A Change Of gender And Beyond
Chapter 8
by F.W. Hinton
          The night sky  had clouded over when Shaun reached the city.
          Her mother had  left  the  flat  weeks before the wedding to
          live with Pauline again.

          She had argued  with  Shaun  that  now  she  was about to be
          married she should  give  up the flat, which, in her opinion
          was an unnecessary  expense her future husband would have to

          Shaun let herself in, thankful she had retained the lease of
          the flat in  her  name  only.   To Shaun it was hers. It was
          home, here she  was  safe.  She  went  to  bed early feeling
          completely alone in  the  world. An edge of panic crept into
          her soul, that she knew would stay with her for years.

          Unable to sleep  she  sat  up  in  bed, stared into the inky

          " What if?"  she said aloud, voicing her thoughts, " what if
          what I've been  doing  all  my life has been totally wrong?.
          What if each  day  I live a lie, a life of deceit. Forced to
          wear a mask, like an actor on a stage. Not of my own choice,
          unable to do, unable to act as I would like, or as I feel."

          In the gray  light  of dawn she decided she wanted to escape
          into the world  rather  than from it. The most painful thing
          in  the  life   of   a  woman  who  wanted  change  was  the
          improbability of change.   She  knew  that unless she was an
          essentially  sound creature  the  thought  would  drive  her
          insane.  She tried  hard  not  to think of the happiness she
          had shared with  Maureen.  Of  the walks along the beach, of
          their love-making in the bedroom that was their haven at the
          cottage. She imagined the face of Robert Cockran, and forced
          him instantly from her mind.

          Shaun felt the  need  of  a  job  that  would keep her fully
          occupied.  Printing was  out  of  the question, the memories
          too painful.  Working  behind  a bar in an out-of-town hotel
          she thought was  not  for  her.  A Nanny? She dismissed idea
          instantly. House-work? Perhaps  as  a  maid.  Something that
          would take charge  of her life, similar to her work with the
          Army nurses. She  scanned  the  newspapers  for  a position,
          found one that  wanted  a  maid. The answer to her letter of
          application came back quickly, offering a position as second
          house-maid in the  Earl  of  Lancaster's  home at Teddington
          Manor. The letter  informed  her  that she would be on a two
          month  trial,  and   if  satisfactory  would  be  offered  a
          permanent position. A  rail  ticket  was  enclosed  for  her
          journey to Teddington.

          Shaun Cockran as  she  was now forced to be known arrived at
          Teddington railway station  feeling she was on the threshold
          of a new life. A limousine was waiting to collect her, a man
          in the uniform of a chauffeur moved forward to meet her.

          " You the new house-maid?"

          " Yes."

          " You're late."

          " The train was late. It wasn't my fault."

          The chauffeur grunted  picked  up her cases tossed them into
          the boot of  the  car  and  slammed down the lid. He marched
          round the gravel driveway and sat in the car.

          " Get in or walk," he told her.

          Shaun made no  comment  and  as  the  car  left  the railway
          station she took  in  the  beauty  of  the long drive to the
          Manor. On a  hill,  dwarfing  the  estate  worker's cottages
          stood a beautiful  Elizabethan  Manor.   They drove round to
          the servants quarters.  The chauffeur unloaded her cases and
          left her knocking  at  the  door. The cook welcomed her. She
          was shown to  a  room in the attic and told to report, ready
          for work at six the following morning.

          On her first morning she was taken upstairs to a room with a
          huge bed under a canopy. There was a figure propped up among
          masses of pillows.  The  figure  of  Lady Dorothea Lancaster
          taking breakfast in  bed,  doing  her  best  to decapitate a
          boiled egg. The  butler  informed her Ladyship that this was
          Shaun Cockran the new second house-maid.

          " You will  have  a good life here at the Manor," Madam told
          her, " as  long  as  you  behave, and Jordan finds your work
          satisfactory.  But remember  this  girl,  you  are  on a two
          months trial. Which  means any trouble and you will be given
          instant dismissal."

          The Earl of  Lancaster  sat in an easy chair in his library.
          His hair was  gray. The smoothness of his expansive brow was
          defaced by premature  wrinkles,  and now his once attractive
          face bore the  unmistakable look of dissipation. It appeared
          to Shaun, as  she  began her dusting that the man, as he sat
          behind his desk was old before his time. He was barely sixty
          and had spent most of his life in the Army.

