“You Ought To Be Thankful”
OF COURSE men were thoughtless, they didn’t think, they didn’t understand, you knew that; you, as a woman, had to supply all the tact and coaxing and diplomacy, just “put up” with things and smile through them, above all, you must not be catty or nervy or snappy, or you become a shrew and a nagger, that bugbear of your sex....
It wasn’t easy; you couldn’t help wondering why men should have the monopoly of all the blundering obtuseness, why they were never on the alert to save trouble and hurt and keep the peace like you had to be....
Madelaine Compton straightened her aching back and went on hanging up the pretty yellow curtains she had made herself.^
Four pairs round the big bay window—a frill at the top, a frilled cover on the bed—how many yards of machining?
The drawers and the chairs to polish, fresh flowers to bring up and arrange, the cold supper to prepare and lay, Dumpie and Hyacinth to be captured, fed, and put to bed, her own frock to change and a cool leisurely appearance to achieve before the London guest arrived.
And Randal couldn’t see what she had to “do”; irritated by the least show of “fuss,” he had already expressed his disapproval of her labors; couldn’t they have someone to stay with them without all this bother?
What was the matter with the place that it had to have so much done to it—and why didn’t they keep a girl?
Madelaine did not answer; you couldn’t answer unless you wanted the humiliation of a quarrel; hopeless to remind him that he had only told her that morning of Lucy Bolton’s coming, that the little spare room was to feminine eyes quite dingy, that to cut up and make the new cretonne intended for her own room (a merciful providence that she had it) had been a morning’s work, that he had asked her to do a lot of typing—unless to -remind him that the girl was quite impossible save for the plodding routinp of the coarsest work. And deepest irony of all, useless and hopeless to remind him that Lucy Bolton was his friend, a smart woman and a fashionable actress, and that he, Randal, the ambitious author, would have been furious if there had been any hitch in her entertainment.
Oh yes, Madelaine knew that Lucy Bolton wanted the “simple life,” that she would call it a “dear little place,” and rave about fresh eggs and cream and strawberries and roses, like people from town did, but that didn’t mean that she would like a shabby bedroom or a dull supper.
XX^HAT a difference just a little more money would * ' make.... delightful to be able to have people without it making any difference.
Madelaine stepped off the chair; the room looked pretty —the white-washed walls, the mats, the blue china candlesticks. She hurried down into the garden, broke ofl some white roses, ran up with them and set them in a green glass on a shelf by the bed; then she shut the door resolutely; she couldn’t “fuss” any more.
Emma, the “girl,” was standing mulishly in the kitchen; Madeiaine sharply set her to lay the table; she
could see Randal wandering about the garden pursued by Dumpie and Hyacinth; well, he would have to put up with them.
She arranged her fruit on the clear blue plates, shook the green salad out of the clear water, quickly tore it into the painted bowl. . . .the vinegar now, and had that wretched boy come back with the oil?
Randal’s voice: “I say, isn’t anyone looking after these children? Two women about and they always seem to be running wild.”
Madelaine. went to the window.
“Are they bothering you?” Her voice was toneless. “They’re ripping the tops off everything—I was trying to straighten up a bit—but, of course, it’s hopeless.” Madelaine glanced at the clock.
“Hadn’t you better start off to meet Miss Bolton— it’s nearly seven o’clock.”
“Seven? Good Lord, the train isn’t in till nearly eight—” “Well, send the children in to me—”
“Stewing in the kitchen a lovely evening like this?” He turned away, grumbling, the children still at his heels.
A SHARP hiss brought Madelaine to the range; her ^ soup had foamed over; a smell of burning seared the air; Madelaine scorched her fingers lifting the hot pan; spoilt—she would have to think of something else; there wouldn’t be enough for supper. . . .
Randal at the window again.
‘ Whatever is burning?” “The soup,” said Madelaine crisply.
“Good Lord! can’t the two of you look after a little soup?”
