Imprisoned: part three
He saw that the house had fallen into silence because they had all gone, and he was alone. He could remember something of this room…the white-washed ceiling and diamond-paned windows, whose pattern cast on the floor milky coin-dots of light. The corner, shuttered no longer, held no sign of the falcon.
Honoré persuaded himself that he would cross the room; that he would sit for an hour or two on one of the benches. No one ought to mind. He would go, certainly, should anyone return and order him to do so. He saw waver through the bank of windows, a timid shaft of sunlight merge the dots at his feet into a shivering whole. The sun passed behind a cloud, the little spheres dimmed and once again separated. Charmed by this effect, he had not―until the handle turned―noticed Broughton at the door.
Broughton smiled, as though it gratified his expectations to find Honoré in this room. He turned his back and the latch clicked. He dropped a key in his pocket, removed his hat, slipped his cane into the umbrella holder, and placed his hat over its handle.
“I trust I do not find you in want of anything, Gremot?”
Feeling vaguely in the wrong, while knowing of no rule he had broken, Honoré explained, in any case, “The house seemed to have no one here.”
“So it would appear, indeed.” Yet Broughton made a show of scanning the room from end to end. “If, Gremot, you find yourself interested in the world’s affairs, sit with me, and I will tell you as much news as I know of, at present. I have an appointment; clearly, I am to be kept waiting.”
They had met, after a fashion, before Honoré had come to know Broughton…the Englishman who had at first questioned him. Who memorably had insulted him, but not, Honoré supposed, with intent. Broughton’s manner was mild, his face thin, his cheekbones high and sharp, and for all his good nature, his eyes were capable of a misanthropic narrowing. Honoré knew when a line from one of Broughton’s newspapers had angered him, by the way he traced his finger along it, and read the offending words twice over.
From the day, if not the hour, of Tweedloe’s departure, Broughton had arrived, and begun his weekly visits to the sickbed. And though his courtesy was impeccable, he did not call for the sake of courtesy. He represented Tweedloe’s interests. His purpose was to cast an assessing eye on the progress of his master’s protégé.
“Gremot, what have you to say for yourself?”
It was a question invariably asked, one of an idiomatic nature, that required some formula in answering; a formula Honoré did not understand, and was afraid to stab at. “But if you wish to know, I am well today.”
His caution made Broughton chuckle. “And have you any complaint, or is there anything that you require, Gremot?”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)