Maybe the duck did them in -- Edgar had been Daniel's idea, but Deirdre was the one who took care of him. Deirdre was the one the duck would follow drunkenly down the streets of Hyannisport, and it was she who had to do the explaining when he dived like some feathered kamikaze into the hot tub on C Street, nipping at the naked guests. There were times when Deirdre felt that in Edgar she had found a good metaphor for Daniel's approach to the concept of responsibility.

Then again, maybe it was just the season for separation -- their affair ended with the administration, and the last apologies, the now useless explanations, mingled with the boradcasters' comments and the new president's inaugural address.Together, they had tasted power, enjoyed what a White House credential could do, in the pursuit not only of positive ideals but of a good table at Trax. They were a young and absurdly handsome couple, and promise seemed to shine on them like the sun on the scales of a great glittering fish. They were fan dancers; they kept no books on the business of living. Charm was their currency, and it seems at least as strong as the dollar. Wouldn't they be, couldn't they be, forever young?

He's in Bangkok now, she's in Benington. (Edgar -- well, Edgar could have used just a touch more thyme). The transition had been hard on them; the goodbyes too many, the jobs too few. She had hoped for a marriage proposal by the end of the year, but on New Year's Day, he left for St. Bart's. When he came back, they said goodbye. Barely hatched in the '60s, they played the '70s with an easy grace, but the '80s were a puzzle -- something about getting older, getting on with it, had eluded them.

By the time he left, Daniel was on emotional hold, and there was something in his voice that sounded softer and more tentative.

He looks sad, Deirdre was told when she asked how he was. She smiled absently.

Yes, she said, he always did do sad real good.