluded,
"Frankly, my opinion of him is he's third rate. He's just a hack. And a rank opportunist". Then she looked at her watch and said,
"Gracious. I'm late. I promised to meet a student at three thirty about his dissertation. Got to run".
After a brief exchange of words with both her colleagues, she rushed out.

The two looked at her in amazement. A moment later, Prof. Shrine turned to Lance and asked,
"What do you make of all this ?"
There was a silence. Lance who had been day-dreaming, realized he was being addressed.
"Ah -precisely about what ?"
"Luiza's claims about this applicant".
"Well, one would have to know more about the circumstances. It's difficult to play the judge".
"Well, yes -"
"I've never been on that campus, for starters".
"By the way, are you related to the applicant".
"In a sort of way".
"You are then ?"
"As it were".
"How well do you know him ?"
"Hardly at all. We met perhaps once or twice in our lifetimes. Something like that".
"I see".
"We might be second cousins. I'm not sure".
"Ah. Still close, relatively speaking. Wouldn't you say so, Victor ?"
Prof. Shrine only smiled in response.
"Do you have anything to add to this? "
"As you know, Luiza is a person of sound moral character".
"Of course, without a doubt but -"
"She has earned our respect and admiration during her short stay here".
"Three years".
"Quite", Lance added. "Is there any reason why she should suddenly be inventing stories ?".
Both Nelson J. Fish and Victor E. Shrine sat up in surprise. What was Lance implying ? This impelled the latter to enter the conversation.
"That story about Dr. Breck -"
"You mean the department head at what's the name of that college ... San Bernardino ... ?"
"Yes. That story is downright ridiculous".
"Oh, I agree", the chairman interjected. "I've known Breck for years. And his wife before she married. Fine woman. Something like this could never happen in a million years. Not with Breck."
"Still", Lance said, "We all have our weaknesses. Who knows what his are ?"

The three academics turned their attention to the question of Harry's lack of proficiency in written Spanish. He had wisely supplied them with a couple of essays in that tongue one of which was to be published in a historical journal in Mexico City. Prof. Fish and Prof. Shrine agreed Luiza's comments were probably motivated by personal considerations. A case of professional rivalries, they concluded.
"If she tries this sort of thing again -" Prof. Shrine added.
"Let's just agree she never said anything. I'm sure it won't be repeated", Prof. Fish interjected. "If it will, I think I know how to handle her".
"You hope you do" his interlocutor replied laughing.
Lance reacted with a smirk.

Nelson J. Fish was closer to the truth than he was aware. Prior to her arrival at Pasadena, Luiza Gomez had lived and studied in San Bernardino. A few years older than Harry, she had been an assistant there while completing a doctorate while he was enrolled in a MA degree in Spanish American history. An initial acquaintanceship led to friendship. Preoccupied with his studies and the prospect of a brilliant career, Harry was not entirely aware Luiza had invested a greater emotional commitment to this relationship than he. In fact, she took it for granted he would sooner or later pop the question. But suddenly, he dumped her in favor of a younger and prettier coed whom he had met initially quite by chance at the campus bookstore. It was pure coincidence, as it were, she happened to be the daughter of a member of the board of trustees of the college. Luiza reacted to this about-face with understandable shock and surprise. This led to rage and contempt.

Her reactions were explainable, of course. Cuban born, she had arrived in the USA with her parents in the mid 1970's. Her father, a diplomat, had defected and had passed on to the CIA important papers on various and sundry communist guerrilla movements in Latin America. He had initially backed the Castro regime like many idealistic left wing intellectuals. But he became increasingly disillusioned over a period of  six years. As far as Luiza's mother was concerned, she had had property confiscated but for her family's sake, she had kept her resentment towards the regime a secret while her husband was a communist diplomat.

A few moments later, Lance excused himself saying he had a backlog of work to catch up on. He had to write a review of a newly published biography on Benedict Arnold for the American Historical Review. 

