Lee was having breakfast on the balcony and enjoying the morning view. The Old Hotel was only four stories high, with her suite on the top floor. That was one floor higher than most of the other buildings in Derfhome, at least the old city. She could see some new taller buildings dotting the hills across the valley about six kilometers away. That meant she wasn’t surrounded by larger buildings cutting off the view. The capitol was spread out before her like an old fashioned panoramic map.
The balcony was at the north corner of the Hotel, and she picked the west leg of the wrap around balcony to be served, because the day was warm already and she didn’t want to sit in the sun. The Foys would be joining her soon for breakfast and the sun would end up being in somebody’s eyes for sure, if they sat around the corner.
Lee didn’t wait for them to arrive to start. That was just one of the little social graces she refused to take up from Humans. The Foys were Humans from California and had gone through a long and harrowing effort to abandon that place and immigrate to the habitat of Home at L2 out beyond Earth’s moon some years ago.
The Foys were still filling in details of that early adventure for Lee every time they visited her. It was a safer topic than their more recent life on Home and their eventual move to Central on the Moon. Besides Eileen being an ambassador and voice of her sovereign to the Derf, they were allies of a sort now. They were assigned to Derfhome as more than a diplomatic mission, they were a military presence to protect it. They’d had opportunity to do so once already, diverting an unwelcome USNA ship to New Japan.
Too many things about their recent life were still secrets from people not sworn to their Sovereign Heather. That could make conversation awkward when the topic took a turn that ran up against something they couldn’t reveal. Old stories were a much safer area of conversation.
They frequently made reference to Earth Think as their expression that described the narrow view of things Earthies held, thinking their world view must be reality, and that the customs of their village were laws of nature. It was no compliment.
It was a shock for them to realize they held some cultural assumptions of their own, such as everybody at the table being served at the same time in a restaurant or sitting to a meal and getting up when done in unison at a private home. Derf tended to communal dining since most lived in clans, and sat to a meal at only roughly the same time, not by the clock. The kitchen always had a board with food available between times and for those whose duty had them up during the night.
Clan Derf had two meals a day rather than the three many Humans expected, and serving times stretched until the stragglers who got hungry later or wanted to finish up some work finally came in and ate. The only danger being you might miss a favorite dish if it ran out before you got there. If you told a Derf he must take his lunch from exactly ten until ten point five, the Derf using a twenty hour day, he’d have thought you mad. Even the Mothers, used to extremely autocratic powers, would never have tried to regulate their people so tightly. When Gordon first heard that’s how most clerks and office workers were regulated at Earth businesses, he sarcastically asked if they were also assigned to use the restroom at exactly eight and twelve?
To their credit, the Foys were adapting to Derf customs rather than fighting the way an entire world was accustomed to doing things. They were no longer shocked if a merchant had a sign posted that they were out to lunch, or ate while still tending their shop. Victor, who Lee noticed tended to think on things a long time before commenting, reflected eventually that the Human custom on the matter was probably the source of a lot of eating disorders.