“Oh,” she said, “if it could only be kill or cure!”
He glanced at her.
“We have hardly reached that point yet,” he answered.
She went away dissatisfied. He had answered every question, he had even encouraged her to hope a little more than her interpretation of what Vincent said had allowed her; but as she drove away she knew he had failed her. For she had gone to him in order to have Vincent presented to her as a hero, as a man who had looked upon the face of death without a quiver. Instead, he had been presented to her as a patient, just one of the long procession that passed through that office. The doctor had said nothing to contradict the heroic picture, but he had said nothing to contribute to it. And surely, if Farron had stood out in his calmness and courage above all other men, the doctor would have mentioned it, couldn’t have helped doing so; he certainly would not have spent so much time in telling her how she was to guard and encourage him. To the doctor he was only a patient, a pitiful human being, a victim of mortality. Was that what he was going to become in her eyes, too?
At four she drove down-town to his office. He came out with another man; they stood a moment on the steps talking and smiling. Then he drew his friend to the car window and introduced him to Adelaide. The man took off his hat.
“I was just telling your husband, Mrs. Farron, that I’ve been looking at offices in this building. By the spring he and I will be neighbors.”
Adelaide just shut her eyes, and did not open them again until Vincent had got in beside her and she felt his arm about her shoulder.
“My poor darling!” he said. “What you need is to go home and get some sleep.” It was said in his old, cherishing tone, and she, leaning back, with her head against the point of his shoulder, felt that, black as it was, life for the first time since the night before had assumed its normal aspect again.
The morning after their drive up-town Vincent told his wife that all his arrangements were made to go to the hospital that night, and to be operated upon the next day. She reproached him for having made his decision without consulting her, but she loved him for his proud independence.
Somehow this second day under the shadow of death was less terrible than the first. Vincent stayed up-town, and was very natural and very busy. He saw a few people,—men who owed him money, his lawyer, his partner,—but most of the time he and Adelaide sat together in his study, as they had sat on many other holidays. He insisted on going alone to the hospital, although she was to be in the building during the operation.
Mathilde had been told, and inexperienced in disaster, she had felt convinced that the outcome couldn’t be fatal, yet despite her conviction that people did not really die, she was aware of a shyness and awkwardness in the tragic situation.