Élucide: part six
The sensation, within the house of Gremot, and the import, of Mr. Ebrach’s ceremony at the Everards’, had been potent; yet the event so extraordinary, so anomalous, that Papa’s response to Ziegler’s intelligence was, until the following morning, silence. It was his habit to pick up the latest Beacon when he went to town, and carry it home.
For a day, he’d held onto it.
Never before had Papa set foot in the back parlor after breakfast. He let the paper drop from his hand, onto Mother’s sewing table. “Has got his name in the Beacon.”
None of them made a grab for it, not until Papa, having said only that, turned on his heel and left the room.
From her cushion on the floor, where she knelt at the task of lettering place-cards, Élucide put forward a stealthy hand.
“Mother, what does it say?” Ranilde, stitching a monogram for her trousseau, drove her needle into the linen, laid her work on the arm of her chair; then tapped the paper three times, claiming it with an index finger, pulling it towards herself incrementally.
Mother’s eyes stayed fixed on her own stitching.
“Nildie, I don’t know anything about it.”
Papa looked at the Beacon, that publication that vaunted his political enemies’ perspective, for three reasons: first, because it was prudent—what Commissioner Gremot felt about Rowan was none of Rowan’s business, to make capital of with his intemperate opinion-peddling; second, because it was prudent—those things Rowan hinted at could not be countered unless they were known; third, because it was prudent—Rutherford’s Vanguard was in its infancy, and the Beacon remained, as yet, Cookesville’s paper of record.
Two columns and a half, on the third page, were filled by an article reprinted from the London Examiner. Ranilde read aloud the Beacon’s rendition of the Examiner’s correspondent’s story:
“I had been invited to attend a séance, conducted at a private house near Grosvenor Mews, by the celebrated medium, Dr. C——.”
The Beacon asked of its readers, in the smaller type of the sub-head: What is a séance?
A darkened room, in which a piano, situated beyond the reach of human hands, played a discordant tune; where writing had bloomed on a blank sheet of paper held by “Mrs. de N——” over the heat of a candle flame; and where a thin, child-like voice was heard to sob, “…as though some disconsolate spectral visitor floated above the chandelier.”
At the end of the last column, two fillers rounded out the space. The first was a joke:
(2017, Stephanie Foster)