Madelaine flicked into the dining-room not to hear the rest of the familiar grumble. Emma was mechanically laying the table in the manner of which she wholly disapproved; you could see she scorned the dull surface, the mats in the pale linen jackets, the rough earthenware with blobby fruit; Madelaine feverishly adjusted knives, forks—no salt, of course, and the cider in the big jug stale with flies in it.
“Emma, this isn’t fresh —draw some more, in the big yellow jug—”
A crunch on the gravel drive at the side; Randal flashing past the window in the two-seat.er.
Dumpie and Hyacinth left, of course, to their own devices, which meant that you had got to go after them quick.
As you hurried into the cool garden a stinging thought: he’d have half an hour to wait at the station, but he preferred that to being “bothered” with you and the children. Dumpie and Hyacinth were exploring round the garage, so lovely in grubby check overalls, with silvery golden curls and grave smeared faces—so small! Babies— Dumpie “four - and -a -half, Hyacinth not three till next month .... so sweet, so dear .... but you never really had time to enjoy them.
Madelaine coaxed them into the garden where she could see them from the kitchen window, bribed them with biscuits her conscience told her they ought not to have, and to be “good” (how silly to say that; but convention was too strong for you) and dashed back to her supper.
Butter, cream, jelly, fine sliced cold meat, a potato salad, ready in the tiny, ice-box—cigarettes, matches (how you hated women who smoked!) ready on the side table together with the coffee machine, the spirit lamp—the coffee.
“Emma, those little coffee cups—spoons, and the brown sugar, cube sugar I bought to-day—”
A DEVASTATING wail from the garden Roars from Dumpie. . . .in two seconds was outside.
She had fallen down, of course; another grazed knee; it was almost as if she heard Randal saying with his gesture of despair—“The way those children are looked after!” “Dumpie did it,” sobbed the fragrant bundle she drew to her breast, while the culprit with piercing screams protested that “he couldn’t ’elp it!”
Madelaine, on her knees, clutched the crying child tightly while she dabbed the injured knee with her handkerchief.
Grimly she told herself—“You’re not fit to have children if you get nervy”—then desperately—“If they go on screaming, I shall scream too—”
“All right, darling, it’s all right,” she said steadily, “Mamma’ll put one of her nice clean hankies on it— No, Dumpie, I know you didn’t mean to, you just forget how little she is—”
“Don’t forget!” roared Dumpie, while the wee sister in an orgy of self-pity yelled, “It ’urts! It ’urts!”
“You must come up to bed now,” Madelaine lifted the baby, far too heavy for her aching back; the lusty
limbs began to writhe, “and I’ll give you another biscuit,” she added weakly.
The yells ceased and bright wet eyes looked up at her • with adorable shrewdness.
“A bit of sugar,” bargained Hyacinth.
“Me, too,” said Dumpie.
“No, sugar is bad for your teeth,” said Madelaine, mechanically, “a biscuit.”
But Hyacinth had seen an opening to obtain some advantage.
“Play ’orses,” she suggested.
“Oh, darling, Mummie is so tired! And there is so much to do!”
The children brushed this aside as mere grown-up nonsense.
Dumpie made a business-like proposition.
“Once round the house, each of us, and then we’ll come_ upstairs.”
String to find and to adjust, each of them to drive round the house, then the exacted biscuit to fetch, the journey upstairs, the bath, hair, teeth, nails, bed-toys to fetch, the bathroom to tidy up, little voices calling you again and again to “tiss me goo’ night.”
AT LAST they were asleep, and you could think of - yourself; oh, tired, tired! Did men understand that awful fatigue when you could just cry because of that? Not the white frock Randal liked, it was too tiresome to get into, and if you asked Emma to do it up you had to stand still while she breathed hard behind you, smelling of Eucalyptus or cough drop. No—anything you could just slip into; what did it matter what Lucy Bolton thought of you?
You remembered that once upon a time, not so very long ago, Madelaine Compton had also been on the London stage and quite successfully too until she married and went to live in the country on a “next-tonothing” income.
