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TIME PASSEScayed. Toads had nosed their way in. Idly, aim-lessly, the swaying shawl swung to and fro. A thistlethrust itself between the tiles in the larder. Theswallows nested in the drawing-room; the floor wasstrewn with straw; the plaster fell in shovelfuls;rafters were laid bare; rats carried off this and thatto gnaw behind the wainscots. Tortoise-shell butter-flies burst from the chrysalis and pattered their lifeout on the window-pane. Poppies sowed themselvesamong the dahlias; the lawn waved with long grass;giant artichokes towered among roses; a fringedcarnation flowered among the cabbages; while thegentle tapping of a weed at the window had become,on winters’ nights, a drumming from sturdy treesand thorned briars which made the whole roomgreen in summer.

What power could now prevent the fertility, theinsensibility of nature? Mrs. McNab’s dream of alady, of a child, of a plate of milk soup? It hadwavered over the walls like a spot of sunlight andvanished. She had locked the door; she had gone.It was beyond the strength of one woman, she said.They never sent. They never wrote. There werethings up there rotting in the drawers—it was ashame to leave them so, she said. The place wasgone to rack and ruin. Only the Lighthouse beamentered the rooms for a moment, sent its sudden207