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I did not want to talk about Dennis. Since he had left me I never wanted to talk of him. His long absence had meant pain from the first, then agony. Afterwards the agony became physical, and they called it neuritis. Now it has pierced some vital part and I don't even know what they call it. Decline, consumption, tuberculosis? What does it matter? In the two years he had been away my heart had bled to death. That was the truth and the whole truth. No one knew my trouble and I had spoken of it to nobody save once, in early days, to Ella. Ella indignantly had said the boy was selfish to leave me, and so closed my confidence. It is natural our children should wish to leave us, they make their trial flights, like the birds, joyously. My son wanted to see the world, escape from thraldom, try his wings. But I had only this one. And it seemed to me from his letters that he was never out of danger, now with malaria, and in Australia with smallpox. The last time I heard he had been caught in a typhoon. After that my health declined rapidly. But it was not his fault.

"And Dennis?"

"Since you know so much you can hear the rest. I married at eighteen. I forget what my husband was like. I've no recollection of his ever having interested me particularly. Married life itself I abhorred, I abhor. But it gave me Dennis. My husband died when I was two-and-twenty. Ever