Constance Greene is the ward and amanuensis of Special Agent Pendergast. First mentioned in only vague, mysterious terms in The Cabinet of Curiosities and Still Life with Crows, she was finally introduced during the events of Brimstone.
Appearance and Mannerisms
Constance is described as thin with violet eyes and mahogany-colored hair cut in a stylish bob. She appears to be in her twenties. Some have said she resembles the woman in the Rossetti painting Proserpine; she has also been likened to actresses Claudette Colbert and Olive Thomas. Prim and poised, Constance is decidedly old-fashioned in attire, speech and manner.
A self-described pedant and obscurantist, Constance is exceptionally well-read and intelligent, possessing an almost photographic knowledge of the collections and library of the Riverside Drive mansion. She is most often a misanthrope with a mordant sense of humor, responding sharply to accusations or misstatements.
Early LifeConstance was born in 1873 in Lower Manhattan, to Horace and Chastity Greene. She was the youngest of three children. Her parents died when she was just five years old, leaving Constance and her brother Joseph in the care of their sixteen-year-old sister, Mary. Although Pendergast initially attributed their deaths to a cholera outbreak from bad water, their death certificates and Constance's own recollections cite tuberculosis. While Horace Greene did succumb to the disease, Chastity—out of her head and in despair—met her end falling or jumping into the East River. Her body was lifted from the river with grappling hooks while her two daughters looked on—a fact Constance still keeps to herself.
Following the death of their parents, Mary Greene attempted to provide for Constance and Joseph by working as a laundress and seamstress, but the pay was insufficient. They were evicted, and Mary eventually turned to prostitution to support her siblings. When she was arrested later that year, she was confined to a workhouse known as the Five Points Mission, and Constance and Joseph were left to fend for themselves on the street. Joseph was beaten to death in 1880 after being caught trying to pick someone's pocket. Mary was murdered by a serial killer in 1881; the discovery of her body over a century later set in motion the events of The Cabinet of Curiosities.
Constance was soon taken in by Enoch Leng, a doctor who volunteered his services at the Five Points Mission and was, unbeknownst to Constance, her sister's killer. Likely feeling responsible for Constance's plight, Leng brought her to his Riverside Drive mansion and used her as a test subject for his arcanum for greatly prolonging human life–the research for which had cost her sister her life. Leng continued to clothe, feed and educate Constance, while taking and administering to her the arcanum. As a result, she barely aged for over a century, while Leng himself stopped taking the elixir in 1954 and began aging at a normal rate.
Constance lived with Leng at his Riverside Drive residence until his death forced her into hiding in the deepest recesses of the mansion's secret passageways. She watched silently and undetected from the shadows as the events of The Cabinet of Curiosities played out.
Introduction and Involvement
The Cabinet of CuriositiesWhile the Surgeon chased Agent Pendergast through Enoch Leng's basement laboratory, a shadowy figure watched them from behind a tapestry. The figure was that of Constance, still in hiding in the home since the Surgeon's invasion.
Still Life With Crows
While Wren prepared an inventory of Leng's curiosities, Constance continue to watch from the shadows. Wren heard her footsteps behind the tapestries and within the walls, but never saw her.
The Diogenes Trilogy
Constance finally revealed herself to Wren as he catalogued the contents of the Riverside mansion. Pendergast, who had inherited the residence, took on the girl's care through a sense of combined guilt and duty. She became his ward and amanuensis, her intimate knowledge of the mansion's library and collections and impeccable research skills quickly becoming invaluable resources. He began reading newspapers to her over tea to slowly bring her up to date on the events of the past century, while she continued her academic studies under Pendergast's direction. They also started taking excursions to Ravenscry to acclimate Constance to being outside of the mansion's confines.Following Pendergast's disappearance in Italy, Constance waited anxiously for six weeks before reluctantly accepting that he was likely dead. Acting on instructions left by the agent, she placed Pendergast's considerable resources at the disposal of Vincent D'Agosta, to whom he had passed the task of stopping Diogenes Pendergast. She continued to assist D'Agosta until Pendergast's reappearance. Diogenes, despite the best efforts of his brother to secure the Riverside mansion, not only gained access to the house, but began visiting Constance regularly, masterfully manipulating her naiveté to gently indoctrinate her with his own twisted version of the brothers' history. He presented her with a pet mouse, much like Aloysius's own childhood pet Incitatus, a gesture which later caused her to uncharacteristically lie to Wren when he inquired about the mouse's origins. Her changing behavior continued to cause concern for Wren, in light of her fragile emotional state.
