His view of his conduct and its consequences was fatalistic: he was meant to have just so much misery every day of his life; for three years it had been withheld, had been piling up somewhere, underground, overhead; now the accumulation burst over him. He had come to pay his respects to me, he said, to declare his undying gratitude to Madame Garnet, and to bid me farewell. He took up his hat and cane and kissed my hand. I have never seen him since. Cressida made a settlement upon him, but even Poppas, tortured by envy and curiosity, never discovered how much it was. It was very little, she told me. “Pour des gateaux,” she added with a smile that was not unforgiving. She could not bear to think of his being in want when so little could make him comfortable.
He went back to his own village in Bohemia. He wrote her that the old monk, his teacher, was still alive, and that from the windows of his room in the town he could see the pigeons flying forth from and back to the monastery bell-tower all day long. He sent her a song, with his own words, about those pigeons,—quite a lovely thing. He was the bell tower, and les colombes were his memories of her.
Jerome Brown proved, on the whole, the worst of Cressida’s husbands, and, with the possible exception of her eldest brother, Buchanan Garnet, he was the most rapacious of the men with whom she had had to do. It was one thing to gratify every wish of a cake-loving fellow like Bouchalka, but quite another to stand behind a financier. And Brown would be a financier or nothing. After her marriage with him, Cressida grew rapidly older. For the first time in her life she wanted to go abroad and live—to get Jerome Brown away from the scene of his unsuccessful but undiscouraged activities. But Brown was not a man who could be amused and kept out of mischief in Continental hotels. He had to be a figure, if only a “mark,” in Wall street. Nothing else would gratify his peculiar vanity. The deeper he went in, the more affectionately he told Cressida that now all her cares and anxieties were over. To try to get related facts out of his optimism was like trying to find framework in a feather bed. All Cressida knew was that she was perpetually “investing” to save investments. When she told me she had put a mortgage on the Tenth Street house, her eyes filled with tears. “Why is it? I have never cared about money, except to make people happy with it, and it has been the curse of my life. It has spoiled all my relations with people. Fortunately,” she added irrelevantly, drying her eyes, “Jerome and Poppas get along well.” Jerome could have got along with anybody; that is a promoter’s business. His warm hand, his flushed face, his bright eye, and his newest funny story,—Poppas had no weapons that could do execution with a man like that.
Though Brown’s ventures never came home, there was nothing openly disastrous until the outbreak of the revolution in Mexico jeopardized his interests there. Then Cressida went to England—where she could always raise money from a faithful public—for a winter concert tour. When she sailed, her friends knew that her husband’s affairs were in a bad way; but we did not know how bad until after Cressida’s death.