“I’m vit her,” he answered truculently.
“She works for him,” explained the young fellow. “It’s all right, I tell you.”
The newcomer grunted and knelt down. He passed a hand over the damp head, grunted again, and arose to his feet.
“This is no case for me,” he said. “Send for the ambulance.”
Then the thing became a dream to Genevieve. Maybe she had fainted, she did not know, but for what other reason should Silverstein have his arm around her supporting her? All the faces seemed blurred and unreal. Fragments of a discussion came to her ears. The young fellow who had been her guide was saying something about reporters. “You vill get your name in der papers,” she could hear Silverstein saying to her, as from a great distance; and she knew she was shaking her head in refusal.
There was an eruption of new faces, and she saw Joe carried out on a canvas stretcher. Silverstein was buttoning the long overcoat and drawing the collar about her face. She felt the night air on her cheek, and looking up saw the clear, cold stars. She jammed into a seat. Silverstein was beside her. Joe was there, too, still on his stretcher, with blankets over his naked body; and there was a man in blue uniform who spoke kindly to her, though she did not know what he said. Horses’ hoofs were clattering, and she was lurching somewhere through the night.
Next, light and voices, and a smell of iodoform. This must be the receiving hospital, she thought, this the operating table, those the doctors. They were examining Joe. One of them, a dark-eyed, dark-bearded, foreign-looking man, rose up from bending over the table.
“Never saw anything like it,” he was saying to another man. “The whole back of the skull.”
Her lips were hot and dry, and there was an intolerable ache in her throat. But why didn’t she cry? She ought to cry; she felt it incumbent upon her. There was Lottie (there had been another change in the dream), across the little narrow cot from her, and she was crying. Somebody was saying something about the coma of death. It was not the foreign-looking doctor, but somebody else. It did not matter who it was. What time was it? As if in answer, she saw the faint white light of dawn on the windows.
“I was going to be married to-day,” she said to Lottie.
And from across the cot his sister wailed, “Don’t, don’t!” and, covering her face, sobbed afresh.
This, then, was the end of it all—of the carpets, and furniture, and the little rented house; of the meetings and walking out, the thrilling nights of starshine, the deliciousness of surrender, the loving and the being loved. She was stunned by the awful facts of this Game she did not understand—the grip it laid on men’s souls, its irony and faithlessness, its risks and hazards and fierce insurgences of the blood, making woman pitiful, not the be-all and end-all of man, but his toy and his pastime; to woman his mothering and caretaking, his moods and his moments, but to the Game his days and nights of striving, the tribute of his head and hand, his most patient toil and wildest effort, all the strain and the stress of his being—to the Game, his heart’s desire.