I didn’t know what was going to happen, but it was hard to be interested in the two courses my uncle had enrolled me in over the phone from his penthouse office in Washington state.

Adkins gave lectures on Wednesday and Friday — “Hotel Design as Subliminal Persuasion” and “Ethics and the Innkeeper’s Hippocratic Oath” — and both times he talked with me after class about my millionaire uncle’s great success and business savvy and sterling reputation. He said he hoped my uncle might visit the college and give a talk.

The professor was very attentive and nice and I was glad for that, although something about him made me uneasy. It crossed my mind that maybe Adkins would like to get out of teaching and take a job with Uncle Ernie in Seattle at the big hotel, work in public relations, or become an advisor on his executive staff.

I wondered if my uncle and Adkins had designed some kind of deal or if Adkins was working on me to help him get a good position. I wasn’t used to successful people buttering me up, just cranky, sour bosses like Ray — except for the Carlsons three years ago, on the horse ranch near Las Cruces.

Adkins asked where I was living and, when I told him the Elgin Hotel, he nodded with approval, as if I must have a suite on the privileged seventh floor, next to the TV actor’s mother-in-law, or Mr. Gobel, the Elgin’s wealthy owner. He began to tell me about the hotel’s interesting history and that the top story had been returned to the Elgin’s previous elegance of the 1920s, at the height of the Jazz Age.

For a second, I was afraid he was going to ask to visit. I didn’t tell him about the rented room above the movie marquee and the pubic restroom down the hall, or that my elderly unmarried neighbors Birdie Johnson and Ralph Quigley pooled their Social Security, worked in the downstairs theater, and shoveled snow from the sidewalk in the winter.

Or that I hadn’t seen my uncle for six years, after I’d gotten divorced and started drifting back and forth across the western states with sad stints at my father’s failing ranch when I was broke and couldn’t find work to buy food.

I didn’t know how much my uncle had told Adkins and I wanted everything to go smoothly at the college, so that, after Christmas, I could go to Lake Chelan and start at the Blue Heron.

The teacher invited me to dinner for the following week, after I’d return to Kootenay from my two-day stay at the Lakeview Inn. Adkins grinned and said I’d have a chance to compare the Lakeview’s fine cuisine with the “grub” at Chez Adkins. Actually, his wife was an excellent cook and had graduated from a culinary academy in Minneapolis. She often made gourmet meals for special events at the college — cranberry duck and poached trout, Cornish hens and beef tenderloin.

“In just hours you’ll be relaxing by Betty’s locker — all the fresh fish my wife prepares comes straight from Sleeping Child Lake, from David Hamphill at the Lakeview.”

He realized it was several months ahead, but he wanted me to know I was welcome to join them for roast wild goose at Thanksgiving, if I wasn’t flying out to spend it with my uncle at the Fremont — which of course was famous for its lavish holiday affairs, especially their selection of rare seafood delicacies. That, in turn, reminded me of the rare fish in the net on The Blue Fin and Ed Roper’s sarcastic red face and the gaff.