SHE was aware of her drowsy, supine [FE] [MS] dependence on Maggie. At first her perishing self asserted itself in an increased reserve and arrogance. Thus she pro- tected herself from her own censure. She had still a feeling of satisfaction in her exclusiveness, her power not to call on new people. 'I think,' Lizzie Pierce said, 'you might have called on the Brailsfords.' 'Why should I? I should have nothing [MS] in common with such people.' 'Well, considering that Mr Brailsford writes in The Spectator--' Harriett called. She put on her gray silk and her soft white mohair shawl, [FE] and her wide black hat tied under her chin, and called. It was on a Saturday. The Brailsfords' room was full of visitors, men and women, talking excitedly. Dorothy was not there--Dorothy was married. Mimi was not there--Mimi was dead. Harriett made her way between the chairs, dim-eyed, upright, and stiff in her white shawl. She apologised for having waited seven years before calling. ... 'Never go anywhere.... Quite a recluse since my father's death. He was Hilton Frean.' 'Yes?' Mrs Brailsford's eyes were sweetly interrogative. 'But as we are such near neighbours I felt that I must break my rule.' Mrs Brailsford smiled in vague benevo- [FE] lence; yet as if she thought that Miss Frean's feeling and her action were un- necessary. After seven years. And pre- sently Harriett found herself alone in her corner. She tried to talk to Mr Brailsford when [MS] he handed her the tea and bread and butter. 'My father,' she said, 'was con- nected with The Spectator for many years. He was Hilton Frean.' 'Indeed? I'm afraid Idon't remember.' She could get nothing out of him, out of his lean, ironical face, his eyes screwed up behind his glasses, benevolent, amused at her. She was nobody in that roomful of keen, intellectual people; nobody; nothing but an unnecessary little old lady who had come there uninvited. Her second call was not returned. She [FE] heard that the Brailsfords were exclusive; they wouldn't know anybody out of their own set. Harriett explained her position thus: 'No. I didn't keep it up. We have nothing in common.' She was oldold. She had nothing in common with youth, nothing in common with middle-age, with intellectual exclusive people connected with The Spec- tator. She said, 'The Spectator is not what it used to be in my father's time.' Harriett Frean was not what she used to be. She was aware of the creeping fret, the poisons and obstructions of decay. [MS] It was as if she had parted with her own light, elastic body, and succeeded to some- body else's that was all bone, heavy, stiff, irresponsive to her will. Her brain felt [FE] swollen and brittle, she had a feeling of tiredness in her face, of infirmity about her mouth. Her looking-glass showed her the fallen yellow skin, the furrowed lines of age. Her head dropped, drowsy, giddy over the week's accounts. She gave up even the semblance of her housekeeping, and be- came permanently dependent on Maggie. She was happy in the surrender of her responsibility, of the grown-up self she had maintained with so much effort, clinging to Maggie, submitting to Maggie, as she had clung and submitted to her mother. Her affection concentrated on two ob- jects, the house and Maggie, Maggie and the house. The house had become a part of herself, an extension of her body, [FE] a protective shell. She was uneasy when away from it. The thought of it drew her with passion: the low brown wall with the railing, the flagged path from the little green gate to the front door. The square brown front; the two oblong, white-framed windows, the dark green trellis porch between; the three windows above. And the clipped privet bush by [MS] the trellis and the may-tree by the gate. She no longer enjoyed visiting her friends. She set out in peevish resignation, leaving her house, and when she had sat half an hour with Lizzie or Sarah or Connie she would begin to-fidget, miser- able till she got back to it again; to the house and Maggie. She was glad enough when Lizzie came to her; she still liked Lizzie best. They [FE] would sit together, one on each side of the fireplace, talking. Harriett's voice came thinly through her thin lips, precise yet plaintive, Lizzie's finished with a snap of the bent-in jaws. 'Do you remember those little round hats we used to wear? You had one exactly like mine. Connie wouldn't wear them.' 'We were wild young things,' said Lizzie. 'I was wilder than you.... A little audacious thing.' 'And look at us nowwe couldn't say "Bo" to a goose.... Well, we may be thankful we haven't gone stout like Connie Pennefather.' 'Or poor Sarah. That stoop.' They drew themselves up. Their [FE] straight, slender shoulders rebuked Con- nie's obesity, and Sarah's bent back, her [MS] bodice stretched hump-wise from the stuck-out ridges of her stays. Harriett was glad when Lizzie went and left her to Maggie and the house. She always hoped she wouldn't stay for tea, so that Maggie might not have an extra cup and plate to wash. The years passed: the sixty-third, sixty- fourth; sixty-fifth; their monotony miti- gated by long spells of torpor and the sheer rapidity of time. Her mind was carried on, empty, in empty, flying time. She had a feeling of dryness and dis- tension in all her being, and a sort of crepitation in her brain, irritating her to yawning fits. After meals, sitting in her arm-chair, her book would drop from [FE] her hands and her mind would slip from drowsiness into stupor. There was some- thing voluptuous about the beginning of this state; she would give herself up to it with an animal pleasure and content. Sometimes, for long periods, her mind would go backwards, returning, always returning to the house in Black's Lane. She would see the row of elms and the white wall at the end with the green balcony hung out like a bird-cage above the green door. She would see herself, a girl wearing a big chignon and a little [MS] round hat; or sitting in the curly chair with her feet on the white rug; and her father, slender and straight, smiling half- amused, while her mother read aloud to them. Or she was a child in a black silk apron going up Black's Lane. Little [FE] audacious thing. She had a fondness and admiration for this child and her audacity. And always she saw her mother, with her sweet face between the long hanging curls, coming down the garden path, in a wide silver-gray gown trimmed with narrow bands of black velvet. And she would wake up, surprised to find herself sitting in a strange room, dressed in a gown with strange sleeves that ended in old wrinkled hands; for the book that lay in her lap was Longfellow, open at Evangeline. One day she made Maggie pull off the old, washed-out cretonne covers, exposing the faded blue rep. She was back in the drawing-room of her youth. Only one tiling was missing. She went upstairs and took the blue egg out of the spare [FE] room and set it in its place on the marble- topped table. She sat gazing at it a long time in happy, child-like satisfaction. [MS] The blue egg gave reality to her return. When she saw Maggie coming in with the tea and buttered scones she thought of her mother. Three more years. Harriett was sixty- eight. She had a faint recollection of having given Maggie notice, long ago, there, in the dining-room. Maggie had stood on the hearth-rug, in her large white apron, crying. She was crying now. She said she must leave and go and take care of her mother. 'Mother's getting very feeble now.' 'I'm getting very feeble, too, Maggie. [FE] It's cruel and unkind of you to leave me.' 'I'm sorry, ma'am. I can't help it.' She moved about the room, sniffing and sobbing as she dusted. Harriett couldn't bear it any more. 'If you can't control yourself,' she said, 'go into the kitchen.' Maggie went. Harriett sat before the fire in her chair, straight and stiff, making no sound. Now and then her eyelids shook, fluttered red rims; slow, scanty tears oozed and fell, their trail glistening in the long furrows of her cheeks.