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Chester Pelton retracted his paunch as far as the breakfast seat would permit; the table, its advent preceded by a collection of mouth-watering aromas, slid noiselessly out of the pantry and clicked into place in front of him.
"Everything all right, Miss Claire?" a voice floated out after it from beyond. "Anything else you want?"
"Everything's just fine, Mrs. Harris," Claire replied. "I suppose Mr. Pelton'll want seconds, and Ray'll probably want thirds and fourths of everything." She waved a hand over the photocell that closed the pantry door, and slid into place across from her brother, who already had a glass of fruit juice in one hand and was lifting platter covers with the other.
"Real eggs!" the boy was announcing. "Bacon. Wheat-bread toast." He looked again. "Hey, Sis, is this real cow-made butter?"
"Yes. Now go ahead and eat."
As though Ray needed encouragement, Chester Pelton thought, watching his son use a spoon--the biggest one available--to dump gobs of honey on his toast. While he was helping himself to bacon and eggs, he could hear Ray's full-mouthed exclamation: "This is real bee-comb honey, too!" That pleased him. The boy was a true Pelton; only needed one bite to distinguish between real and synthetic food.
"Bet this breakfast didn't cost a dollar under five C," Ray continued, a little more audibly, between bites.
That was another Pelton trait; even at fifteen, the boy was learning the value of money. Claire seemed to disapprove, however.
"Oh, Ray; try not to always think of what things cost," she reproved.
"If I had all she spends on natural food, I could have a this-season's model 'copter-bike, likeJimmy Hartnett," Ray continued.
Pelton frowned. "I don't want you running around with that boy, Ray," he said, his mouth full of bacon and eggs. Under his daughter's look of disapproval, he swallowed hastily, then continued: "He's not the sort of company I want my son keeping."
"But, Senator," Ray protested. "He lives next door to us. Why, we can see Hartnett's aerial from the top of our landing stage!"
"That doesn't matter," he said, in a tone meant to indicate that the subject was not to be debated. "He's a Literate!"
"More eggs, Senator?" Claire asked, extending the platter and gesturing with the serving knife.
He chuckled inwardly. Claire always knew what to do when his temper started climbing to critical mass. He allowed her to load his plate again.
"And speaking of our landing stage, have you been up there, this morning, Ray?" he asked.
They both looked at him inquiringly.
"Delivered last evening, while you two were out," he explained. "New winter model Rolls-Cadipac." He felt a glow of paternal pleasure as Claire gave a yelp of delight and aimed a glancing kiss at the top of his bald head. Ray dropped his fork, slid from his seat, and bolted for the lift, even bacon, eggs, and real bee-comb honey forgotten.