“What is your name?” asked the silvery-haired man, after the slaves had deposited him on a couch and then departed. Henri weakly writhed and clutched at his stomach. He moaned but did not answer. “What is your name?” repeated the older man.
“Henri . . . De Soins,” answered Henri. Osirion furrowed his forehead as if pondering. He then motioned to his servant who stood by. “Maximilian, set that chair here by this poor fellow.”
Maximilian obeyed wordlessly, placing a tall-backed padded chair by the couch. Osirion sat down by Henri and leaned back comfortably. “Do you enjoy living here, Henri?” he asked, heedless of Henri’s tortured expression. “I do so enjoy New Orleans,” he went on matter-of-factly. “I moved here shortly after the Americans won that silly war in 1812 and have been here ever since. I have found that this place . . . suits me.”
Henri gazed at him through a haze of pain. What was he going on about? If he was going to help, why had he not sent for a doctor?
He leaned closer to Henri. “I must tell you, my boy, of the frustration I’ve had that I would never have suspected of a town like New Orleans: I have not found a young man here that could really help me in my work or become my apprentice. Never have I found someone to whom I could pass my legacy.” He gazed into Henri’s eyes with a strange intensity. “That is . . . until now.”
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