And even the leafless walnuts were full of alien life, for in their hollow boles chippering starlings made furtive nests, and in their topmost forks jackdaws worked with clamorous zeal. A pale butterfly here and there accomplished its early day, and queen wasps awakened from their winter slumber in cosy crevices, the tiniest winter-palaces in the world, sped like golden arrow tips to and from the homes they had to build alone for the swarms that were to come. The flower beds shone gay with tulips and hyacinths; in the long grass beyond the lawn and under the trees danced a thousand daffodils; and by their side warmly wrapped up in furs lay Doria on a long cane chair.
She could not literally dance with the daffodils as I had prophesied, for her full strength had not yet returned, but there she was among them, and she smiled at them sympathetically as though they were dancing in her honour. She was, however, restored to health; the great circles beneath her eyes had disappeared and a tinge of colour shewed beneath her ivory cheek. Beside her, in the first sunbonnet of the year, sat Susan, a prim monkey of nine. . . . Lord! It scarcely seemed two years since Jaffery came from Albania and tossed the seven year old up in his arms and was struck all of a heap by Doria at their first meeting. So thought I, looking from my study-table at the pretty picture some thirty yards, away. And once again—pleasant self repetition of history—Jaffery was expected. Doria, fresh from Nice, had spent a night at her father’s house and had come down to us the evening before to complete her convalescence. She had wanted to go straight to the flat in St. John’s Wood and begin her life anew with Adrian’s beloved ghost, and she had issued orders to servants to have everything in readiness for her arrival, but Barbara had intervened and so had Mr. Jornicroft, a man of limited sympathies and brutal common sense. All of us, including Jaffery, who seemed to regard advice to Doria as a presumption only equalled by that of a pilgrim on his road to Mecca giving hints to Allah as to the way to run the universe, had urged her to give up the abode of tragic memories and find a haven of quietude elsewhere. But she had indignantly refused. The home of her wondrous married life was the home of her widowhood. If she gave it up, how could she live in peace with the consciousness ever in her brain that the Holy of Holies in which Adrian had worked and died was being profaned by vulgar tread? Our suggestions were callous, monstrous, everything that could arise from earth-bound non-percipience of sacred things. We could only prevail upon her to postpone her return to the flat until such time as she was physically strong enough to grapple with changed conditions.