It was over an hour since they had gone, but she was in no hurry for his return. She wanted time for getting things straight before he came—for letting the welter subside and getting the two or three essentials clear in her mind. She hadn’t cried a tear.
The old Rose would have cried—the Rose of a month ago, before that devastating, blinding scene with Portia, and what had happened since. She even managed to smile a little satirically, now, over the way that child would have taken it. Here it was their first anniversary of the day—the great day in their two lives—their birthday, as well as his! And he’d forgotten it! He had remained oblivious that morning, in spite of all the little evocative references she had made. She hadn’t let herself be hurt about that—not much, anyway; had managed to smile affectionately over his masculine obtuseness, as if it had meant no more to her than it would have, say, to Frederica. She had impressed him strongly, though—or tried to—with the idea that the evening was to be kept clear just for their two selves. And then she had arranged a feast—a homely little feast that was to culminate in a cake with a hedge of little candles around the edge for his birthday, and a single red one in the center, for theirs.
Well, and that was only part of it. She had planned, when the cake should have come in, all lighted up, and the servants had gone away and the other lights had been put out,—she had planned to tell him her great news. She hadn’t told him yet, though it was over a fortnight since her visit to the doctor.
She had no reasoned explanation of her postponement of it. The instinct that led her to keep it wholly to herself, was probably one of the reflections of that morning with Portia. She was still in a penitential mood when she went to the doctor—a mood which the contemplation of Portia’s frustrated life and her own undeservedly happy one, had bitten deep into her soul. It was a mood that nothing but pain could satisfy. The only relief she could get during that fortnight of packing and leave-taking, came in flogging herself to do hard things—things that hurt, physically and literally, I mean; that made her back ache and cramped the muscles of her arms. Her spiritual aches were too contemptible to pay any attention to.
Conversely, in that mood, the thing she couldn’t endure, that made her want to scream, was precisely what, all her life, she had taken for granted; tenderness, concern, the smoothing away of little difficulties for which the people about her had always sacrificed themselves. That mood made it hard to go to the doctor. But, after she had fainted dead away twice in one morning, a saving remnant of common sense—the reflection that if there were anything organically wrong with her, it would be a poor trick to play on Rodney, not to take remedial measures as soon as possible—dictated the action.
When the doctor told her what had happened, she was a little bewildered. She hadn’t, in her mind, any prepared background for the news. She and Rodney had decided at the beginning not to have any children for the first year or two—in view of Rose’s extreme youth, the postponement seemed sensible—and the decision once made, neither of them had thought much more about it.