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|9. The Last Days Of Sir Richmond Hardy||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 1||
It was on the second afternoon that Lady Hardy summoned Dr. Martineau by telephone. "Something rather disagreeable," she said. "If you could spare the time. If you could come round.
"It is frightfully distressing," she said when he got round to her, and for a time she could tell him nothing more. She was having tea and she gave him some. She fussed about with cream and cakes and biscuits. He noted a crumpled letter thrust under the edge of the silver tray.
"He talked, I know, very intimately with you," she said, coming to it at last. "He probably went into things with you that he never talked about with anyone else. Usually he was very reserved, Even with me there were things about which he said nothing."
"We did," said Dr. Martineau with discretion, "deal a little with his private life.
"There was someone--"
Dr. Martineau nodded and then, not to be too portentous, took and bit a biscuit.
"Did he by any chance ever mention someone called Martin Leeds?"
Dr. Martineau seemed to reflect. Then realizing that this was a mistake, he said: "He told me the essential facts."
The poor lady breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm glad," she said simply. She repeated, "Yes, I'm glad. It makes things easier now."
Dr. Martineau looked his enquiry.
"She wants to come and see him."
"Here! And Helen here! And the servants noticing everything! I've never met her. Never set eyes on her. For all I know she may want to make a scene." There was infinite dismay in her voice.
Dr. Martineau was grave. "You would rather not receive her?"
"I don't want to refuse her. I don't want even to seem heartless. I understand, of course, she has a sort of claim. " She sobbed her reluctant admission. "I know it. I know. . . . There was much between them."
Dr. Martineau pressed the limp hand upon the little tea table. "I understand, dear lady," he said. "I understand. Now . . . suppose _I_ were to write to her and arrange--I do not see that you need be put to the pain of meeting her. Suppose I were to meet her here myself?
"If you COULD!"
The doctor was quite prepared to save the lady any further distresses, no matter at what trouble to himself. "You are so good to me," she said, letting the tears have their way with her.
"I am silly to cry," she said, dabbing her eyes.
"We will get it over to-morrow," he reassured her. "You need not think of it again."
He took over Martin's brief note to Lady Hardy and set to work by telegram to arrange for her visit. She was in London at her Chelsea flat and easily accessible. She was to come to the house at mid-day on the morrow, and to ask not for Lady Hardy but for him. He would stay by her while she was in the house, and it would be quite easy for Lady Hardy to keep herself and her daughter out of the way. They could, for example, go out quietly to the dressmakers in the closed car, for many little things about the mourning still remained to be seen to.
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|The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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