Edith Holland 60

A formidable family gathering, thought Edith, coming back: Herbert, Carrie, Charlies, William, and Kay; Mabel, Lavinia; Roland. They were in groups: the Hollands themselves, the sisters-in-law, the brother-in-law; then they sorted themselves out differently: Herbert and Mabel, Carrie and Roland; Charles; William and Lavinia; and then Kay all by himself. It was not often that they all met together, none missing – curious, Edith thought, that Death should be the convener, as though all the living rushed instantly together for protection and mutual support. Dear me, how old we all are. Herbert must be sixty-eight, and I’m sixty; and Father was over ninety, and Mother is eighty-eight. Edith, who had begun making a sum of their total ages, surprised them all by asking, ‘How old are you, Lavinia?’ Thus taken aback, they rebuked Edith by their stare; but that was Edith all over, she never listened to what was being said, and then suddenly came out with some irrelevant remark. Edith could have told them that all her life she had been trying to say what she meant, and had never yet succeeded.