A familiar scrunch of wheels cut through these solitary reflections; Madelaine rushed to the window; back already! How the time had flown!
Even in that desperate moment she paused at the window to see the stranger; gay, young, lovely, of course....
And Randal handing her out of the little car looked young too; Madelaine saw him again as the man who had been her lover, not as the overdriven husband, the irritable father, confined in the tiny house in a stifling atmosphere of domesticity.
They had entered now; Randal’s voice came sharply: “Madelaine! Madelaine!” He wondered, of course, why she was not “ready.”
Dishevelled, flushed as she was in her cotton frock, Madelaine went downstairs.
The guest was discreet; she didn’t keep saying “How awfully sweet,” or “What a dinkie wee place,” or “How you must love it, I wish I could get away from horrid old London”; she was cool and gracious and mostly silent; Randal entertained her while Madelaine “ran” the home and kept the children out of the way; Randal was discussing a play with the actress; they must not be disturbed. How unimportant her duties seemed and yet how vital they were!
Just the things that no one noticed at all until they went wrong.
VITHEN the children were quiet, the meals a success, ’ * when every little detail of. the household ran smoothly, it was considered that she had nothing to do; when anything went awry so that anyone was inconvenienced or irritated she was blamed, accused directly or indirectly of bad management, of “fluster.”
If she ventured any complaint of any domestic matter, Randal, with a gesture of despair, would ask her how it was she couldn’t make the “best of things,” while if she ventured a protest against his perpetual grumbles it was “Can’t I even make a remark?”
Like the little boy in Keats’’ poem, Madelaine
“stood in her shoes, wondering at her own patience.” She knew she was as clever as Lucy Bolton, she knew she would have been as successful if she had “stuck” to the stage; she had had a very good reputation for sincere, earnest work in the Repertory theatres; she was better educated than Lucy Bolton too, and, as she soon discovered, younger, and might have been as lovely if she had been able to spend all that attention on herself that Miss Bolton did and which made her always stand out from her background like a bouquet
of flowers against a pool of shade as a background. And what was she after seven years of marriage? Dust on her books, her piano sold, her clothes reduced to the very simplest, hands spoilt by housework, her looks left to “take care of themselves,” her very personality overshadowed, ignored, everything she could have commanded by her own efforts sacrificed for the task of serving Randal Compton and bringing up his children on inadequate means.
She knew that he classed her with the children in his mind, “women and children” in the background.
SHE had heard Lucy Bolton say when they were discussing the play she already hated: “Oh, you
mustn’t make too much of the wife and babies, people so soon get bored with women and children—”
Everyone thought her job paltry, no one wanted to hear anything about it; what could be more boring than struggles with tradespeople and “servants,” turning about of clothes, checking and soothing of children, humoring a man’s whims and irritations? “It’s a fool’s job, really,” thought Madelaine, “and I’m a fool to be doing it.”
She sat on the grass reading to the children. Ont story ended, she turned the pages; Randal and Lucy Bolton were walking up and down between the standard rose trees and Dumpie and Hyacinth must be prevented from flying in pursuit.
“What would you like now, Dumpie, something with a happy ending?”
“What is a happy ending?”
“Oh, where they go on living happy for ever after.” “What is ever after?”
“It means for always.”
“Shall we live for always?”
“No one knows, Dumpie; now do listen to the story—” “But, Mummie, why does no one know?”
“I can’t read if you talk, dear.”
MADELAINE opened the book resolutely and began to read; as her voice ran over the trite sentences of the fairy story her mind was on the two pacing so slowly side by side at the end of the garden. Were you still “in love” with him?
Why the very words sounded silly—you could look at him,in quite a detached manner; an attractive handsome man, one you could imagine quite well as some one else’s lover, not any more as your own because to you he was blurred all over with domesticities; you’d mended his socks and brushed his coat and “hunted” for the handkerchief he pulled out of his pocket and bought him his tie; every article of his attire was associated with your labor or his complaining....
