All Bedlam Courses Past (part twenty)

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


Chapter Two
Avarice Creeping On
(part twenty)





At length corruption, like a general flood

(So long by watchful ministers withstood),

Shall deluge all; and avarice, creeping on,

Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun.


Alexander Pope




Threads Rewoven



Louis-Auguste Lecomte, a mulatto, born at Carbet, Martinique, was tasked in the American President’s house with unobtrusive work. It was, he told the journalist from Paris, not all he had expected. That such a comet’s trajectory must sweep it nigh this American sun—

That, of course, yes. Employment at a premier address, which had been from Lecomte’s birth, “in the cards”, that.

But to live in this city of Washington cost something, and to board well clear of the river, one had to pay it. Very much, the District of Columbia’s high and low dwellings presented a geographical aspect. To be ill, to be degraded in strength [in beauty, the journalist dared think…], was not Lecomte’s idea…

Then, language…

Catching something in the journalist’s eye, he hastened on. Language was a larger barrier than Lecomte had supposed. “But that is why I listen, always.” He cupped an ear. “I listen.”

Lecomte reminded Gilbert of Honoré. The emptying of lobby spittoons was not offensive to Lecomte; dressed in a proper collar and tie, he was making progress. He would progress to Boston or New York, cities without the color prejudice (here, an assured nod), when he had won a position with one of these important men of government, and this would not be difficult.

If Gilbert would consider that Mr. Garfield had been by birth un pauvre, and had his path to tread, through war and service to his party, in arriving so far, and…

Lecomte thought of present realities. “But, then, you see also, that God disposes as he wills.”


Gilbert, working under false premises (but on genuine assignment), had left his hotel the afternoon of his arrival, waiting only for his bags to be found at the wrong one, and promised delivery.







Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfireAll Bedlam Courses Past (part twenty-one)















(2023, Stephanie Foster)




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