All Bedlam Courses Past (part one)
This week I begin posting the draft of a new novel, the sequel to A Figure from the Common Lot (no longer on the blog because it’s going through a major edit).
All Bedlam Courses Past
The Peculiar Nature of Logical Science
The Man in Charge
Mr. Kempf was taking care for his guest.
The guest was a new-minted board member, and so had the right in pursuit of hospital affairs to muddy, if he chose, his trouser cuffs; to step away from the bricks, if he liked, and make for the young woman with the leather-bound book.
Ebrach’s eyes had been on her, and without much compunction about it.
Having brought her to this work—Kempf tried the thought—Ebrach must look on her as under his wing. That was to take a charitable, a businesslike view, and here Kempf had a certain wisdom about the ways people explained things to themselves. He kept aloof from gossip. But supposing, now, he were to offer Miss Gremot some permanent employment, what would that be to Ebrach…?
He wondered if she was in need of it, employment. Cash.
As to gossip, there was that to be answered. Did she live in a room at the Columbia Hotel? Did she pay her bills with Ebrach’s money?
The young lady wore her money on her back, so his housekeeper (and so, he assumed, the ladies in general) had it. She stayed at the hotel was what she told people. And being somewhat independent of her family, she must get her money from a source, when her father wasn’t giving it.
But hiring her…he’d meant to be saying to himself…that would be putting matters to the test. Kempf said all these things in his private mind, and still heard Ebrach wanting to know how they had preserved the records.
“Do you mean to say the cemetery? I’m afraid I didn’t hear all of what you were telling me, just now.”
He shot a telegraphing look at Miss Gremot. She was holding a shoulder atilt, the book propped in the crook of an elbow, her lower half turned at the hips, from the two men on their knees doing some of the digging. Miss Gremot stood off, was what she did.
Ebrach took Kempf’s point. “I think we will stroll over in a moment. There’s no possibility, have you ever learned, of burial without a casket?”
Kempf shook his head.
He hadn’t learned this, or even taken the notion of it. Since his time, he had personally overseen every interment in the newer ground. He felt sentimental about this; vain (though he didn’t count it vanity), at the contrast of conscience. These lost souls, who had given so much to science…
The late supervisor had been something ecclesiastical, Kempf thought. Not believing in empirical proofs, liking the unexplained to be the miraculous.
(2023, Stephanie Foster)