Diogenes's deceptive courtship ultimately turned to seduction, leading to Constance's first sexual experience. She awoke the next evening to an elegant envelope and gift box. The envelope contained a three-page letter, which cruelly confirmed that Leng had indeed killed Constance's older sister Mary. The letter repeatedly mocked Constance for enjoying the benefits of her sister's murder, taunting her existence as unnatural and revealing the true nature of Diogenes's own attentions. It ended with a directed invitation to end her own life, referencing her previous attempt at suicide and mocking her again for how easily he had faked his own self-inflicted scar to show how alike they were. The gift box, which she had briefly thought may contain a necklace or bracelet, instead held an antique scalpel to help toward this purpose.
His plan backfired, however: instead of being driven to suicide, Constance became singularly obsessed with vengeance. As Diogenes fled the scene of his thwarted perfect crime aboard a luxury passenger train, comforting himself with the absinthe-fueled thought of his brother discovering his ward's dead body, a cleverly disguised Constance surprised him in his quarters, and only her inexperience with firearms allowed him to escape with his life. Diogenes regrouped and tried to go on the offensive, attempting to ambush her in Florence, but she outmaneuvered him again, wounding him this time with the very scalpel he had left for her.
Their final confrontation came after Constance next tracked Diogenes to his home on the island of Stromboli. A refuge where he thought himself completely safe, she rattled the younger Pendergast brother by boldly taking to a taxi to his doorstep and knocking on the front door. A short gun battle ensued before Diogenes fled the house, taking the fight to the dangerous paths up the most active volcano in Europe, while Aloysius tried desperately to catch up to them. Their chase culminated in a physical struggle at the volcano's edge, with both combatants falling into the abyss just as Pendergast reached them. He found Constance alone clinging one-handed to a rock just below the lip of the volcano, a thousand feet above the churning lava, and pulled her to safety. She replied only, "He's gone," when Aloysius asked about his brother.
Several weeks later, Constance revealed to Pendergast that she was pregnant with Diogenes's child. She went to the Feversham Clinic in New York for an abortion, but once there found she could not go through with it. A journey with Pendergast to the Gsalrig Chongg monastery in Tibet fulfilled an ancient prophecy for the monks, who in turn informed her that the child she carried was the nineteenth incarnation of the Rinpoche who had founded the monastery. Constance gave birth at Gsalrig Chongg, and was forced to flee with the child when the occupying Chinese authorities came for him. After securing transatlantic passage on the Queen Mary II to return to New York, Constance boarded in Southampton with the baby, but raised suspicions at passport control in New York when she arrived alone. She claimed to have thrown the baby overboard midpassage, insisting the child was "evil, like his father."
The Helen TrilogyConstance was arrested and confined to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital's prison ward, where Dr. John Felder was assigned to her case. Felder questioned Constance at length about her family history, and while she answered factually, the courts were obviously unable to find any records of her existence. She was ordered to be indefinitely involuntarily committed to the Mental Health Division of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, but Pendergast, claiming Bedford Hills would only encourage Constance's "propensity for sudden, occasionally violent, psychotic breaks," convinced Felder to have her committed to Mount Mercy, filling the vacancy left by Pendergast's recently deceased Aunt Cornelia. Felder became obsessed with Constance's story as he continued to find increasing evidence to corroborate it. When Dr. Ernest Poole arrived claiming to have treated Constance in the past and offering to consult, Felder jumped at the opportunity with only a cursory check into Poole's credentials. Poole—actually Judson Esterhazy, on the run from Pendergast after unsuccessfully attempting to murder the FBI agent and hoping to kidnap Constance to use as bait—suggested an outing beyond the walls of Mount Mercy. Felder agreed, and the three of them went on an excursion to the zoo, where, having convinced Constance that Pendergast needed her help, Esterhazy successfully kidnapped her. She was held captive aboard the Covenant yacht Vergeltung, where she was eventually rescued by Pendergast and returned safely to Mount Mercy. Felder's first visit following Constance's return was met, unsurprisingly, with a rare angry outburst from her, although she later allowed him to continue to visit, provided it was as an acquaintance, not as her doctor. During his next visit, he began expressing doubts that she even committed the crime. He also produced an old newspaper engraving he had found from the late 1800s, which included a depiction of a young girl who was the picture-perfect likeness of a young Constance. Suddenly quite forthcoming, she told him the history of the engraving, adding that the artist also painted her portrait and that her sister had given the man, Alexander Wintour, a locke of Constance's hair in gratitude, a common practice of the time. Recalling that Wintour placed the snippet of hair into an envelope, which he pasted to the inside of his portfolio cover, Constance suggested that if the portfolio were still in existence, the lock of hair—ideal for a DNA confirmation of who she claimed to be—might still be inside.