“Oh, Mummie, I don’t want to hear any more,” and the little boy clapped the book together and raced after his father.
“My fault, I was droning,” thought Madelaine, and was conscious at the same moment of Lucy Bolton shrinking away so that her organdie gown might not receive damage at Dumpie’s grubby onslaught and Randal’s voice: “I say, Madelaine, can’t you take these children for a good long walk? Why ever do you have to stick in the garden with them?”
“Oh, but they are so sweet, aren’t they?” smiled Lucy Bolton, “I never find children in the way—” Randal maintained a vexed silence, Madelaine was
also mute as she led Dumpie away. How could you say—“Emma’s out and I’ve got everything to do, so I can’t leave the house?”
People hated to be reminded of these dull domesticities and how dull you became yourself through being so continually associated with them!
AS SHE took the children upstairs after setting the - tea, she glanced in through the open door of Lucy Bolton’s room; what delicate perfumes, what pale silk cast over bed and chairs, what array of crystal and jade and painted glass on the dressing table!
And from the bathroom window she saw Randal and Lucy walking out of the gate, to her two alien figures washed in clear sunshine.
Seeing her at the window, he called up casually:
“I’m running Lucy over to see Maythorpe Castle— we’ll get tea there—”
“All right,” sang out Madelaine, withdrawing Hyacinth’s fat hand from the bath tap. How long was it since he had taken her out? How long since he had wanted to take her out?
On the smooth slope above the moat of the old castle the man and woman rested in silence, he at her feet picking idly the small daisies in the grass; she, in her lavender muslin, her white silk wrap and big cloudy black hat and veil, looking pale, perfect, ethereal, as a queen of dream romance. With her long fingers lying together in her lap she gazed past the man as if she had forgotten his presence straight down at the lilies in the moat.
“It’s good just to dream sometimes,” she had said.
^ND this was what she was dreaming the
“Of course, he is a coming man and I’m thirty-eight; no one would guess, but I’ve got to keep it in mind. I don’t suppose I shall ever be in love again; I couldn’t afford to at my age, but I like him tremendously. And what a life he leads, poor brute, with that draggled little housewife and those horrible children—I can’t think how he can write a line; dirty, rude, greedy, noisy kids, and then the poverty! Everything is worn out and she keeps buying cheap cretonne to hide it up—ugh! She’s the kind of woman who would divorce him at once; of course it wouldn’t hurt me when you’ve been through the Courts once, a second time is only an advertisement and I could make a flare over the
marriage—he’d write my plays and we’d do very well. I just need to attach myself to something successful and young ■— he’s twentyeight—I’d like him to make love to me; he’s looking at me now as he hasn’t looked at his wife—well, since the fiist kid came. Well, why not? I expect I could play up to the romantic love stunt for a bit, it would keep me young—we’d look after her and the kids—there won’t be any more. What fools women are! If she hadn’t had the kids she would have stuck to the stage—she’d have looked ten years younger than I do now. She’d be better off really without him, she must see she bores him and that must be Hell—I’d want to die quick if any man spoke to me the wray he speaks to her. We’d better clear out— Monte—Biarritz, something spectacular for the papers—he’s just waiting for the signal—wonder when he kissed her last? He’ll kiss me— different.”
Thus the thoughts of Lucy Bolton, sitting exquisitely on the lovely sward, garlanded with Randal’s silent praise, glamorous, diaphanous.... like a bouquet of flowers against a drift of gloom.
AS RANDAL COMPTON was a man, his" thoughts did not take any such definite shape, they were blurred and colored by the emotion of the moment.