"Curious", Prof. Shrine murmured as he watched Lance disappear around the corner in the hall.
"Hm ?" Prof. Fish pricked up his ears. He always enjoyed his colleague's observations on people.
"Curious he didn't rally to his cousin's defence".
"Well, he did say he barely knows him".
"Still, you know the saying: blood is thicker than water. They're both historians, too. That should have stirred something inside him".
"Well -"
"But no. He's curiously diffident. Almost bordering on haughty disregard. To the point, well, of jealousy ? Something funny... Anyhow !"
"Yes. Be that as it may", Prof. Fish replied, looking at his wrist watch. He then stood up.
"Quite". Prof. Shrine took his cue and stood up as well. As the pair headed for the exit, he added, "Be that as it may".

Prof. Fish's department finally offered Harry the contract. In August, he said goodbye to everyone he knew at San Bernardino College and left for Pasadena. While fulfilling his duties as a lecturer, he thought, he would complete his doctoral thesis. It was on the dispute between the foreign oil companies and Venustiano Carranza, the president of Mexico during the years l9l7-l920.

It was a cloudy and sultry Monday morning on August 21st when Harry presented himself at the office of the chairman. To be on the safe side, he had arrived early. Pamela Huxley, the departmental secretary, was on hand to receive him. On the face of it, he was singularly unprepossessing. Small, with black horn-rimmed glasses with an intense countenance, he had dark brown hair and a small oval face. What she found attractive was his intelligence, his easy going charm and unaffected manner. She asked him whether he had ever been in the city before. He replied, yes, he had. He had been born in Los Angeles but had left when eight years old. During the intervening years, he had visited the city for a variety of reasons, both for business and pleasure. Pamela and Harry chatted for another ten minutes before he was summoned to see Prof. Fish. She agreed to Harry's suggestion to meet for lunch the same day.

At half past twelve, Harry returned to escort his date to the university staff cafeteria. During lunch, Pamela grew to like Harry more and more. She became increasingly at ease in his presence and lighthearted during the second half of their rendezvous. Her laughter made him less intense and serious. The muscles of his face relaxed. He was surprised with himself that he was laughing along with her.

He admired her straightforward and uncluttered mind. He liked gazing at her lively and intelligent face, her expressive, wide brown eyes, her shiny black hair and her lovely broad cheeks. What luck, he thought, to have found such a nice girl in his new surroundings within such a short space of time. They agreed to meet during the evening.

After parting with Pamela, Harry sauntered across the quadrangle towards the Frederic Stevens Administration Building. Just as he was about to climb the steps, who should he unexpectedly see hurriedly leaving the building but Luiza Gomez.
"Luiza !"
"Oh !"
"It's me, Harry", he said. He felt he had to remind her after three years who he was. He had changed, of course. At San Bernardino, he had sported a short flat-topped brushcut which now had grown to a more normal length.
"Great to see you. How are you these days ?"
"As you see, bearing up". She tried to hide her hostility as best she could by putting on an air of normalcy.
"I'm teaching here this year, as you probably know. In the history department. Just arrived."
"Very good. What courses, exactly ?" As if she didn't know.
"Spanish colonial history, for one".
"I've just met Prof. Fish. He's one swell guy . A real gent".
Harry went on to prattle on about his impression of the department and of the university in general and gave her a short description of his courses. He explained where he was living and how it came about he had found his accommodation. When, in the middle of his meandering monologue, he paused, perforce, to cough, she took her chance and interjected,
"I've got to go". Then she nervously looked at her watch and added, "I have a session with an MA student".
"Oh. Sorry to go on so", he replied. "Say, how about getting together for lunch sometime ? At the staff cafeteria. We'll talk about old times, eh ?"
"Perhaps. I'm very busy these days, you know".
"We have a lot to catch up on. ... Wow ! What luck to have you teaching here".
"Yes, well -"
"How about it ?"
"I'm all booked up till the end of the month, unfortunately, 
and -"
"Oh. Then why not meet just for a coffee at lunch hour ?
He continued, "Say, what a snazzy campus this is. By the way, do you know my cousin, Lance ?"
At that name, Luiza betrayed a fright. But Harry, preoccupied by the novelty of being at Pasadena, noticed nothing. 
"Yes, of course. Fine man". She then turned to one side and said curtly, "I really must go now. Goodbye". With that, she briskly hurried away in the direction of the quadrangle.
"Right", he replied. "Great seeing you again. We'll be in touch. Bye". 
He seemed oblivious to the fact she had no desire to remain in his presence a second longer. As she raced across the park, she muttered to herself, "No change. Ego and all".

