Stealthily on the sloping skylight the cat retraced her steps, its four paws dark moving spots, its body a faint blur.
Mrs. Pendyce rose.
“I won’t stay now, darling. May I use your glass?”
Standing before that mirror, smoothing back her hair, passing her handkerchief over her cheeks and eyes and lips, she thought:
’That woman has stood here! That woman has smoothed her hair, looking in this glass, and wiped his kisses from her cheeks! May God give to her the pain that she has given to my son!’
But when she had wished that wish she shivered.
She turned to George at the door with a smile that seemed to say:
’It’s no good to weep, or try and tell you what is in my heart, and so, you see, I’m smiling. Please smile, too, so as to comfort me a little.’
George put a small paper parcel in her hand and tried to smile.
Mrs. Pendyce went quickly out. Bewildered by the sunlight, she did not look at this parcel till she was beyond the outer gate. It contained an amethyst necklace, an emerald pendant, and a diamond ring. In the little grey street that led to this garden with its poplars, old fountain, and green gate, the jewels glowed and sparkled as though all light and life had settled there. Mrs. Pendyce, who loved colour and glowing things, saw that they were beautiful.
That woman had taken them, used their light and colour, and then flung them back! She wrapped them again in the paper, tied the string, and went towards the river. She did not hurry, but walked with her eyes steadily before her. She crossed the Embankment, and stood leaning on the parapet with her hands over the grey water. Her thumb and fingers unclosed; the white parcel dropped, floated a second, and then disappeared.
Mrs. Pendyce looked round her with a start.
A young man with a beard, whose face was familiar, was raising his hat.
“So your son was in,” he said. “I’m very glad. I must thank you again for standing to me just that minute; it made all the difference. It was the relation between the figure and the door that I wanted to get. Good-morning!”
Mrs. Pendyce murmured “Good-morning,” following him with startled eyes, as though he had caught her in the commission of a crime. She had a vision of those jewels, buried, poor things! in the grey slime, a prey to gloom, and robbed for ever of their light and colour. And, as though she had sinned, wronged the gentle essence of her nature, she hurried away.
GREGORY LOOKS AT THE SKY