Maude sat at her dressing table in her nightgown. She had been sitting there for an hour, since the first light crept around the edges of the heavy curtains, and gave her permission to get out of bed. She hadn’t slept well, hasn’t been sleeping well in fact, but tried not to wonder why. She got up with the intention of getting dressed quickly and making her way down to the library before the rest of the house, but once she sat down to begin she found she couldn’t get up again. There would be no one to help her dress until Liv was ready, but Liv rose so late that Maude was used to dressing herself, so her inertia was not due to that.

She reached out and touched the back of the hairbrush, and the engraved silver was cool under her finger tips. The mirror that matched it had been broken in her trunk on the way here. When she had lifted it out she had cried, because it wasn’t the only thing to have made the journey and suffered. Aunt Edith had held her hand, not unkindly but not warmly either, and said it would be sent to be mended. It had never come back. She was younger then and hadn’t dared ask about it. She remembered Liv in the doorway, her long arms stretched up in an effort to reach the top of the doorframe, oblivious to Maude’s distress.
She lifted the lid of her jewelry box, another possession of her mother’s, and pushed at the meagre trinkets inside. Her mother’s engagement ring was the only thing of real value, even if it was ugly and old-fashioned. Maude closed the lid before she could think again about selling it, taking the money and running off to a small village somewhere to teach in a small school, or taking a boat to Canada. No one would follow her to Canada.

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