Imprisoned: part five
His friend, Honoré gathered, did not believe in his Paris scheme, but with an expressive gesture, as though he held a coffer between his two hands, he pleaded his cause. “I will use our allowance for management expenses to pay for my travels.”
“That sounds very grand,” Gilbert said. “We don’t have an allowance.”
“We soon will. And if you will give me a start…I mean, tell your father that the rent is late…you know I can’t ask my father for money… But, Gilbert, I will pay you back.”
Beginning with Gilbert’s contribution, Honoré had put together a modest pool of borrowed funds. And with this seed money, he’d done what his father could not forgive. He had visited a moneylender. To Honoré, the logic seemed unimpeachable; the usual way, after all, in which one began a venture was to obtain capital. M. Eckhold had proved warm and encouraging―not in the least the villain Honoré had been led to expect. He’d advised Honoré to budget largely.
And, as with all borrowers, Honoré had been delighted by this illusion of wealth. He had at once accosted the startled Gilbert. “You see!” Merely for emphasis, he jangled his pocketbook in Gilbert’s face. “You may soon expect despatches from Paris.”
He hadn’t liked his friend’s silence. Gilbert could afford to show himself happy…they were partners, and Honoré had borrowed the money for both their sakes. Turning his back, he pulled open the top drawer of their shared bureau.
“I would leave you something for expenses, which you don’t believe in, but the sensible answer will be to wait until I have lived there for a week or two…”
Gilbert put a hand on Honoré’s arm, and stopped his rummaging among old sketchbooks and the small boxes in which he organized his fragments of pastels. “Please change your mind. You know why I say it.”
He saw with some wonder that his friend’s troubled eyes did not express the whole of his worries. Gilbert frowned, opened his mouth as though they had already begun to argue…but held his tongue. Honoré then saw the light of a hopeful thought soften his expression.
“You know they have the smallpox in Paris now. You will have to take the vaccination if you mean to go.”
It was underhand of Gilbert. Honoré pushed the drawer shut and smacked the back of his fingers against his palm, in a way his father might have done. These purported cures were brewed from the offal of the abattoir; he had learned this from his friend Dogneaux, who with a wise look, had said also, “Someone is making money.” Honoré had heard another account (one he thought too outlandish to be quite true): that the blood of an infected person was let and mingled with that of the patient.
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)