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Jeffson took them up the carpeted stair with a very bare lady holding a lamp in a niche; knocked softly on a heavy carved door. The judge had given orders, he explained, looking askance at Charlotte, curious and deferential towards Jenny. Jeffson had always thought Miss Comyn a puffect little lady, and he hoped the judge would put things right at last. But no parson had been sent for.

A brisk young doctor came out of the room; seemed much surprised to see Charlotte; said that nothing could make any difference. "A mere question of time, madam," and went away, still looking much surprised and not seeing Jenny at all. Jenny walked straight in and over to the bed. A nurse standing there stepped back and raised the blind so that light fell on the bed. Jenny stooped.

"Hello, Brevis," she said in her warm, strong, husky voice.

Charlotte stood shocked by the door. If that wasn't just like Jenny, when one should speak in whispers, move on tiptoe! Charlotte did both, approaching the nurse. Somehow she didn't feel quite equal to approaching Brevis lying back among the pillows, very tired and foreign-looking, his little white moustache and imperial deliberately distinguished. Charlotte wondered if they would put a bust of him in St. David's. But of course Brevis never went to church.

"See what it is to be a great man and asked to so many rich dinners," said Jenny, sitting down and taking his hands. "Well, I suppose I'd do just the same."

Charlotte began tearing off her tight kid gloves, seeing Jenny's bare hands. Jenny, most amazingly, had thought of everything. She had even brought a rose for Brevis to smell. "From the damask bush by the balustrade," she told him. "Shut your eyes page 414and remember how the scent comes out on dewy evenings when the frogs are croaking."

Brevis smiled. He shut his eyes. The troubled look went off his face. Charlotte thought how courageous Jenny was. Never once asking how he felt, or saying she was sorry to see him like this, or anything.

The evening light flooded the bed with unsteady gold; flooded the room. A very funny room, Charlotte thought, though probably expensive. That stiff thick strip of queerly figured embroidery on the wall. That stiff gilt Pieta (or was it gold?) hung over the mantel, that queer stiff smiling woman with beautiful hands. On a pedestal with no drapery a marble head staring. Just a head. Scarcely anything else in the room at all. In some way it made Charlotte forget the Brevis in the bed and remember the man, lean, courteous, with inscrutable eyes and a good cigar between thin brown fingers.

And there Jenny sat, smiling down a little at Brevis among the pillows, his eyes shut.

Now, thought Charlotte, was Jenny's chance to make him marry her. Feeling it her duty to suggest it, she approached the bed. But neither saw her. They were looking at each other and smiling, and she hesitated, wondering if it were possible that there had been a secret marriage after all. Then—she was surprised at her nervousness—she touched Jenny's arm. Jenny glanced round. She had thrown her hat off, and with her white hair and pale green frock she looked a most unsuitable person to be at a death-bed. Charlotte was glad that she had not taken off her own black veil. "Jenny … a clergyman," she whispered urgently. "For the sake of your name, you know. He can't refuse you now."

Jenny turned back to the bed as though she had not heard.

"Don't tame all the comets, Brevis," she said. "I'll like 'em a little wild."

Brevis whispered something, and Jenny bent over and kissed him on the lips. Then again they sat still for so long that Charlotte, missing her tea and feeling very neglected, fell asleep in the big chair in the corner.

"Come soon," said Brevis, clearly, from the bed.

page 415

"I will," said Jenny, just as clearly.

Charlotte awoke with a start, to hear Jenny marrying herself to Brevis at last. And there was the clergyman … But it was only the nurse saying, "I think you had better take the lady away now."

Charlotte could hardly believe that it was all over and nothing confessed nor pardoned; nothing done. Jenny wouldn't even wait for the funeral. "Brevis would hate me to," she said.

In the railway carriage (Mab had reserved one) Charlotte put her arms round Jenny and said how glad she was to have been there as a support, dear Jenny.

"Oh, were you?" said Jenny, blankly. And then Mab took Charlotte by the arm and marched her down to the other end of the carriage. "You stay there, Lottie, and keep your mouth shut or I'll give you the worst spanking you ever had in your life," he said. Charlotte stayed. It was dangerous to provoke a madman, and if Jenny didn't care enough to cry she did … and would. She sat and wept for disappointment and anger; and it was all a piece with the rest if Brevis had not left Jenny his money after all.