So the days passed. And the nights. And more days. And more nights. July—August,—on and on and on.
Strenuous, nerve-racking, heart-breaking surgical days—broken maritally only by the pleasant, soft-worded greeting at the gate, or the practical, homely appeal of good food cooked with heart as well as hands, or the tingling, inciting masculine consciousness of there being a woman’s—blush in the house!
Strenuous, house-working, child-nursing, home-making, domestic days—broken maritally only by the jaded, harsh word at the gate, the explosive criticism of food, the deadening, depressing, feminine consciousness of there being a man’s—vicious temper in the house!
Now and again in one big automobile or another the White Linen Nurse and the Senior Surgeon rode out together, always and forever with the Little Crippled Girl sitting between them,—the other woman’s little crippled girl. Now and again in the late summer afternoons the White Linen Nurse and the Senior Surgeon strolled together through the rainbow-colored garden, always and forever with the Little Crippled Girl,—the other woman’s little crippled girl, tagging close behind them with her little sad, clanking leg. Now and again in the long sweet summer evenings the White Linen Nurse and the Senior Surgeon sat on the clematis-shadowed porch together, always and forever with the Little Crippled Girl,—the other woman’s little crippled girl, mocking them querulously from some vague upper window.
Now and again across the mutually ghost-haunted chasm that separated them flashed the incontrovertible signal of sex and sense, as once when a new Interne, grossly bungling, stepped to the hospital window with a colleague to watch the Senior Surgeon’s car roll away as usual with its two feminine passengers.
“What makes the Chief so stingy with that big handsome girl of his?” queried the new Interne a bit resentfully. “He won’t ever bring her into the hospital!—won’t ever ask any of us young chaps out to his house! And some of us come mighty near to being eligible, too!—Who’s he saving her for, anyway?—A saint?—A miracle-worker?—A millionaire medicine man?—They don’t exist, you know!”
“I’m saving her for myself!” snapped the Senior Surgeon most disconcertingly from the doorway. “She—she happens to be my wife, not my daughter,—thank you!”
When the Senior Surgeon went home that night he carried a big bunch of magazines and a box of candy as large as his head tucked courtingly under his arm.
Now and again across the chasm that separated them flashed the incontrovertible signal of mutual trust and appreciation, as when once, after a particularly violent vocal outburst on the Senior Surgeon’s part, he sobered down very suddenly and said:
“Rae Malgregor,—do you realize that in all the weeks we’ve been together you’ve never once nagged me about my swearing? Not a word,—not a single word!”