• As the story opens, Mantini is opening his crystal shop. He asks his shop boy to bring him a cup of coffee, while he debates whether or not he should think about his dead wife.
• Carla, an American diplomat's wife, is making her way to the store for the first time. She has been given directions by Mohammed, the shop boy, who also works on Carla's home. Carla abandons her car in the busy traffic, and begins walking on foot.
• Carla is frustrated in Tripoli. The day after she arrived, her husband left for a job in Egypt, and the home he left to her is rundown. When Mantini greets her in the shop, she is self-conscious of her hands, rough from working on the house.
• Carla and Mantini compliment each other, as they have heard of one another through Mohammed. Mantini claims to like Carla's skirt...
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