I turned indoors with a sigh, habit directing me to the door of the study, where I paused, reminded of Jerry’s final admonitions. Dinner—“nothing elaborate,” with an entree, salad, and wines to be got for two women, Jerry’s beautiful decadent who loved nature and ornithology, and the “not very pretty” poor relation who didn’t like men but could be “cheerful when she was expected to be.” Damn her cheerfulness! It was inconsiderate of Jerry to set me to squiring middle-aged dames while he spooned with his Freudian miracle in the conservatory. Strindberg indeed! Schnitzler, too, in all probability! While I invented mid-Victorian platitudes for the prosaic, “not very pretty” Miss Gore—Bore! Bore—Gore! Bah!
I gave the necessary orders and went in to my work. I merely sat and stared at the half-written sheet of foolscap on the desk, unable to concentrate my thoughts. I am a most moderate man, a philosopher, I hope, and yet today I felt possessed, it seemed, of an insensate desire to burst forth into profanity—a fine attitude of mind for a contemplative morning! My whole world was turned suddenly upside down.
But out of chaos cosmos returned. I had given up the thought of work, but at last found satisfaction in a quiet analysis of Jerry’s narration of the night before. What did one female or two or a dozen matter if Jerry was fundamentally sound? Sophistry might shake, blandishment bend, sex-affinity blight, but Jerry would stand like an oak, its young leaves among the stars, its roots deep in mother earth. Marcia Van Wyck, her black damask boudoirs, her tinted finger tips, her Freud, Strindberg and all the rest of her modern trash—there would come a day when Jerry would laugh at them!
I think I must have dozed in my chair, for I seemed to hear voices, and, opening my eyes, beheld Jerry in my Soorway, a laughing group in the hall behind him.
“‘Even the worthy Homer sometimes nods,’” he was quoting gayly. “Wake up, Roger. Visitors!”
I started to my feet in much embarrassment. “Miss Van Wyck, Miss Gore—Mr. Canby,” said Jerry, and I found myself bowing to a very handsome young person, dressed in an outdoor suit of a vivid, cherry color. I had no time to study her carefully at the moment, but took the hand she thrust forward and muttered something.
“I feel very guilty,” she was saying. “It’s all my fault, Mr. Canby. I’ve been simply wild for years to see what was inside the wall.”
“I hope it will not disappoint you,” I said urbanely.
“It’s very wonderful. I don’t wonder Jerry never wanted to leave. I shouldn’t have gone—ever. A wall around one’s own particular Paradise! Could anything be more rapturous?”
("Jerry!” They were progressing.)