Speaking of local legends: everybody back then must have known what had happened in the Place. I mean, they lived through it, right? Only nobody ever wrote down any of the details. Not even Mrs. Haversham. Nothing public, nothing on the record. Not even when she was writing letters to the editor or putting questions to the town council.
And almost nobody talked about her, either. The only person who ever did was my dad, and he was a kid when all of this was happening, so he just remembers a few things. Like how tired and smaller Mrs. Haversham got, the longer she went on. Like she was burning a candle inside her, my dad said. You could see the light guttering behind her eyes. Then I guess she got sick. The death notice in the paper said ‘after a short illness,’ and one surviving member of her family told me that meant cancer.
“It was quick,” Henrietta Fletcher said as we sat on her porch. She was Haversham’s husband’s niece, and was pretty bright-eyed for somebody in her nineties. “And that was a mercy for poor Aunt Millie. The doctor said it was a tumor in the brain. I suppose they could treat it now, but back then we didn’t have all these computers and drugs. All we could do was make her comfortable.”