NEW people had come to the house next [FE] [MS] door. Harriett saw a pretty girl going in and out. She had not called; she was not going to call. Their cat came over the garden wall and bit off the blades of the irises. When he sat down on the mignonette Harriett sent a note round by Maggie: 'Miss Frean presents her compli- ments to the lady next door and would be glad if she would restrain her cat.' Five minutes later the pretty girl ap- peared with the cat in her arms. 'I've brought Mimi,' she said. 'I want you to see what a darling he is.' Mimi, a Persian, all orange on the top and snow white underneath, climbed her [FE] breast to hang flattened out against her shoulder, long, the great plume of his tail fanning her. She swung round to show the innocence of his amber eyes and the pink arch of his mouth supporting his pink nose. 'I want to see my mignonette,' said Harriett. They stood together by the crushed ring where Mimi had made his bed. The pretty girl said she was sorry. [MS] 'But, you see, we can't restrain him. I don't know what's to be done.... Un- less you kept a cat yourself; then you won't mind.' 'But,' Harriett said, 'I don't like cats.' 'Oh, why not? ' Harriett knew why. A cat was a compromise, a substitute, a subterfuge. [FE] Her pride couldn't stoop. She was afraid of Mimi, of his enchanting play, and the soft white fur of his stomach. Maggie's baby. So she said, 'Because they destroy the beds. And they kill birds.' The pretty girl's chin burrowed in Mimi's neck. 'You won't throw stones at him?' she said. 'No, I wouldn't hurt him.... What did you say his name was?' 'Mimi.' Harriett softened. She remembered. 'When I was a little girl I had a cat called Mimi. White Angora. Very hand- some. And your name is--' 'Brailsford. I'm Dorothy.' Next time, when Mimi jumped on the lupins and broke them down, Dorothy came again and said she was sorry. And [FE] she stayed to tea. Harriett revealed herself. 'My father was Hilton Frean.' She [MS] had noticed for the last fifteen years that people showed no interest when she told them that. They even stared as though she had said something that had no sense in it. Dorothy said, 'How nice ? ' 'Nice?' 'I mean it must have been nice to have him for your father.... You don't mind my coming into your garden last thing to catch Mimi?' Harriett felt a sudden yearning for Dorothy. She saw a pleasure, a happiness, in her coming. She wasn't going to call, but she sent little notes in to Dorothy asking her to come to tea. Dorothy declined. But every evening, towards bed-time, [FE] she came into the garden to catch Mimi. Through the window Harriett could hear her calling: 'Mimi! Mimi!' She could see her in her white frock, moving about, hovering ready to pounce as Mimi dashed from the bushes. She thought: 'She walks into my garden as if it was her own. But she won't make a friend of me. She's young, and I'm old.' She had a piece of wire netting put up along the wall to keep Mimi out. [MS] 'That's the end of it,' she said. She could never think of the young girl without a pang of sadness and resentment. Fifty-five. Sixty. In her sixty-second year Harriett had her first bad illness. It was so like Sarah Barmby. Sarah got [FE] influenza and regarded it as a common cold, and gave it to Harriett who regarded it as a common cold and got pleurisy. When the pain was over she enjoyed her illness, the peace and rest of lying there, supported by the bed, holding out her lean arms to be washed by Maggie; closing her eyes in bliss while Maggie combed and brushed and plaited her fine gray hair. She liked having the same food at the same hours. She would look up, smiling weakly, when Maggie came at bed-time with the little tray. 'What have you brought me, now, Maggie?' ' Benger's Food, ma'am.' She wanted it to be always Benger's Food at bed-time. She lived by habit, by [MS] the punctual fulfilment of her expectation. She loved the doctor's visits at twelve [FE] o'clock, his air of brooding absorption in her case, his consultations with Maggie, the seriousness and sanctity he attached to the humblest details of her existence. Above all, she loved the comfort and protection of Maggie, the sight of Maggie's broad, tender face as it bent over her, the feeling of Maggie's strong arms as they supported her, the hovering pressure of the firm, broad body in the clean white apron and the cap. Her eyes rested on it with affection; she found shelter in Maggie as she had found it in her mother. One day she said, 'Why did you come to me, Maggie? Couldn't you have found a better place?' 'There was many wanted me. But I came to you, ma'am, because you seemed [FE] to sort of need me most. I dearly love looking after people. Old ladies and children. And gentlemen, if they're ill enough,' Maggie said. 'You're a good girl, Maggie.' She had forgotten. The image of Maggie's baby was dead, hidden, buried deep down in her mind. She closed her [MS] eyes. Her head was thrown back, motion- less, ecstatic under Maggie's flickering fingers as they plaited her thin wisps of hair. Out of the peace of illness she entered on the misery and long labour of con- valescence. The first time Maggie left her to dress herself she wept. She didn't want to get well. She could see nothing in recovery but the end of privilege and [FE] prestige, the obligation to return to a task she was tired of, a difficult and terrifying task. By summer she was up and (tremulously) about again.