When Sibyl Rivers discovers that a love letter which she thought had been written by Digby Stuart was in fact penned as a 'jest' by her cousin Isabel Vernon, she is overcome by 'shock' and is 'suddenly stricken as by a total suspension of every sense, every faculty'. The story of the jest is 'a true tale, and therefore it can have no end in particular; no neat tying up of loose tags; no decisive sentences of moral or poetical justice'. Instead, Sibyl remains in a vegetative state, there being 'no change any more on earth in the breathing statue that had been instinct once with youth and joyous love', and she dies seven years later. (736) Her mother, who has cared for her uncomprehending daughter all this time, greets the news of her death 'almost cheerfully' (737).
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