HER mother had some secret that she [FE] [MS] [WB] couldn't share. She was wonderful in her pure, high serenity. Surely she had some secret. She said he was closer to her now than he had ever been. And in her correct, precise answers to the letters of condolence Harriett wrote: 'I feel that he is closer to us now than he ever was.' But she didn't really feel it. She [WB] only felt that to feel it was the beautiful and proper thing. She looked for her mother's secret and couldn't find it. Meanwhile Mr Hichens had given them six weeks. They had to decide where they would go: into Devonshire or into a cottage at Hampstead where Sarah [FE] Barmby lived now. Her mother said, 'Do you think you'd [WB] like to live in Sidmouth, near Aunt Harriett?' They had stayed one summer at Sid- mouth with Aunt Harriett. She remem- bered the red cliffs, the sea, and Aunt Harriett's garden stuffed with flowers. They had been happy there. She thought she would love that: the sea and the red cliffs and a garden like Aunt Harriett's. But she was not sure whether it was what her mother really wanted. Mamma [MS] would never say. She would have to find out somehow. 'Well--what do you think?' 'It would be leaving all your friends, Hatty.' 'My friends--yes. But--' [FE] Lizzie and Sarah and Connie Penne- father. She could live without them. ' Oh, there's Mrs Hancock.' 'Well--' Her mother's voice sug- gested that if she were put to it she could live without Mrs Hancock. And Harriett thought: 'She does want to go to Sidmouth then.' 'It would be very nice to be near Aunt Harriett.' She was afraid to say more than that [WB] lest she should show her own wish before she knew her mother's. 'Aunt Harriett. Yes.... But it's very far away, Hatty. We should be cut off from everything. Lectures and [WB] concerts. We couldn't afford to come up and down.' 'No. We couldn't.' [FE] She could see that Mamma did not really want to live in Sidmouth; she didn't want to be near Aunt Harriett; she wanted the cottage at Hampstead and all the things of their familiar, intellectual life [MS] going on and on. After all that was the way to keep near to Papa, to go on doing the things they had done together. Her mother agreed that it was the way. 'I can't help feeling,' Harriett said, 'it's what he would have wished.' Her mother's face was quiet and con- tent. She hadn't guessed. They left the white house with the green balcony hung out like a bird-cage [WB] at the side, and turned into the cottage at Hampstead. The rooms were small and rather dark, and the furniture they [FE] had brought had a squeezed-up, unhappy look. The blue egg on the marble-topped table was conspicuous and hateful as it had never been in the Black's Lane drawing-room. Harriett and her mother looked at it. 'Must it stay there?' 'I think so. Fanny Hancock gave it me.' 'Mamma--you know you don't like it.' 'No. But after all these years I couldn't turn the poor thing away.' Her mother was an old woman, clinging [MS] with an old, stubborn fidelity to the little things of her past. But Harriett denied it. 'She's not old,' she said to herself. 'Not really old.' 'Harriett,' her mother said one day, 'I think you ought to do the house- [FE] keeping.' 'Oh, Mamma, why?' She hated the idea of this change. 'Because you'll have to do it some day.' She obeyed. But as she went her rounds and gave her orders she felt that she was doing something not quite real, playing at being her mother as she had played when she was a child. Then her mother had another thought. 'Harriett, I think you ought to see more of your friends, dear.' 'Why?' 'Because you'll want them after I'm gone.' 'I shall never want anybody but you.' And their time went as it had gone before: in sewing together, reading together, listening to lectures and concerts [FE] together. They had told Sarah that they [WB] didn't want anybody to call. They were Hilton Frean's wife and daughter. 'After our wonderful life with him,' they said, [MS] 'you'll understand, Sarah, that we don't want people.' And if Harriett was intro- duced to any stranger she accounted for herself arrogantly: 'My father was Hilton Frean.' They were collecting his Remains for publication. Months passed, years passed, going each one a little quicker than the last. And Harriett was thirty-nine. One evening, coming out of church, her [WB] mother fainted. That was the beginning of her illness, February, eighteen eighty- three. First came the long months of [FE] weakness; then the months and months of sickness; then the pain; the pain she had been hiding, that she couldn't hide any more. They knew what it was now: that [WB] horrible thing that even the doctors were afraid to name. They called it 'some- thing malignant.' When the friends-- Mrs Hancock, Connie Pennefather, Lizzie, and Sarah--wouldn't tell them what it was; she pretended that she didn't know, that the doctors weren't sure; she covered it up [MS] from them as if it had been a secret shame. And they pretended that they didn't know. But they knew. They were talking now about an opera- tion. There was one chance for her in [WB] a hundred if they had Sir James Pargeter: [FE] one chance. She might die of it; she might die under the anesthetic; she might die of shock; she was so old and weak. Still, there was that one chance, if only she would take it. But her mother wouldn't listen. ' My dear, it would cost a hundred pounds.' 