I passed into a narrow hall, with an empty hat-rack, and so into the surgery. From the back of the house came the sound of a piano—scales, played very slowly. The surgery was empty. I noticed a card with letters of the alphabet printed on it in different sizes; and then the piano ceased, and there was the humming of an air in the passage, and a tall man in a frock-coat, slippered and spectacled, came into the surgery.
‘Good-evening, madam,’ he said gruffly. ‘Won’t you sit down?’
‘I—I—I want to ask you—’
He put a chair for me, and I dropped into it.
‘There!’ he said, after a moment. ’You felt as if you might faint, didn’t you?’
I nodded. The tears came into my eyes.
‘I thought so,’ he said. ’I’ll just give you a draught, if you don’t mind.’
He busied himself behind me, and presently I was drinking something out of a conical-shaped glass.
My heart beat furiously, but I felt strong.
‘I want you to tell me, doctor,’ I spoke firmly, ’whether I am about to become a mother.’
‘Ah?’ he answered interrogatively, and then he hummed a fragment of an air.
‘I have lost my husband,’ I was about to add; but suddenly I scorned such a weakness and shut my lips.
‘Since when—’ the doctor began.
* * * * *
‘No,’ I heard him saying. ’You have been quite mistaken. But I am not surprised. Such mistakes are frequently made—a kind of auto-suggestion.’
‘Mistaken!’ I murmured.
I could not prevent the room running round me as I reclined on the sofa; and I fainted.
But in the night, safely in my room again at the hotel, I wondered whether that secret fear, now exorcised, had not also been a hope. I wondered....
THREE HUMAN HEARTS
And now I was twenty-six.
Everyone who knows Jove knows the poignant and delicious day when the lovers, undeclared, but sure of mutual passion, await the magic moment of avowal, with all its changeful consequences. I resume my fragmentary narrative at such a day in my life. As for me, I waited for the avowal as for an earthquake. I felt as though I were the captain of a ship on fire, and the only person aware that the flames were creeping towards a powder magazine. And my love shone fiercely in my heart, like a southern star; it held me, hypnotized, in a thrilling and exquisite entrancement, so that if my secret, silent lover was away from me, as on that fatal night in my drawing-room, my friends were but phantom presences in a shadowy world. This is not an exaggerated figure, but the truth, for when I have loved I have loved much....