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16.

I almost missed the first call.

The woman who answered was working late-it was ten past five already-and had forgotten to switch on the answering machine. She sounded very young and bored, and I felt my heart sink at the sound of her voice. I blurted my message through lips that felt oddly numb. Id have liked an older woman, one who would remember the war, one who might remember my mothers name, and for a moment I was sure shed hang up, shed tell me all that ancient history was finished now, that no one wanted to know any more

In my mind I even heard her say it. I stretched out my hand to cut the connection.

Madame? Madame? Her voice was urgent. Are you still there?

With an effort: Yes.

Did you say Mirabelle Dartigen?

Yes. Im her daughter. Framboise.

Wait. Please wait. The voice was almost breathless behind the professional politeness, all trace of boredom gone. Please. Dont go away.


| Five Quarters of the Orange | c







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