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The Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922)
by May Sinclair

Chapter XI
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HER old servant, Hannah, had gone, and           [FE]   [MS]   [WB]
her new servant, Maggie, had had a baby. 
  After the first shock and three months'
loss of Maggie, it occurred to Harriett
that the beautiful thing would be to take
Maggie back and let her have the baby
with her, since she couldn't leave it.
  The baby lay in his cradle in the kitchen,
black-eyed and rosy, doubling up his fat,
naked knees, smiling his crooked smile,
and saying things to himself. Harriett
had to see him every time she came into
the kitchen. Sometimes she heard him
cry, an intolerable cry, tearing the nerves
and heart. And sometimes she saw Maggie
unbutton her black gown in a hurry and           [FE]
put out her white, rose-pointed breast to                      [WB]
still his cry.
  Harriett couldn't bear it. She could
not bear it.
  She decided that Maggie must go.
Maggie was not doing her work pro-
perly. Harriett found flue under the
bed.
  'I'm sure,' Maggie said, 'I'm doing                          [WB]
no worse than I did, ma'am, and you
usedn't to complain.'
  'No worse isn't good enough, Maggie.                  [MS]
I think you might have tried to please
me. It isn't every one who would have
taken you in the circumstances.'
  'If you think that, ma'am, it's very
cruel and unkind of you to send me
away.'
  'You've only yourself to thank. There's        [FE]          [WB]
no more to be said.'
  'No, ma'am. I understand why I'm
leaving. It's because of Baby. You
don't want to 'ave  'im, and I think you
might have said so before.'
  That day month Maggie packed her
brown-painted wooden box and the cradle
and the perambulator. The greengrocer
took them away on a handcart. Through
the drawing-room window Harriett saw
Maggie going away, carrying the baby,
pink and round in his white knitted cap,
his fat hips bulging over her arm under
his white shawl. The gate fell to behind                       [WB]
them. The click struck at Harriett's heart.
  Three months later Maggie turned up
again in a black hat and gown for best,
red-eyed and humble.
  'I came to see, ma'am, whether you'd           [FE]          [WB]
take me back, as I 'aven't got Baby now.'
  'You haven't got him?'                                [MS]
  'E died, ma'am, last month. I'd put
him with a woman in the country. She
was highly recommended to me. Very
highly recommended she was, and I paid
her six shillings a week. But I think she
must 'ave done something she shouldn't.'
  'Oh, Maggie, you don't mean she was
cruel to him?'
  'No, ma'am. She was very fond of
him. Everybody was fond of Baby.
But whether it was the food she gave him
or what, 'e was that wasted you wouldn't                       [WB] 
have known him. You remember what
he was like when he was here.'
  'I remember.'
  She remembered. She remembered.
Fat and round in his white shawl and             [FE]
knitted cap when Maggie carried him
down the garden path.
  'I should think she'd a done something,
shouldn't you, ma'am?'
  She thought: 'No. No. It was                                 [WB]
who did it when I sent him away.'
  'I don't know, Maggie. I'm afraid                            [WB]
it's been very terrible for you.' 
  'Yes, ma'am  . . I wondered
whether you'd give me another trial,
ma'am.'
  'Are you quite sure you want to come                  [MS]
to me, Maggie?'
  'Yes'm.... I'm sure you'd a kept
him if you could have borne to see him
about.'
  'You know, Maggie, that was nor the
reason why you left. If I take you back
you must try not to be careless and              [FE]
forgetful.'
  'I shan't 'ave nothing to make me.
Before, it was first Baby's father and
then 'im.'
  She could see that Maggie didn't hold
her responsible. After all, why should                         [WB]
she? If Maggie had made bad arrange-
ments for her baby, Maggie was respon-
sible.
  She went round to Lizzie and Sarah
to see what they thought. Sarah thought:
'Welland Harriett resented her hesitation.
  'Not at all. It rested with Maggie to
go or stay. If she was incompetent I
wasn't bound to keep her just because
she'd had a baby. At that rate I should
have been completely in her power.'
  Lizzie said she thought Maggie's baby          [FE]
would have died in any case, and they
both hoped that Harriett wasn't going to
be morbid about it.
  Harriett felt sustained. She wasn't
going to be morbid. All the same, the
episode left her with a feeling of insecurity.

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