Just before his interview with Prof. Fish, Harry discovered the `Sierra Madre' restaurant three blocks from the campus. During supper with Pamela, she asked him whether there was any connection between Lance and himself.
"Yes", he replied with a smirk. "I'm from the poor branch of his family". 
"Oh, no !" she laughed. "I didn't ask because of that".
He continued, "Actually, we were one of the original Spanish land grant families. A mixture of carelessness and plain stupidity almost put us out of business".
"I see. What about Lance's branch ?"
"Our grandfathers were brothers ... w-well, actually half-brothers. In contrast to the rest of the De la Vegas - there are lots of them, you see - our great-grandfather managed to stay on top. He married a railroad heiress from Scranton, Pennsylvania".
"I see".
"Yes. Her father was Ledyard Joseph Sampson. He along with a few other east coast tycoons bought the election of, I think, Chester Arthur - no, it was Rutherfurd B. Hayes ... no, that can't be right ... "
It doesn't really matter, Harry. Go on with the story".
"Anyhow, one of one of those Reconstruction Era presidents".
"I see. Why ?"
"In order to get a hold of government land for his railroad to California".
"Now, his daughter, the one who married your great-grandfather, and Lance's too, was called ... "
"Clemie. Clementine Dorothea Sampson. That was her full name".
"Right. Lance showed me her portrait, once. It's in a roundel in his study at his home in San Marino".
"Oh", Harry replied. "Well, she was Juan de la Vega's first wife. His father-in-law's money went to the senior branch. We're the junior one".

"So your great-grandfather must have had two wives".
"That's right". Harry continued, "With the railroad heiress, he had two sons. After a decade, she jilted him and remarried. This time to a banker -and an old bachelor".
Pamela smiled. He went on.
"They had no children. Lucky for Lance. Double lucky".
"What do you mean ?"
"Her fortune wasn't further subdivided. Lance's family got the banker's loot as well".
"Oh ! Okay", she laughed. "And your great-grandmother. How did she enter the picture ?"

"About five years after greatgranddad's divorce, he married my greatgrandmother. She was a school teacher. No money there. They had three children. My grandfather, his brother and my grandaunt, Ines". He added, "You've seen his house, haven't you ?"
"Whose ?"
"Lance's. In San Marino".
"Oh, yes. I've been there".
"You've been there !"
"Yes. On a number of occasions".

Pamela explained she had initiated her relationship with Lance a month before she first began working for the department. 
"He put in a good word for me with Prof. Fish".
Though Lance's intervention did help, she said, she probably would have been hired anyhow. Probably, Harry mumbled. Pamela wanted to get away from the subject of Lance. She received unpleasant vibrations every time his name cropped up. She talked about the university and its students. He was an eager listener. Later, he began to compare the two institutions: San Bernardino and Pasadena. The pair moved on to other topics. After an hour, she suggested they adjourn for dessert in her apartment.

Pamela lived in a three storey stucco building ten minutes walking distance from her office. She had a balcony which faced the mountains and a public park immediately below. She loved panoramic views particularly in large cities such as Los Angeles. She claimed to be very visual which made her partial for example to landscape paintings.

Harry felt completely at ease with her. He was confident he could always express his mind and in turn receive a kindly sympathetic response. He wondered why he hadn't met someone so without guile and frank as her before. Was it because of late he had spent too much time secluded in his work and hadn't developed a balanced social life. Perhaps.

Harry projected the image of a devoted academic and intellectual. And a struggler against adversity. She admired what he described as his tenacity in attaining the post at Pasadena. When a boy, he had not done well at school. In fact, for lack of parental attention, he was forced to repeat two classes. He had floundered at Sacramento State College. It had been a bad decision to go there in the first place. But then he had had no proper guidance. Finally, after wasting three precious years, he decided to change institutions. San Bernardino College may not have been Ivy League but it gave him sound, well rounded courses by dedicated teachers. They may not have been world class producers of books but they had a firm grasp of their subjects. That was for certain.

