All Bedlam Courses Past (part fifty-one)
All Bedlam Courses Past
An Object in Motion
Emphasize instead the distance gained—in sweat and toil, no doubt—from savage times; that wild country tamed by our ancestors; those feudal practices of the European continent, discarded…
Flung aside, say, by our farseeing forefathers, in favor of a democratic justice.
Fairness, fidelity, fiduciary responsibility, frank American talk.
“We think of America… Mr. Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg touches on this very point, my own. Of course, I give credit where credit is due.”
Edith Rutherford’s fellow.
Thacker would like stealing none of this. He’d been tucking into a filling lunch, keeping himself an infrequent remarker, the attitude of his shoulders hunkered. He didn’t know Cookesville’s first citizen so well as to be certain of Rutherford’s pleasures and displeasures…
And he was out of place. His slipping in the tradesman’s door at Rutherford’s manse, “round ten”—a prudent 10:01 by Thacker’s watch, had been for the sake of Rutherford’s private ears, and the ripeness of the news he carried.
The hall clock struck ten-thirty, and Fannie came into the library.
“Edith’s beau. So we’d better sit down soon.”
The Rutherfords looked at each other; looked at Thacker, who gave a side smile, enough to set Fannie sputtering.
“Soonest in, soonest out,” Rutherford said.
Thacker lost momentum taking leave, and Fannie got him by the elbow, walked him to the dining room. “Joseph Weller. Mr. Rowan’s preacher, by the way. It’s awful!”
He sat drafted into a cause, that of man at the table for Fannie to talk to Weller at.
“Lord,” Rutherford began, “you brought Mr. Weller to us.”
Edith, next to Thacker, rustled; Weller issued a throat-clearing, faint and brief.
“Gracious company. Lord…what is it Horace is always saying, Fan? When you sit down to a full plate, you want to remember the hungry.”
Rutherford gathered nods, and this seemed enough to him. “Fine, then, amen.”
Dinners with Gremot were said to have that squirely character; and if it were so fancy at the Summit, Thacker doubted himself ever the wiser. Unwelcome under Gremot’s roof as Weller under Rutherford’s, should he pay a call of his own…
But the lady he had in mind didn’t sit in parlors (he thought), bearing gallantries.
George Rutherford was a plain man, plain-spoken, a proud thing he liked on display. When he imported fancy goods, he sold them to Gremot. Everything they were eating was on the table, only a maid at serving.
(2023, Stephanie Foster)