The bars came back, but the whiteness of them was no longer so white, and slowly they faded out. Then, for a long time, nothing. Then sounds, movements—soft, skilful, disciplined sounds and movements. And, presently, a hand—a firm powerful hand, that picked up and supported a heavy limp wrist—Rose Stanton’s wrist—and two sensitive finger-tips that rested lightly on the upper surface of it. After that, an even measured voice—a voice of authority, whose words no doubt made sense, only Rose was too tired to think what the sense was:
“She’s out of the ether now, practically. That’s a splendid pulse. She’s doing the best thing she can, sleeping like that. It’s been a thoroughly normal delivery from the beginning. Oh, a long difficult one, I’ll admit. But there’s nothing now, that you could want better than what you’ve got.”
And then another voice, utterly unlike Rodney’s and yet unmistakably his—a ragged voice that tried to talk in a whisper but couldn’t manage it; broke queerly.
“That’s all right,” it said. “But I’ll find it easier to believe when ...”
She must see him—must know what it meant that he should talk like that. With a strong physical effort, she opened her eyes and tried to speak his name.
She couldn’t; but some one must have been watching and seen, because a woman’s voice said quickly and quietly, “Mr. Aldrich.”
And the next moment, vast and towering, and very blurred in outline, but, like his voice, unmistakable, was Rodney—her own big strong Rodney. She tried to hold her arms up to him, but of course she couldn’t.
And then he shortened suddenly. He had knelt down beside her bed, that was it. And she felt upon her palm, the pressure of his lips, and his unshaven cheek, and on her wrist, a warm wetness that must be—tears.
Why was he crying? What had happened? She must try to think.
It was very hard. She didn’t want to think, but she must. She must begin with something she knew. She knew who she was. She was Rose—Rodney’s Rose. Here was his mouth down close to the pillow saying her name over and over and over again. And she was in her own bed. But what had happened? She must try to remember. She remembered something she had said—said to herself over and over again an illimitable while ago. “It’s coming. The miracle’s beginning.” What had she meant by that?
And then she knew. The urgency of a sudden terror gave her her voice.
“Roddy,” she said. “There was going to be a—baby. Isn’t there?”
Something queerly like a laugh broke his voice when he answered. “Oh, you darling! Yes. It’s all right. That isn’t why I’m crying. It’s just because I’m so happy.”
“But the baby!” she persisted. “Why isn’t it here?”
Rodney turned and spoke to some one else. “She wants to see,” he said. “May she?”
And then a woman’s voice (why, it was the nurse, of course! Miss Harris, who had come last night) said in an indulgent soothing tone, “Why, surely she may. Wait just a minute.”