Jonas Kane (Part III)
Jonas watched as the plain wooden casket was being lowered into the hole in the ground. He thought there would be more mourners for Hardwin, but he could probably count them on one hand and he was one of them. The Travance Chronicle listed Hardwins death as an accident, but Jonas new that he was to blame. He sent Hardwin on an errand and unlike every time before for the last fifteen years, this time Hardwin didn’t come back. Hardwin wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was strong and reliable, and once Hardwin had even told Jonas that he was his only friend. Jonas thought of Hardwin as more of a loyal henchman, but the truth of it was that Hardwin saved his life several times in recent years, and all Jonas did was treat him poorly and ultimately send him to his death. He lost the one person around town who called him a friend and it was his fault. “Today is a bad day”, thought Jonas and it was about to get worse.
His attention turned to a young girl sobbing, maybe ten to twelve by the looks of her. Jonas wondered the significance of her presence, and then it hit him like a metal club to the face; Hardwin had a daughter. Jonas cursed so loudly inside that it almost came out in the middle of the funeral. Hardwin mentioned his daughter only once or twice over the years, and Jonas never paid attention. Jonas truly felt like the lord of scum that many called him behind his back. The next hour was the most uncomfortable hour of his life. The last shovel full of dirt was thrown over the grave, and still, he couldn’t drive up the courage to go say something to the sobbing girl.
One of the few people in the cemetery was a nun, Jonas recognized her as sister Mary from the local orphanage. Sister Mary looked like she was collecting the girl to leave and so Jonas moved in closer to listen, overhearing her say something about moving the girl to the orphanage. Jonas finally stepped in. “Excuse me” he said as he walked over. “Jonas Kane, proprietor, Dragon’s Claw Inn”. The sister shot him a nasty look, Jonas was known well, but his reputation was that of a rather bad man. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re headed for the orphanage? Your father had a house on millers road, chickens, two goats and a cow, if my memory serves.” Jonas winced as he realized that he perfectly remembered Hardwins livestock but not his daughter. “Well you look old enough to run the household yourself and do the chores, why would you need to leave your home?”
The little girl looked up at Jonas, “Sister Mary says, the house is owned by the millers eldest son, Father was paying for us to live there, but we didn’t own it.”
Jonas found that he still possessed the skill of quick thinking. “Yes but your father made allot of money working for me, he was saving it all and told me to use it to buy the home for you if anything happened to him. In fact, at his last count he had just enough to make the purchase!” Both statements where lies, Harden wasn’t paid much, Jonas was in fact the cheap miser everyone said he was.
The little girl had a shocked look on her face, and a look that told the story that she really didn’t want to leave her home. “I had no idea that Pa did that! Did you Sister Mary?”
Sister Mary stepped in to rain on their parade. “It will cost gold to take care of the animals and the house regularly.” Sister Mary positioned herself physically between the two. “You don’t have a job Audrey, but selling the animals will fetch a little, and the orphanage will cover your food and board until you get a little older.”
Jonas had a quick response for that too, “I can give her a job!”
Sister Mary shot him an angry glare. “Audrey will not be any good at running errands Mr. Kane!” She obviously was protecting the girl from getting wrapped up in a life of crime.
“I don’t need that!” Jonas snapped back at her. “My dishwasher quit this morning” Also a lie. “Early every morning this girl can wash dishes from the night before and make enough money to pay for what she needs.”
The good sister clearly disapproved, but it was not her decision and it was very clear that the girl did not want to leave her home and seemed to be smiling at the prospect put in front of her. “Fine” the sister said, “But Audrey, let me stay with you at your home for a few months and make sure things are going as they should.”
Audrey seemed as happy as a girl could look under the grim circumstances. “Alright then” Jonas said. When the sun rises tomorrow our breakfast cook Arumus will be expecting a clean kitchen with all clean pots, pans, plates and mugs. Go back to your home, I will go see the millers son now and make sure your house is paid for, just as your father wished.”
The girl nodded in acknowledgement. Sister Mary at best was happy that the girl was no longer sobbing. She didn’t believe anything Jonas said, was confused at his behavior and wondered what sins he was trying to pay for with his phony kindness.
Jonas went back to his office in the Dragons Claw and opened his safe to remove a single but heavy solid gold bar. It was more than the house was worth by more than double, but he didn’t even know if the millers son wanted to sell the house, and the overpayment would ensure the answer is yes. Jonas stared down at the gold bar and his thoughts drifted. Several years ago he would have saved the gold and had the man killed, but Baron Aleister now a Duke, sat him down and made a hard deal with him. He would not be arrested or removed from the barony if he shifted most of his business dealings to be legitimate and swore off murder or maiming anyone even remotely innocent. The proposition hurt Jonas’s pride and bottom line allot, but he understood the position he was in and agreed.
Ironically enough in recent years his legitimate businesses where picking up quite a bit. The Kormyrian expansion effort was a smashing success. There was tons of new lands and a flood of new people. The Dragon’s Claw was packed most days, even if not a single one of them would stand a chance in hell against a tribal goblin with a dagger. They needed a place to rest; food and drink and Jonas could provide all of those things.
Jonas slid the heavy gold bar into his jacket pocket and decided to sit a while by the crackling fire before heading out. He could feel the ache in his knees and elbows; the simple act of moving was starting to hurt parts of his body he didn’t even realize he had. He looked down at his hands; they looked strong, but wrinkled and he realized he had the hands of an old man. Jonas wondered how much more of him was seen in this way. The gold bar in his pocket suddenly felt heavy enough to hold him in his seat. Perhaps he would take a short nap before heading out.