          Madam, had, according  to gossip in the servants hall, found
          the Earl involved  in  romantic  situations  while they were
          living abroad and  had  brought the family back to the Manor
          on the death  of  his  father. She was determined to begin a
          new isolated life  in the country where she felt her husband
          would find little to tempt him.

          She had brought  their daughter out into society by herself,
          then packed her  off  to  Europe, never allowing the Earl to
          forget it.  She  treated him with open contempt, but with an
          icy politeness which  his  station  in  life demanded.  This
          made her husband  bad  tempered, and he would vent his anger
          on anyone who crossed his path.

          Shaun's life as  a  house-maid was a hard round of drudgery.
          Her day began  at  six am, and went on until seven thirty at
          night with meal  breaks  at  varying  times according to the
          whims of the  butler.   After work she usually went straight
          to bed leaving no time to brood, or even think about Maureen
          or Robbie.

          The  routine was  easy  to  follow,  making  beds,  cleaning
          bathrooms and dusting.  The  Earl  liked  to  supervise  the
          dusting of his  library  and study. If Shaun was not on time
          he could be heard all over the house bellowing for her.

          When there were  guests  the huge banqueting hall was opened
          for dinner parties.   The  extra  work  making  cook and the
          butler almost unbearable  and  the servants, including Shaun
          tried to keep out of their way.

          Every  where there  flowers.   The  gardener  brought  fresh
          flowers into the  house  each morning. It was one of Shaun's
          jobs to arrange  them,  after Jordan found her rearranging a
          vase in the  library, which the Earl, in one of his tantrums
          had sent crashing to the floor.

          At Christmas there  was  a  house-party.  Family and friends
          arriving from all over the country, staying for two weeks of
          extravagance.  When  Christmas  dinner  was  over  upstairs,
          Jordan joined the servants in their dinning room, where they
          ate the remains  of  the  turkey,  and the beef that had not
          even been carved,  As  Madam,  according to cook would never
          allow the same food to be served twice.

          Shaun wondered when  she,  and  the other servants would get
          their Christmas holidays.  She  spoke  to cook about it, who
          told her that  it  would be at least two weeks after all the
          guests had left.

          Cook would have  explained  the arrangements in more detail,
          but a bell  summoned Shaun to the master bedroom as the Earl
          began bellowing for his maid to tidy up his room.

          The Earl of Lancaster sat in his favourite chair resplendent
          in quilted dressing  gown  and  told  Shaun to turn down the
          bed, and dust  the  dressing  table which the first maid had
          forgotten that morning .

          When Shaun had  finished  she  turned to leave the room. The
          Earl, already standing,  his  dressing  gown swinging freely
          barred her way  to  the  door. She remembered last Christmas
          and thought how much she hated the festive season.

          He moved in  on  her.  Leant  with a hand at the side of her
          head on the  doorjamb.  He  smelt  of  brandy.  She caught a
          glimpse of his  pale  looking  thighs,  which  to Shaun were
          about as appetizing  as  uncooked turkey drumsticks. When he
          touched her with  his  other  hand  she  jumped.   He seemed
          oblivious to her  horror,  taking  her  reaction blindly for
          consent. He bent down to kiss her. For Shaun it was just too
          much.  She  brought   her  knee  hard  up  into  his  groin,
          remembering Maureen's husband and how much it hurt him.

          Aware that she  was  in  control of the situation. That this
          was the Lord and Master trying it on, Shaun knew she had him
          at her mercy.  Holding  his  hurt  he  began swearing at her
          demanding she leave  the  house immediately. She shivered as
          anger ran through  her.  Held  up  his  head  by  grabbing a
          handful of his hair and put her face close to his.

          " Sack me if you dare, you dirty bastard, and the world will
          know that you  an  Earl,  tried  to  rape a poor defenceless

          He  mumbled something  as  Jordan  came  hurrying  into  the

          " The Master fell down and hurt himself on the chair," Shaun
          explained, " I've  been  trying  to help him stand up. I was
          going to ask Madam and cook to help me."