He had had a good supervisor for his doctoral dissertation for which, he added, he would always be grateful. He was sorry, in one sense, to leave his old college. On the other hand, Los Angeles being a metropolis with its many institutes, universities and libraries was for him a welcome change.

When they arrived at her apartment, they both felt a need to be together.

Later, Pamela had her story to tell. She was the daughter of a failed hardware store owner in Drabble Creek, Illinois, a man who had tried one venture after another and in the process had seen his fragile wife waste away from bone cancer. Pamela could barely remember this, she was four years old at the time. Being a depressive by nature, her father hardly had any time for her. Harry felt a well of sympathy when he heard this. The stepmother who entered Pamela's life three years later was too preoccupied with propping up the father and trying to run a successful catering firm so the girl became priority number three -way, way down the list. Harry asked how she had survived such a childhood. She replied her maternal grandparents first took her under their wing after the mother's death. Later, her father's sister regularly looked into the family home and gave her those much needed rays of sunshine. She even paid for Pamela's month long trip to Europe five years before.

Harry felt saddened by this story. At the same time, he was glad she had not become embittered as a result. He was convinced, though, her emotional scars had to be there. They were well embedded, so deep, in fact, even she wasn't aware of how serious they were.

If love is the result of a fusion between passion and pity, it was just so with Harry that evening. As far as Pamela was concerned, she was glad to be adored and comforted by one so strong and understanding. During that intimate experience when the personality of one seemed to blend with the other, she felt if only for a moment a protective armor had covered her. She felt soothed, warm and secure. It was nirvana for her.

It was sheer delight for him as well. He had, all for himself, a woman who was the quintessence of beauty, charm, understanding and grace. What a lucky man he was.


The rite of passage was over. After a few minutes, Pamela rolled over on top of him. She pressed herself against his chest. How blissful that felt, he thought. A while later, he recollected their discussion about his cousin.
"You told me you were at Lance's a number of times", he asked.
"Were you in love with him ?"
"Oh, Harry. Really".
"Well ?"
"Harry !" she laughed gleefully. He felt embarrassed. A moment passed before he dared to sally forth.
"I'm not jealous, you know".
"No". She laughed again.
"Oh, forget it !"

Pamela thought awhile. Then she asked why he wanted to know. Just curious, he replied. After all, he had bedded her that evening and Lance was a relatively close cousin. What did she think of him ? Pamela withdrew into herself and answered evasively. Lance, she said, often appeared to be phlegmatic and indifferent to things and people around him. But deep down, he was capable of being nice to people.
"Anything else ?" he inquired.
"Sometimes, he seems on edge, unsure".
"Unsure ?"
"Yes. As if the ground under him is about to swallow him up".
"Never noticed that".

No, she added. In the beginning of their relationship, she didn't either. But later, on two occasions, she noticed he would go through a brief period of panic and would simply stop eating.
"Incredible", Harry said, looking amazed. "I never would have imagined something like that could happen to him. To someone who has everything".
"On the face of it", she observed, "it may seem so. But, have you ever been close to him ?"
"Why is that ?"
"Well ... it's part of the family history I told you".
Her mind remained fixed on Lance. There was another matter she wished to discuss.
"Harry ?" she murmured into his ear. "I think you should know something about your application".
"My application ? What about it ?"
"And Lance".
"And Lance ?"
"He doesn't like the idea of your being in the department".
"He doesn't, eh. Hah-hah-hah. Now, that's a laugh". Harry added with a smirk. "He'll just have to get used to it, that's all".

Pamela decided to continue.
"What I meant was, he told Prof. Fish just that".
"Just what ? What did he say, exactly ?"
"Word for word ? I don't know, Harry. I wasn't in the room".
"No. But you do hear about certain things".
"From time to time. Depending".
"What did my cousin Lance say ?" Harry prodded.
"He doesn't really think you're sufficiently qualified".
"Not qualified. Me ! The nerve of the guy. What else did he say ? Specifically ?"
"That's all".
"Nothing more ?"
"No ?"
Pamela !"
"Quit shouting".