How delightful to be here! Away from the stuffy
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little house, the sound of Madeline’s anxious voice, the clamour of the children, the subdued fretfulness of Emma, the suppressed rumours of troubles, horrid higgling troubles with tradespeople, with chimneys and lamps and stores, the whole nasty atmosphere of pinching and scraping with an anxious companion at your elbow— the whole wretched responsibility of the wretched little show—Now with this adorable creature there was none of that—always still, always sweet, never agitated or anxious or bothered, fragrantly clothed, entrancingly perfumed, famous, rich, courted, why life with Lucy Bolton would be life; she’d make his plays; he saw himself standing beside her on a giddy height of instant _ success.... and how lovely she was—a poem after an intolerable stretch of prose.
He was really in love.... if not with Lucy Bolton, with romance, with the adventure of escape from daily monotony, with dreams of glory and luxury, with the glimpse into that land of enchantment that we get now and then.
He was so intoxicated with his new passion that he could pity Madelaine.. . poor creature shut outside!
WHATEVER he did Madelaine would not really care as long as she had the children—nothing seemed to interest her beyond the house and the children, some women were like that.
How different now was Lucy Bolton! Randal turned on his side and gave his enchantress such a glance of devotion that she reached out her frail hand languidly and made another move in the game that was so surely hers.
“Randal, poor boy, how you have been sacrificed!” she murmured.
“I don’t want to think of anything,” he murmured, “except just our being here together.”
She accepted his homage with a slow smile; his shapely fingers reverently touched the hem of her fragile gown that was perfumed with Roman Hyacinth.
Lucy Bolton was rather more excited than she had thought she could be.
“Does this mean a great deal to you?” she asked softly.
“What else is there?” he answered, and glancing down into his dark eyes, Lucy Bolton coloured quite crudely.
Was this the man who had grumbled at the maid-of-all-work because she was too lavish with the cleanser in the bathroom, who had nagged his weary wife because the dinner wasn’t to his liking, who would sooner have choked than told her she looked pretty or smart or praised her for any effort, who wanted to know if the joints were weighed again and the meat checks filed, who flung all his clothes over the floor and expected his wife to be responsible for an adequate supply of socks, handkerchiefs and collars?
RANDAL COMPTON had all these faults; so perhaps had Romeo; an early death rounds the perfect love story.
Randal hadn’t died young and his love story wasn’t perfect—at any rate not yet.
Madelaine observed the truants as they came home, observed the veiled radiance of Lucy Bolton, the confused absorption of Randal and drew accurate conclusions It was surprising how indifferent she was; she believed that they were going to “run away” together and she didn’t care.
They sat round the little supper table each with hostile thoughts; Madelaine saying to herself “I wonder if she knows how abominably dull he is?” How he fumes about his food? Of course I was in love with him once, but then I was much younger than she is and had had no experience.”
And Miss Bolton saw that the wife knew what was on foot, knd didn’t care either—“I can make something of him and she can’t, it’s her own fault for being such a fool.”
And Randal was thinking how wonderful it was that this marvellous creature had really condescended to him and how delightful life would be with success and money and such a companion—and incidentally how really repulsive the supper was and how hateful to have to put up with this kind of thing and not be able to say a word for fear of being considered a household tyrant—well, thank Heaven, it was nearly over. Not the most insignificant part of his dream of the future was a vista of perfect meals and a luxurious quiet house.
THE supper was atrocious, Madelaine had seen no reason to prepare a lovers’ feast for Randal and Lucy Bolton and she had allowed Emma to do her worst; there was a kind of zest about Emma’s worst that amounted to an achievement; it was failure in excelsis.
As they rose from the desolate remnants'" the actress gave Randal a soft look of eloquent sympathy; Madelaine left the room, but not before she had seen his answering glance and their fingers meet lingeringly over his proffered cigarette. That night Madelaine discovered that Dumpie wasn’t very well and that she must sleep in the children’s room. So she lay awake on a camp bed between the two cots while Randal’s lonely slumbers were coloured by excited dreams and while Lucy Bolton, with slow patience was performing beauty exercises and beauty massage in the narrow guest chamber.
Madelaine traced out her future course with brutal clarity; there would be a divorce; no one seemed to mind about divorces now-a-days and she would go back to the stage—she would become as beautiful, as free, as rich, as Lucy Bolton.
