The House of Gremot: part five
As they returned, Honoré walked the fence side, and Clotilde, again on his left, studied the hard-packed dirt to spot such pebbles and gouges as might twist a shoe heel. As often as she looked down, she glanced up again, and he would not meet her eyes…but could sense, nonetheless, ardency there, an unspoken plea. He ignored her. She could not bring herself to ask what words he’d exchanged with Waldgrave, and Honoré would not explain unless she did ask. Waldgrave’s story solved some portion of the mystery. Her carpet bag—he had almost come to think of it as part of Anne, so integral was it to his picture of her—had been empty. Or perhaps Honoré’s own clothes had been stuffed inside to give it weight. She’d discarded it on the street; she hadn’t cared to keep it. The bag, in Anne’s scheme with Maier, had been a distraction. She’d come back for what she wanted.
He did not feel well.
On the day following his talk with Waldgrave, he got up and dressed, and saw through the window that again the ground was covered in frost. They had been lucky, or perhaps Clotilde had been clever in her choice—their sitting room was at the corner of the house. The room was papered in rusty red, its moldings and baseboards varnished dark brown, and it seemed, despite this, pleasant and light. Windows on two sides allowed a flow of air on a warm afternoon, that vented away the close smells of a much-used carpet, a downstairs kitchen kept boiling and frying most of the day.
At Sylvie’s, near the end of Mme Rose’s time, he had felt this lethargy and ache, with fever coming on. He had tried morning after morning to rise, to dress, to work, to write…only a paragraph or two at the desk in the room Sylvie had given him.
“I won’t walk today,” he told Clotilde.
Meaning to show him a bright face, she smiled; he saw her smile fall away, and her eyes that shed tears so easily, fill. She turned, catching herself on the edge of the desk. “Honoré!” As though happily the idea had just occurred to her, she lifted both hands at once, and came back to the sofa, carrying a sheet of writing paper, and a pencil. “If you write it down and ask the kitchen for a tray, I will go…only for a minute.”
So that she would not stand there in tears and eagerness holding things, making him feel bad for her, he stopped speaking and wrote:
The House of Gremot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)