The Impresario (part thirteen)
Pierre, rocking back, raises his flask with a solemn, studied lack
of impudence (although the features of his face
tend against him)
The baron, he notes, has an arrogant flare of nostril
and curl of upper lip, yet
he does not fully sneer in spurning this.
Saying merely, “Do your best. I have set the warden to mark
the hour, and when my time is done here, the prisoner
must call himself counselled.”
“However,” says Pierre. “He must know what is charged against him.”
“Precisely those things”—the baron’s eye is, without a doubt,
most scornful—“to which he has confessed. I have seen the document.”
“Then, of course, as you have furnished me not one proof, but two,
I must believe my poor friend guilty. But, monsieur, I am an
ignorant, unschooled man. Would it not amuse you to enlighten me?”
“Testimony has been given…”
“By a man named Boniface…”
“Villain! Will you hear, or not? In any case, by two or three
Taken since the outrage at the fair, with suppurating sores…”
“Ah! They first were taken by the village whore.”
“Scoundrel! I leave you with a word.”
“Never weep,” Pierre tells Regalus, after the door bangs shut.
“The baron plays his role to spare the dignity of the court.
That it be not accused of killing out of hand.
As to the prisoner—see, he wakes!—he
will feel unequal to his counsellor’s word. But I will give it,
and urge on him a better choice.”
She wipes her eyes with a bloodstained sleeve,
mouths the first consonant of her betrothed’s name, “Q—
The prisoner whispers, “What day is it now?
I think, at last, they have let me sleep.”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)