They slowed finally at the southeastern corner of the church. Watery daylight poured through the rose windows overhead. “I know we are in a hurry to get to the Council meeting,” said Jem. “But I wanted you to see this.” He gestured around them. “Poet’s Corner.”
Tessa had read of the place, of course, where the great poets and writers of England were buried. There was the gray stone tomb of Chaucer, with its canopy, and other familiar names: Edmund Spenser, who had written The Faerie Queen, “Oh, and Milton,” she gasped, “and Coleridge, and Robert Burns, and Shakespeare —”
“He isn’t really buried here,” said Jem, quickly. “It’s just a monument.”
“Oh, I know, but —” She looked at him, and felt herself flush. “I can’t explain it. It’s like being among friends, being among these names. Silly, I know . . .”
“Not silly at all.”
She smiled at him. “How did you know just what I’d want to see?”
“How could I not?” he said. “When I think of you, and you are not there, I see you in my mind’s eye always with a book in your hand.” He looked away from her as he said it, but not before she caught the slight flush on his cheekbones. He was so pale, he could never hide even the least blush, she thought — and was surprised how affectionate the thought was.
She had become very fond of Jem over the past fortnight; Will had been studiously avoiding her, Charlotte and Henry were caught up in issues of Clave and Council and the running of the Institute —even Jessamine seemed preoccupied. But Jem was always there. He seemed to take his role as her guide to London seriously: they had been to Hyde Park and Kew Gardens, the National Gallery and the British Museum, the Tower of London and Traitor’s Gate. They gone to see the cows being milked in St James Park, the fruit and vegetable sellers in Covent Garden, had watched the boats sailing on the sun-sparked Thames from the Embankment. And as the days went on, Tessa felt herself unfolding slowly out of her quiet, huddled unhappiness over Nate and Will and the loss of her old life, like a flower climbing out of frozen ground. She had even found herself laughing. And she had Jem to thank for it.
“You are a good friend,” she exclaimed, and when, to her surprise, he said nothing to that, she said, “At least, I hope we are good friends. You do think so too, don’t you, Jem?”
He turned to look at her.