'How do you know what it would cost?' 'Oh,' she said, 'I know.' she was smiling above the sheet that was tucked close up, tight under her chin, shutting it all down. Sir James Pargeter would cost a hundred pounds. Harriett couldn't lay her hands on the money or on half of it or a quarter. 'That doesn't matter if they think it'll save you.' 'They think; they think. But I know. [FE] [WB] I know better than all the doctors.' 'But Mamma, darling--' She urged the operation. Just because it would be so difficult to raise the hundred [MS] pounds she urged it. She wanted to feel that she had done everything that could be done, that she had let nothing stand in the way, that she had shrunk from no sacrifice. One chance in a hundred. What was a hundred pounds weighed against that one chance ? If it had been one in a thousand she would have said the same. 'It would be no good, Hatty. I know it wouldn't. They just love to try experi- ments, those doctors. They're dying to get their knives into me. Don't let them.' Gradually, day by day, Harriett weak- ened. Her mother's frightened voice [WB] tore at her, broke her down. Supposing [FE] she really died under the operation? Supposing-- It was cruel to excite and upset her just for that; it made the pain worse. Either the operation or the pain, going on and on, stabbing with sharper and sharper knives; cutting in deeper; all their care, the antiseptics, the restoratives, dragging it out, giving it more time to torture her. When the three friends came Harriett said, 'I shall be glad and thankful when [MS] it's all over. I couldn't want to keep her with me, just for this.' Yet she did want it. She was thankful every morning that she came to her mother's bed and found her alive, lying there, looking at her with her wonderful smile. She was glad because she still [FE] had her. And now they were giving her morphia. Under the torpor of the drug her face changed; the muscles loosened, the flesh sagged, the widened, swollen mouth hung open; only the broad beautiful forehead, the beautiful calm eyebrows were the same; the face, sallow white, half imbecile, was a mask flung aside. She couldn't bear to look at it; it wasn't her mother's face; her mother had died already under the morphia. She had a shock every time she came in and found it still there. On the day her mother died she told [WB] herself she was glad and thankful. She met her friends with a little quiet, com- posed face, saying, 'I'm glad and thankful she's at peace.' But she wasn't thankful; she wasn't glad. She wanted her back [FE] [MS] again. And she reproached herself, one minute for having been glad, and the next for wanting her. She consoled herself by thinking of the sacrifices she had made, how she had given up Sidmouth, and how willingly she would have paid the hundred pounds. 'I sometimes think, Hatty,' said Mrs [WB] Hancock, melancholy and condoling, 'that it would have been very different if your poor mother could have had her wish.' 'What--what wish?' [WB] 'Her wish to live in Sidmouth, near your Aunt Harriett.' And Sarah Barmby, sympathising heavily, stopping short and brooding, trying to think of something to say: 'If the operation had only been done three years [FE] ago when they knew it would save her- 'Three years ago ? But we didn't know anything about it then.' 'She did.... Don't you remember ? It was when I stayed with her.... Oh, Hatty, didn't she tell you?' [MS] 'She never said a word.' 'Oh, well, she wouldn't hear of it, even then when they didn't give her two [WB] years to live.' Three years? She had had it three years [WB] ago. She had known about it all that time. Three years ago the operation would have saved her; she would have been here now. Why had she refused it when she knew it would save her? She had been thinking of the hundred pounds. To have known about it three years and [FE] said nothing--to have gone believing she hadn't two years to live-- That was her secret. That was why she had been so calm when Papa died. [WB] She had known she would have him again so soon. Not two years- 'If I'd been them,' Lizzie was saying, [WB] 'I'd have bitten my tongue out before I told you. It's no use worrying, Hatty. You did everything that could be done.' [WB] 'I know. I know.' She held up her face against them; but to herself she said that everything had not been done. Her mother had never had her wish. And she had died in agony, so that she, Harriett, might keep her hundred pounds.