          " No! No!" the Earl gasped as Jordan helped him to his feet,
          " please, just  give me a minute," with the butler's help he
          sat in his chair, " thank you my dear for being so helpful,"
          he said turning to Shaun.

          After the guests  had  left, Teddington Manor was uncanny in
          it's silence The activity slowed, routine returned and Shaun
          went back to  making  beds  and  dusting.  The Earl and Lady
          Lancaster left for  their  usual  two months holiday, taking
          enormous amounts of  suitcases  and  trunks  with them which
          Shaun and the other staff had to pack.

          She still had to dust the library each day, which Jordan had
          taken over as  his  own.  It seemed to Shaun that he thought
          himself as the Master of Teddington Manor while the Earl and
          Madam were away.

          Ever since the  incident  in  the  Earl's  bedroom Shaun had
          managed to avoid  the  butler.  She arranged the flowers and
          tidied the desk  as  usual,  but  some  sixth sense made her
          stop. Jordan was  watching  her  every move. She turned, how
          long he had been watching she had no idea. She was startled.
          He grinned, seeing the trace of fear in her eyes.

          " I didn't know you were here," she said politely.

          " You've been avoiding me."

          " Not really Mr Jordan."

          " I've been wanting to speak to you."

          " Oh yes.  Something  about  my  duties?" She could think of
          nothing  he  needed  to  say,  having  already  told  Madam,
          according to cook that he was pleased with her work.

          " Your work  is  satisfactory," he said rather grudgingly as
          though it was against his better judgement.

          " The Earl  told  me  what  had happened. How you made up to
          him," he caught the look of amazement and panic, " then when
          he went along  with  your  little game you made him fall. An
          old man like  that,  playing  with  him.  He could have been
          seriously hurt."

          " No! That's  a  lie.  You're  crazy. It's all lies.  It was
          him. He made  me go up to his room. Told me to turn down his
          bed. When he went to touch me I hit him in the groin with my

          " Really! You  must  have  led him on. Why does he only want
          you to dust  his  rooms.  Why does he allow only you to tidy
          his desk? there's got to be a reason."

          Shaun tried to  push  past  him.  He  stood  in  the doorway
          blocking her escape.

          " Come on  Shaun Cockran. You know I'm attracted to you. You
          only made up  to  the  old man to make me jealous. Let's not
          play any more games. Besides I'm younger than him."

          He held her  face  in  his  hands. She struggled, turned her
          head away and  brought her knee upwards. He was too fast for
          her. He slammed his arm down on her thigh making her cry out
          in agony. She  turned  to run. His usual self control seemed
          to have gone as he grabbed her by the shoulders.

          " Come on Shaun," he shouted, " you know you want me.  I can
          give you more  than  that old bastard, who can't even get it

          He covered her  mouth  with  his, trying to force his tongue
          between her lips.  She  bit  his bottom lip making it bleed.
          He thrust her away swore and slapped her across the face.

          " Who the  hell do you think you are?" he shouted wiping the
          blood from his chin, " You're just a little slut who went to
          a boarding school, who thinks they can pick and choose." His
          eyes, blazing with anger held hers. " You think I'm not good
          enough. The last one was just the same. I got rid of her."

          The butler drove his fist into her shoulder. Shaun fell back
          against the wall.  He  raised his hand to hit her again. She
          kicked out at  him with all the strength she could muster as
          tears streamed down her cheeks. He dodged the blow, stood by
          the door laughing.

          " Who needs  a  bitch  like  you. You're nothing but a whore
          selling yourself to  the  highest  bidder.  It's your bloody
          funeral remember. I'm  wise  to your game. My friends at the
          station might find  some  interest.  So don't try it on with
          his Lordship again."

          Shaun thankful he  had left was trembling all over. The lies
          the injustice made  her feel sick. To Jordan, the butler her
          rejection meant only  one  thing,  that  his position in the
          Lancaster household had  been insulted. To him it was a slur
          on his class.

