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I told it to Margaret instead, and she had no interest in the news, none at all.

"I knew you were not going to die yet. Not until you had written my story."

"It seems not to matter," I answered feebly, "to be small and trivial."

"Work whilst ye have the light" she quoted. The words were in the room, in the air.

"It is not light, not very light," I pleaded.

"There has been no biography of me. How would you like it if it had been you? And all the critics said I would live..."

"Must I stay for that?"

"You promised, you know."

"Did I? I had forgotten."

"No, no. You could not forget, not even you. And you will make your readers cry."

"But if I make myself cry too? "


And I wrote, sick with exhaustion, without conscious volition or the power to stop. I wonder whether any other writer has ever had this experience. I could not stop writing although my arm swelled to an unnatural size and my side ached. I covered ream after ream of paper. I never stopped nor halted for word or thought. I was wearied, aching from head to foot, shaking and even crying with fatigue and the pain in my swollen arm or side, but never ceasing to write, like a galley slave