She sighed. “The garden at Northlands will soon be beautiful. I love it in the spring. The dancing daffodils—”
“We’ll have you down to dance with them,” said I.
“It’s strange that I want to live,” she remarked after a pause. “At first I longed to die—that was why my recovery was so slow. But now—odd, isn’t it?”
“Life means infinitely more than one’s own sorrow, no matter how great it is,” I replied gently.
“Yes,” she assented. “I can live now for Adrian’s memory.”
I suppose most women in Doria’s position would have said much the same. In ordinary circumstances one approves the pious aspiration. If it gives them temporary comfort, why, in Heaven’s name, shouldn’t they have it? But in Doria’s case, its utterance gave me a kind of stab in the heart. By way of reply I patted her poor little wrist sympathetically.
“When will the book be out?” she asked.
“I’m afraid I don’t quite know,” said I.
“I suppose they’re busy printing it.”
“Jaffery’s in charge,” I replied, according to instructions.
“He must get it out at once. The early spring’s the best time. It won’t do to wait too long. Will you tell him?”
“I will,” said I.
I don’t think I have ever loathed a thing so wholly as that confounded ghost of a book. Naturally it was the dominant thought in the poor child’s mind. She had already worried Barbara about it. It formed the subject of nearly her first question to me. I foresaw trouble. I could not plead bland ignorance forever; though for the present I did not know the nature of Jaffery’s scheme. Anyhow I redeemed my promise and gave him Doria’s message. He received it with a grumpy nod and said nothing. He had become somewhat grumpy of late, even when I did not broach the disastrous topic, and made excuses for not coming down to Northlands.
I attributed the unusual moroseness to London in vile weather. At the best of times Jaffery grew impatient of the narrow conditions of town; yet there he was week after week, staying in a poky set of furnished chambers in Victoria Street, and doing nothing in particular, as far as I could make out, save riding on the tops of motor-omnibuses without an overcoat.
After his silent acknowledgment of the message, he stuffed his pipe thoughtfully—we were in the smoking-room of a club (not the Athenaeum) to which we both belonged—and then he roared out:
“Do you think she could bear the sight of me?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well”—he grinned a little—“I’m not exactly a kind of sick-room flower.”
“I think you ought to see her—you’re as much trustee and executor as I am. You might also save Barbara and myself from nerve-racking questions.”
“All right, I’ll go,” he said.
The interview was only fairly successful. He told her that the book would be published as soon as possible.