Chapter Seventeen

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Rosalind and Portia stood in the threshold of their father's closet, staring in.

Her sister shook her head. "I don't want to do this, Rosalind."

"We have to clear out his things. You don't want Mum to do it, do you?"

"No," Portia admitted reluctantly. "Mother will most likely create a bonfire on South Street with his belongings."

And no one would blame her.

"I don't like this closet," she declared.

Portia glanced at her. "That's strange, since you have a penchant for them. You were always hiding in Mother's closet when we were children."

"Mum's closet is orderly."

"Father's closet is orderly, too."

To the point of being irritating. She took a blue dress shirt and stuck it right in the middle of all the white ones. "That's better."

Portia put it back in its original place. "I don't think we should do this now."

Ignoring her sister, she pulled out a drawer. "Where are those boxes Fran said she put in here?"

"He only just died," Portia said, pushing the drawer closed and standing in front of it. "It's too soon."

"I know it seems like it's too soon, but it won't make any difference whether we do this now or next week." She put a hand on her sister's shoulder. "It's going to be difficult regardless of the day, Portia. But his memory will always be with you."

Portia shook her head. "Obviously I care about him more than any of the rest of you. You're all so willing to erase his memory, but I'm not going to let you."

"He doesn't deserve your loyalty and goodness."

"Yes, he did. He was the best."

Rosalind stared at her sister. "Are we both talking about the man who died with his mistress next to him?"

"Of course he had a mistress," Portia retorted. "If you had to live with Mother, you'd get a mistress, too."

Her eyes narrowed as her temper rose. "Did you ever think Mum's the way she is because Father was such a bastard?"

"Don't talk about him that way." Portia opened the drawer and threw a rolled up pair of argyle socks at her.

Arms crossed, Rosalind let it bounce off her chest. "He was a bastard. He never did anything kind for anyone, and for all his belief in Honour and Family he treated all of us with callous disregard. Acting like this isn't going to make him come back, or make him love you."

"You're just awful."

She sighed. "I'm sorry, Portia. I didn't mean that."

"Yes, you did."

"Okay, I did. But I didn't mean to be cruel. She reached for a handle. "I know this is upsetting you, so just let me get it done. You don't have to be here."

"No." Her sister wrestled to keep it shut. "Leave it."

Rosalind yanked on it, trying to push Portia out of the way. Her sister lost her footing and fell backward onto a shelf of sweaters that came tumbling down. The drawer pulled all the way out, crashing onto the floor.

"Rosalind," Portia cried, struggling to get off the pile of wool and cashmere. "Don't touch anything."

She wasn't, because she could hardly believe her eyes. She tossed the few T-shirts left in the drawer aside and looked at the drawer's depth.

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