A now-smitten Felder took the suggestion as a labor of love, and ultimately recovered the hair and sent it for DNA testing. He returned the hair to Constance, along with the unopened DNA results, claiming he didn't need to see them to believe her. Constance gently rebuffed him, claiming her heart belonged to another, but in gratitude for his success, she told him her entire story—including the truth about her baby: her highly publicized arrest was a diversion to satisfy the Chinese while the child was smuggled out of Tibet into India with the exiled Tibetan government. With the child now safe, the need for her deception had passed, and she soon found herself back in the familiar confines of the Riverside mansion.
Blue LabyrinthConstance began a project to research the genealogy of the Pendergast family, contacting researchers and genealogical societies in the United States, France, and Italy, but Pendergast himself seemed unwilling to provide information about certain members of the family.
Constance was working on the genealogy project when she was interrupted by a knock at the door. She answered to find Alban Pendergast, Aloysius's criminally insane son, dead of a broken neck and bound with ropes on the doorstep. The NYPD were called in to investigate while Pendergast opened his own back-channel inquiries. Constance cautioned Pendergast not to brood over Alban's death, and advised him to get involved in a different case, lest he lose his equilibrium.
Later, as Aloysius began feeling the effects of the poison administered to him, Constance searched for a cure. When she found the formula, she teamed up with Margo Green to obtain samples of the two rare ingredients to the antidote.
While Margo went to the New York Museum, Constance headed to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for her ingredient, which turned out to be heavily guarded by a Red Mountain Industries contingent led by John Barbeaux.
Constance was briefly captured and tortured by Barbeaux in order to obtain the ingredient she sought, but was able to escape and eventually eliminated the RMI mercenaries in a most gruesome fashion, using a particularly potent acid she found in Leng's collection.
Later, she tricked Barbeaux into submerging his arm in a pool laced with the same acid, leading to his own agonizing death.
Crimson ShoreLater that fall, Constance accompanied Pendergast as he investigated a theft of a singularly rare and priceless case of wine in Exmouth, Massachusetts. It quickly took a dark turn, and Pendergast urged her to return to New York, citing not the danger posed to her but rather her potential lack of control when it came to defending him. As she continued to assist Pendergast, her lack of modern social skills paired with her old-fashioned dress and mannerisms led to her being mistaken first for Amish and later Wiccan.
Once the case was solved, she and Pendergast decided to celebrate with wine, an encounter that resulted in a brief but intense kiss. Pendergast, aware of Constance's growing affection for him and apparently concerned about the possibility of his own reciprocation, abruptly broke off the moment of passion. He explained that their work relationship precludes any feelings they may have for each other, and Constance— embarrassed, humiliated and angered—fled their hotel into a storm, intent on further investigating the nearby hurricane-decimated ghost town of Oldham. There she found the underground labyrinthine lair of an ancient cult of satanic witches, and the source of a half-human, half-demon "mortal devil" known as Morax, who had just ravaged Exmouth on a wild killing spree. Pendergast soon arrived in pursuit of Constance, along with a returning Morax; after a chase through the cult's dungeon-like compound, they escaped to the beaches of Oldham, where Constance watched helplessly as the agent and the demon fought to a fatal stalemate in the stormy Atlantic surf, cursing the National Guardsmen for cowards as they restrained her from attempting to rescue a gravely wounded Pendergast from the chilling waves and rushing current.
She eventually returned to New York, retreating to the sub-basement levels of the 891 Riverside Drive mansion as the reality of Pendergast's disappearance began to take hold.
The Obsidian Chamber
It would appear Constance has had swimming lessons? When did she have time?