Three days after Jeannie’s death, with her body put to rest only that morning in the village cemetery, the whole of Farthest House lay under a pall. By evening, Julian’s sister, my dear Tory, already middle aged but still living there, had poured herself a glass of sherry to still her nerves and gone up to her room for the night. In the kitchen, Mable stood at the sink in a navy caftan and washed the last of the day’s dishes. She turned to glance with concern at the black gardener sitting at the table. She’d made him fresh coffee and set out a plate of homemade cookies, but he stared straight ahead, ignoring both. His name was Jonah, and the outside corners of his eyes, which fell when he was still a young man, now gave him the appearance of a small and forlorn basset hound. The radio was on low, and a commentator talked about the signing that day of the Civil Rights Act and how Negroes celebrated in the streets. At sixty-one, with all he’d seen in his life, Jonah scarcely cared whether or not a new law had been signed. Earlier laws hadn’t helped, and he couldn’t rid his mind of thinking about the number of lynchings there’d been in just his lifetime. Lynchings. Human beings at their most inhuman and the sight of busted up black bodies swinging. On top of that, not three days since there’d been another death in the house. Some homes went a hundred years and crumbled in on themselves and never felt death.
I couldn’t watch his misery. Sorrow and guilt sent me from the room and into the library where Julian stood at a window
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