All Bedlam Courses Past (part forty-one)

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


Chapter Two
Avarice Creeping On
(part forty-one)





“I’ll tell you what, Aylucide, I named Myra after Moult’s poor sister. Stuck her little finger with the garden shears out in the rose bed one morning…”

Mrs. Buckley’s pace hitched to a trot. They followed to a semi-closed porch, of painted cabinets, brocaded chairs, a Persian runner melded to a parqueted floor, a crackling oil of a Cumberland vista, a coy child and lamb, rumpled in chalks, a crocheted drapery, an empty fruit bowl…

These worse-for-weather items were huddled at the inside wall. “That was all it took! In four days the tetanus had killed her. There. Moult.”

“Buckley,” Manfred whispered.

Moult’s was a bust-view photograph, under glass and flyspecked. Its subject was portly; his cravat, hiked by the patrimonial vest, pushed through a thicket of beard like the bloom of an arum.

Le défunt mari de Mrs. Buckley, Bertrand Sartain said aside.

And as they moved to the outdoor half of the porch, Mme Sartain peered, dutiful appreciator of the American milieu.



At the station, by a shouting page, Bertrand of New Orleans had been discovered.

“I sat in the lounge for a while, and it suddenly occurred to me.”

“A mercy it did! I’d been buying a second newspaper. Will you believe I’ve never done anything like this, to wait at a station for a person I haven’t met…it’s two hours, I think, I’ve stood on the platform, hoping anything might occur to me.”

He had found a fellow traveler to talk to, both ambling as the stranger smoked. The talk had been everyone’s talk…would the president live? Could Dr. Bliss be trusted?

Well, he was a good man. The best available, how not?

Came out to the press now and then, not too much side to him, seemed to know his business. Now, you didn’t vote for Garfield?

Bertrand had demurred.

But to Élucide, he explained he had not, in the end. A northern general, a difficult thing to bring oneself to. He had come to like Garfield, while it was hard, of course, to feel one knew him—

“But, I think that you, you Gremots…”

“Staunch but not stalwart. I shouldn’t joke. No, my father, in fact, sits for our district in the state senate.”

“Now that interests me! How…what seems to us in New Orleans to be the main of the country, as we feel somewhat of an island…” He gave a sheepish smile. “How affairs are conducted, what the great trouble is…”







Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfireAll Bedlam Courses Past (part forty-two)















(2023, Stephanie Foster)




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