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SHE sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned
against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She
was tired.
Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard
his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the
cinder path before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which
they used to play every evening with other people's children. Then a man from Belfast
bought the field and built houses in it--not like their little brown houses but bright brick
houses with shining roofs. The children of the avenue used to play together in that field -
-the Devines, the Waters, the Dunns, little Keogh the cripple, she and her brothers and
sisters. Ernest, however, never played: he was too grown up. Her father used often to
hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick; but usually little Keogh used to
keep nix and call out when he saw her father coming. Still they seemed to have been
rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive.
That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up her
mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to
England. Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave
her home.
Home! She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had
dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came
from. Perhaps she would never see again those familiar objects from which she had
never dreamed of being divided. And yet during all those years she had never found out
the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken
harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary
Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the
photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:
"He is in Melbourne now."
She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weigh
each side of the question. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those
whom she had known all her life about her. O course she had to work hard, both in the
house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out
that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would
be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad. She had always had an edge
on her, especially whenever there were people listening.
"Miss Hill, don't you see these ladies are waiting?"
"Look lively, Miss Hill, please."