FOR ALL THE SAINTS
people things they don't want to know.
It was bright moonlight at the station. Small groups of people stood around waiting to see others off in a rail-car that looked much to small and toy-like for the long journey round the foot of the hills that lay to the north-west of the town. Alice gripped my arm till my eyes watered, and then she mistook that for something else, and gripped harder still.
“Goodbye, goodbye.” she waved out of the window, the plume shedding feathers over everything near her, “see you soon, Jacko, goodbye.”
But I never saw Alice again. I stayed on at the hospital for the rest of the summer, and then went south to another job, and Alice hadn't returned before I left. Auntie must be sick, I thought, or maybe it's taking her longer to fix the farm than she expected. Several months later I received a letter from my mother. “I've got some news for you,” she wrote. “Alice came back not long ago, but her place in the kitchen was taken, so they found her a job in the laundry. She got on all right at first, but soon there was more of the old trouble, and when she nearly strangled one of the other women, things came to a head, and they had her put away quietly. There was quite a bit about it in the paper, but of course she wouldn't know that. Poor Alice. Do you remember how she played the piano that night and showed us a photo of John Buchan? And oh, my dear, till your dying days, will you ever forget that hat?”