That tall and pale young man, with his face like one of the old Huguenots! That very frail old woman with her fumbling hands and moving lips!
“It’s so cold.”
“Now, Mother, I tell you it isn’t. Do just trust me. Do just come.”
“I daren’t, Freddie. I can’t, Freddie. I can’t. I can’t.”
“You must. Mother, you must. Look, look, here I am. It’s I, Freddie. Don’t cry, Mother. Just trust yourself entirely to me. You know how you always can trust me. Look, here’s my hand. Just one tiny step and you will touch it. I know you feel ill, darling Mother. You won’t any, any more, once you touch my hand. But I can’t come any nearer, dearest. You must. You—. Ah, brave, beloved Mother—now!”
He heard Effie’s voice, “Oh, she’s dead! She’s dead!”
Dead? He stared upon her dead face. Where was gone that mask? Whence had come this glory? That inhabitant of this her body, in act of going had looked back, and its look had done this thing. It had closed the door upon a ruined house, and looked, and left a temple. It had departed from beneath a mask, and looked, and that which had been masked now was beatified.
In the morning a mysterious man with a large white face, crooked spectacles and a crooked tie, and a suggestion of thinking all the time of something else, or of nothing at all, mysteriously drifted into the house, drifted about it with apparent complete aimlessness of purpose, and presently showed himself to Sabre as about to drift out of it again. This was the doctor, a stranger, one of those new faces which the war, removing the old, was everywhere introducing, and possessed of a mysterious and astounding faculty of absorbing, resolving, and subjugating all matters without visibly attending to any matter. “Leave everything to me,” it was all he seemed to say. He did nothing yet everything seemed to come to his hand with the nicety and exactness of a drawing-room conjurer. He bewildered Sabre.
His car left and returned during his brief visit. Sabre, who had thought him upstairs, and who had a hundred perplexities to inquire of him, found him in the hall absorbed in adjusting the weights of a grandfather’s clock.
He remarked to Sabre, “I thought you’d gone. You’d better get off and get a bath and some breakfast. Nothing you can do here. Leave everything to me.”
“But, look here, I can’t leave—”
“That’s all right. Just leave everything to me. I’m taking Miss Bright back to my wife for breakfast and a rest. After lunch I’ll run her to her home. She can’t stay here. Have you any idea how this thing hooks on?”
“But what about—”
The extraordinary man seemed to know everything before it was said. “That’s all right. I’ve sent for a woman and her daughter. Leave everything to me. Here’s the car. Here they are.”