          If only, Shaun  thought she could change her gender, if only
          she could suddenly  become  a man, she'd give him the hiding
          he deserved. All  men  are  bastards.  "  One day," she said
          softly. Cook and  some  of  the other servants gave her side
          glances on occasions,  not  one of them daring to say a word
          or offer to help.  It was unjust, obviously they all thought
          so,  but there  was  nothing  she  could  do  to  prove  her
          innocence. She knew  that  if  she  walked out now she would
          loose her holiday pay. But she made up her mind this was the
          last time a male would ever abuse her.

          Jordan appeared to  be  bad  tempered with everyone. A11 the
          servants, even cook were frightened of him.  No one escaping
          his stream of abuse and Shaun Cockran was not forgotten.

          While waiting for  her  holidays  Shaun  kept a low profile,
          moving quietly about the house, carrying out her duties, not
          willing to provoke the slightest comment from anyone. A week
          later after talking  to  the cook she registered a complaint
          with the local  police  and  was  told  the  matter would be
          looked into in  due  course. She told them that her employer
          had tried to  rape  her.  But  during  the  interview it was
          suggested that no serious crime had been committed.

          She was told  that the Earl was her employer, not Mr Jordan,
          who like herself  was  a member of the household staff. That
          due to the  Christmas  break  they were short handed. It was
          further suggested that  perhaps  a little too much Christmas
          cheer  had  sparked   off   a   situation  which  in  normal
          circumstances would never have happened.

          MR Jordan, they told her, was, in their opinion a gentleman,
          and it was  a  little  difficult to believe that a person of
          such high standing could even think of using his position to
          abuse anyone.

          There was an  uneasy  atmosphere  in  the servants quarters,
          with hardly a  word  spoken  between them.  After the police
          had interviewed the  servants,  excluding the butler a sense
          of foreboding appeared to overtake Teddington Manor.

          Although Shaun was not informed of the outcome of the police
          inquiries she gave  Jordan  a  wide berth, knowing he took a
          callous delight in  placing himself in her path whenever the
          opportunity arose. At  meal times she made sure she sat next
          to the cook, who she felt might afford her some protection.

          To leave Teddington  Manor  was  no  hardship, but Shaun was
          determined to stay  and take her holidays with pay which she
          felt she had earned. She had sub-let her flat, the lease was
          due to end  in a few weeks. The tenants pleaded with her for
          a six months  renewal.  She  had  to refuse telling them she
          needed the flat herself.

          Her divorce from  Robert  Cockran was granted on the grounds
          of desertion, an  action which did not require her to defend
          and took only a few minutes to conclude. She reverted to her
          former name of Maclaren hoping to put the past behind her.

          A11 alone in  her  flat  she  thought how easy it really was
          that so much  of  life  can  be  dissolved  so quickly.  The
          hopes, failures, struggles  and  betrayals,  all washed away
          with the stroke  of a pen Shaun knew that all the men in her
          life had been  a disaster, but she still longed for love. To
          love, and be  loved,  not by a man. She needed the love of a
          woman.  Now desperately  lonely  she  cherished the love she
          held for Maureen.  She had been in her flat for three lonely
          weeks, when her  mother  came for a visit. She told her that
          she had been  thrown  out  of  Pauline's  house  by  her new
          husband who had  accused  her  of  trying  to break up their
          marriage. She promised  Shaun  that  if she would give her a
          home she would never interfere in her life again.

          Perhaps driving a  taxi  was the beginning of the nightmare.
          The weeks, months  that followed seemed almost unreal. There
          were times when Shaun Maclaren felt she had been thrust into
          an entirely different  world,  a  mad  world,  fraught  with
          danger and anxiety.   She  felt  a  sense  of achievement in
          obtaining a license  to  drive a city cab. She asked for the
          evening, or night shift, so that she could sleep most of the
          day and avoid arguments with her mother.

          It was close  to  midnight  when  the dispatcher told her to
          pick up a fare whose car had broken down near the Courthouse
          and take him  to  his  home  upcountry.  The round trip, the
          dispatcher told her  was  about  sixty  kilometres  and that
          would finish her  shift.  On  the  way  back  to the city it
          rained heavily. The  drone  of the engine the unending click
          of the windscreen  wipers  caused  her to doze at the wheel.
          She pulled off the road, lay back in her seat and closed her
          eyes for a few minutes.

          How long she  had  been asleep Shaun had no idea.  She awoke
          with a start,  a  chill ran down her spine when a hand, cold
          as ice stroked the back of her neck.