The wrangling continued. She began to regret letting so much out. How would Lance react to this indiscretion of hers ? All she knew was what she had heard from Leonora Craxi, the other secretary who had overheard most of the conversation. 
"Besides", she added, "I can't always rely on what she says. You know, between you and me and the door, she has a big mouth". She concluded, "Anyhow, all that is past history".
"Oh ?'
"He's now reconciled himself to the situation -I mean your being in the department".
"Oh ?"
"But he still thinks you won't be able to cope. He calls you a workaholic. He thinks you'll crack up by mid term. Nervous breakdown or something. The effect will be he'll look silly in everyone's eyes".
"Why should he look silly ? What does it got to do with 
him ?"
"You see, he's all wrapped up with that family of yours".

She gave him a knowing look. But he didn't take her hint. His mind was on a different track. One part of him still felt the pain. The other had an exhilarating sense of being flattered.
"So, he's wrapped up with us, eh ?"
"Is he ever !"
Pamela was enjoying this. She had detected a flaw in him, the dear boy and what a comical one it was at that.
"Wrapped up enough to try to screw up my application. Hm-m".

She decided not to contradict him. Fascinated by the workings of his mind and the De la Vega family rivalry, she waited for him to continue.
"They've always, always, been a stuck up bunch -that crowd. `Sampson de la Vega' they call themselves. Hah ! Snooty, they are, downright snooty".
"Snooty ? You mean snobbish ?"
"Yeah. Snobbish, stuck-up. Same difference." He added, "Just because they have big fat bank accounts".
"And more besides", she replied, provocatively.
"Anyhow". She burst out laughing.
"Stop it". 
She continued giggling.

"Oh, go to hell", he sulked.
"Harry, really !" The laughter did not abate. He felt he was being derided. Finally he could not take it anymore.
"That's enough", he shouted. He banged the bedside table with his fist sending a tin ashtray crashing on to the floor.
"Oh, sorry !" Harry cried. He blushed. 
"That's quite all right". She went on laughing. Finally she said,
"You do have a temper".
"I know".
"Harry", she added. "You shouldn't be so sensitive".
"I can't help it. I just am".
"Look -forget Lance and his bunch. It's you that's important. Who you are, what you've done -and what you're capable of. Above all, that".
"You think so ?"
"I know so, you silly man".
That was nice to hear, he thought. At the same time, she had discovered something amusing about him. The Sampson de la Vegas were a powerful attraction to him. That she found titillating.

When the academic year began in mid September, 1986, Harry was uncertain how everything would turn out. This was something new. True, he had lectured but on a part time basis in college in southern California. He also had dealings with students as a teaching assistant. He had conducted seminars and had marked essays and tests.

By the end of the first week of term, he felt much more confident. He began to settle in and his surroundings became as familiar to him as his old haunts in San Bernardino.

In mid October, as the dust, as it were, began to settle, his thoughts turned to the idea of getting to know as many fellow colleagues as possible. Quite naturally, the person of Luiza Gomez came to mind. Prior to his 2nd year morning seminar on Wednesday, October l6, he picked up his telephone and dialed her extension. He heard three rings after which his call was redirected to the departmental secretary. She picked up the receiver instantaneously. He announced himself. Then he decided to leave a message for Luiza asking her to return his call.

A week, two weeks passed; there was no return call. He tried again. She wasn't in. He again left a message suggesting a time for a rendezvous at the staff restaurant. She chose once more to ignore his request. She hoped, by then, he would get the message she wasn't interested. By the end of the month, to her relief, he let the matter drop, his preoccupied mind having gone on to other concerns.

One such concern, as a dabbler in the mysteries of genealogy, were the Sampson de la Vegas. Harry was curious as to how Lance would greet him. He wondered whether Pamela had intentionally minimized their differences for her own ends. That first week was so chaotic he scarcely had time to think the matter through. In fact, he hadn't seen his cousin around at all on campus. Lance returned from his mother's ranch near Santa Barbara to Pasadena the night before the beginning of term. He thought it best to act the gentleman under the circumstances. He could hardly do otherwise. He would invite Harry for lunch at the staff restaurant. He brought Pamela along, as well.

