The Savior – Snippet 12
Benjamin Jacobson didn’t fool himself. He might love his son, but he knew full well that he and his wife had given birth to a monster. Yet what Benjamin remembered, what he clung to, was that little boy of four or five who had seemed like any other child.
Benjamin had doted on him, made Edgar his heart’s darling, even, he had to admit, above his younger brother, Hammond, who suffered the misfortune of coming along in Edgar’s wake. Edgar’s older brother, Solon, Benjamin had to be harder on. Solon would be the inheritor of the Family’s interest. Benjamin could afford to pamper a second child, and he did. When Edgar began to have his fits of rage, Benjamin, at first, considered them amusing.
Then servants began to be hurt. A string of teaching masters began to resign. Then came Edgar’s teenage years, and Edgar discovered that he was rich and the world would indulge him in just about anything he cared to do. He began to look upon this indulgence as a right, and not, as Benjamin did, as earned by the hard work of keeping the grain flowing in a hungry land. But monster or not, Edgar was a Jacobson, and for Benjamin that was more important.
About the only thing Edgar had ever done to his credit was to marry the DeArmanville girl. She had proved herself time and again an asset to the family. She had an eye for figures, and she had become the manager of the household just by demonstrating her sheer competence at juggling tradesmen, servants, and family members. He had to admit she did so as well as his deceased wife ever had, probably better. The servants respected Mahaut. The grandchildren adored her. And even though she had the odd hobby of organizing that cursed women’s auxiliary in Hestinga, it usually only took her away from Lilleheim two or three days of the month. Lately, there had even been signs that she was giving up on this nonsense, in any case.
After she’d gotten the house in order, he’d discovered her eye for business. His business — the getting and selling of grain. Now she managed the household from an office at the granary. It was a secondary occupation that she seemed to handle with ease. At the granary, she’d moved from bookkeeper to advisor to decision maker. He’d put her in charge of House Jacobson Shipping. When it came to shipment sizes, the juggling of current and future orders against supply, timing when to sell, when to hold, Mahaut made the call.
He was beginning to suspect that she was not only better than his dear wife at running the house, she might be better than him at running the conglomerate of businesses up and down the River that was House Jacobson. He might have resented her if she were not so loyal.
In any case, she was an asset he had come to depend on.
There was one thing about Mahaut that greatly disappointed Benjamin, however. It was not that she had fallen in love with another man, the Dashian boy. Who could possibly blame her? It was not even that she had slept with the other man, and done so repeatedly. After her terrible wound, having children was out of the question. There would be no little Jacobson who did not look at all like his father.
What he could not forgive Mahaut for was that, with all her skills and cleverness, she had not taken Edgar in hand. She had not brought him around and made him behave as he should toward her and toward all of the family. More than anything else, he had approved the match in the hopes that she would do just that. She was a Regular, an army lieutenant’s daughter, after all. She’d grown up whacking at people with swords. Surely she ought to be able to bend a man like Edgar, essentially weak in spirit, to her will. Even put some backbone into him.
But she had not. Oh, once he beat her, she had made sure that the next time he tried that he would have to get the servants to hold her down or else she would kill him. Edgar had believed her. Benjamin had hoped that this might be the beginning of his son’s taming. But that was not to be.
Whatever love, whatever regard Mahaut had felt for Edgar had died early. She’d come to an unspoken agreement with her husband. He would be allowed to do as he wished, to live the life that he lived before he met her — it would be a good life on Jacobson barter chits. Now Edgar spent most of his time in the whorehouses of Garangipore, or gambling with the other First Family boys — most of that crowd now ten years younger than him — in the taverns of Hestinga.
All that Mahaut wanted in exchange was to be able to write love letters. That’s all she could do. The other man, the son of the district military commander, had taken himself to Lindron, to the Guardians Academy. Benjamin had to further admit that, even when Mahaut and her lover had been together, Mahaut had been discreet. She had looked after the Jacobson name.
But every time he saw a servant go out with a letter to deliver to the couriers of Hestinga, every time he saw a similar papyrus scroll come in and be delivered to Mahaut, it dug a little into his — well, not his soul. He’d long since given up believing in that foolishness.
He knew that Edgar didn’t have any pride, but he, Benjamin, did.
If only she would take Edgar in hand, he thought as he walked home from his office at the granary. If only she would this time.
He’d heard that Edgar was back. Edgar had tried to come in unobserved, traveling off-road on his dont and coming down the uninhabited northeastern hill outside of the village. Uninhabited, but not unworked. There were bones to be scattered there — bones that could be made into soap. The fact that they were the bones of Redlanders made no difference. The Blaskoye were animals, not men. Nef the Soapman had been out collecting, and had seen Edgar descending the hill. Nef had reported this at the granary, as he should.
Nothing that happened in Lilleheim escaped Benjamin Jacobson’s attention. Nothing that mattered.