A Figure from the Common Lot: conclusion
The Eye of a Magpie
Jerome had been Ebrach’s reason for arriving and was his reason for leaving. And what was Ebrach to Jerome? A kind of cicerone, helping him to make his way in America. Or a kind of guardian, a prop. Then what was Jerome to Ebrach? They quarreled; they appeared not overly fond of each other.
But Élucide felt in an unaccountable way foredoomed by their going; she had come out to the circle at dawn, raising her father’s eyebrow. She felt as though the whole world moved, and she herself would never move. Her friendlessness, her dependency, seemed to her suddenly illuminated—she had never gone from her parents’ house on any errand of her own.
With beautiful apologies, Ebrach had begged Mother’s and Papa’s understanding…it was best Jerome not eat before his ride into town, and Ebrach himself preferred no breakfast. This had, therefore, been put back an hour, the Gremots’ routine for a fourth day upended.
“Ah…no breakfast.” Blinking, otherwise speechless at five-thirty in the morning, Jerome appeared to acquiesce, lying down on the seat and allowing himself to be tucked up with a blanket. Before climbing onto the jump seat, Ebrach had handed up to Ziegler Jerome’s portmanteau and his own satchel. Élucide then watched until the lanterns at the back of the buggy vanished down the drive, sometime after the sound of Miss Pearl’s hooves merged into birdsong.
On her swing, with a conscientious effort, and for perhaps an hour, she mused over all that came to mind…and dodged the object that kept intruding. She was saving the possibility of it.
At his daily hour of seven-thirty Papa had left the table, cutting his breakfast, rather than his plans for the day, short. Mother, rising and speaking of chores, left the morning room at eight, ahead of her daughters. Élucide shuffled and lagged, in sour mood…her state of mind today such that she wanted no part of Ranilde’s wedding. By the time she’d reached the foot of the staircase, she had been able to run to her room, light steps on the carpet unheard.
She’d seen it at once.
A piece of writing paper folded like a letter, extended from the book’s top and bottom, bumping its pages apart. Élucide closed the door behind her. Within a few paces, she could read the title, the scripted silver a challenge on its red background. But not fully believing these characters could say “The Summoning of Ancients”, Élucide moved closer. She touched the book, did not lift it; with a fingertip nudged it, and read the spine again.
A Figure from the Common Lot
(2018, Stephanie Foster)