Imprisoned: part six
Across the desk’s burnished span, the men who asked his advice were faceless shadows. Rather than expound his Paris scheme, Honoré found he was putting into words a vague resentment, while uneasily, he was aware of quiet footsteps, the rustle and scent of damp woolen cloth.
“The future,” Honoré told them, “is tomorrow, and the day after. It is not some unthought of time, forever postponed. My father…”
He was a gallery patron viewing his own performance; simultaneously he was the speaker, and nervous, in mentioning his father to these strangers.
“He would like me to have his money when he is no longer alive to trouble himself.”
A disturbance threw shadow across the light that his closed eyes still discerned, his face was touched; at the same time, Honoré heard his father say under his breath, “Well…but if she has been here at all, what has she done?”
Embarrassment tempted him to pretend he was not awake. But Honoré stirred and looked at his father, whose brows were pinched, while one deep furrow ran from his nostril to the corner of his mouth, in a sour skew of disapprobation. What, Honoré worried―as he pushed with one arm to right himself, finding the other bound tight by his blanket―have I said? His father gathered newspapers; then, flinging them all away, bent over Honoré, and tugged the blanket free.
“Has she been here? Has she given you lunch?”
With an impatient exhalation, M. Gremot crossed to the window and pulled it shut. “I might think the room had been ransacked!” In fairness, he should not rebuke Mme Dogneaux for neglecting to keep his house for him, a chore he would not pay her to do.
“Papa.” Honoré had barely used his voice all day; to his own ears it sounded faint and imploring.
“Ah!” his father said. “I ought to speak to Dogneaux. This is no different from stealing.”
“No! I don’t mean to say Madame Dogneaux was not here.”
M. Gremot crossed his arms. “The easier way will be for me to find another arrangement.” His tone conveyed flat disbelief, as though this lie were one too patent to acknowledge. And any further defense would likely prove decisive, leaving M. Gremot convinced he paid the blameless Mme Dogneaux for nothing. Instead, Honoré said:
“There is an article I wanted to read again. Will you help me find it?”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)