“Where does Doctor put his?”
The result of the question was not satisfying. David found that he had brought up suddenly at the never-mind period. But his close-cropped head leaned out over the edge of the crib; and his eager eyes attentively regarded the floppy little legs of trouvers as they were folded over the back of a chair. Then came a sigh of resignation, and the shorn head was plumped down resolutely upon the pillow.
For the first time in many months he forgot to make a little smacky sound with his lips as a suggestion to Mother that she might have a kiss. Evidently such a matter was now of no importance, nor did he hold out his arms to her. All such childish ways as that had been put aside, and perhaps that is why a wistful look came into Mother’s face.
After she had left David in the big, dark room, she took up some dull-blue linen from her sewing-table. Only a short while ago she had been stitching upon this apparel for her baby—a foolish little dress, all edged about with a narrow lace braid.
Mother sat down by the shaded lamp and slipped a finger into her thimble. But her needle, which in the afternoon had glanced and glinted swiftly, as the dainty braid was being fastened into place, somehow refused to do its work. The little blue suit fell from her hands; the thimble rolled across the floor.
Hers was the bereavement which comes to every mother. It comes upon her suddenly, leaving her surprised, wondering, and full of foolish little fears that in the boyhood of her boy she may not hold so big a place as was given her to hold through all his babyhood.
Where was the child of yesterday? Who had stolen from Mother and her little boy the elfin charm and the sweet wonderland which, for so long a time, had been his and hers together? Gone, as it must always go, when the little one of to-day goes speeding on and still on into the dust and weary prose of the hurrying years.
Leaving Mrs. Wilson, a neighbor and friend, in care of the house while David slept, Miss Eastman set out for Dr. Redfield’s office. In her face was determination; in her hand a broken miniature. The gentleman was to be called upon to explain, if he could, why he had given that picture to her little boy.
“I have been his mother now for four years,” she meant to tell the Doctor. “I have tried to be a good mother; I have tried my best. Why, then, should you even suggest to him that I am not really his mother? If you have done that I must tell you that I do not think it just. And, besides, I must ask you to make no further additions to his wardrobe without first consulting me. He does not look like my little boy any more. You have cut off his curls. You said nothing to me about it; you merely cut them off. I did not want you to do that. I would not have consented to it, and I should like you to understand that hereafter he is to be solely in my care, or not at all.”