The House of Gremot: part four
2nd, February, 1875
My dear Gremot,
You may well imagine my delight at receiving some six of your letters, bundled together and wrought upon with quizzical inscriptions rendered by various hands. Gremot, I carried the lot to the fire―and set about reading them by its light. I said to myself, ‘My old acquaintance has made his way to America. He sends news.’ I was not troubled to note that the address of your apparent home was shared by that of an Oneida County almshouse. They do things differently abroad, I reminded myself. Gremot may not, after all, have succeeded in reducing himself to that most abject state of impoverishment, for which Destiny seems specially to have marked him out.
And since you ask for nothing, I will tell you about my auriculas. I have set out two dozen cuttings from a particularly good purple, with a vibrant yellow eye―a variety named ‘Royal Robe’; also, I have hopes of propagating the orange-ish sport (discovered by Mr. Allenby) of a rather commonplace yellow, ‘Madame Defarge’―
Perhaps, however, Broughton has got the right idea about you. He proposes that this insistence of yours, this motive which repeats itself in virtually the same terms through six otherwise dull and uninformative examples of your prose, is to be interpreted as begging. Broughton would have it, and he is more the man of the world than I, that you have got yourself in a desperate spot, and appeal to me for your deliverance. He blames himself. He tells me he had rashly attempted to discourage this emigration scheme of yours, having supposed you might respond to good advice by choosing wisely. Nevertheless, I must say in his defence, that in nearly all other matters of the intellect, I find Broughton perfectly sound.
I am rather late in setting these thoughts down. I had, in fact, sent a telegram to a man I know of, who lives in the city of New York. He, in turn, has sent a report of such interest, Gremot, that I shall herewith impart its contents, with the wish that you may heed the lesson contained therein.
Maier and Anne had insured Honoré’s life three times over; Anne, in each instance, presenting herself as Mrs. Thos. B. Jerome, and being named beneficiary. The difficulty for the felon, in the prosecution of this type of fraud―as Tweedloe’s agent had informed him―was not so much in obtaining the policy (for this was only a matter of paying money to those eager to receive it), but of proving the death. Anticipating Honoré’s furnishing himself at length in the role of mortal remains, Anne and Maier had planned to bide their time, their reliance invested in the “excellent gift” to which Maier had once referred. Anne’s neglect of Honoré, and the patent medicines she’d made him swallow, Tweedloe told him bluntly, had been acts of deliberation.
The House of Gremot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)