“I think you were wrong, my dear,” said I. “The poor thing looks anything but utterly miserable.”
“I’m sure I was right about her hands and skin,” she maintained.
“Well, it’s her own skin.”
“More’s the pity,” Barbara retorted.
What on earth she meant, I do not know; but, as usual, she had the last word.
The middle of September found us back in England, and shortly afterwards Doria returned also, and resumed her lonely life in the Adrian-haunted flat. But by and by she grew restless, complaining that no one but her father, of whose society she had wearied, was in town, and went off on a series of country-house visits. The flat, I suspected, for all its sacred memories, was dull without Jaffery. She still maintained her unrelenting attitude, and spoke scornfully of him; but once or twice she asked when this mad voyage would be over, thereby betraying curiosity rather than indifference.
Meanwhile the autumn publishing season was in full swing. Wittekind’s list of new novels in its deep black framing border stared at you from the advertisement pages of every periodical you picked up, and so did the list of every other publisher. Day after day Doria’s eyes fell on this announcement of Wittekind, and day after day her indignation swelled at the continued omission of “The Greater Glory.” All these nobodies, these ephemeral scribblers, were being thrust flamboyantly on public notice and her Adrian, the great Sun of the firm, was allowed to remain in eclipse. For what purpose had he lived and died if his memory was treated with this dark ingratitude? I strove to reason with her. Adrian’s book had been prodigally advertised in the spring. It had sold enormously. It was still selling. There was no need to advertise it any longer. Besides, advertisement cost money, and poor Wittekind had to do his duty by his other authors. He had to push his new wares. “Tradesman!” cried Doria. If he wasn’t, I remonstrated, if he wasn’t a tradesman in a certain sense, an expert in the art of selling books, how could Adrian’s novels have attained their wide circulation? It was to his interest to increase that circulation as much as possible. Why not let him run his very successful business his own way? Doria loftily assured me that she had no interest in his business, in the mere vulgar number of copies sold. Adrian’s glory was above such sordid things. Of far higher importance was it that his name should be kept, like a beacon, before the public. Not to do so was callous ingratitude and tradesman’s niggardliness on the part of Wittekind. Something ought to be done. I confessed my inability to do anything.
“I know you have nothing to do with the literary side of the executorship. Jaffery undertook it. And now, instead of looking after his duties, he has gone on this impossible voyage.”
Here was another grievance against the unfortunate Jaffery. I might have asked her who drove him to Madagascar, for had she been kind, he would have made short work of Liosha, after having rescued her from Fendihook, and would have returned meekly to Doria’s feet. But what would have been the use? I was tired of these windy arguments with Doria, and worn out with the awful irony of upholding our poor Adrian’s genius.