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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
faced with annihilation—­seemed to revive within her, and make her terrible secret almost precious.  She had read about “War babies” in the papers, read with a dull curiosity; but now the atmosphere, as it were, of those writings was illumined for her.  These babies were wrong, were a “problem,” and yet, behind all that, she seemed now to know that people were glad of them; they made up, they filled the gaps.  Perhaps, when she had one, she would be proud, secretly proud, in spite of everyone, in spite of her father!  They had tried to kill Cyril—­God and everyone; but they hadn’t been able, he was alive within her!  A glow came into her face, walking among the busy shopping crowd, and people turned to look at her; she had that appearance of seeing no one, nothing, which is strange and attractive to those who have a moment to spare from contemplation of their own affairs.  Fully two hours she wandered thus, before going in, and only lost that exalted feeling when, in her own little room, she had taken up his photograph, and was sitting on her bed gazing at it.  She had a bad breakdown then.  Locked in there, she lay on her bed, crying, dreadfully lonely, till she fell asleep exhausted, with the tear-stained photograph clutched in her twitching fingers.  She woke with a start.  It was dark, and someone was knocking on her door.

“Miss Noel!”

Childish perversity kept her silent.  Why couldn’t they leave her alone?  They would leave her alone if they knew.  Then she heard another kind of knocking, and her father’s voice: 

“Nollie!  Nollie!”

She scrambled up, and opened.  He looked scared, and her heart smote her.

“It’s all right, Daddy; I was asleep.”

“My dear, I’m sorry, but dinner’s ready.”

“I don’t want any dinner; I think I’ll go to bed.”

The frown between his brows deepened.

“You shouldn’t lock your door, Nollie:  I was quite frightened.  I went round to the hospital to bring you home, and they told me about your fainting.  I want you to see a doctor.”

Noel shook her head vigorously.  “Oh, no!  It’s nothing!”

“Nothing?  To faint like that?  Come, my child.  To please me.”  He took her face in his hands.  Noel shrank away.

“No, Daddy.  I won’t see a doctor.  Extravagance in wartime!  I won’t.  It’s no good trying to make me.  I’ll come down if you like; I shall be all right to-morrow.”

With this Pierson had to be content; but, often that evening, she saw him looking at her anxiously.  And when she went up, he came out of his study, followed to her room, and insisted on lighting her fire.  Kissing her at the door, he said very quietly: 

“I wish I could be a mother to you, my child!”

For a moment it flashed through Noel:  ‘He knows!’ then, by the puzzled look on his face, she knew that he did not.  If only he did know; what a weight it would be off her mind!  But she answered quietly too; “Good night, Daddy dear!” kissed him, and shut the door.

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