All Bedlam Courses Past (part forty-six)
All Bedlam Courses Past
Avarice Creeping On
“Because you know Cartesia can’t take the rainy weather these days. Or…why do I say it? That would have been seventy-five. Have I even heard from her? Luce! Has she passed on?”
“It’s her son we’ve been seeing a lot of,” Manfred said.
“The poor thing! How is Roman even doing anymore?”
That Mr. Unversaght could be so called seemed to beggar belief…or at least straight-faced diplomacy. Élucide cast her eyes to the sparkling waters.
“He is drawing near the divine,” Manfred said.
“Well, amen, bless his heart. I guess I fell out of touch, since…”
“Since Daddy was drowned.” Myra, flat and irritable.
“We’re not being rude, are we? Oh, but what am I thinking? You speak English!” Regina reached and patted the hand of Bertrand Sartain.
“Mrs. Buckley, you are a generous woman, to provide such hospitality to a stranger.”
“No, but if I include Madame Sartain in the conversation…”
“Now what relation are you two?”
He translated. Madame shrugged. He translated back. “None at all. Only very distantly, by marriage.”
“You see, the weather was perfect. Luce.”
“All along the coast. It was perfect.”
“That’s why you don’t believe the Zandrine could have been sunk.” Manfred, issuing (as Élucide took it) an Alarica stock line, shared a glance with Myra.
“Well, it’s impossible, isn’t it? They’d always have land in sight. There’d be traffic all up and down the way. And if it was the boiler, not only would any number of people have seen the smoke, but the winds would just drive the wreckage right back to shore.”
Regina’s speech was acted with watchers on other vessels, boilers bursting, smoke and wind. Small Bertrand finished his ice cream, rapt.
Once the Myra (a tribute that from the cruiser’s namesake drew flinches) had chugged herself into the current, Madame Sartain beckoned to Élucide. It was the sort of beckoning a guilty party need hardly answer…not to learn its cause. Merely to offend no further.
“That child. He was not telling you about the terrible play Gilbert had wanted us to see.”
“I had the impression.”
“Well. Do you know, the title alone was something very disreputable, but Miss Brent had made her arrangements, and I was not well disposed…”
“I’m sorry to hear it.”
“Then you’ll be pleased to listen more carefully. I apologize, but you interrupt, mademoiselle.”
(2023, Stephanie Foster)