A BABY had come, but he was not welcome. Could anything be sadder?
The young mother lay with her white face to the wall, still as death. A woman opened the chamber door noiselessly and came in, the faint rustle of her garments disturbing the quiet air.
A quick, eager turning of the head, a look half anxious, half fearful, and then the almost breathless question,
“Where is my baby?”
“Never mind about the baby,” was answered, almost coldly; “he’s well enough. I’m more concerned about you.”
“Have you sent word to George?”
“George can’t see you. I’ve said that before.”
“Oh, mother! I must see my husband.”
“Husband!” The tone of bitter contempt with which the word was uttered struck the daughter like a blow. She had partly risen in her excitement, but now fell back with a low moan, shutting her eyes and turning her face away. Even as she did so, a young man stepped back from the door of the elegant house in which she lay with a baffled, disappointed air. He looked pale and wretched.
“Edith!” Two hours afterward the doctor stood over the young mother, and called her name. She did not move nor reply. He laid his hand on her cheek, and almost started, then bent down and looked at her intently for a moment or two. She had fever. A serious expression came into his face, and there was cause.
The sweet rest and heavenly joy of maternity had been denied to his young patient. The new-born babe had not been suffered to lie even for one blissful moment on her bosom. Hard-hearted family pride and cruel worldliness had robbed her of the delight with which God ever seeks to dower young motherhood, and now the overtaxed body and brain had given way.
For many weeks the frail young creature struggled with delirium—struggled and overcame.
“Where is my baby?”
The first thought of returning consciousness was of her baby.
A woman who sat in a distant part of the chamber started up and crossed to the bed. She was past middle life, of medium stature, with small, clearly cut features and cold blue eyes. Her mouth was full, but very firm. Self-poise was visible even in her surprised movements. She bent over the bed and looked into Edith’s wistful eyes.
“Where is my baby, mother?” Mrs. Dinneford put her fingers lightly on Edith’s lips.
“You must be very quiet,” she said, in a low, even voice. “The doctor forbids all excitement. You have been extremely ill.”
“Can’t I see my baby, mother? It won’t hurt me to see my baby.”
“Not now. The doctor—”
Edith half arose in bed, a look of doubt and fear coming into her face.
“I want my baby, mother,” she said, interrupting her.
A hard, resolute expression came into the cold blue eyes of Mrs. Dinneford. She put her hand firmly against Edith and pressed her back upon the pillow.