Imprisoned: part one
Honoré had composed what he felt was a rather poetic, stirring appeal to his readers. As yet, he must envision his readers. They might be refugees from the Paris suburbs; they might be soldiers of the national guard; they might be starving malcontents of the tenements―his neighbors, sleeping, as Honoré did, in shared beds, in unheated rooms.
But (though Broughton believed so), this poverty did not represent an excess of frugality. Honoré despised frugality.
“Pride is not bread,” as his friend Garond put it. The war would soon wind down, as everyone knew it must, to an unhappy end. One day Honoré would publish a Paris edition of the Progressiste. He would use money of his own, and Broughton would have nothing to say about it. At present, his medium was the placard, censored as it were organically, by lack of paper and ink. At this thought, he laid his cigar across the top of an empty ink pot, and said to Broughton, “Tell me if you like this very much.”
“I’m certain I shall, however…” Broughton stopped to write a line. He read it over. He remarked, “It’s a pity we can’t find anything to burn.”
“But you may sit on the floor. You can burn your chair only once. Then there is not much help.”
“I have thought of it, lately…and come to the same conclusion. It will be a long winter. We must not be rash.”
Honoré took up the scrap on which he’d written his preamble. He scrutinized the small map he’d drawn for himself in the margin (streets safe for trafficking about changing from day to day.) He had an afternoon on the stump ahead, his rounds to make among the cafés; a heartening number of which still scraped together a menu―of some species―to offer their customers. He did not mind the gendarmerie. Should he be arrested for speaking in public, he would have a great deal to say. But here, in Broughton’s place of business, they spoke only of quotidian affairs. Honoré was certain the greater portion of the papers he handed out to all comers were burned at once.
“I am reading to you,” he informed Broughton.
“No, not yet, please. I ought to finish this thing for Tweedloe. He inquires, by the way, after your health.”
Ruminative, Honoré touched his tongue to his broken tooth, and supposed he might see a dentist…but he would spend his money on many comforts first. He had never liked dentists; he’d had enough of doctors, and would not use money acquired by good fortune for things associated with illness and sorrow.
“Monsieur Tweedloe thinks he will not be paid. I have a plan, you may tell him so.”
“I see no reason to answer a civility with a threat. I will put down that you appear quite yourself.”
Broughton huddled into his coat. He wrote with care and constraint, wasting nothing.
(2017, Stephanie Foster)