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Friday evening, 29 December 1899

I know she wrote diaries from a young age. And where she kept them. But I never read them, because you don't do something like that. Until I found them beside her bed the day before yesterday when, after everything was over, I tried desperately to smell her in her pillow.

I thought I knew her, my blood sister, yet nothing could be further from the truth. I thought we had no secrets from each other because we always stayed together. Not because we chose to, but at some point in life you realise that the other was and is always there. We were inseparable. Is it possible to share your life with someone and yet not know her? That you think you know all her secrets yet are incapable of seeing her for who she is? To feel what she feels? Did I sell her short? Could I have turned the tide?    


Wednesday, October 31, 1877

  'What's the matter Hetty?'
I was worried about her. She was so quiet again that morning, as was often the case in the weeks after Dottie's death. Sam was a lively baby and kept her quite busy and when he was asleep and she had a moment's rest, she often just sat staring out of the window. The book she was reading had been lying on the same page open on the little table next to her by the window for days.
  'No, really.'
I had just helped mum wash herself, she was still confined to bed and needed help with the simplest things. It was still too early for lunch.
  'Would you perhaps like a cup of tea, Hetty?'
  'Yes, please' she replied monotonously.
The cooker was still hot, we always stoked it up in the morning and then kept the fire smouldering all day so that when hot water was needed we didn't have to wait too long. About five minutes later, I brewed the full jug of Bergamot tea with a bowl of butter biscuits between us on the dining table. She had been crying.
  'You've been crying.'
  'So what? Don't you ever cry?' She looked at me uncomfortably angry.
  'You miss her, don't you?' She nodded.
  'It's all so different now.'
  'Thank goodness Sam is here.'
he said: 'I'm never going to get married later, though.'
  'Why not?' I looked at her in surprise.
  'You see what happened to mum, don't you? And dad has alsochanged a lot.
  'But you're not mum or dad, are you? Who knows, you might later have a very nice boyfriend.
  'I'd rather not.'
  'Then what do you want Hetty? Soon you'll become such an old maid.' 
  'You don't have a boyfriend either. Do you want to get married sometimes?'
  'Never thought about it. Maybe, if I find a nice actor .'
  'An actor? They're all imposters, aren't they? Prostitutes?'
For a moment, she laughed.
  'Well, a director then or a playwright. Or even better a rich theatre director so I get all the big roles from him.'
  'I don't believe it, Ada.'
  'Neither do I.'
We silently drank our tea. Then Hetty said: 'father is not nice to us at all.'
  'You can't say that. It's not easy for him either.'
  'Yet it is.'
  'He'll be fine, you know. He'll turn around in a while.' 
  'You think so?'