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.He laughed sharply.“Of course.Unless he was out of sympathy with his father.The late bishop’s opinions took precedence over everyone else’s.”“And did they disagree overmuch?”“Very little.Only things of no importance, like tastes and pastimes—whether to collect books or paintings; whether to wear brown or gray; whether to serve claret or burgundy, mutton or pork, fish or game; whether chinoiserie was good taste—or bad.Nothing that mattered.They were in perfect accord on moral duties, the place and virtue of women, and the manner in which society should be governed, and by whom.”“I don’t think I should have cared for Theophilus much,” she said without thinking first and recalling that he had been Shaw’s father-in-law.The description of him sounded so much like Uncle Eustace March, and her memories of him were touched with conflicting emotions, all of them shades of dislike.He smiled at her broadly, for a moment all thought of death banished, and nothing there but his intense pleasure in her company.“You would have loathed him,” he assured her.“I did.”An element in her wanted to laugh, to see only the easy and absurd in it; but she could not forget the virulence in Celeste’s face as she had spoken of her brother’s death, and the way Angeline had echoed it with equal sincerity.“What did he die of, and why was it so sudden?”“A seizure of the brain,” he replied, this time looking up and meeting her eyes with complete candor.“He suffered occasional severe headaches, great heat of the blood, dizziness and once or twice apoplectic fits.And of course now and again gout.A week before he died he had a spasm of temporary blindness.It only lasted a day, but it frightened him profoundly.I think he looked on it as a presage of death-”“He was right.” She bit her lip, trying to find the words to ask without implying blame.It was difficult.“Did you know that at the time?”“I thought it was possible.I didn’t expect it so soon.Why?”“Could you have prevented it—if you had been sure?”“No.No doctor knows how to prevent a seizure of the brain.Of course not all seizures are fatal.Very often a patient loses the use of one side of his body—or perhaps his speech, or his sight—but will live on for years.Some people have several seizures before the one that kills them.Some lie paralyzed and unable to speak for years—but as far as one can tell, perfectly conscious and aware of what is going on around them.”“How terrible—like death, but without its peace.” She shivered.“Could that have happened to Theophilus?”“It could.But he went with the first seizure.Perhaps that was not so unlucky.”“Did you tell Angeline and Celeste that?”His brows rose in slight surprise, perhaps at his own omission.“No—no, I didn’t.” He pulled a face.“I suppose it is a trifle late now.They would think I was making excuses.”“Yes,” she agreed.“They blame you—but how bitterly I don’t know.”“For heaven’s sake!” He exploded, amazement filling his eyes.“You don’t imagine Angeline and Celeste crept around in the dark and set fire to my house hoping to burn me to death because they think I could have saved Theophilus? That’s preposterous!”“Someone did.”The hilarity vanished and left only the hurt.“I know—but not over Theophilus.”“Are you absolutely positive? Is it not possible that his death was murder—and someone is afraid you may realize it, and then know who killed him? After all, the circumstances were extraordinary.”He looked at her with disbelief which was almost comic, his eyes wide, his mouth open.Then gradually the thought became less absurd and he realized the darkness of it.He picked up his knife and fork again and began to eat automatically, thinking.“No,” he said at last.“If it was murder, which I don’t believe, then it was perfect.I never suspected a thing—and I still don’t.And who would want to kill him anyway? He was insufferable, but then so are a lot of people.And neither Prudence nor Clemency wanted his money [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]