The Present

They say that blood is thicker than water, that our relatives are more important to us than others. Everyone

was so kind to the old lady on her birthday. Surely her daughter would make an even bigger effort to please he?

  The Present

  It was the old lady's birthday.
  She got up early to be ready for the post. From the second floor flat she could see the postman when he came

down the street, and the little boy from the ground floor brought up her letters on the rare occasions when

anything came.
  Today she was sure the would be something. Myra wouldn't forget her mother's birthday, even if she seldom

wrote at other times. Of course Myra was busy. Her husband had been made Mayor, and Myra herself had got a medal

for her work the aged.
  The old lady was proud of Myra, but Enid was the daughter she loved. Enid had never married, but had seemed

content to live with her mother, and teach in a primary school round the corner.
  One evening, however, Enid said, "I've arranged for Mrs. Morrison to look after you for a few days, Mother.

Tomorrow I have to go into hospital--just a minor operation, I'll soon be home."
  In the morning she went, but never came back--she died on the operating table. Myra came to the funeral, and

in her efficient way arranged for Mrs. Morrison to come in and light the fire and give the old lady her

  Two years ago that was, and since then Myra had been to see her mother three times, but her husband never.
  The old lady was eight today. She had put on her best dress. Perhaps--perhaps Myra might come. After all,

eighty was a special birthday, another decade lined or endured just as you chose to look at it.
  Even if Myra did not come, she would send a present. The old lady was sure of that. Two spots of colour

brightened her cheeks. She was excited--like a child. She would enjoy her day.
  Yesterday Mrs. Morrison had given the flat an extra clean, and today she had brought a card and a bunch of

marigolds when she came to do the breakfast. Mrs. Grant downstairs had made a cake, and in the afternoon she was

going down there to tea. The little boy, Johnnie, had been up with a packet of mints, and said he wouldn't go

out to play until the post had come.
  "I guess you'll get lots and lots of presents," he said, "I did last were when I was six."
  What would she like? A pair of slippers perhaps. Or a new cardigan. A cardigan would be lovely. Blue's such

a pretty colour. Jim had always liked her in blue. Or a table lamp. Or a book, a travel book, with piures, or a

little clock, with clear black numbers. So many lovely things.
  She stood by the window, watching. The postman turned round the corner on his bicycle. Her heart beat fast.

Johnnie had seen him too and ran to the gate.
  Then clatter, clatter up the stairs. Johnnie knocked at her door.
  "Granny, granny," he shouted, "I've got your post."
  He gave her four envelopes. Three were unsealed cards from old friends. The fourth was sealed, in Myra's

writing. The old lady felt a pang of disappointment.
  "No parcel, Johnnie?"
  "No, granny."
  Maybe the parcel was too large to come by letter post. That was it. It would come later by parcel post. She

must be patient.
  Almost reluantly she tore the envelope open. Folded in the card was a piece of paper. Written on the card

was a message under the printed Happy Birthday -- Buy yourself something nice with the cheque, Myra and Harold.
  The cheque fluttered to the floor like a bird with a broken wing. Slowly the old lady stooped to pick it up.

Her present, her lovely present. With trembling fingers she tore it into little bits.

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