“I thought you’d be glad to know, Mrs. Farron,” he said, “that any danger that may have existed is now over. Your husband—”
“That may have existed,” cried Adelaide. “Do you mean to say there hasn’t been any real danger?”
The young doctor’s eyes twinkled.
“An operation even in the best hands is always a danger,” he replied.
“But you mean there was no other?” Adelaide asked, aware of a growing coldness about her hands and feet.
Withers looked as just as Aristides.
“It was probably wise to operate,” he said. “Your husband ought to be up and about in three weeks.”
Everything grew black and rotatory before Adelaide’s eyes, and she sank slowly forward into the young doctor’s arms.
As he laid her on the bed, he glanced whimsically at the nurse and shook his head.
But she made no response, an omission which may not have meant loyalty to Dr. Crew so much as unwillingness to support Dr. Withers.
Adelaide returned to consciousness only in time to be hurried away to make room for Vincent. His long, limp figure was carried past her in the corridor. She was told that in a few hours she might see him. But she wasn’t, as a matter of fact, very eager to see him. The knowledge that he was to live, the lifting of the weight of dread, was enough. The maternal strain did not mingle with her love for him; she saw no possible reward, no increased sense of possession, in his illness. On the contrary, she wanted him to stride back in one day from death to his old powerful, dominating self.
She grew to hate the hospital routine, the fixed hours, the regulated food. “These rules, these hovering women,” she exclaimed, “these trays—they make me think of the nursery.” But what she really hated was Vincent’s submission to it all. In her heart she would have been glad to see him breaking the rules, defying the doctors, and bullying his nurses.
Before long a strong, silent antagonism grew up between her and the bright-eyed, cheerful nurse, Miss Gregory. It irritated Adelaide to gain access to her husband through other people’s consent; it irritated her to see the girl’s understanding of the case, and her competent arrangements for her patient’s comfort. If Vincent had showed any disposition to revolt, Adelaide would have pleaded with him to submit; but as it was, she watched his docility with a scornful eye.
“That girl rules you with a rod of iron,” she said one day. But even then Vincent did not rouse himself.
“She knows her business,” he said admiringly.
To any other invalid Adelaide could have been a soothing visitor, could have adapted the quick turns of her mind to the relaxed attention of the sick; but, honestly enough, there seemed to her an impertinence, almost an insult, in treating Vincent in such a way. The result was that her visits were exhausting, and she knew it. And yet, she said to herself, he was ill, not insane; how could she conceal from him the happenings of every day? Vincent would be the last person to be grateful to her for that.