1. Who is Flora Grieves, and how did the narrator's mother know her?
The narrator reminisces about her dead mother and tells the story of her mother's old friend, Flora Grieves. Her mother had stayed on the Grieves' farm as a young woman, teaching in the nearby schoolroom. The house was divided into two parts, one for Flora and the teacher, and one for Flora's younger sister, Ellie, and her husband, Robert.
2. Why had Robert married Ellie instead of Flora, and how did Ellie's health deteriorate?
Though Flora had once been engaged to Robert, he married Ellie out of necessity after getting her pregnant. The baby was stillborn, and all later pregnancies were also unsuccessful. Ellie was later diagnosed with cancer. While the narrator's mother was staying at the farm, a nurse was brought in to care for the dying Ellie. The narrator's mother disapproved of the nurse, thinking her selfish and uncaring, but Flora did not like to think badly of people.
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