          " Where to?" she asked.

          " Westhill-on-Sea."

          " Where?" she  asked  again,  forcing  herself  to  move and
          switch on the interior light. Slowly she turned in her seat,
          wondering who had  crept  into  her  cab  wanting  to  go to

          The back was  empty.   She  bent  down, picked up the wrench
          Yvonne, the supervisor  had told her to keep under her seat.
          Knowing someone must be crouching behind her seat waiting to
          spring on her,  grab  the nights takings. She leant over the
          front seat with  the  wrench  raised  ready to strike. there
          were just empty seats and nothing on the floor.

          Shaking with fright she switched on the two-way to raise the
          dispatcher By the  hissing  that  came from the speakers she
          knew she was  out of range. She wanted to run, tried opening
          the door but the force of wind and rain kept it shut.

          She looked in the back again. The seats were empty.

          She turned on  the  ignition,  it clicked and went dead. She
          kept turning it  on  each  time  it clicked.  The headlights
          faded and went  out, the interior light dimmed. Gripping the
          wheel to stop from shaking she rested her head.

          Suddenly it stopped raining.  She opened the door and looked
          out. Then in  one  last  desperate  bid  she  turned  on the
          ignition, and cried  with  relief  as the engine roared into
          life.  " No more country trips for me," she shouted into the
          two-way, " someone else can do those bloody runs."

          The Supervisor had  been  driving  taxis  for over two years
          parked her vehicle behind Shaun, Weary of waiting for a fare
          she decided to  chat  to the new driver.  Still shaking from
          her ordeal Shaun  told  her  about  the  cold  hand  and the

          " I can  still  feel  it-here-on  the  back of my neck," she
          said, rubbing it  trying to get it warm, " honestly Yvonne I
          swear no one was there. The back of the taxi was empty. Then
          the bloody thing  wouldn't  start, and I was too far away to
          raise  the dispatcher.  I'm  telling  you  that's  the  last
          country run I'll ever do. From now on it's city fares only."

          Yvonne laughed. "  It's  the road," she said rubbing Shaun's
          neck, " we've all been down there. At the depot they call it
          the dream road.  Some  drivers say it leads to hell when the
          dreams recur, some say it never comes back.

          But the dispatcher,"  Shaun  protested. " He told me to pick
          up the fare. I know. I was there. In the rain. The wipers, I
          felt drowsy, pulled  off the road for a minute and closed my
          eyes. It wasn't  a  dream.  Here's the wrench you told me to
          keep under my seat." She began searching for it.

          " It was here. I held it-in my hand."

          " Shaun Maclaren!  You've  been asleep for hours.  I've been
          parked behind you  all  night.  I  never said anything about
          carrying a wrench."

          " You must  have. The hand-I felt it. The two-way it doesn't

          " Look outside," Yvonne told her angrily, " it hasn't rained
          for days. Check  your  two-way.  I know it's working. I only
          got into your  cab for a chat-to see if you were awake. It's
          the night shift, gets everyone like that."

          When Yvonne left  Shaun  searched  for the wrench. Unable to
          find it she checked her log with the dispatcher who told her
          she hadn't had a fare all night.

          " But you sent me up-country," Shaun argued.

          " Not me,"  came  back  the crackled reply, " it's the night
          shift. I see you've been down the road. It's happened to all
          of us. Talk to Yvonne she'll look after you."

          The shift ended.  The dispatcher asked Yvonne to keep an eye
          on the new driver, suggested it might be a good idea to stay
          with her the rest of the night .

          Yvonne calmed Shaun  down and put her to bed.  She comforted
          her  with delicate  affectionate  love.   To  Shaun  it  was
          something new, a  different kind of love. Not the coarseness
          of heterosexual love, or even the demanding love of Maureen.
          It was the  love  of  a woman, a real love, a love Shaun had
          never known even as a child.

