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When we went into the drawing-room we found Dr. Anderson, plump and expository, balancing himself on the balls
Her awful gesture of regret was suddenly paralyzed. She seemed to be fighting her way to a discovery. "It 's-it's as if," she stammered, "they of his feet on the hearth-rug and enjoyeach had half a life."
I felt the usual instinct to treat her as though she were ill, because it was evident that she was sustained by a mystic interpretation of life. But she had already taught me something, so I stood aside while she fell on her knees, and wondered why she did not look at the child's photograph, but pressed it to her bosom, as though to stanch a wound. I thought, as I have often thought before, that the childless have the greatest joy in children, for to us they are just slips of immaturity lovelier than the flowers and with the power over the heart, but to mothers they are fleshly cables binding one down to such profundities of feeling as the awful agony that now possessed her. For although I knew I would have accepted. it with rapture because it was the result of intimacy with Chris, its awfulness appalled me. Not only did it make my body hurt with sympathy; it shook the ground beneath my feet. For that her serenity, which a moment before had seemed as steady as the earth and as all-enveloping as the sky, should be so utterly dispelled made me aware that I had of late been underestimating the cruelty of the order of things. Lovers are frustrated; children are not begotten that should have had the loveliest life; the pale usurpers of their birth die young. Such a world will not suffer magic circles to endure.
The parlor-maid knocked at the door. "Mrs. Baldry and Dr. Anderson are waiting in the drawing-room, ma'am.”
Margaret reassumed her majesty, and put her white face close to the glass as she pinned up her braids.
"I knew there was a something," she moaned, and set the hair-pins all awry. More she could not say, though I clung to her and begged her; but the slow gesture with which, as we were about to leave the room, she laid her hand across the child's photograph somehow convinced me that we were not to be victorious.
ing the caress of the fire on his calves, while Kitty, showing against the dark frame of her oak chair like a white rosebud that was still too innocent to bloom, listened with that slight reservation of the attention customary in beautiful
"A complete case of amnesia," he was saying as Margaret, white-lipped, yet less shy than I had ever seen her, went to a seat by the window, and I sank down on the sofa. "His unconscious self is refusing to let him resume his relations with his normal life, and so we get this loss of memory."
"I've always said," declared Kitty, with an air of good sense, "that if he would make an effort-"
"Effort!" He jerked his round head about. "The mental life that can be controlled by effort is n't the mental life that matters. "You 've been stuffed up when you were young with talk about a thing called self-control, a sort of barmaid of the soul that says, "Time 's up, gentlemen,' and 'Here, you 've had enough.' There's no such thing. There's a deep self in one, the essential self, that has its wishes. And if those wishes are suppressed by the superficial self, the self that makes, as you say, efforts, and usually makes them with the sole idea of putting up a good show before the neighbors,-it takes its revenge. Into the house of conduct erected by the superficial self it sends an obsession, which does n't, owing to a twist that the superficial self, which is n't candid, gives it, seem to bear any relation to the suppressed wish. A man who really wants to leave his wife develops a hatred for pickled cabbage which may find vent in performances that lead straight to the asylum. But that 's all technical," he finished bluffly. "My business to understand it, not yours. The point is, Mr. Baldry's obsession is that he can't remember the latter years of his life. Well,"his winking blue eyes drew us all into a
community we hardly felt,-"what's the suppressed wish of which it 's the manifestation ?"
"He wished for nothing," said Kitty. "He was fond of us, and he had a lot of money."
"Ah, but he did!" countered the doctor, gleefully. He seemed to be enjoying it all. "Quite obviously he has forgotten his life here because he is discontented with it. What clearer proof could you need than the fact you were just telling me when these ladies came in-that the reason the War Office did n't wire to you when he was wounded was that he had forgotten to register his address? Don't you see what that means?"
"Forgetfulness," shrugged Kitty. "He is n't businesslike." She had always nourished a doubt as to whether Chris was really, as she put it, practical, and his income and his international reputation weighed nothing as against his evident inability to pick up pieces at sales.