Lance had met her when she first arrived in Los Angeles a year and a half before. She began to work on campus initially as a part time cashier at the university bookshop. That was where she had caught his roving eye. "The patrician intellectual" was what the bookshop manager had called him once when within her earshot. That impressed her not because she was a social climber but because it created an aura of the polite, urbane gentleman of the Old School -the sort she had encountered in old novels and films.

She was swept off her feet when he presented her with a batch of red and white roses the first time they had a chance to speak outside working hours. That led to a meal at the academic staff cafeteria which she felt to be an honor. Lance followed this up by a dinner and dancing date at a supper club he frequently attended. From then onwards during a period lasting between four to five months, the relationship became more intimate.

He was attracted by her sensitivity, sense of decency and a balanced approach towards the world around her. In fact, it was those qualities which fitted his image of the whole woman which paradoxically made him retreat from her. Farmed out as he had been by his parents to a rearing brigade of nannies and governesses, Lance for the most part found it difficult to relate to the opposite sex in any meaningful sense. His emotions were tied in knots. His spasmodic bursts of romantic enthusiasm gave some people the impression that here was a committed man. The emotional vacuum of his childhood which led him to search for fulfillment in the elixirs of prestige, status and consumer goods also made him view women as objects of pleasure and pride. This kind of life style plus his dislike of over involvement made him pursue a conscious policy, after the initial courtship, of seeing her on an irregular basis.

Naturally, Pamela felt let down by this new regime of his. But, because her view of Lance remained the same and because she had made an emotional commitment to him, she decided to hang about hoping he would revert to a more regular relationship. While she waited, no change took place. That did not change her feelings towards him. She still dreamt of marriage.

In this ambiguous situation although she had voluntarily walked into it, a partial void was created. When doubts arose about his goals, feelings and loyalties, she took on other admirers. But she never committed herself heart and soul to them. That was because all of a sudden a shower of presents or other impressive gestures of affection would make her swerve back to Lance, the gentleman scholar.

Often she would try to unravel the riddle why he acted in that mysterious and maddeningly elusive way. But strive as she did, she was unsuccessful in understanding what made him tick. All sorts of notions went through her mind. Was it, she asked herself, that he simply didn't care for her, deep, deep down ? Was it because he was unsure of his own feelings towards her ? Was it based on a sense of inborn irresolution which made him shy away from making enduring commitments ? Or did he have a secret love ? Perhaps some well heeled, privately schooled, globe trotting sophisticate from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara or San Francisco high society into whose world she could never dream of entering ? Deep down, she shirked the effort of discovering whether such a woman existed. It was too terrible a possibility to face. 

In this emotional twilight zone, Harry entered the stage. To complicate matters, he was unaware of the situation. This, Pamela reasoned, suited her fine. For the time being, anyhow.


It was a warm, sunny afternoon when the threesome sat down for lunch in the staff restaurant.
"Good to see you, Harry. At last. How long has it been -two, three years -no more".
"Last year, at your father's funeral".
"Ah, yes. Daddy's funeral. Time does fly, doesn't it", he said, leaning over to his cousin.
"It certainly does".
"You were at the funeral too, weren't you, Pamela ?" Lance asked.
"Me ? No. I didn't know you that well, then".
"No. Hm-m". Lance then raised his head and shouted, 
"What have you been doing with yourself, Harry, all this time ? Beavering away, as usual ? Hm-m ?"
"You know me", Harry replied calmly, smiling. "I never let up".
"No", Lance said turning to Pamela. "He certainly doesn't. He's known as the power horse of the clan. Isn't that so, Harry ?"
"If you say so, Lance".
"Oh, I do. I do, indeed. Most assuredly. Mother agrees with me one hundred percent".
"She does ?"

"Why, of course", Lance continued, looking at Pamela. "As a matter of fact, she was talking about you just last week. In the most glowing terms. You've been up to Santa Barbara, haven't you ?"
"N-No. N-Not that I recall".
"We must have you around. As soon as possible".
"That would be nice", Harry said, blushing slightly.
"It'll be fun for both of you, Lance", Pamela came in then and with a charming smile. The sort that guaranteed male acquiescence to female requests.
"Y-Yes", Lance replied, feeling slightly awkward all of a sudden. "I must raise it with Mother dearest when we all have a free moment. Definitely." He added, "Do you know, Harry, we still have a lot of the old heirlooms over there".
"Yes, I know". Harry felt a slight pang in his heart. He had never seen them, of course.
"How old are they" Pamela asked. 
"The 1820s. Isn't that so, Harry ? The 1820s ?"
"I guess so". The poor relation refrained from biting his lip.

