Jane Wright 23

Before the grimy window rain fell from a darkening sky on the bomb-sites of Red Lion Square. Jane had looked out in an abstract pose before making her revelation to Nicholas. She now actually noticed the scene, it made her eyes feel miserable and her whole life appeared steeped in equivalent misery. She was disappointed in life, once more.

‘I’ll tell you another fact,’ said Nicholas. ‘I’m a crook too. What are you crying for?’

‘I’m crying for myself,’ said Jane. ‘I’m going to look for another job.’

‘Will you write a letter for me?’

‘What sort of letter?’

‘A crook-letter. From Charles Morgan to myself. Dear Mr Farringdon, When I first received your manuscript I was tempted to place it aside for my secretary to return to you with some polite excuse. But as happy chance would have it, before passing your work on to my secretary, I flicked over the pages and my eyes lit on…’

‘Lit on what?’ said Jane.

‘I’ll leave that to you. Only choose one of the most concise and brilliant passages when you come to write the letter. That will be difficult, I admit, since all are equally brilliant. But chose the piece you like best. Charles Morgan is to say he read that one piece, and then the whole, avidly, from start to finish. He is to say it’s a work of genius. He congratulates me on a work of genius, you realize. Then I show the letter to George.’

Jane’s life began to sprout once more, green with possibility. She recalled that she was only twenty-three, and smiled.