Reviewer: tjcarman - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 1, 2022
Subject: Missing pp 96-97 and 104-105 and 312-313. Here is the missing text.
‘Yes. Joe, do you remember Nurse Frances?’
‘Nurse Frances? No, I don’t think I do. Who was she?’
‘Of course you wouldn’t. It was before you came – the time I broke my leg. I’ve always remembered something she said to me. About not being in a hurry to run away from things before you’ve had a good look. Well, that’s what happened to me today. I couldn’t run away any longer – I just had to look. Joe, music’s the most wonderful thing in the world –’
‘But – but – you’ve always said –’
‘I know. That’s why it’s been such an awful shock. Not that I mean music is so wonderful now – but it could be – if you had it as it was meant to be! Little bits of it are ugly – it’s like going up to a picture and seeing a nasty grey smear of paint – but go to a distance and it falls into its place as the most wonderful shadow. It’s got to be a whole. I still think one violin’s ugly, and a piano’s beastly – but useful in a way, I suppose. But – oh! Joe, music could be so wonderful – I know it could.’
Joe was silent, bewildered. She understood now what Vernon had meant by his opening words. His face had the queer dreamy exaltation that one associated with religious fervour. And yet she was a little frightened. His face had always expressed so little. Now, she thought, it expressed too much. It was a worse face or a better face – just as you chose to look on it.
He went on talking, hardly to her, more to himself.
‘There were nine orchestras, you know. All massed. Sound can be glorious if you get enough of it – I don’t mean just loudness – it shows more when it’s soft. But there must be enough. I don’t know what they played – nothing, I think, that was real. But it showed one – it showed one …’
He turned queer bright excited eyes upon her.
‘There’s so much to know – to learn. I don’t want to play things – never that. But I want to know about every instrument there is. What it can do – what are its limitations, what are its possibilities. And the notes, too. There are notes they don’t use – notes that they ought to use. I know there are. Do you know what music’s like now, Joe? It’s like the little sturdy Norman pillars in the crypt of Gloucester Cathedral. It’s at its beginnings, that’s all.’
He sat silent, leaning forward dreamily.
‘Well, I think you’ve gone quite mad,’ said Joe.
She tried on purpose to make her voice sound practical and matter-of-fact. But, in spite of herself, she was impressed. That white hot conviction. And she had always thought Vernon rather a slow coach – reactionary, prejudiced, unimaginative.
‘I’ve got to begin to learn. As soon as ever I can. Oh, it’s awful – to have wasted twenty years!’
‘Nonsense,’ said Joe. ‘You couldn’t have studied music when you were an infant in a cot.’
He smiled at that. He was coming out of his trance by degrees.
‘You think I’m mad? I suppose it must sound like that. But I’m not. And – oh! Joe, it’s the most awful relief. As though you had been pretending for years, and now you needn’t pretend any more. I’ve been horribly afraid of music – always. Now –’
He sat up, squared his shoulders.
‘I’m going to work – work like a nigger. I’m going to know the ins and outs of every instrument. By the way, there must be more instruments in the world – many more. There ought to be a kind of waily thing – I’ve heard it somewhere. You’d want ten – fifteen of those. And about fifty harps –’
He sat there, planning composedly details that to Joe sounded sheer nonsense. Yet it was evident that to his inner vision some event was perfectly clear.
‘It’ll be supper time in ten minutes,’ Joe reminded him timidly.
‘Oh! Will it? What a nuisance. I want to stay here and think and hear things in my head. Tell Aunt Ethel I’ve got a headache or that I’ve been frightfully sick. As a matter of fact, I think I am going to be sick.’
And somehow that impressed Joe more than anything else. It was a homely familiar happening. When anything upset you very much, either pleasurably or otherwise, you always wanted to be sick! She had felt that herself, often.
woman’s love can be – protecting her dead,” – that sort of thing. Oh! I hate it all. I hate it all.’
He mumbled something, kissed her, and went up to bed.
Later in the evening Joe tapped at his door and was bidden to enter. Vernon was sitting, sprawled out in a chair. The book on musical instruments lay on the floor beside him.
‘Hallo, Joe. God, what a beastly evening!’
‘Did you mind it so much?’
‘Didn’t you? It’s all wrong. What an ass Uncle Sydney is. Those idiotic jokes! It’s all so cheap.’
‘H’m,’ said Joe. She sat down thoughtfully on the bed and lit a cigarette.
‘Don’t you agree?’
‘Yes – at least I do in a way.’
‘Spit it out,’ said Vernon encouragingly.
‘Well, what I mean is, they’re happy enough.’
‘Aunt Myra. Uncle Sydney. Enid. They’re a united happy lot, thoroughly content with one another. It’s we who are wrong, Vernon. You and I. We’ve lived here all these years – but we don’t belong. That’s why – we’ve got to get out of it.’
Vernon nodded thoughtfully.
‘Yes, Joe, you’re right. We’ve got to get out of it.’
He smiled happily, because the way was so clear.
Twenty-one … Abbots Puissants … Music …
Do you mind just going over that once more, Mr Flemming?’
Precise, dry, even, word after word fell from the old lawyer’s lips. His meaning was clear and unmistakable! Too much so! It didn’t leave a loophole for doubt.
Vernon listened. His face was very white, his hands grasped the arms of the chair in which he was sitting.
