'He'll be the six-foot-four blur in the white French uniform with violet cuffs and gold lace trim,' I said.

'You're right,' she said, with a chuckle. 'I think I'll probably manage to pick him out of the crowd.'

'That's my son Samuel he's holding,' Eileen said. 'It was taken at the christening. Here's another one we took at the reception afterward.'

'Very nice,' Amanda said. She glanced nervously at Eileen's wallet, beginning to suspect how much of its bulk came from baby pictures.

'And here's one of Samuel with his daddy,' Eileen continued, flipping onward. I could see a trapped look cross Amanda's face.

'Not in period,' I sang, clapping my hands for attention as our first-grade teacher used to do. And when Eileen turned with a hurt look, I added, 'Come on. Help me out. We're supposed to be setting a good example for the others.'

Eileen sighed, stowed her anachronisms, and returned to our booth. I don't know why I bothered. She'd pull the photos out the minute my back was turned. Amanda would have to fend for herself if she wanted to dodge Eileen's hour-by-hour photographic chronicle of the first two months of young Samuel's life.

Don't get me wrong; I've got nothing against kids. I love my sister Pam's brood, all six of them – although I prefer them one at a time. As young Samuel's godmother, I was perfectly willing to agree with his parents' most extravagant boasts about his winsome charm and preternatural intelligence. I could even see that producing an offspring or two might be something I'd be interested in doing eventually, under the right circumstances and with the right collaborator.

But, I'd already seen Eileen's pictures several dozen times. At least she'd left the infant prodigy himself home with a sitter. I was getting very, very tired of having people dump babies into my arms and warble to the immediate world what a natural mother I was. Especially when they did it in front of Michael. Or his mother.

Speaking of Mrs. Waterston, if Horace was right, I probably would need to straighten her out about the accent problem, before she browbeat all the crafters into mute terror. But at least I could postpone the ordeal until she dropped by my booth. I peered outside to see how close she was, and breathed a sigh of relief. She was still a good way off, standing in front of her tent, in the middle of our temporary, fictional town square.

We'd set up all the tents and booths of the fair like the streets of a small town, its aisles marked with little street signs painted in tasteful, conservative, Williamsburg colors, with names taken from Yorktown and Virginia history, like 'Jefferson Lane' and 'Rue de Rochambeau.' Thirty-four street signs, to be precise – I knew, because I'd had to mink up all the names, arrange for Eileen's cabinetmaker husband.to make the signboards, and then forge the wrought-iron posts and brackets myself.

In the center we had what Mrs. Waterston called 'the town square,' complete with a fake well and a working set of stocks that I was afraid she had every intention of using on minor malefactors. Not to mention her headquarters tent, which she'd decorated to match some museum's rather ornate recreation of how General Washington's tent would have looked.

Mrs. Waterston turned to look our way, and I winced. She wasn't dressed, like the rest of us, in workday gowns of wool, cotton, or linsey-woolsey. She wore a colonial ball gown. The white powdered wig added at least a foot to her height.

'What the hell is she wearing on her hips?' Amanda said from her vantage point across the aisle.

'Panniers,' I said, referring to the semicircular hoops that held out Mrs. Waterston's dress for at least a foot on either side of her body. 'Don't the historical-society folks ever wear panniers up in Richmond?'

'Not anyplace I've ever seen,' she answered. 'Remember, Richmond didn't do too much worth bragging about in the Revolution. They're all running around in hoop skirts, fixated on the 1860s and St. Robert E. Lee. And I thought Scarlet O'Hara looked foolish,' she added, shaking her head. 'She must be three feet wide, and no more than a foot deep.'

'That was the style back then,' I said. 'Like Marie Antoinette.'

'Looks like a paper doll,' Amanda said. 'How's she going to get up if she ever falls down?'

'You could trip her and we could find out,' I suggested.

'Don't tempt me,' Amanda said, with a chuckle.

Mrs. Waterston still stood in the town square, turning slowly, surveying her domain. A frown creased her forehead.

'Oh, Lord,' I muttered. 'Now what?'

'What's wrong?' Eileen asked.

'Mrs. Waterston's upset about something.'

'Mrs. Waterston's always upset about something,' Eileen said. 'Don't worry. I'm sure it's not your problem.'

Probably not, but that wouldn't stop Mrs. Waterston from making it my problem. I'd worked like a dog to make the craft fair successful. I'd twisted crafters' arms to participate. Begged, browbeaten, or blackmailed friends and relatives to show up and shop. Harassed the local papers for publicity.

And it worked. We'd gotten a solid number of artists, and their quality was far better than we had any right to expect for a fair with no track record, especially considering the requirement for colonial costume. Most of the best crafters were old friends, some of whom had passed up prestigious, juried shows to help out. I hoped Mrs. Waterston understood the craft scene well enough to appreciate that without my efforts, she'd have nothing but amateurs selling dried flower arrangements and crocheted toilet paper covers.

And wonder of wonders, with a little last-minute help from Be-Stitched, they were all wearing some semblance of authentic colonial costume. And by the time the barriers opened and the crowd already milling around outside began pouring in, I'd have all the anachronisms put away, if I had to do it myself.

So why was Mrs. Waterston frowning?

'Miss me?' came a familiar voice in my ear, accompanied by a pair of arms slipping around my waist.

'Always,' I said, turning around to greet Michael more properly. I ignored Eileen, who had developed a maddening habit of sighing and murmuring 'Aren't they sweet?' whenever she saw us together.

'So, shall I set the rest of this stuff up?' Michael asked, eventually.

'Please,' I said, and stood back to give him room. Maybe I'd be set up on time after all, and could take a last run around the grounds to make sure everything was shipshape.

I caught Amanda sneaking a pair of glasses out from under her apron and shook my finger at her, in imitation of Mrs. Waterston. She stuck out her tongue at me, put the glasses on, and watched with interest while Michael shed his ornate, gold-trimmed coat, rolled up the flowing sleeves of his linen shirt, and began hauling iron. Then she looked over at me and gave me a thumbs-up.

'What on Earth is that!'

Mrs. Waterston's voice. And much closer than I expected. Though not, thank goodness, quite in our booth. Not yet, anyway. Still, I started; Amanda ripped her glasses off so fast that she dropped them; and Eileen began nervously picking at her dress and hair.

Michael alone seemed unaffected. I wondered, not for the first time, if he was really as oblivious to his mother's tirades as he seemed. Maybe it was just good acting. Or should I have his hearing tested?

'Put that thing away immediately!'

Eileen and Amanda both looked around, startled, to see what they should put away. Michael continued calmly trying to match up half a dozen pairs of andirons on the ground at the front of the booth. I peered around the corner to see who or what had incurred Mrs. Waterston's displeasure.

'Oh, no,' I groaned.

'What's wrong?' Michael said, putting down an andiron to hurry to my side.

'Wesley Hatcher, that's what,' I said.

'Who's that?' he asked.

'The world's sneakiest reporter,' I said, 'And living proof that neither a brain nor a backbone are prerequisites for a career as a muckraking journalist. Wesley,' I called out, as a jeans-clad figure retreated into our booth, hastily stuffing a small tape recorder into his pocket. 'If you're trying to hide, find someplace else.'

Wesley turned around, wearing what I'm sure he meant as an ingratiating smile.

'Oh, hi, Meg!' he said. 'Long time no see.'

Actually, he'd seen me less than two hours previously, when he'd tried to get me to say something misquotable for a snide story on how craftspeople overcharged and exploited their customers. With any other

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