“Yes? Er—very kind of her.”
“Kinder keep-sake. Souveneer,” explained William.
“Yes. Er—any message?”
“Oh, yes. She wants you to come in and see her this evening.”
“Er—yes. Of course. I’ve just come from her. Perhaps she remembered something she wanted to tell me after I’d gone.”
Then, “Any particular time?”
“No. ’Bout seven, I expect.”
Mr. Morgan’s eyes were fixed with a fascinated wondering gaze upon the limp, and by no means spotless, rose-bud.
“You say she—sent this?”
“And no other message?”
“Er—well, say I’ll come with pleasure, will you?”
Then, “She thinks an awful lot of you, Ethel does.”
Mr. Morgan passed a hand over his brow.
“Yes? Kind—er—very kind, I’m sure.”
“Always talkin’ about you in her sleep,” went on William, warming to his theme. “I sleep in the next room and I can hear her talkin’ about you all night. Jus’ sayin’ your name over and over again. ‘Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan.’” William’s voice was husky and soulful. “Jus’ like that—over an’ over again. ‘Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan.’”
Mr. Morgan was speechless. He sat gazing with horror-stricken face at his young visitor.
“Are you—sure?” he said at last. “It might be someone else’s name.”
“No, ’tisn’t,” said William firmly. “It’s yours. ‘Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan, Jack Morgan’—jus’ like that. An’ she eats just nothin’ now. Always hangin’ round the windows to watch you pass.”
The perspiration stood out in beads on Mr. Morgan’s brow.
“It’s—horrible,” he said at last in a hoarse whisper.
William was gratified. The young man had at last realised his cruelty. But William never liked to leave a task half done. He still sat on and calmly and silently considered his next statement. Mechanically he put a hand into his pocket and conveyed a Gooseberry Eye to his mouth. Mr. Morgan also sat in silence with a stricken look upon his face, gazing into vacancy.
“She’s got your photo,” said William at last, “fixed up into one of those little round things on a chain round her neck.”
“Are—you—sure?” said Mr. Morgan desperately.
“Sure’s fate,” said William rising. “Well, I’d better be goin’. She pertic-ler wants to see you alone to-night. Good-bye.”
But Mr. Morgan did not answer. He sat huddled up in his chair staring in front of him long after William had gone jauntily on his way. Then he moistened his dry lips.
“Good Lord,” he groaned.