The House of Gremot: part six
Honoré had then been away the better part of a year.
He had not written to his father, not once; and if M. Gremot understood this to mean, as it did, that Honoré would have no more to do with him, and if this circumstance had borne home, at length…and had cost Papa some small anxiety in the night’s watches, he could not have looked any more the scarecrow. Honoré had always seen his father hollow-cheeked, lank-haired, and reedy of build.
And if his suitcoat had not at last parted at the seams, neither would his costume have changed. Even at this extremity, he would want the coat re-stitched. (He might even ask Mme. Dogneaux to do the work, so dependent on their mutual enmity had the Dogneaux and M. Gremot become.)
“Yes, and I have been told…he is a blackguardly looking fellow, Gilbert. I believe he means only to swindle me.”
Gilbert sorted this. “A man has come to you, monsieur, and he has told you some news.”
“News! He tells me that Honoré is dying in Paris!”
“But you don’t believe him.”
“He did…Honoré…used to send telegrams.”
“But, monsieur, I always brought them to you.”
M. Gremot admitted that the man had not asked him for money; had sworn, even, that he would pay the fare himself. “But, of course, it is impossible now to enter Paris…so what can he mean, Gilbert?”
“He is coming back, this man?”
“Coming back…listen! He tells me he has been hired to fetch me, and that when he is paid to do a job, he does it! He will answer me nothing as to who employs him. And so, I think, why not…” Here, Honoré’s father decided against telling Gilbert what he thought. “But it is out of the question. I can never leave my work.”
It was puzzling. For a moment Gilbert stood, still with M. Gremot’s card in hand, and tried to guess how, within the terms of such a proposition, a man could be swindled…if that man were poor, and only a lawyer’s clerk.
From the front of the house, a sound of commotion descended, and M. Gremot, lifting one hand from the rail, swept this past his own ear, twice, as though shooing away foolish words, that they might not penetrate his hearing. He pivoted, then, climbed to the cellar door, and burst into the kitchen. At once, Gilbert discerned a fourth voice, an oddly accented voice, one that spit short, and resentful, answers, from amid the shouting of Gremot, Mme and M. Dogneaux.
The House of Gremot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)