Before I left The Professor's villa yesterday he asked me, "How long has Vittoria been gone?"
I had to think. "Something like a month and a half, I'd say."
"That's how long Lent is, right?"
"Yes. The word is from the Anglo-Saxon 'Lencten,' meaning spring. In France they call it 'Careme' and here it's 'Quarestima,' from the Latin 'Quadragesima.'"
"I wouldn't be surprised if Vittoria has been fasting all this time," I said. "She hardly eats anything, even when she's not in one fix or another."
"The number forty, as you might guess, has great religious significance."
The Professor ran down the list. Moses and Elias spent 40 days in the wilderness. The Jews wandered 40 years searching for the promised land. Jona gave the city of Niveveh 40 days grace in which to repent. And Jesus fasted for 40 days in his contemplation, reflection and preparation for what was to come.
* * *
The sea is a wilderness. Mom and dad were about six weeks into their round-the-world cruise when they went down in a storm off Cape Hope. Strange, isn't it? There are always a great number of yachts and sailboats like theirs out there but I have never taken a picture of one. Only ferryboats, dinghies.
Maybe she'll call today.