All Bedlam Courses Past (part fifty-five)
All Bedlam Courses Past
An Object in Motion
The Letter’s artwork showed a glowing fellow, with full cheeks, unshadowed eyes, a mustache to do a maître d proud—
I had suffered, from youth, many maladies; my constitution was ever the detriment to my ambitions, the mocker of my talents. For a time I lived in the city, seeking fame and fortune, but alas! the factory smokes confined me to my room; the candlelight by which I composed threatened to rob my weakened eyes of sight; and the chill of the attic rendered me, within a few short months, bedridden.
“I will die,” Honoré had tried once.
“Of some cause, yes. Meanwhile, you take your rest and exercise as I prescribe, you are provided those medicines you tell me you prefer. You are better off than many of our readers, so I trust your aim is not to champion them out of their poor hopes. Should you argue that Jerome’s story tenders a false promise. It is substantially your own.”
Honoré walked the grounds of Crownhaven, sorting Ebrach’s logic, giving up; he took his exercise for Clotilde’s welfare and for Mariette’s, keeping a spectral sort of company with the other patients. He did not want to befriend them.
Sagging always on his bench was Unversaght, his white flesh shaping itself to the white folds of his pyjamas.
Watching, defeated. Unversaght’s themes were three: his disease, his father, and his fortune. He was leaving all his money to Ebrach. “For the science.”
(For this, Ebrach spoke to him rarely, and never in his rooms.)
Honoré would find some remark for Clotilde, to have her prattling as he passed…spared. But with a nod aside, and faint smile.
He had known his wife wrote to her aunt, that she schemed over Bertrand.
“Clotilde, these arrangements are made.”
He meant broadly, that children difficult for their parents to raise are taken over…by aunts quite often. “Be content. She reports well of Bertrand, doesn’t she? Madame will never want a voyage to America. One day you will go to France to see your family. You, with Mariette.”
He needed to make these speeches, to rattle forward with them, until she had mastered her face, dabbed at her eyes, retreated if it were early, and Élucide downstairs, to beg the letters read again. These one days must come when Honoré could no longer be an obstacle to travel. Clotilde knew this.
She would decide alone…he found it just…the matter of the other, Émile Baum’s. Her sister Thérèse reported well of Guillaume, too.
So be it.
(2023, Stephanie Foster)