Silver Wattle
an allowance until this time, with the expectation that his business will eventually make him self-sufficient.’
    ‘I wonder if he knows that?’ asked Aunt Josephine. ‘I think he was expecting to be “kept” in the event of Marta’s death.’
    Doctor Holub’s eyes did not move from Aunt Josephine’s face. He was trying to tell her something he did not want to say in front of me. But I could guess what it was. If my mother’s will had not been altered since the time of her marriage to Milosh, then my stepfather would be the beneficiary should Klara and I both die before she reached twenty-one.
    I found it difficult to sleep that night. My dreams were haunted by images of Mother dying, her grave covered in lilies, and Milosh. I felt no love for my stepfather but his grief at Mother’s death seemed sincere. Now Doctor Holub had put terrible ideas in my head and, despite Aunt Josephine’s assurances, I could not forget them.
    Aunt Josephine looked as tired as I did the following day. Neither of us spoke over breakfast, which left the conversation up to Klara and Milosh and they did not have much to say. Aunt Josephine had stayed with us since Mother’s death, and I wondered, as she was to be our guardian, whether we would continue to live in our house or move to hers. Later in the morning, when I was in the courtyard garden, the question was answered. I heard Aunt Josephine talking with Milosh through the library window.
    ‘I understand that you are grieved by Marta’s death,’ Aunt Josephine said, ‘but the funeral was a few days ago and it is unseemly for you to continue to live under the same roof as your stepdaughters.’
    Aunt Josephine was being tactful and treading carefully. Milosh answered immediately.
    ‘Yes, I have prepared for that. I have taken an apartment. But I hope that I will have your permission to call on the girls? I have grown fond of them.’
    Milosh had never been fond of us. But perhaps he regretted his behaviour towards Mother and wanted to make up for it. I did not hear Aunt Josephine’s reply. But what could she have said? As unseemly as it would appear if Milosh continued to live under the same roof as us, it would be just as unseemly if all relations were suddenly cut off.
    ‘I will move my things tomorrow,’ Milosh promised.
    That night, I tossed and turned and had nightmares again. Although paní Milotova had assured me that Mother had been given sufficient morphine, I dreamt that she had been cut across the belly and was screaming. I woke with a start.
    What if Milosh had hired Doctor Hoffmann to kill Mother? It was far less suspicious to die of a medical condition in the presence of a doctor than to be poisoned or stabbed. If Mother had been murdered in those conventional ways, the suspicion would have immediately fallen on Milosh. I thought about whether the police could do anything, and decided they probably could not with only accusations and no evidence. Doctor Soucek’s demand for an autopsy would also be fruitless. The violation of Mother’s body would not prove anything: she would not have an appendix either way. Doctor Soucek would claim that he removed it years ago, and Doctor Hoffmann would say he’d had the diseased organ incinerated. My head swam with the appalling possibilities, but in the end I kept coming back to one thing. Milosh was arrogant, self-seeking and unpleasant, but was he capable of such an evil plan to get rid of Mother?
    I thought about Mother’s last day and how she had seemed well when I wished her goodbye in the morning. A few hours later she died in her bed.
    ‘Look in the chest.’
    Goose bumps prickled my arms. Those had been Mother’s last words to me. I had thought she was delirious and talking about a pain in her chest. Now I remembered the night she gave me Father’s camera from his chest in the attic.
    I climbed out of bed and opened the door. The hall was dark and quiet. I did not need a lamp to guide me because the bathroom was

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