Septimus rose and took his hat. “I think it awfully wonderful of you,” he said. “I really do. I should like to talk to you about it—but I must go and see Emmy. She came last night.”
Sypher inquired politely after her health, also that of her baby.
“He’s taking such a deuce of a time to grow up,” said Septimus. “Otherwise he’s well. He’s got a tooth. I’ve been wondering why no dentist has ever invented a set of false teeth for babies.”
“Then your turn would come,” laughed Sypher, “for you would have to invent them a cast-iron inside.”
Before Septimus went, Sypher thrust a gold-headed umbrella into his hands.
“It’s pouring with rain, and you’ll wade about and get wet through. I make a rule never to lend umbrellas, so I give you this from a grateful heart. God bless you.”
The little flat in Chelsea, cleaned, swept and garnished by the wife of the porter of the Mansions, received Emmy, her babe, Madame Bolivard and multitudinous luggage. All the pretty fripperies and frivolities had been freshened and refurbished since their desecration at alien hands, and the place looked cheery and homelike; but Emmy found it surprisingly small, and was amazed to discover the prodigious space taken up by the baby. When she drew Septimus’s attention to this phenomenon he accounted for it by saying that it was because he had such a very big name, which was an excellent thing in that it would enable him to occupy a great deal of room in the universe when he grew up.
She busied herself all the morning about the flat, happier than she had been for a whole year. Her days of Hagardom were over. The menacing shadow of the finger of scorn pointing at her from every airt of heaven had disappeared. A clear sky welcomed her as she came back to take up an acknowledged position in the world. The sense of release from an intolerable ban outweighed the bitterness of old associations. She was at home, in London, among dear familiar things and faces. She was almost happy.
When Madame Bolivard appeared with bonnet and basket undismayedly prepared to market for lunch and dinner, she laughed like a schoolgirl, and made her repeat the list of English words she had taught her in view of this contingency. She could say “cabbage,” “sugar,” “lettuce,” and ask for all sorts of things.
“But suppose you lose your way, Madame Bolivard?”
“I shall find it, madame.”
“But how will you ask for directions? You know you can’t say ’Ecclefechan Mansions.’”
Madame Bolivard made a hopeless, spluttering sound as if she were blowing teeth out of her mouth, which in no wise resembled the name of the place wherein she dwelt. But Madame Bolivard, as has been remarked, was a brave femme; and allons donc! this was the least of the difficulties she had had to encounter during her life. Emmy bade her godspeed in her perils among the greengrocers.