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, as well as the Pendergast family tree. She is most often a misanthrope with a mordant sense of humor, responding sharply to accusations or misstatements.
Constance 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 Curiosities
While 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 Trilogy
Constance 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.
Constance 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.
Later 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
During her self-imposed exile to the Riverside Drive subbasement, Constance found herself courted by a lovesick Diogenes Pendergast. Claiming to be reformed after escaping death—and with the revelation that the synthetic version of Leng's arcanum was flawed—he whisked her away to his private island retreat in the Florida Keys, where he not only continued his courtship but resolved to provide her with the perfected arcanum to correct the previous formula's slowly developing side effects.
When she had become convinced that his feelings and intentions were genuine, she flatly rejected him, describing in sadistic exacting detail the depth of hatred she felt for his actions during the events of the Diogenes Trilogy. Her calculated vengeance had the desired effect: she left him a broken man, soundly bested in a game in which he thought himself peerless.
Her victory was interrupted when she was attacked by Flavia Greyling, an obsessed associate of Diogenes who had tracked him to Halcyon. Though she emerged victorious, the encounter left her with multiple stab wounds. She was later rescued from the island by Aloysius Pendergast—whom she had still presumed dead—and a SWAT team led by Howard Longstreet.
Constance spent a week recovering from her injuries before returning to the Riverside Drive mansion, but left the next morning for India to live at the monastery with her son, citing Pendergast's inability to properly express his feelings for her.
City of Endless Night
Constance had been at the monastery in India for three months when Pendergast arrived, fresh from a near-death experience during the events surrounding the Decapitator killings chronicled in City of Endless Night.
While stopping short of outright admitting his feelings for her, he acknowledged that he could not live without her and asked her to return to New York, to which she agreed.
Verses for the Dead
When they returned home, Pendergast was noticeably more attentive to her, so much so that it caught the eye of Proctor and Mrs. Trask. He was soon called away to Florida for the events surrounding the Mister Brokenhearts murders, however, with Constance disappointed at being left behind.
Barely a week after Pendergast returned to New York, Constance accompanied him back to Florida when he was summoned to appear before a grand jury in the Brokenhearts case. Following his testimony, they retreated to an exclusive private island in the Florida Keys for a much-needed vacation. Their holiday was soon interrupted by Pendergast's supervisor, Walter Pickett, and—after assurances from Constance that she had plenty to occupy herself with during his absence—Aloysius found himself whisked away to another case on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida.
Constance lasted one day on the island, passing her time by finishing the Joris-Karl Huysmans novel À rebours and soliciting machine gun training from the resort's security chief. She joined Pendergast on Sanibel Island and rented a house of local legend: a large beautifully restored Victorian that had been the site of a decade-old unsolved murder and had since remained unoccupied amidst rumors of late-night sounds of knocking and rattling chains. Though she had initially come to Sanibel with the intention of assisting Pendergast with his own investigation, the case soon began triggering memories of her mother's death and she begged off, claiming to be simply uninterested. Instead, Constance began looking into the mystery of the "Mortlach Ghost" on her own, eventually reconstructing the events of the night of the murder and successfully capturing the "ghost" itself. When Pendergast went missing, Constance teamed up with FBI Agent Armstrong Coldmoon and Sanibel Police Chief P. B. Perelman to mount a successful rescue mission, though her involvement was carefully kept out of any official records. Upon their return to Sanibel Island, Constance revealed the identity of person responsible for the Mortlach House "haunting," eagerly agreeing to a ceremonial "exorcism" at the suggestion of Chief Perelman, who had been part of the original murder investigation.
Constance returned with Pendergast to the private island to finish their vacation, inviting Coldmoon to join them. As they prepared to leave the resort, she sought out the security chief to thank him for her impromptu weapons training, which had proven quite handy during the rescue effort. Their departure was interrupted by the arrival of Walter Pickett, who implored Pendergast and Coldmoon to travel to Savannah, Georgia to look into an incident. Though they declined, Pickett later diverted their helicopter, sending them to Savannah with Constance once again along for the ride.
The Strange Case of Monsieur Bertin
Six months later, Constance accompanied Pendergast to New Orleans to attend the funeral services of Monsieur Gaspard Bertin, his childhood tutor and longtime associate. Aside from themselves, the viewing and graveside service were attended only by a mysterious black clad elderly lady, an old friend of Bertin's known as Madame Brissot, though several limousines and town cars paused in passing during the interment, seemingly to pay respects.
The priest officiating the graveside service gave Pendergast a key to Bertin's house, claiming Gaspard had sent it along with a note leaving Pendergast his prized bible, a massive leather-bound tome with silver studs and a chased-silver clasp that Aloysius remembered well from his youth. Constance, a noted bibliophile, found the book to be a beautiful specimen upon seeing it, though Pendergast quickly determined the clasp had been poisoned. The inside of the bible contained a freshly drawn, intricately detailed Pendergast family tree, though it included a name that they both identified as nonexistent: Edmond Pendergast (1815-1910).
Suddenly in the midst of a macabre treasure hunt, Constance and Pendergast made their way to the family's small mausoleum in the nearby St. Louis Cemetery Number One, built by his ancestor, the noted magician Comstock Pendergast. Constance mused about the need for a separate mausoleum despite the family crypt under the old family home, the Maison de la Rochenoire, or who might be interred in the few occupied marble-doored crypts, since none were labeled except for one: Edmond Pendergast, the only crypt with a bronze door. The crypt itself was empty, but a handle inside revealed a staircase descending beneath the cemetery and leading to a partially flooded passage that gently winded for several hundred yards before ending at a bronze doorway. Pendergast picked the lock and they found themselves in the long-sealed catacombs beneath the site of Rochenoire, which had burned to the ground when he was a young man, and they realized the truth about Comstock's insistence on building the mausoleum: it had been the exit point of an escape route.
Near one wall had been placed a pair of school desks, replicas of the ones Aloysius and his brother Diogenes had sat in during their lessons with Bertin, complete with nametags. A small toy box sat upon Diogenes's desk, containing two small gemstones: one hazel, one milky blue—which Constance immediately recognized as the exact colors of Diogenes's eyes. Pendergast concluded that the entire setup of Bertin's death and subsequent "treasure hunt" were orchestrated by his brother—who had not been seen since Pendergast allowed him to escape following the events of The Obsidian Chamber—to announce his return for the final reckoning between the two brothers... and Constance herself.
- Though Crimson Shore makes it clear Constance never learned to swim, she claims during the events of The Obsidian Chamber—which takes place just two weeks later—that she learned as an adult and "caught up." She in fact swims quite well in the waters surrounding Halcyon Key, to the point where Diogenes, swimming with her, feels the need to return to shore for a boat to go after her.