Winton’s whole body seemed to swell, his lips opened, he raised his hand. Then, the habit of a lifetime catching him by the throat, he stayed motionless. At last he got up and said:
“Glass of port, doctor?”
The doctor spying at him above the glass thought: ’This is “the fifty-two.” Give me “the sixty-eight”—more body.’
After a time, Winton went upstairs. Waiting in the outer room he had a return of his cold dread. “Perfectly successful—the patient died from exhaustion!” The tiny squawking noise that fell on his ears entirely failed to reassure him. He cared nothing for that new being. Suddenly he found Betty just behind him, her bosom heaving horribly.
“What is it, woman? Don’t!”
She had leaned against his shoulder, appearing to have lost all sense of right and wrong, and, out of her sobbing, gurgled:
“She looks so lovely—oh dear, she looks so lovely!”
Pushing her abruptly from him, Winton peered in through the just-opened door. Gyp was lying extremely still, and very white; her eyes, very large, very dark, were fastened on her baby. Her face wore a kind of wonder. She did not see Winton, who stood stone-quiet, watching, while the nurse moved about her business behind a screen. This was the first time in his life that he had seen a mother with her just-born baby. That look on her face—gone right away somewhere, right away—amazed him. She had never seemed to like children, had said she did not want a child. She turned her head and saw him. He went in. She made a faint motion toward the baby, and her eyes smiled. Winton looked at that swaddled speckled mite; then, bending down, he kissed her hand and tiptoed away.
At dinner he drank champagne, and benevolence towards all the world spread in his being. Watching the smoke of his cigar wreathe about him, he thought: ‘Must send that chap a wire.’ After all, he was a fellow being—might be suffering, as he himself had suffered only two hours ago. To keep him in ignorance—it wouldn’t do! And he wrote out the form—
“All well, a daughter.—Winton,”
and sent it out with the order that a groom should take it in that night.
Gyp was sleeping when he stole up at ten o’clock.
He, too, turned in, and slept like a child.
Returning the next afternoon from the first ride for several days, Winton passed the station fly rolling away from the drive-gate with the light-hearted disillusionment peculiar to quite empty vehicles.
The sight of a fur coat and broad-brimmed hat in the hall warned him of what had happened.
“Mr. Fiorsen, sir; gone up to Mrs. Fiorsen.”
Natural, but a d—d bore! And bad, perhaps, for Gyp. He asked:
“Did he bring things?”
“A bag, sir.”
“Get a room ready, then.”