Élucide: part two
Her father moved his queen’s bishop’s pawn two squares. Mr. Nachfolger countered, bringing forward his queen’s pawn one square. Élucide watched the match unfold, while her father and Mr. Nachfolger exchanged their laconic, veiled comments. They’d dropped Everard, and spoke now about the railroad scheme…trading shares for local farmers’ land…so anyone could afford to get in.
“That is just about something for nothing.”
Nachfolger brought his queen out early. He glanced at Élucide, using her, as from time to time he liked to do. She had no knowledge to encourage either his chess game or his investments, but giggled for him whenever he said anything improper.
“There’s no argument against it. But, you’re in the best place to set the doubters at ease. That tract you bought down by the bend, Gremot…too bad about the change of plans.” Nachfolger shook his head. He was grinning broadly. “I truly don’t know what you had in mind. But you talk to the farmers. They’ll appreciate a humble man’s hard-earned…”
Her father’s hand hovered over his vulnerable bishop. For minutes, he studied Nachfolger’s queen. Élucide moved along the bench to see the game more closely, but could not guess, any better than Papa, which move might save his king.
“Miss Élucide.” Nachfolger sat back. He had time on his hands. “You got hornets, building a nest up over there.” He pointed to the wire-cloth screen, meaning the overhanging eave.
“They can’t get in, Mr. Nachfolger.”
“You want to tell your papa to have his man fire that nest. Take em all at once.”
Her father, thinking three moves ahead, took his bishop back a space, from the square on which he’d almost rested it.
Nachfolger shrugged, and brought his rook forward. “Now the advantage in a wedding, is that it puts everyone in a good mood. No one come to ply his trade or practice his politics.”
Her father’s game relied on a phalanx of pawns blocking his key pieces from attack. He sacrificed the last of them. Nachfolger had won, essentially—the white king was trapped, unable to move for Papa’s own rook and the black queen.
“You mean to say, the guests have themselves a good feed, and they can dance if they want to.”
“I mean to say, you have Owen McClurkin and his family outside their native element…”
“Nachfolger, there’s a raft of McClurkins over in Henderson County.”
“Gremot, I know it.”
“I’m figuring to set Owen up in business, so he learns a little something about life.”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)