The children? Randal’s children?
Even towards them her feelings were dulled.
No doubt she had “overdone it,” taken to children as some women took to drink or drug; Randal wasn’t going to let them hinder him, why should she let them hinder her?
There were plenty of good homes and schools where they would be very happy, perhaps as happy as she could make them.
She must be sensible and level-headed; it was merely idiotic to turn herself into a servant-girl and nurse-maid—people laughed at that kind of thing now-a-days.
If she had thought less of the children and the house and more of herself, Randal wouldn’t be planning an elopement with a dolled-up woman of forty now.
BUT though her feelings towards Lucy Bolton were those of acid contempt and hate, she didn’t want Randal back, her one fear was lest he should “funk” the crisis that would give her her freedom—or at least a variety of servitude, you might get more fun out of being the slave of a beauty parlour or dressmaker and a press agent than that of a grumbling husband, a couple of exacting children and the kind of house that grows out of an inadequate income.
Madeline’s abrupt dethronement of the Lares and Penates at once produced several minor effects; the breakfast was as nasty as the supper; it was a wet morning and Dumpie and Hyacinth shrieked and romped unrestrained about the house; Emma, with sullen slowness, began to “turn out” the only sitting-room and left it at the apex of chaos to cook onions, the voluble odour of which hung like a fog over the house.
In these surroundings of humiliating discomfort, Miss Bolton and Randal had to plan their love affair while Madelaine sat upstairs in the children’s room and wrote to her solicitor telling him to sell out her tiny capital and then a careful list of what she was gaing to buy with the money—clothes, all for herself.
Miss Bolton, of course, saw the signal for her departure waving clearly aloft; she told Randal she would go that evening;
he must j ust settle things with Madelaine and then follow her and they’d go to Monte and finish the play together. It was all a little vulgar but Randal didn’t see that, in the light of those last meals he thought Madelaine deserved the harshest of treatment.
AFTER an exquisitely horrible dinner AL of flaccid pink mutton edged with cindery skin, damp onions and grayish potatoes with indigo spots and a liquid dun-coloured pudding that looked predigested, cheese with a blue fluff on it and coffee that gritted the teeth (marvellous what Emma could do when left quite alone!) Madelaine said that she was going out.... and not taking the children.
“Emma can look after them,” snapped Randal.
“Emma has got her rooms to do,” retorted Madelaine, “Miss Bolton is so fond of the children she’ll love to have them to herself for a whole afternoon.” So Madelaine went off through the rain in her old waterproof and leather hat.
A curious little pang when two small creatures rushed after her and she closed the gate on rebellious eyes and drooping mouths; they knew that she was, in a sense, forsaking them and she knew that they knew; their bewildered pain echoed in her heart, but she must not be “silly.”
She turned away grimly and did not look back though they called after her; she walked briskly yet aimlessly; her final and chance goal was the house of a local acquaintance where she drank tea and gossiped, feeling as if iii the daze of a dream.
IT WAS the first time that she had gone off like this and left the children, the first time that she had turned her back on them; the first time that she had been away from them for more than a few minutes. She had not meant to return until after Lucy Bolton had left; but now a great uneasiness filled her heart; the children.... of course, Randal was nominally in charge, but you could not trust a man.... and those hurt, forsaken, bewildered faces pressed against the gate. . . still you must not be foolish, it was so easy to exaggerate, to become sentimental over things-^—and the children would have to get used to being without you.... how weak it would be to go back now and interrupt those two lovers!
Yet that letter—she had forgotten to bring that letter to her lawyer—it was very important, she wanted it to catch this post, she must hurry back and get it, just run in, snatch it up and hurry away : again with the letter; and in so doing she could just look round and see that the children were all right.
Was the letter so very important? Madelaine fled home as if in a panic; as if premonitions of unutterable disaster dogged her unsteady feet.
