"A Bit of Singing and Dancing" by Susan Hill

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A Bit of Singing and Dancing by Susan Hill is the short story of Esme Fanshaw, who following a lifetime of caring after her bedridden tyrannical mother, is finally set free. Although forced by her mother to live modestly, Esme inherits 6,000 pounds from her late, stingy mother. With so much cash in hand, she has great plans for her immediate and far future, among which travelling and moving to London: “She felt flushed and a little drunk then, she felt that all things were possible, the future was in her power, and she wanted to shout and sing and dance, standing alone in the February twilight, looking at the deserted beach.”

Confused by her newfound freedom and feeling guilty for wanting her mother to die, Esme receives an unexpected visit by Mr Amos Curry, a salesman, who is interested in renting a room. For a woman who “knew nothing about the habits of men,” Esme is at first taken aback by her own decision to accept the stranger as her tenant. But soon things change and Esme realizes that she is “the sort of person who needs to give service,” just as she did for so many years when her sick mother was still alive.

But how will Mr Amos afford paying the rent during the summer, when his sales drop, rests with the reader to find out by reading the short story.

Susan Hill is a British short story writer, novelist, playwright and critic. She was born in 1942.
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