“Here, darling, here!”
From the floor beside her, the raffia wreath half in the making, Mrs. Coblenz reached up, pressing it flat to the heaving old bosom.
“There, darling, there!”
“I paid with my blood—”
“Yes, yes, mama; you—paid with your blood. Mama—sit, please. Sit and—let’s try to think. Take it slow, darling; it’s like we can’t take it in all at once. I—We—Sit down, darling. You’ll make yourself terrible sick. Sit down, darling; you—you’re slipping.”
Heavily, the arm at the waist gently sustaining, Mrs. Horowitz sank rather softly down, her eyelids fluttering for the moment. A smile had come out on her face, and, as her head sank back against the rest, the eyes resting at the downward flutter, she gave out a long breath, not taking it in again.
“Mama! You’re fainting!” She leaned to her, shaking the relaxed figure by the elbows, her face almost touching the tallow-like one with the smile lying so deeply into it. “Mama! My God! darling, wake up! I’ll take you back. I’ll find a way to take you. I’m a bad girl, darling, but I’ll find a way to take you. I’ll take you if—if I kill for it! I promise before God I’ll take you. To-morrow—now—nobody can keep me from taking you. The wreaths, mama! Get ready the wreaths! Mama darling, wake up! Get ready the wreaths! The wreaths!” Shaking at that quiet form, sobs that were full of voice tearing raw from her throat, she fell to kissing the sunken face, enclosing it, stroking it, holding her streaming gaze closely and burningly against the closed lids. “Mama, I swear to God I’ll take you! Answer me, mama! The bank-book—you’ve got it! Why don’t you wake up, mama? Help!”
Upon that scene, the quiet of the room so raucously lacerated, burst Mr. Haas, too breathless for voice.
“Mr. Haas—my mother! Help—my mother! It’s a faint, ain’t it? A faint?”
He was beside her at two bounds, feeling of the limp wrists, laying his ear to the grenadine bosom, lifting the reluctant lids, touching the flesh that yielded so to touch.
“It’s a faint, ain’t it, Mr. Haas? Tell her I’ll take her back. Wake her up, Mr. Haas! Tell her I’m a bad girl, but I—I’m going to take her back. Now! Tell her! Tell her, Mr. Haas, I’ve got the bank-book. Please! Please! O my God!”
He turned to her, his face working to keep down compassion.
“We must get a doctor, little lady.”
She threw out an arm.
“No! No! I see! My old mother—my old mother—all her life a nobody—She helped—she gave it to them—my mother—a poor little widow nobody—She bought with her blood that freedom—she—”
“God! I just heard it down-stairs—it’s the tenth wonder of the world. It’s too big to take in. I was afraid—”
“Mama darling, I tell you, wake up! I’m a bad girl, but I’ll take you back. Tell her, Mr. Haas, I’ll take her back. Wake up, darling! I swear to God I’ll take you!”