But the wait seemed hours. Why didn’t they bring the baby—her baby? There! Miss Harris was coming at last, with a queerly bulky, shapeless bundle. Rodney stepped in between and cut off the view, but only to slide an arm under mattress and pillow and raise her a little so that she could see. And then, under her eyes, dark red and hairy against the whiteness of the pillow, were two small heads—two small shapeless masses leading away from them, twitching, squirming. She stared, bewildered.
“There were twins, Rose,” she heard Rodney explaining triumphantly, but still with something that wasn’t quite a laugh, “a boy and a girl. They’re perfectly splendid. One weighs seven pounds and the other six.”
Her eyes widened and she looked up into his face so that the pitiful bewilderment in hers was revealed to him.
“But the baby!” she said. Her wide eyes filled with tears and her voice broke weakly. “I wanted a baby.”
“You’ve got a baby,” he insisted, and now laughed outright. “There are two of them. Don’t you understand, dear?”
Her eyes drooped shut, but the tears came welling out along her lashes. “Please take them away,” she begged. And then, with a little sob she whispered, “I wanted a baby, not those.”
Rodney started to speak, but some sort of admonitory signal from the nurse silenced him.
The nurse went away with her bundle, and Rodney stayed stroking her limp hand.
In the dark, ever so much later, she awoke, stirred a little restlessly, and the nurse, from her cot, came quickly and stood beside her bed. She had something in her hands for Rose to drink, and Rose drank it dutifully.
“Is there anything else?” the nurse asked.
“I just want to know,” Rose said; “have I been dreaming, or is it true? Is there a baby, or are there twins?”
“Twins, to be sure,” said the nurse cheerfully. “The loveliest, liveliest little pair you ever saw.”
“Thank you,” said Rose. “I just wanted to know.”
She shut her eyes and pretended to go to sleep. But she didn’t. It was true then. Her miracle, it seemed somehow, had gone ludicrously awry.
THE DAM GIVES WAY
She began getting her strength back very fast after the next two or three days, but this queer kink in her emotions didn’t straighten out. She came to see that it was absurd—monstrous almost, but that didn’t help. Instead of a baby, she had given birth to two. They were hers of course, as much as one would have been. Only, her soul, which had been waiting so ecstatically for its miracle—for the child which, by making her a mother, should supply what her life needed—her soul wouldn’t—couldn’t accept the substitution. Those two droll, thin voiced, squirming little mites that were exhibited to her every morning, were as foreign to her, as detached from her, as if they had been brought into the house in a basket.