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The scene is desolate except for the sound of music, "the godless drunken celebration of Pentecost by the poor." When they finally get to the address, children are chasing the carriage and making fun of the coachmanís clothing. Dr. Urbino had hoped for a confidential visit and realizes "there was no innocence more dangerous than the innocence of age." This house is different from the others in its lace curtains and in its fine front door that looks like it was taken from an old church. The door opens to a mature woman dressed in black with a red rose behind her ear. She is a mulatto "with cruel golden eyes and hair tight to her skull like a helmet of steel wool." She invites him in. Her parlor "had the climate and invisible murmur of a forest glade." Itís full of exquisite objects.
She tells him the house is his. He feels betrayed. Her intense mourning reveals that she knows more than he does about everything in Jeremiahís letter. She had been with him until only a few hours before his death and she had been with him for half his life. No one had known about this affair.
They had met in a convalescent home in Port-au-Prince. She followed him to Columbia a year after his arrival. She cleaned his laboratory once a week, but no one suspected anything because everyone thought his paralysis also affected his ability to have sex. Dr. Urbino has a lot of trouble believing that they who lived on the fringes of a closed societyís prejudices had chosen the hazards of illicit love." In her opinion, her life with Jeremiah had been exemplary, with sudden explosions of happiness often occurring over the years.
She says it was not her skill, but Jeremiahís distraction. He "had moved his pieces without love." At the end of the game, he asked her to leave him, telling her he wanted to write a letter to Dr. Urbino," whom he considered the most honorable man heíd ever known, and his soulís friend." At that point she had understood he planned to die. She had let him do as he wanted because his last eleven months had been cruel suffering. Dr. Urbino tells her she should have reported him if she suspected him of contemplating suicide. She says she loved him too much to do that to him. Dr. Urbino is amazed at this sentiment. He looks at her a long time and tries to memorize her features. "She seemed like a river idol, undaunted in her black dress, with her serpentís eyes and the rose behind her ear." Long ago on a beach in Haiti after she and Jeremiah had made love, he had sighed and said he would never be old. She thought he had meant that he would always struggle against time, but he had meant instead that he would kill himself when he turned seventy years old.
He had turned seventy on January twenty-third of that year. He decided to commit suicide on the night before the Pentecost, the most important holiday in a city consecrated to the cult of the Holy Spirit. She had known about the whole thing ahead of time. They had discussed it in detail. He loved life with a senseless passion and as the day had drawn near he had grown despairing as if he hadnít made the decision himself. The night before, she had wanted to take the dog, but he said he was taking the dog--Woodrow Wilson--with him. She had tied it with a false knot to the end of his bed, her only act of disloyalty to his instructions. Since the dog hadnít freed himself, he must have wanted to die with his master. He told her that night to remember him with a rose.
She had gone home a little after midnight and smoked cigarette after cigarette until the dogs began to howl at three in the morning. Then she had made a pot of coffee and dressed in full mourning and cut the first rose of dawn. As he listens to her, Dr. Urbino knows he will repudiate all memory of her. He will do so because "only a person without principles could be so complaisant toward grief." She tells him she wonít go to the funeral, will not cry, and will not bury herself alive in mourning for him. She will sell his house and all thatís in it and go on living as she always has "in this death trap of the poor where she had been happy."