Landfalls

Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams

Book: Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Naomi J. Williams
rouse did not like. Their eyes met briefly, and then Lap é rouse liked him even less. Hostility flared out from the man, and with it a hint of intelligence greater than the man’s position required. Could the blood of the mighty, unbowed Araucanians flow through this man’s veins? Maybe it was true what so many savants said—Lamanon himself was of this opinion—that when you mixed the races you degraded both, ending up with the worst of each. Lap é rouse wondered how often Sabatero left his young wife alone with this mixed-blood servant.
    â€œMonsieur de La Borde is here to see you,” Eleonora said, translating for the steward. “He says it is urgent.”
    â€œLa Borde?” He remembered the marquis and Langle’s promise to him, their mandate to keep the brothers—or at least one of them—safe from harm. “Please, send him in.”
    It was the older La Borde, Edouard de La Borde Marchainville, looking windswept and harried, but not, Lap é rouse was relieved to see, injured or panicked. “Madame, Commander,” he said, bowing first toward Eleonora then to Lap é rouse, “I’m sorry to burst in like this.” He looked back at Eleonora, as if unsure whether to proceed in her presence.
    â€œIt’s all right, Ensign,” Lap é rouse said. “What is it? Your brother?”
    â€œMy brother?” La Borde said. “No, he’s fine, sir. It’s—it’s Broudou, sir. He never came back to the Quexadas’ house last night after the ball. I’ve been looking for him, but, well—I don’t know the town.”
    Lap é rouse groaned.
    Eleonora turned to the steward. They exchanged some words, her face troubled and stern, his wearing a wry smile. She turned back to her guests. “I am sure we can find him,” she said. “Our steward knows the town very well. If Monsieur de La Borde does not mind having Jos é for a guide…” Not at all, they assured her. They would be most grateful for the assistance. Jos é bowed and left the room, then Eleonora excused herself to oversee preparations for the search party.
    Lap é rouse stood fuming. It was not the first time he had wondered how his gentle and scrupulous wife could have such a brother, but it was the first time he regretted bringing Fr é d é ric on the voyage.
    â€œThank you, Monsieur de La Borde,” he finally said, aware that the young officer was standing beside him in embarrassed silence. La Borde shook his head as if to say it was no bother at all, though they both knew it was nothing but bother. Lap é rouse changed the subject: “You and your brother and Monsieur de Lesseps acquitted yourselves very handsomely last night.”
    â€œThank you, sir.”
    â€œDo you and your brother share a cabin on the Astrolabe ?”
    â€œNo, sir,” La Borde replied. “My brother shares the council room with Monsieur de Lesseps and two other officers. I’m in a cabin with Monsieur de Vaujuas.”
    â€œI didn’t see Vaujuas last night,” Lap é rouse observed.
    â€œNo, sir. The captain invited him, but he stayed behind. His servant has been quite ill.”
    â€œIll?” Lap é rouse felt a small shock. He thought no one was sick. The man was only a servant, but still— “What’s wrong with him?”
    La Borde seemed to realize he had said too much. “It’s just a chest complaint. Vaujuas believes the sea voyage will improve him.”
    â€œJust a chest complaint?” Lap é rouse cried. “Chest complaints kill people every day, Monsieur de La Borde.”
    â€œOf course, sir.”
    Eleonora returned to announce the readiness of three horses—one each for Jos é and La Borde, and one for Fr é d é ric when they found him. La Borde bowed and followed Jos é out of the room, looking relieved to be on his way. Eleonora turned to Lap é rouse: “Do

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