It couldn’t be true – it couldn’t! And yet, after all, hadn’t Mr Flemming said very much the same, years ago? Yes, but then there had been the magic words ‘twenty-one’ to look forward to. ‘Twenty-one’ which by a blessed miracle was to make everything right. Instead of which:
‘Mind you, the position is infinitely improved from what it was at the time of your father’s death, but it is no good pretending we are out of the wood. The mortgage –’
Surely, surely, they had never mentioned a mortgage? Well, it wouldn’t have been much use, he supposed, to a boy of nine. No good trying to get round it. The plain truth was that he couldn’t afford to live at Abbots Puissants.
He waited till Mr Flemming had finished, and then said:
‘But if my Mother –’
‘Oh, of course. If Mrs Deyre were prepared to –’ He left the sentence unfinished, paused and then added: ‘But, if I may say so, every time that I have had the pleasure of seeing Mrs Deyre, she has seemed to me to be very settled – very settled indeed. I suppose you know that she bought the freehold of Carey Lodge two years ago?’
Vernon hadn’t known it. He saw plainly enough what it meant. Why hadn’t his mother told him? Hadn’t she had the courage? He had always taken it for granted that she would come back with him to Abbots Puissants, not so much because he longed for her presence there, as because it was – quite naturally – her home.
But it wasn’t her home. It never could be in the sense that Carey Lodge was her home.
He could appeal to her, of course. Beg her, for his sake, because he wanted it so much.
No, a thousand times no! You couldn’t beg favours from people you didn’t really love. And he didn’t really love his mother. He didn’t believe he ever really had. Queer and sad, and a little dreadful, but there it was.
If he never saw her again, would he mind? Not really. He would like to know that she was well and happy – cared for. But he wouldn’t miss her,
He said gently:
‘There aren’t going to be any death-bed scenes, Joe. You’re going to get well and marry me.’
‘Darling Sebastian – tie you to a consumptive wife? Of course not.’
‘Nonsense. You’ll do one of two things – either get well or die. If you die, you die and there’s an end of it. If you get cured, you marry me. And no expense will be spared to cure you.’
‘I’m pretty bad, Sebastian dear.’
‘Possibly. But nothing is more uncertain than tubercle – any doctor will tell you so. You’ve been just letting yourself go. I think myself you’ll get well. A long weary business but it can be done.’
She looked at him. He saw the colour rising and falling in her thin cheeks. He knew then that she loved him – and a queer little stir of warmth woke round his heart. His mother had died two years ago. Since then no one had really cared.
Joe said in a low voice:
‘Sebastian – do you really need me? I – I’ve made such a mess of things.’
He said with sincerity:
‘Need you? I’m the loneliest man on earth.’
And suddenly he broke down. It was a thing he had never done in his life – never thought he would do. He knelt by Joe’s bed, his face buried, his shoulders heaving.
Her hand stroked his head. He knew she was happy, her proud spirit appeased. Dear Joe – so impulsive, so warm-hearted, so wrong-headed. She was dearer to him than anyone on earth. They could help one another.
The nurse came in – the visitor had been there long enough. She withdrew again for Sebastian to say goodbye.
‘By the way,’ he said. ‘That French fellow – what’s his name – ?’
‘François? He’s dead.’
‘That’s all right. You could have got a divorce, of course. But being a widow makes it easier.’
‘You do think I shall get well?’
Pathetic – the way she said that!
The nurse reappeared and he took his departure. He called on the doctor – had a long talk. The doctor was not hopeful. But he agreed that there was a chance. They decided on Florida.
Sebastian left the home. He walked along the street deep in thought. He saw a placard with ‘Terrible disaster to Resplendent’ on it, but it conveyed nothing to his mind.
He was too busy with his own thoughts. What was really best for Joe? To live or to die? He wondered …
She’d had such a rotten life. He wanted the best for her.
He went to bed and slept heavily.
It wasn’t Joe. Joe was in the foreground of his mind. This was something in the background – shoved away – something that he hadn’t been able to give consideration to at the time.
He thought: ‘I shall remember presently …’ But he didn’t.
As he dressed, he thought out the problem of Joe. He was all for moving her to Florida as soon as possible. Later, perhaps, Switzerland. She was very weak – but not too weak to be moved. As soon as she had seen Vernon and Jane –
They were arriving – when? The Resplendent, wasn’t it? The Resplendent…
The razor he was holding dropped from his hand. He’d got it now! Before his eyes rose the vision of a newspaper placard.
The Resplendent – Terrible Disaster …
Vernon and Jane were on the Resplendent.
He rang furiously. A few minutes later he was scanning the morning newspaper. There were now full details to hand. His eyes scanned them rapidly. The Resplendent had struck an iceberg – the death-roll, survivors …
A list of names … survivors. He found the name there of Green, Vernon was alive anyway. Then he searched the other list and found at last what he was looking for – fearing – the name of Jane Harding.
He stood quite still, staring at the newssheet in his hand. Presently he folded it up neatly, laid it on a side table and rang the bell. In a few minutes a curt order given to the bellhop sent his secretary hurrying to him.
‘I’ve got an appointment at ten o’clock I can’t break. There are some things you’ve got to find out for me. Have the information ready for me when I return.’
He detailed the points succinctly. The fullest particulars as to the Resplendent were to be collected, and certain radios were to be sent off.
Sebastian telephoned himself to the hospital and warned them that no mention of the Resplendent disaster was to be made to the patient. He had a few words with Joe herself which he managed to make normal and commonplace.
He stopped at a florist to send her some flowers and then went off to embark on a long day of meetings and business appointments. It is to be doubted if anyone noticed that the great Sebastian Levinne was unlike himself in the smallest detail. He had never been more shrewd in driving a bargain and his power of getting his own way was never more in evidence.
It was six o’clock when he returned to the Biltmore.