The House of Gremot: part three
Then Ebrach, finding Gremot within earshot, removed the hand he had again rested on Honoré’s shoulder. He took his eyes from Honoré’s, assumed a sociable face, and smiled at Gremot.
“I’ve brought along one or two things Mrs. Gremot thought of.” Their host, with a gesture, invited them to view the porch entry. Mrs. Gremot was there, hands clasped—seeing them off with her own eyes, on this uncertain business.
Honoré collected his hat from Robert. “Thank you…sir.”
“Bless you, Mr. Jerome, it’s no bother to me. But give me your arm and I’ll ease you along the way.”
Robert, who seemed to have been hurried in his preparations, now tucked the blanket over the basket top, and gave to Honoré his own arm. The others, in the meantime, had got some distance ahead, Gremot angling Ebrach off under the oaks. Honoré began to feel he’d walked far enough, had been on his feet long enough. When he’d first arrived, his relatives had seen he could not climb stairs without Ebrach’s support…some disbelieving sigh might have passed between them, while Mrs. Gremot thought of things.
He heard his cousin’s voice. “Everard is an intemperate man. I believe he is drunk most days anymore.” This was subtlety; Gremot meant to ask Ebrach whether, on the night before, Everard had come home drunk.
“The unfortunate circumstance,” Ebrach said, “places a burden on young Richard.”
To this, Gremot lifted his shoulders. “I don’t care for the son. The time seems right to me, Mr. Ebrach, to be done with all the foolishness. I’ll be hiring a man to oversee the running of my new property. I can’t be there every day myself.” At this innocuous remark, Gremot barked out a single laugh. “I can’t take things on like I have been. Now. I see no reason why a good tobacco man, qualified to manage my Kentucky place, isn’t the man to recommend a foreman for my place here. Do you agree?”
“If he has been given charge of your establishment, and knows his own temperament, certainly he will prefer to see in others those habits familiar to himself.”
Gremot accepted this. “I don’t care either, for what you tell me about young Everard and my relative there…” He glanced back. Honoré, falling in arrears, tried to engage himself in their talk, and could not catch Gremot’s eye. “I don’t like it. But that’s not to say I don’t get your meaning, sir. A man might chafe at a job he isn’t suited to.”
The Everard sons were able, in Gremot’s opinion, to find employment. Don’t need holding by the hand. Gremot’s neck strained here, against this fresh prompting to look behind. The new road—before long, the company’d be hiring―would cut across the state’s southwest corner (the state of Indiana being shaped somewhat like a Christmas stocking, it was the toe Gremot and his fellow investors meant to sever); it would make the flatboat traffic obsolete. No…day and a half or more down to Paducah, Cairo—was there any reason for it?
The House of Gremot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)