          She felt secure  with  Yvonne.  Safe,  in the fact that they
          were friends, close  friends,  nothing  more.  Certainly not

          Her mother who promised never to interfere, began to nag and
          find fault with  everything  she  tried  to  do. Her brother
          George  came  round   every   day.  Shaun  found  it  almost
          impossible to get  enough  sleep,  and  eventually  her work

          At Yvonne's suggestion  they  leased  a  one-bedroomed  flat
          close to the  depot.  The  bedroom  was  large  with two bay
          windows. A double  bed, a dressing table-the usual furniture
          and a few  chairs.  Yvonne  thought  it was a cold, austere,
          deceitful room, one  that she told Shaun she would soon make
          more feminine.

          Shaun claimed the  small  wardrobe, hung up her few pairs of
          slacks,  her  shirts   and  jumpers.   With  Yvonne  it  was
          different. From her  suitcase she pulled out boxes and boxes
          of makeup which  she arranged on the dressing table brushes,
          combs, bottles of  perfume, jars and pots of cream and small
          boxes Everything she placed around the oval mirror.

          " There," she said, " now the dressing table doesn't look so

          Fascinated, Shaun watched as Yvonne hung up blouses, skirts,
          slacks, lingerie and  tights  all  in the huge free-standing
          wardrobe. Shaun had  never  seen  anything  like  it before.
          Here, she thought was a real woman.

          From  a  magical  bottomless  suitcase,  she  pulled  out  a
          beautifully embroidered night  gown,  a  dressing gown and a
          pair of black silk pyjamas.

          " Here," she  said giving the pyjamas to Shaun, " I know you
          love to play  the  man, and I darling Shaun need to play the
          part of the  woman,  now  that  we  have  a home of our own.
          Yvonne took a  delight  in  reading  poems.  For  hours  she
          lingered over '  Flowers  of  Evil'  by  Bauldaire. She read
          aloud his '  Woman  Dammed'  which Shaun felt championed the
          lesbian cause.

          Yvonne always pretended  to be asleep while Shaun hugged her
          in a slow  irresistible  embrace.   She  devoured  her  with
          kisses and caresses  and  crept along her motionless passive
          body.  She was  surprised  to  find  Yvonne hesitant, and at
          times  even  frightened.   She   observed   certain   ritual
          precautions , on which Yvonne insisted.

          Happy that at  last she had found a woman with all the whims
          and desires of  the  female  gender to love, she agreed that
          they made love  only  on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Except for
          those two days their relationship was chaste. Although Shaun
          accepted it, she  found  it  impossible to make any sense of
          it, even when  Yvonne became obsessed with the morality that
          Bauldelaire wrote about in many of his works.

          Eventually Shaun began  to realise that to lull her sense of
          guilt, Yvonne wanted  their  love-making to happen as though
          in a dream.  A  dream  between  sleeping and waking on their
          rest days of Wednesdays and Sundays.

          Reluctant to give  up the love of a woman she so desperately
          needed Shaun Maclaren, tried, but found it very difficult to
          get used to the relationship, and was unable to accept it as
          a lasting stable way of life.

          There were times  when  Yvonne wanted to feel the poor frail
          creature devastated by  Shaun's cruel, brutal desire. It was
          this bizarre idea of Yvonne's that led to her suffering from
          an uncontrollable fear  that  something  was  preventing her
          living freely, something  she  identified  as her virginity.
          Something she wanted  to keep forever.  She begged Shaun not
          to give up the relationship. " I want to grow old with you,"
          she told her, " I want to become that sad figure of a maiden
          aunt, who get's it on-only with women."

          Their  feelings  for   each  other  changed  as  a  kind  of
          awkwardness entered their lives.

          Shaun decided they  needed  a holiday, and with all thoughts
          of Robert Cockran  and  her  cousin  gone, booked a two week
          vacation at the  Sandwood  Hotel.   With  Yvonne  she walked
          along the beach  towards  Maureen's  cottage.  She wanted to
          show her where  she  had  spent so many happy hours, and had
          written a book,  still  in her service trunk. Yvonne was not
          interested, she was  on holiday, wanting a good time, not to
          reminisce over things that concerned only Shaun.

          They had been at the hotel three days. As usual they ordered
          breakfast in their  suite.   On  the  trolley  the  waitress
          wheeled in was  a  buff coloured envelope addressed to Shaun

          " I hope  it's  not bad news," the waitress said handing her
          the telegram, "  it came late last night.  The night manager
          not wanting to  disturb you thought it would be all right to
          wait." Shaun thanked  her.  She never did like telegrams and
          wished people would  not send them. With trembling hands she
          ripped open the envelope.

