I do not know much about the business of writing wills, but I know a great deal about the business of being ill and it is a very dreadful business indeed.

It entails being holed up in one's room for months at a time, and not having any visitors, and not being able to play when the sun is out. Being ill means knitting and sewing and quiet time all the time. I have been ill for three years now; my footservant Hara--who is yellow, wrinkled and cross-eyed, which makes her bitter--says that if I write a will, the sickness will hurry up and kill me. She should like this.

As I am weary of constant knitting and sewing and quiet time, I should like this too.

Henceforth follows my will. Ahem.

As I said, I am not well schooled in the business of writing wills. Mistress Harrington, you shall have to forgive me for my poor penmanship, as I am in a hurry to put down my final words. By the time you read this, however, you may be all choked up with tears at my departure and will not mind the impatient lettering.

Fear not: To cheer you up, I am leaving you my leather-bound collection of Shakespeare, because every time you sneak into my room to borrow them while I am sleeping, the sound wakes me up.

I have never told you this; I knew if I let on that you are not a very good spy, you would stop sneaking into my room to borrow my Shakespeare. I like the company. But now all the Shakespeare is yours, and if you happen to come across that bottle of purple ink I lost two months ago, that is also yours.

Now, to Mother. Do you remember those furs that Grandmother sent from France two years ago? They are too large for me now, so I expect they'll fit you just fine, though the sleeves may have to be let down a bit. Do be careful. Grandmother said the buttons were made from the skin of dead priests, and so if one were to pop off she would be very upset.

I do not like Grandmother to be upset; it is most horrible for her heart, and if she dies I will no longer be around to inherit anything. She dislikes you and Father, so all of her nice things would go to Kent. He would probably eat them.

And so, to my teething brother Kent, who should no longer be teething because he is eleven, I am leaving all my schoolbooks. Just rip off the leather covers and one of the maids will show you how to sew them into a ball. Please learn to play cricket properly so the girls next door will stop winning. That is part of what makes Father so cross.

To Father.

To Father.

I don't know what to leave you. I don't know what to say. Your whiskey-rage broke Kent's legs so now he loses at cricket. You burned my footservant Hara with your cigar until she became yellow and bitter, and then you shot Grandmother when she threatened to call the priests on you. You could have used that exorcism.

You shipped those tainted coats to India to make a fast penny, but forgot to tell Mother before she gave me one of those coats for Christmas, along with the Shakespeare. Now the coats have made me deathly ill and the Shakespeare has given me a headache.

But when we burned the coat, you were crying. When Kent helped me to bed, you said you were sorry and reminded me to say my prayers every day so I would get better soon. You bought Hara bandages that hid her yellow face. You made sure that Mistress Harrington checked on me every night, while I was sleeping, and you had her pretend to steal my Shakespeare so I wouldn't know that you told her to visit.

I know without a doubt that you love me, or at least tolerate me. What do I leave you?

To Father. Socks.