That scene also had I read. It was a little flaming cameo of a low dive on the Barbary Coast, and a presentation of the thing seen, somewhat journalistic, I admit—but such as very few journalists could give.
“That’s pure Adrian,” said I brazenly.
“It isn’t. There are disgusting little details that only a man that had been there could have mentioned. Oh! do you suppose I don’t know the difference between Adrian’s work and that of a penny-a-liner like Jaffery?”
The door opened and Jaffery appeared. Doria went up to him and took him by the lapels of his dress coat.
“I’ve read it. It’s a work of genius. But, oh! Jaffery, I do want it to be without a flaw. Don’t hate me, dear—I know you’ve done all that mortal man could do for Adrian and for me. But it isn’t your fault if you’re not a professional novelist or an imaginative writer. And you, yourself, said the bridges were clumsy. Couldn’t you—oh!—I loathe hurting you, dear Jaffery—but it’s all the world, all eternity to me—couldn’t you get one of Adrian’s colleagues—one of the famous people”—she rattled off a few names—“to look through the proofs and revise them—just in honour of Adrian’s memory? Couldn’t you, dear Jaffery?” She tugged convulsively at the poor old giant’s coat. “You’re one of the best and noblest men who ever lived or I couldn’t say this to you. But you understand, don’t you?”
Jaffery’s ruddy face turned as white as chalk. She might have slapped it physically and it would have worn the same dazed, paralysed lack of expression.
“My life,” said he, in a queer toned voice, that wasn’t Jaffery’s at all, “my life is only an expression of your wishes. I’ll do as you say.”
“It’s for Adrian’s sake, dear Jaffery,” said Doria.
Jaffery passed his great glazed hand over his stricken face, from the roots of his hair to the point of his beard, and seemed to wipe therefrom all traces of day-infesting cares, revealing the sunny Reubens-like features that we all loved.
“But apart from my amateur joining of the flats, you think the book’s worthy of Adrian?”
“Oh, I do,” she cried passionately. “I do. It’s a work of genius. It’s Adrian in all his maturity, in all his greatness!”
The door opened.
“Dinner is served, madam,” said Franklin.
When, by way of comforting Jaffery, I criticised Doria’s outburst, he fell upon me as though about to devour me alive. After what he had done for her, said I, given up one of the great chances of his career, carried her bodily from London to Nice, and made her a present of a brilliant novel so as to save Adrian’s memory from shame, she ought to go on her knees and pray God to shower blessings on his head. As it was, she deserved whipping.
Jaffery called me, among other things, an amazing ass—he has an Eastern habit of, facile vituperation—and roared about the drawing-room. The ladies, be it understood, had retired.