"One forgets only those things that one wants to forget. It's our business to find out why he wanted to forget this life."
"He can remember quite well when he is hypnotized," she said obstructively. She had quite ceased to glow.
"Oh, hypnotism 's a silly trick. It releases the memory of a dissociated personality which can't be related-not possibly in such an obstinate case as this to the waking personality. I'll do it by talking to him. Getting him to tell his dreams." He beamed at the prospect. "But you-it would be such a help if you would give me any clue to this discontent."
"I tell you," said Kitty, "he was not discontented till he went mad."
He caught the glint of her rising temper. "Ah," he said, "madness is an indictment not of the people one lives with, only of the high gods. If there was anything, it's evident that it was not your fault." A smile sugared it, and knowing that where he had to flatter his dissecting hand had not an easy task, he turned to me, whose general appearance suggests that flattery is not part of my daily diet. "You, Miss Baldry, you 've known him longest."
"Nothing and everything was wrong," I said at last. "I 've always felt it." A sharp movement of Kitty's body confirmed my deep, old suspicion that she hated me.
He went back further than I expected. "His relations with his father and mother, now?"
"His father was old when he was born, and always was a little jealous of him. His mother was not his sort. She wanted a stupid son, satisfied with shooting."
He laid down a remark very softly, like a hunter setting a snare.
"He turned, then, to sex with a peculiar need."
It was Margaret who spoke, shuffling her feet awkwardly under her chair.
"Yes, he was always dependent."
We gaped at her who said this of our splendid Chris, and I saw that she was not as she had been. There was a directness of speech, a straight stare, that was for her a frenzy.
"Doctor," she said, her mild voice roughened, "what's the use of talking? You can't cure him," she caught her lower lip with her teeth and fought back from the brink of tears,-"make him really happy, I mean. All you can do is to make him ordinary."
"I grant you that 's all I do," he said. It queerly seemed as though he was experiencing the relief one feels on meeting an intellectual equal. "It 's my profession to bring people from various outlying districts of the mind to the normal. There seems to be a general feeling it's the place where they ought to be. Sometimes 1 don't see the urgency myself."
She continued without joy:
"I know how you could bring him back -a memory so strong that it would recall everything else in spite of his discontent."
The little man had lost in a moment his glib assurance, his knowingness about the pathways of the soul.
"Well, I 'm willing to learn."
"Remind him of the boy," said Mar
The doctor ceased suddenly to balance on the balls of his feet.
"They had a boy.'
He looked at Kitty.
"I did n't think it mattered," she answered, and shivered and looked cold, as she always did at the memory of her unique contact with death. "He died five years ago."
He dropped his head back, stared at the cornice, and said with the soft malignity of a clever person dealing with the slow-witted.
"These subtle discontents are often the most difficult to deal with." Sharply he turned to Margaret. "How would you remind him?"
"Take him something the boy wore, some toy he played with."
Their eyes met wisely.
in a few moments she was to go out and say the words that would end all her happiness, that would destroy all the gifts her generosity had so difficultly amassed. Well, that is the kind of thing one has to do in this life.
But hardly had the door opened and disclosed the empty, sunny spaces swimming with motes before her old sweetness flowered again. She moved forward slowly, tremulous and responsive and pleased, as though the room's loveliness was a gift to her. She stretched out her hands to the clear sapphire walls and the bright fresco of birds and animals with a young delight. So, I thought, might a bride go about the house her husband secretly prepared for her. Yet when she reached the hearth and stood with her
"It would have to be you that did it." hands behind her on the fireguard, lookHer face assented.
"I don't understand. How does it matter so much?" She repeated it twice before she broke the silence that Margaret's wisdom had brought down on us. Then Dr. Anderson, rattling the keys in his trousers-pockets and swelling red and perturbed, answered:
"I don't know, but it does." Kitty's voice soared in satisfaction.
"Oh, then it's very simple. Mrs. Grey can do it now. Jenny, take Mrs. Grey up to the nursery. There are lots of things up there."
