If Hugh was gone forever, then with him had gone all her love of living, her courage, all her better self. She
wanted to be lifted out of the despair, the dazed aimless drifting from day to day, longing at night for the
morning, and in the morning for the fall of night, which had been her life since his death. If somebody could
assure her that it was not all over, that he was somewhere, not too far away, unchanged from what he had been
here, with his crisp hair and rather slow smile and lean brown face, that he saw her sometimes, that he had not
forgotten her. . . .
'Oh, Hugh, darling!'
When she looked up again the woman was sitting there before her. Mrs. Wilton had not heard her come in.
With her experience, wide enough now, of seers and fortune-tellers of all kinds, she saw at once that this
woman was different from the others. She was used to the quick appraising look, the attempts, sometimes
clumsy, but often cleverly disguised, to collect some fragments of information whereupon to erect a plausible
vision. But this woman looked as if she took it out of herself.
Not that her appearance suggested intercourse with the spiritual world more than the others had done; it
suggested that, in fact, considerably less. Some of the others were frail, yearning, evaporated creatures, and
the ex-priest in Paris had something terrible and condemned in his look. He might well sup with the devil, that
man, and probably did in some way or other.
But this was a little fat, weary-faced woman about fifty, who only did not look like a cook because she looked
more like a sempstress. Her black dress was all covered with white threads. Mrs. Wilton looked at her with
some embarrassment. It seemed more reasonable to be asking a woman like this about altering a gown than
about intercourse with the dead. That seemed even absurd in such a very commonplace presence. The woman
seemed timid and oppressed: she breathed heavily and kept rubbing her dingy hands, which looked moist, one
over the other; she was always wetting her lips, and coughed with a little dry cough. But in her these signs of
nervous exhaustion suggested overwork in a close atmosphere, bending too close over the sewing-machine.
Her uninteresting hair, like a rat's pelt, was eked out with a false addition of another color. Some threads had
got into her hair too.
Her harried, uneasy look caused Mrs. Wilton to ask compassionately: 'Are you much worried by the police?'
'Oh, the police! Why don't they leave us alone? You never know who comes to see you. Why don't they leave
me alone? I'm a good woman. I only think. What I do is no harm to any one.' . . .
She continued in an uneven querulous voice, always rubbing her hands together nervously. She seemed to the
visitor to be talking at random, just gabbling, like children do sometimes before they fall asleep.
'I wanted to explain----' hesitated Mrs. Wilton.
But the woman, with her head pressed close against the back of the chair, was staring beyond her at the wall.
Her face had lost whatever little expression it had; it was blank and stupid. When she spoke it was very slowly
and her voice was guttural.