Bess was an arthritic golden labby with just two teeth left in her slovenly jaw. She lived with Evelyne on the scraps from Evelyne’s plate, but hated peas. Whenever Evelyne scraped mash into her bowl, Bess would spit any peas past those teeth as she slopped away. Evelyne, in turn, would grumble about “peas on the floor” and scold her for not eating her greens. But Bess, she said, was her “heartbeat”. They lived in Evelyne’s late father’s weatherboard, on the eastern rail line. It was surrounded by a veranda and unruly grounds, which sloped away at the back to…

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