And then he smiled and shook his head.
“Yet I don’t know,” said he; “for I am coming to the conclusion that the world is run on an extremely humorous basis.”
And oddly enough, it was at the same moment that Patricia—in Lichfield—reached the same conclusion.
PART SEVEN — YOKED
“We are as time moulds us, lacking
To shape out nobler fortunes or contend
Against all-patient Fates, who may not mend
The allotted pattern of things temporal
Or alter it a jot or e’er let fall
A single stitch thereof, until at last
The web and its drear weavers be overcast
And predetermined darkness swallow all.
“They have ordained for us a time
A time to love, a time wherein to tire
Of all spent songs and kisses; caroling
Such elegies as buried dreams require,
Love now departs, and leaves us shivering
Beside the embers of a burned-out fire.”
PAUL VANDERHOFFEN. Egeria Answers.
The doctor’s waiting-room smelt strongly of antiseptics. That was Patricia’s predominating thought as she wandered aimlessly about the apartment. She fingered its dusty furniture. She remembered afterward the steel-engraving of Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet, with General Lee explaining some evidently important matter to those attentive and unhumanly stiff politicians; and she remembered, too, how in depicting one statesman, who unavoidably sat with his back to the spectator, the artist had exceeded anatomical possibilities in order to obtain a recognizable full-faced portrait. Yet at the time this picture had not roused her conscious attention.
She went presently to the long table austerely decorated with two rows of magazines, each partly covered by its neighbor, just as shingles are placed. The arrangement irritated her unreasonably. She wanted to disarrange these dog-eared pamphlets, to throw them on the floor, to destroy them. She wondered how many other miserable people had tried to read these hateful books while they waited in this abominable room.
She started when the door of the consultation-room opened. The doctor was patting the silk glove of a harassed-looking woman in black as he escorted her to the outer door, and was assuring her that everything was going very well indeed, and that she was not to worry, and so on.
And presently he spoke with Patricia, for a long while, quite levelly, of matters which it is not suitable to record. Discreet man that he was, Wendell Pemberton could not entirely conceal his wonder that Patricia should have remained so long in ignorance of her condition. He spoke concerning malformation and functional weaknesses and, although obscurely because of the bugbear of professional courtesy, voiced his opinion that Patricia had not received the most adroit medical treatment at the time of little Roger’s birth.