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W. Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage
3. CHAPTER III
When they reached the house Mrs. Carey had died in--it was in a dreary, respectable street between Notting Hill Gate and High Street, Kensington--Emma led Philip into the drawing-room. His uncle was writing letters of thanks for the wreaths which had been sent. One of them, which had arrived too late for the funeral, lay in its cardboard box on the hall-table.
"Here's Master Philip," said Emma.
Mr. Carey stood up slowly and shook hands with the little boy. Then on second thoughts he bent down and kissed his forehead. He was a man of somewhat less than average height, inclined to corpulence, with his hair, worn long, arranged over the scalp so as to conceal his baldness. He was clean-shaven. His features were regular, and it was possible to imagine that in his youth he had been good-looking. On his watch-chain he wore a gold cross.
"You're going to live with me now, Philip," said Mr. Carey. "Shall you like that?"
Two years before Philip had been sent down to stay at the vicarage after an attack of chicken-pox; but there remained with him a recollection of an attic and a large garden rather than of his uncle and aunt.
"You must look upon me and your Aunt Louisa as your father and mother."
The child's mouth trembled a little, he reddened, but did not answer.
"Your dear mother left you in my charge."
Mr. Carey had no great ease in expressing himself. When the news came that his sister-in-law was dying, he set off at once for London, but on the way thought of nothing but the disturbance in his life that would be caused if her death forced him to undertake the care of her son. He was well over fifty, and his wife, to whom he had been married for thirty years, was childless; he did not look forward with any pleasure to the presence of a small boy who might be noisy and rough. He had never much liked his sister-in-law.
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