The rain had ceased and misty sunshine lay over the standing hay, the wildrose wreathed the hedge and the wood pigeon fluttered across her path; Madelaine saw nothing; she hurried on.
And half-way down the home lane she met Emma, a grotesque figure, the whitefaced dull girl with adenoids, the poor under dog, so stupid, so veiled, so inarticulate.
But Emma had found words now.
“I was a-coming to find you, mum. The children ’as been gone this hour, and so ’as Mr. Compton—off in the car with Miss Bolton—they didn’t ought to have been left—-I’d ’ave kep’ an eye on ’em if I knowed,” she added heavily.
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“Lost?” breathed Madelaine, almost running now, Emma panting beside her.
“Runned off,” said the girl, “I saw Mr. Randal go—and asked ’im where they was —‘I dunno,’ ’e says, short as usual—‘the missus’ll be back soon,’ ’e says and 1 not knowing yer were out till a minute afore when I goes to ask yer about supper—and off he goes with that woman—the baggage—”
And Emma said the last word deeply, like a curse and again she added:
“I’d ’ave kep’ an eye on them if I’d knowed.”_
Madelaine beat her breast.
“I know, I know, I ought to have told you—I know, I know—”
“Bin round the field, I ’ave,” continued the girl stolidly, “looking for the last ’arf ’our, then I thought as you must be coming along and I’d fetch yer—two being better nor one for lookin’.”
THE words were almost coherent;
Emma was so ill used to speaking that she did not know how to express herself, but Madelaine understood enough to be utterly shamed.
“I ought not to have gone,” she muttered, as they hurried desperately up to the house.
“Enough to make yer,” said Emma hoarsely, “them goings on.”
So this poor half wit had watched and discerned the situation! When it comes to the elementáis of human passion even the stupid under dogs are wise enough. No one in the little house that was so horribly pathetic in desolate emptiness, no little figures in the home field, nor in the next, nor in the lanes where they wildly searched.
And then an inarticulate cry from Emma and Dumpie running up with panic screams.
Randal motoring Miss Bolton home to fetch her boxes looked over a hedge and saw his wife on her knees beside a prostrate little figure in the grass; she was moving to and fro with regular movements; she just glanced up as he stopped the car and said one word: “Hyacinth.” Randal was out of his seat and pushing through the hedge and beside her in two seconds.
The woman went on with her work of trying to bring life back into the still drowned baby body.
“We left her, you"see,” she said, “and she ran away and fell into the pond.”
THE man, no handsome lover now, but a wretched, stricken, shuddering human being, stared dully down at his wife; how did she know what to do? When had she learnt artificial respiration?
And now came Emma, the despised slut, hurrying hot water bottles and hot blankets and brandy, flying through the grass, alert, capable.
A pale colour came into the frail tiny face, the little heart timidly resumed the vital beats; the two women deftly wrapped the baby up and Madelaine staggered to her feet.
“Put her in the car—home—quick,” she said.
Lucy Bolton had alighted and stood by the hedge.
“Shall I—telephone for the doctor?” she faltered.
The parents did not answer, but Emma said: “I’ve done that mum.”
They drove away, and Emma followed holding Dumpie’s hand, leaving Lucy standing in the road.
Madelaine knelt by the cot; she was stained with duckweed, wet from the pond where she had plunged in to drag out thatsilent bundle, her hair was dank from the sweat of her exertions, her face shadowed, fallen, grim.
Not beautiful, but terrible, not lovely, but tremendous.
The doctor was leaving the room with the haggard father.
“The little girl will do very well,” he said quietly, “Your wife showed great presence of mind. You ought to be thankful.”
Randal went back to the cot and stood there silent.
Neither'"moved as the hired car drove up though both knew it was Lucy Bolton driving away—not to come back into their lives again.
Emma, peeping from her kitchen door said to the awed Dumpie—“She's gone, and you ought to be thankful.”
And upstairs, with shudderings, with tears, man and wife held each other with convulsive claspings and each said to themselves—“You ought to be thankful.”