“Those were her very words and her very snorts and what they meant—what ‘Your wonderful Miss Bright for you’ meant—was, as he explained to me, that when he was home on leave, with the girl in the house, they were frequently having words about her, because he thought his wife was a bit sharp with her, and his wife, for her part, said he was forever sticking up for her.
“‘What do you think of that? Ha!’ and she chucked the letter over to him, and from what I know of her you can imagine her sitting bolt upright, bridling with virtuous prescience confirmed, watching him, while he read it.
“While he read it.... Sabre said the letter was the most frightfully pathetic document he could ever have imagined. Smudged, he said, and stained and badly expressed as if the writer—this girl—this Effie Bright—was crying and incoherent with distress when she wrote it. And she no doubt was. She said she’d got into terrible trouble. She’d got a little baby. Sabre said it was awful to him the way she kept on in every sentence calling it ’a little baby’—never a child, or just a baby, but always ‘a little baby,’ ‘my little baby.’ He said it was awful. She said it was born in December—you remember, old man, it was the previous March she’d got the sack from them—and that she’d been living in lodgings with it, and that now she was well enough to move, and had come to the absolute end of her money, she was being turned out and was at her wits’ end with despair and nearly out of her mind to know what to do and all that kind of thing. She said her father wouldn’t have anything to do with her, and no one would have anything to do with her—so long as she kept her little baby. That was her plight: no one would have anything to do with her while she had the baby. Her father was willing to take her home, and some kind people had offered to take her into service, and the clergyman where she was had said there were other places he could get her, but only, all of them, if she would give up the baby and put it out to nurse somewhere: and she said, and underlined it about fourteen times, Sabre said, and cried over it so you could hardly read it, she said: ’And, oh, Mrs. Sabre, I can’t, I can’t, I simply can not give up my little baby.... He’s mine,’ she said. ’He looks at me, and knows me, and stretches out his tiny little hands to me, and I can’t give him up. I can’t let my little baby go. Whatever I’ve done, I’m his mother and he’s my little baby and I can’t let him go.’
“Sabre said it was awful. I can believe it was. I’d seen the girl, and I’d seen her stooping over her baby (like I told you) and I can well believe awful was the word for it. Poor soul.