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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grandissimes - Chapter 45. More Reparation
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The Grandissimes - Chapter 45. More Reparation Post by :dr3tz Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :3158

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The Grandissimes - Chapter 45. More Reparation


"That is all," said the fairer Honore, outside Doctor Keene's sick-room about ten o'clock at night. He was speaking to the black son of Clemence, who had been serving as errand-boy for some hours. He spoke in a low tone just without the half-open door, folding again a paper which the lad had lately borne to the apothecary of the rue Royale, and had now brought back with Joseph's answer written under Honore's inquiry.

"That is all," said the other Honore, standing partly behind the first, as the eyes of his little menial turned upon him that deprecatory glance of inquiry so common to slave children. The lad went a little way down the corridor, curled up upon the floor against the wall, and was soon asleep. The fairer Honore handed the darker the slip of paper; it was received and returned in silence. The question was:

"Can you state anything positive concerning the duel?"

And the reply:

"Positively there will be none. Sylvestre my sworn friend for life."

The half-brothers sat down under a dim hanging lamp in the corridor, and except that every now and then one or the other stepped noiselessly to the door to look in upon the sleeping sick man, or in the opposite direction to moderate by a push with the foot the snoring of Clemence's "boy," they sat the whole night through in whispered counsel.

The one, at the request of the other, explained how he had come to be with the little doctor in such extremity.

It seems that Clemence, seeing and understanding the doctor's imprudence, had sallied out with the resolve to set some person on his track. We have said that she went in search of her master. Him she met, and though she could not really count him one of the doctor's friends, yet, rightly believing in his humanity, she told him the matter. He set off in what was for him a quick pace in search of the rash invalid, was misdirected by a too confident child and had given up the hope of finding him, when a faint sound of distress just at hand drew him into an alley, where, close down against a wall, with his face to the earth, lay Doctor Keene. The f.m.c. had just raised him and borne him out of the alley when Honore came up.

"And you say that, when you would have inquired for him at Frowenfeld's, you saw Palmyre there, standing and talking with Frowenfeld? Tell me more exactly."

And the other, with that grave and gentle economy of words which made his speech so unique, recounted what we amplify:

Palmyre had needed no pleading to induce her to exonerate Joseph. The doctors were present at Frowenfeld's in more than usual number. There was unusualness, too, in their manner and their talk. They were not entirely free from the excitement of the day, and as they talked--with an air of superiority, of Creole inflammability, and with some contempt--concerning Camille Brahmin's and Charlie Mandarin's efforts to precipitate a war, they were yet visibly in a state of expectation. Frowenfeld, they softly said, had in his odd way been indiscreet among these inflammables at Maspero's just when he could least afford to be so, and there was no telling what they might take the notion to do to him before bedtime. All that over and above the independent, unexplained scandal of the early morning. So Joseph and his friends this evening, like Aurora and Clotilde in the morning, were, as we nowadays say of buyers and sellers, "apart," when suddenly and unannounced, Palmyre presented herself among them. When the f.m.c. saw her, she had already handed Joseph his hat and with much sober grace was apologizing for her slave's mistake. All evidence of her being wounded was concealed. The extraordinary excitement of the morning had not hurt her, and she seemed in perfect health. The doctors sat or stood around and gave rapt attention to her patois, one or two translating it for Joseph, and he blushing to the hair, but standing erect and receiving it at second hand with silent bows. The f.m.c. had gazed on her for a moment, and then forced himself away. He was among the few who had not heard the morning scandal, and he did not comprehend the evening scene. He now asked Honore concerning it, and quietly showed great relief when it was explained.

Then Honore, breaking a silence, called the attention of the f.m.c. to the fact that the latter had two tenants at Number 19 rue Bienville. Honore became the narrator now and told all, finally stating that the die was cast--restitution made.

And then the darker Honore made a proposition to the other, which, it is little to say, was startling. They discussed it for hours.

"So just a condition," said the merchant, raising his whisper so much that the rentier laid a hand in his elbow,--"such mere justice," he said, more softly, "ought to be an easy condition. God knows"--he lifted his glance reverently--"my very right to exist comes after yours. You are the elder."

The solemn man offered no disclaimer.

What could the proposition be which involved so grave an issue, and to which M. Grandissime's final answer was "I will do it"?

It was that Honore f.m.c. should become a member of the mercantile house of H. Grandissime, enlisting in its capital all his wealth. And the one condition was that the new style should be _Grandissime Brothers_.

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