Lance went on and asked how Harry was finding things at Pasadena. Everything was progressing without a hitch. Marvellous, the associate professor replied. He always knew his cousin was the man for the job. He had told the chairman so on many an occasion.
"We were batting for you all the way, Harry", the rich relation rambled on. "We told Fishy you were the only man for the job. I knew he'd see the light about you -and he did, by God. You're off and running. You should get that extension next year. It should be a cinch".
Pamela then interjected, "Sure. Why shouldn't you !"

Indeed, Harry thought, why not. All things being equal. Lance went on to prattle on about his courses. Harry exchanged opinions about who he liked to call his `prize students' and the quality of the history collection in the library. The banter continued for another half an hour. Finally, Lance was convinced all was well amongst them. He had shown particularly to Pamela he was capable of treating the average individual, especially his cousin - or more correctly, his half-cousin - on an equal basis.


The Friday after this rendezvous, Lance invited Pamela to a supper club in town. He arranged to pick her up. The club was restricted to members and their guests. A famous impersonator was the featured artist for the evening. He had just come over after completing a successful stint at `The Sands' club in Las Vegas.

Lance had on his favorite black suit with a string tie, white shirt with frills and two gold rings, one on each hand. He arrived at her doorstep in his silver blue Porsche.

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting in a cozy little alcove. Lance dived into his sirloin immediately. It had been a particularly gruelling day. He was hungry.

Pamela observed her table companion. She admired his suave, sedately cosmopolitan manner, his air of confidence and savoir-faire. He was so full of impressions of far off exotic places, intrepid globe trotter that he was. She enjoyed listening to his incisive observations about people and places. He almost always spent not less than two weeks in a given country. No `Tuesday, It Was Belgium' man was he ! His travelogues, she thought, could fill volumes.

She was attracted by his mellowness and mellifluence. He would become that way, she noticed, particularly during the evenings spent together. It was then, she was convinced, the kind streak he had would surface or in other words would take its natural place in his being. It was then, when his mind was far away from the hustle and bustle of the hives of Pasadena academe, the equilibrium inside him would assume its natural dominance. That is how she liked to see him.

But Harry was on her mind that evening. There was something which needed ironing out. She waited till he finished the main course and a description of his summer meanderings in Scandinavia. She then related the story Lenora Craxi had told her about Lance's character assassination of Harry in the beginning of August. The table companion twitched his lips in mild irritation. He didn't have a vivid recollection of the conversation, As a result, he couldn't remember exactly what he had said or had not said or with what points he had agreed or had disagreed with Dr. Gomez. He replied defensively and in as much an unruffled manner as possible,
"As usual, that old gossip has twisted things out of all proportions"
"She hasn't".
"Believe me, Pam. She has".
There was a brief but fruitless exchange which Lance quickly terminated. Because he didn't know how he could convince her entirely, he hit upon an idea he thought would smooth over the matter. 
"Pam. Listen, darling".
"What is it ?"
"I'll arrange to have Harry invited to my sister's wedding. I'm sure he'll enjoy it. In fact, I know he will. What do you think ? A good idea ?"
"Yes ... Okay".
To his relief, harmony between them was restored. Lance was relieved. His convenient life style was left undisturbed.

Consuelo Sampson de la Vega was Lance's youngest sibling. He had two sisters as well as two elder brothers, the younger of whom -Vincent - was senior vice president of a big Los Angeles bank. The other, Ernest, was a broker with some major west coast oil and gas concerns. Lance was the only member outside, what the rest of his family called, `the real world'.

Aside from being the youngest child, Consuelo was the worldliest and the most attractive. Her wedding, which was to take place on October 3rd, was planned as the society event of the year. It was to be attended by no less than six hundred guests............