Thursday, October 17, 2019

Page 1888

Hector wasn’t sure what to make of the man’s tone. It didn’t sound resentful or even condescending.

Lionel left an opening in the conversation for him to respond, but when Hector again elected not to say anything, the man asked, “What do you think of her?”

For some reason, Hector didn’t want to answer that, but he supposed it was a perfectly fair question, considering he’d just asked it himself. “...I’m not sure yet,” he decided to say.

“Ah. Truly?”

Hector just tilted his head at the man.

“If so, that surprises me,” said Lionel. “I’ve always thought that my aunt was one of those rare people, those charismatic savants who can earn almost anyone’s affection.”

That didn’t track with everything else Lionel had implied, Hector thought. “Then why is your relationship with her so strained?”

“Ah. Because charisma is, at the end of the day, only a superficial element of one’s person. Inevitably, the underlying values that one cherishes are the real judge of someone’s character.”

Hector was trying to remain impartial, but he didn’t much care for what the man was suggesting about Amelia. “In that case... what are the ‘underlying values’ of hers that you dislike?”

Lionel smiled, then frowned. “This is getting quite personal. And rather off-topic, perhaps.”

“Maybe so,” said Hector. “But all the same... it would be helpful to me if you... could provide a more rounded picture of her for me.”

At that, the man paused and leaned back a little in his seat. For a time, he merely studied Hector’s face.

It looked like he wanted to say something, though, so Hector just waited for him.

“Forgive me,” said Lionel. “When I came here this evening, I honestly expected you to have already been quite thoroughly wrapped around her finger, but I see now that this is not so.”

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