Margaret made no movement, but continued to sit with her heavy boots resting on the edge of their soles. Dr. Anderson searched Kitty's face, exclaimed, "Oh, well!" and flung himself into an arm-chair. so suddenly that the springs spoke. Margaret smiled at that and turned to me, "Yes, take me to the nursery, please." Yet as I walked beside her up the stairs I knew this compliance was not the indication of any melting of this new steely sternness. The very breathing that I heard as I knelt beside her at the nursery door and eased the disused lock seemed to come from a different and a harsher body than had been hers before. I did not wonder that she was feeling bleak, since
ing about her at all the exquisite devices of our nursery to rivet health and amusement on our reluctant little visitor, it was so apparent that she was a mother that I could not imagine how it was that I had not always known it. It has sometimes happened that painters who have kept close enough to earth to see a heavenly vision have made pictures of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin which do indeed show women who could bring God into the world by the passion of their motherhood. "Let there be life," their suspended bodies seem to cry out to the universe about them, and the very clouds under their feet change into cherubim. As Margaret stood there, her hands. pressed palm to palm beneath her chin and a blind smile on her face, she looked
"Oh, the fine room!" she cried. "But where 's his little cot?"
"It is n't here. This is the day nursery. The night nursery we did n't keep. It is just a bedroom now."
Her eyes shone at the thought of the cockered childhood this had been.
"I could n't afford to have two nurseries. It makes all the difference to the wee things." She hung above me for a little. as I opened the ottoman and rummaged among Oliver's clothes. "Ah, the lovely
little frocks! Did she make them? Ah, well, she'd hardly have the time, with this great house to see to. But I don't care much for baby frocks. The babies themselves are none the happier for them. It's all for show." She went over to the rocking-horse and gave a ghostly child a ride. For long she hummed a tuneless song into the sunshine and retreated far away into some maternal dream. "He was too young for this," she said. "His daddy must have given him it. I knew it. Men always give them presents above their age, they 're in such a hurry for them to grow up. We like them to take their time, the loves. But where 's his engine? Did n't he love puffer-trains? Of course he never saw them.
so far from the railway station. What a pity! He'd have loved them so. Dick was so happy when I stopped his pram on the railway-bridge on my way back from the shops, and he could sit up and see the puffers going by." Her distress that Oliver had missed this humble pleasure darkened her for a minute. "Why did he die! You did n't overtax his brain? He was n't taught his letters too soon?"
"Oh, no," I said. I could n't find the clothes I wanted. "The only thing that taxed his little brain was the prayers his Scotch nurse taught him, and he did n't bother much over them. He would say, 'Jesus, tender leopard,' instead of 'Jesus, tender shepherd,' as if he liked it better."
"Did you ever! The things they say! He'd a Scotch nurse. They say they 're very good. I've read in the papers the Queen of Spain has one." She had gone back to the hearth again, and was playing with the toys on the mantelpiece. It was odd that she showed no interest in my search for the most memorable garment. A vivacity which played above her tearwet strength, like a ball of St. Elmo's fire on the mast of a stout ship, made me realize she still was strange. "The toys he had! His nurse did n't let him have them all at once. She held him up and said, 'Baby, you must choose!' and he said, 'Teddy, please, Nanny,' and wagged his head at every word."
I had laid my hand on them at last. I wished, in the strangest way, that I had not. Yet of course it had to be.
"That 's just what he did do," I said. As she felt the fine kid-skin of the clockwork dog, her face began to twitch.
"I thought perhaps my baby had left me because I had so little to give him. But if a baby could leave all this!" She cried flatly, as though constant repetition in the night had made it as instinctive a reaction to suffering as a moan, "I want a child! I want a child!" Her arms invoked the wasted life that had been squandered in this room. "It's all gone so wrong," she fretted, and her voice dropped to a solemn whisper. "They each had only half a life."
I had to steady her. She could not go to Chris and shock him not only by her news, but also by her agony. I rose and took her the things I had found in the ottoman and the toy cupboard.
"I think these are the best things to take. This is one of the blue jerseys he used to wear. This is the red ball he and his father used to play with on the lawn."
