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The Interruption
by [?]

“The bacon is excellent,” said her smiling master, “so is the coffee; but your coffee always is.”

Hannah smiled in return, and, taking fresh eggs from a rosy-cheeked maid, put them before him.

A pipe, followed by a brisk walk, cheered him still further. He came home glowing with exercise and again possessed with that sense of freedom and freshness. He went into the garden—now his own—and planned alterations.

After lunch he went over the house. The windows of his wife’s bedroom were open and the room neat and airy. His glance wandered from the made-up bed to the brightly polished furniture. Then he went to the dressing-table and opened the drawers, searching each in turn. With the exception of a few odds and ends they were empty. He went out on to the landing and called for Hannah.

“Do you know whether your mistress locked up any of her things?” he inquired.

“What things?” said the woman.

“Well, her jewellery mostly.”

“Oh!” Hannah smiled. “She gave it all to me,” she said quietly.

Goddard checked an exclamation. His heart was beating nervously, but he spoke sternly.


“Just before she died—of gastro-enteritis,” said the woman.

There was a long silence. He turned and with great care mechanically closed the drawers of the dressing-table. The tilted glass showed him the pallor of his face, and he spoke without turning round.

“That is all right, then,” he said huskily. “I only wanted to know what had become of it. I thought, perhaps, Milly

Hannah shook her head. “Milly’s all right,” she said, with a strange smile. “She’s as honest as we are. Is there anything more you want, sir?”

She closed the door behind her with the quietness of the well-trained servant; Goddard, steadying himself with his hand on the rail of the bed, stood looking into the future.


The days passed monotonously, as they pass with a man in prison. Gone was the sense of freedom and the idea of a wider life. Instead of a cell, a house with ten rooms—but Hannah, the jailer, guarding each one. Respectful and attentive, the model servant, he saw in every word a threat against his liberty his life. In the sullen face and cold eyes he saw her knowledge of power; in her solicitude for his comfort and approval, a sardonic jest. It was the master playing at being the servant. The years of unwilling servitude were over, but she felt her way carefully with infinite zest in the game. Warped and bitter, with a cleverness which had never before had scope, she had entered into her kingdom. She took it little by little, savouring every morsel.

“I hope I’ve done right, sir,” she said one morning. “I have given Milly notice.”

Goddard looked up from his paper. “Isn’t she satisfactory?” he inquired.

“Not to my thinking, sir,” said the woman. “And she says she is coming to see you about it. I told her that would be no good.”

“I had better see her and hear what she has to say,” said her master.

“Of course, if you wish to,” said Hannah; “only, after giving her notice, if she doesn’t go I shall. I should be sorry to go I’ve been very comfortable here—but it’s either her or me.”

“I should be sorry to lose you,” said Goddard in a hopeless voice.

“Thank you, sir,” said Hannah. “I’m sure I’ve tried to do my best. I’ve been with you some time now—and I know all your little ways. I expect I understand you better than anybody else would. I do all I can to make you comfortable.”

“Very well, I leave it to you,” said Goddard in a voice which strove to be brisk and commanding. “You have my permission to dismiss her.”

“There’s another thing I wanted to see you about,” said Hannah; “my wages. I was going to ask for a rise, seeing that I’m really house-keeper here now.”

“Certainly,” said her master, considering, “that only seems fair. Let me see what are you getting?”


Goddard reflected for a moment and then turned with a benevolent smile. “Very well,” he said cordially, “I’ll make it forty-two. That’s ten shillings a month more.”

“I was thinking of a hundred,” said Hannah dryly.

The significance of the demand appalled him. “Rather a big jump,” he said at last. “I really don’t know that I—”