I could bear no more. The dark thoughts of the days before were over me still, and with a groan I turned to the wall. Then everything was wiped out as by an angel’s wing, and I fell into a deep sleep.
When I awoke my dark thoughts were vanishing away like a bad dream in the morning. The rain had ceased, the gas had been put out, and I could see by the glow on the peonies of the wall-paper that the sun was shining with a soft red light through the holland blinds of my windows.
I heard the sparrows chirping on the sills outside; I heard the milkman rattling his cans; I heard the bells of a neighbouring church ringing for early communion.
I closed my eyes and held my breath and listened to the sounds in my own room. I heard the kettle singing over the fire; I heard somebody humming softly, and beating a foot on the floor in time to the tune and then I heard a low voice (it was Emmerjane’s) saying from somewhere near my bed:
“I dunno but what she’s awake. Her breathing ain’t a-goin’ now.”
Then I turned and saw the nurse sitting before the fire with something on her lap. I knew what it was. It was my child, and it was asleep. In spite of my dark thoughts my heart yearned for it.
And then came the great miracle.
My child awoke and began to cry. It was a faint cry, oh! so thin and weak, but it went thundering and thundering through me. There was a moment of awful struggle, and then a mighty torrent of love swept over me.
It was Motherhood.
My child! Mine! Flesh of my flesh! Oh God! Oh God!
All my desire for my baby’s death to save it from the pains of life was gone, and my heart, starved so long, throbbed with tenderness. I raised myself in bed, in spite of my nurse’s protest, and cried to her to give me my baby.
“Give her to me. Give her to me.”
“By-and-by, by-and-by,” said the nurse.
“Now, now! I can wait no longer.”
“But you must take some food first. Emmerjane, give her that glass of milk and water.”
I drank the milk just to satisfy them, and then held out my arms for my child.
“Give her to me—quick, quick!”
“Here she is then, the jewel!”
Oh! the joy of that moment when I first took my baby in my arms, and looked into her face, and saw my own features and the sea-blue eyes of Martin! Oh the rapture of my first eager kiss!
I suppose I must have been rough with my little cherub in the fervour of my love, for she began to cry again.
“There! there!” said the nurse. “Be good now, or I must take baby away.”
But heaven had taught me another lesson, and instantly, instinctively, I put my baby to my breast. Instantly and instinctively, too, my baby turned to it with its little mouth open and its little fingers feeling for the place.
“Oh God! My God! Oh Mother of my God!”