          'Mother's  in hospital.   Asking  for  you.  Come  at  once.
          Brother George.'

          Shaun creased the  buff  paper into it's original folds. Her
          eyes filled with  tears  she  told Yvonne she had to go back
          and look after her mother.

          " I'm staying  here,"  Yvonne  told her hotly, " your mother
          will be all  right.  There's little I can do.  I'm not going
          to waste all  that  money  I've spent on my first holiday in

          Shaun nodded her  head  sadly  as  she packed her suitcases,
          knowing she never wanted to see Yvonne again.

          " It's the  letter  that  caused  it,"  George  told her the
          moment she arrived  at  the  hospital, " this one -from your

          Shaun read and  re-read  the  letter addressed to her mother
          telling her that her daughter was a lesbian. Had been one, a
          Butch, for a long time. That they were going to be married.

          " I was forced to explain," her brother continued "like, how
          she can insist on things. She said it was something very bad
          and should be  stopped.   When  I  finished  explaining  she
          clutched at her chest. Found it hard to breathe. It was then
          she passed out.   The  ambulance  rushed her here.  I stayed
          all night. Early  this morning the doctor said her condition
          was stable."

          The doctor allowed  Shaun  into  her mother's room for a few
          minutes. She opened  her eyes, saw her youngest daughter and
          tried to smile.

          With the urgency  of  the  very ill, " That's all I wanted,"
          she said, " to see you once again before I die."

          " Thank God Ma! Thank God you're going to be all right."

          She held her  mother's  hand and leaned over the bed. " What
          can I do?" Shaun asked, " what can I do to make you well and

          There was a moment of silence. Then that gentle weak whisper

          " I only want you to be happy."

          The doctor told her she should leave and allow her mother to
          rest.  Too tired to argue she went home with her brother for
          a few hours sleep.

          Late in the  afternoon  the doctor telephoned asking them to
          come at once  as  their mother's condition had deteriorated.
          With her brother,  Shaun  sat  for  hours  in  the dimly lit
          waiting room.  Minutes  before  midnight the doctor came in.
          Shaun looked at  him, saw the flicker of anxiety as his eyes
          reached out and  trapped  hers.   An awareness forced her to
          grasp his hand.   From a remote corner of her mind she heard
          her mother's voice.

          " Be who  you  want  to  be  Shaun. Above all be happy. I'11
          always be with you."

          She looked at  her brother, then back at the doctor, watched
          the narrow features settle into patterns of empathy.  Dazed,
          Shaun heard the  doctor's voice in the distance telling them
          that their mother  had  died of a massive heart attack.  Her
          knees buckled, as  she  was  pulled into her brother's arms.
          She felt the moisture on his cheek and clung to him, the way
          she had never clung to anyone before.

          Rachel Maclaren was  buried  on a warm sunny Monday.  One of
          those lovely balmy days with gentle soft clouds tossed about
          over the blue  sky, and a tender breeze to waft the scent of
          flowers and the pleasant smell of fresh turned earth.  It is
          only on such  days  that  one  can recognize the silence and
          scentlessness of winter. It was a day full of hope. Although
          sad, there was  sense  of  coming  brightness.  A  day  easy
          enough,  for  Shaun   and   the   others  to  think  of  the

          The words of the burial service will always be associated in
          Shaun Maclaren's mind  with  sunshine and a broad expanse of
          sea. This is  where  her mother wanted to be buried. Next to
          Casey   Ann  at   Westhill.    There   was   no   hysterical
          manifestations of grief  or  rivers  of  tears,  such as her
          sisters, Pauline and Jillian had expected. They had tea at a
          nearby  friends  house,   and  talked  about  Rachel,  Sandy
          Highfield and Luckham Downs.

          Afterwards Shaun visited the cemetery on her own, found that
          the grave had  been filled. The mound, covered with flowers,
          which seemed to make it less of a wrench to leave her there.

          Shaun thought it  looked  a  pleasant resting place.  In the
          rays of the  afternoon sun that rested lovingly on it, Shaun
          knelt among the flowers and whispered her last  Good-by.