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Authors: Anne Melville

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‘You're a Pollyanna,' said Trish.

‘What's that?'

‘You gave me the book yourself, don't you remember, when I was about ten. Pollyanna was so determined to see the good side of everything that when she was given a pair of crutches for Christmas out of the charity box, she didn't cry at getting something so useless. She was just happy that she didn't need to use them.'

They laughed together. Then Grace buried the past by prodding the dead leaves of many winters back to conceal the pieces of slate.

‘I'll accept your offer of a drive back up the hill,' she said. ‘Come and find me by the boulders.'

Walking even more cautiously without Trish's helping hand, she made her way alongside the stream before lowering herself
gratefully to the mossy ground of the clearing. There she leaned back against one of the huge boulders and stared at the other. Short though it was, this excursion had been too much for her. It was almost impossible to recall the feeling of strength which she had taken for granted until a year or two ago – striding out on walks, hammering for hours at her carvings.

The boulders brought other memories, and these were what she had come to indulge. By these great rocks, rubbed smooth during the millennia of glacial movement, she had first fallen in love with Andy and later wept for the loss of him. Here, many years later, their love had been consummated. Here too she had brought her aunt to mourn a dead lover.

More importantly, it was here that, while searching for some way in which to express her grief after the death of her eldest brother, she found consolation in carving a memorial to him from the fallen branch of a tree. The two pieces of slate on Pepper's grave represented the instinctive reaction of a six-year-old to death, but it was within the atmosphere created by these ancient boulders that as an adult she had begun her life's work.

How peaceful the clearing was. Soon, if the council had its way, traffic would be thundering only a few yards away, but for the moment there was no sound to be heard except the thudding of her own heart. No birds sang and even the nearby stream moved in silence. So quiet was it that she could hear Trish starting the engine of her car at the top of the hill.

Grace lay back, waiting. She stretched her arms backwards, attempting to encircle the boulders; but they were too large. She had to be content with the feel of the stone – smooth in shape but rough in texture – beneath her fingers. Sighing with satisfaction, she pressed harder, as though pulling herself backwards into the centre of the stone.

The dull ache inside her body which nowadays never left her was sharpened by the effort into pain; but this was almost at once washed away by a more sinister sensation. She had suffered haemorrhages before and so was able to recognize that
this was another; but for the first time Mercy was not on hand with the necessary medication to check the flow. There was a pill in her pocket now, if she could reach it: she was never without one. Instinctively she brought her arms forward, preparing to search her pockets for the tiny pill box. Then, restraining herself, she sat still.

What was the point? By quick action she might secure for herself another few weeks of life. But the sculpture which she had always known would be her last work was finished. More importantly, she had had the necessary chat with Trish, bringing to a satisfactory end the relationship which had brought her so much happiness. Trish would be all right. Greystones would be all right. Grace leaned back peacefully, listening to the sound of the car as it wound its way down the drive. Then the engine stopped.

A Note on the Author

Anne Melville
is a pseudonym of Margaret Potter (1926–1998), a daughter of the author and lecturer Bernard Newman. She read Modern History at Oxford as a scholar of St Hugh's College, and after graduating she taught and travelled in the Middle East. On returning to England, she edited a children's magazine for a few years, but later devoted all her working time to writing.

Discover books by Anne Melville published by Bloomsbury Reader at
www.bloomsbury.com/AnneMelville

Lorimers at War
Lorimers in Love
Lorimer Loyalties
The Last of the Lorimers
The Lorimer Legacy
The Lorimer Line

The House of Hardie
Grace Hardie
The Hardie Inheritance

For copyright reasons, any images not belonging to the original author have been removed from this book. The text has not been changed, and may still contain references to missing images.

This electronic edition published in 2014 by Bloomsbury Reader

Bloomsbury Reader is a division of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 50 Bedford Square,
London WC1B 3DP

First published in Great Britain in 1990 by Grafton Books

Copyright © 1990 Anne Melville

All rights reserved
You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (including without limitation electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

The moral right of the author is asserted.

eISBN: 9781448214396

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BOOK: The Hardie Inheritance
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