Her hard hunger for the child that was not melted into a tenderness for the child that had been. She looked broodingly at what I carried, then laid a kind hand on my arm.
"You 've chosen the very things he will remember. Oh, you poor girl!"
I found that from her I could accept even pity.
She nursed the jersey and the ball, changed them from arm to arm, and held them to her face.
"I think I know the kind of boy he was, -a man from the first." She kissed them, folded up the jersey, and neatly set the ball upon it on the ottoman, and regarded them with tears. "There, put them back. That 's all I wanted them for. All I came up here for."
"To get Chris's boy," she moaned. "You thought I meant to take them out to Chris?" She wrung her hands; her weak voice quavered at the sternness of her resolution. "How can I?"
I grasped her hands.
"Why should you bring him back?" I said. I might have known there was deliverance in her yet.
Her slow mind gathered speed.
"Either I never should have come," she pleaded, "or you should let him be." She was arguing not with me, but with the whole hostile, reasonable world. "Mind you, I was n't sure if I ought to come the second time, seeing we both were married and that. I prayed and read the Bible, but I could n't get any help. You don't notice how little there is in the Bible really till you go to it for help. But I've lived a hard life and I 've always done my best for William, and I know nothing in the world matters so much as happiness. If anybody 's happy, you ought to let them be. So I came again. Let him be. If you knew how happy he was just pottering round the garden. Men do love a garden. He could just go on. It can go on so easily." But there was a shade of doubt in her voice; she was pleading not only with me, but with fate. "You would n't let them take him away to the asylum. You would n't stop me coming. The other one might, but you 'd see she did n't. Oh, do just let him be! "Put it like this." She made such explanatory gestures as I have seen cabmen make over their saucers of tea round a shelter. "If my boy had been a cripple,— he was n't; he had the loveliest limbs,and the doctors had said to me, 'We 'll straighten your boy's legs for you, but he will be in pain all the rest of his life,' I 'd not have let them touch him.
"I seemed to have to tell them that I knew a way. I suppose it would have been sly to sit there and not tell them. I told them, anyhow. But, oh, I can't do it! Go out and put an end to the poor love's happiness! After the time he 's had, the war and all. And then he'll have to go back there! I can't! I can't!"
I felt an ecstatic sense of ease. Everything was going to be right. Chris was to live in the interminable enjoyment of his youth and love. There was to be a finality about his happiness which usually
belongs only to loss and calamity; he was to be as happy as a ring cast into the sea is lost, as a man whose coffin has lain for centuries beneath the sod is dead. Yet Margaret continued to say, and irritated me by the implication that the matter was not settled:
"I ought n't to do it, ought I?"
"Of course not! Of course not!" I cried heartily, but the attention died in her eyes. She stared over my shoulder
at the open door, where Kitty stood.
The poise of her head had lost its pride, the shadows under her eyes were black like the marks of blows, and all her loveliness was diverted to the expression of grief. She held in her arms her Chinese sleeve dog, a once-prized pet that had fallen from favor and was now only to be met whining upward for a little love at every passer in the corridors, and it sprawled leaf-brown across her white frock, wriggling for joy at the unaccustomed embrace. That she should at last have stooped to lift the lonely little dog was a sign of her deep unhappiness. Why she had come up I do not know, nor why her face puckered with tears as she looked in on us. It was not that she had the slightest intimation of our decision, for she could not have conceived that we could follow any course but that which was obviously to her advantage. It was simply that she hated to see this strange, ugly woman moving about among her things. She swallowed her tears and passed on, to drift, like her dog, about the corridors.
Now, why did Kitty, who was the falsest thing on earth, who was in tune with every kind of falsity, by merely suffering somehow remind us of reality? Why did her tears reveal to me what I had learned long ago, but had forgotten in my frenzied love, that there is a draft that we must drink or not be fully human? I knew that one must know the truth. I knew quite well that when one is adult one must raise to one's lips the wine of the truth, heedless that it is not sweet like milk, but draws the mouth with its strength, and celebrate communion with reality, or else walk forever queer and