And Priscilla’s mother was here at the club. Nancy felt that she was going to get dizzy, she turned an ashen face to Mrs. Biggerstaff.
“The baby—Priscilla!” she said, in a sharp whisper. “Oh, Ruth— did they remember her! Oh, God, did they remember her! Oh, baby— baby!”
The last words were no more than a breath of utter agony. A second later Nancy turned, and ran. She did not hear the protest that followed her, nor realize that, as she had taken off her wide-brimmed hat for the card-game, she was bare-headed under the burning August sun. She choked back the scream that seemed her only possible utterance, and fought the deadly faintness that assailed her. Unhearing, unseeing, unthinking, she ran across the porch, and down the steps to the drive.
Here she paused, checkmated. For every one of the motor-sheds was empty, and not a car was in sight on the lawns or driveway, where usually a score of them stood. The green, clipped grass, and the blossoming shrubs, baking in the afternoon heat, were silent and deserted. The flame of geraniums, and the dazzle of the empty white courts, smote her eyes. She heard Mrs. Fielding’s feet flying down the steps, and turned a bewildered, white face toward her.
“Elsie—there’s not a car! What shall I do?”
“Listen, dear,” said the new-comer, breathlessly, “Ruth is telephoning for a car—”
But Nancy’s breath caught on a short, dry sob, and she shook her head.
“All the way to the village—it can’t be here for half an hour! Oh, no, I can’t wait—I can’t wait—”
And quite without knowing what she did, or hoped to do, she began to run. The crunched gravel beneath her flying feet was hot, and the mile of road between her and Holly Court lay partly in the white sunlight, but she thought only of Priscilla—the happy, good, inexacting little baby, who had been put in her crib—with her “cacker”—and left there—and left there—
“My baby!” she said out loud, in a voice of agony. “You were having your nap—and mother a mile away!”
She passed the big stone gateway of the club, and the road— endless it looked—lay before her. Nancy felt as helpless as one bound in a malignant dream. She could make no progress, her most frantic efforts seemed hardly more than standing still. A sharp pain sprang to her side, she pressed her hand over it. No use; she would only kill herself that way, she must get her breath.
Oh, why had she left her—even for a single second! So small, so gay, so helpless; how could any mother leave her. She had been so merry, in her high chair at breakfast, she had toddled off so dutifully with Agnes, when Nancy had left the doleful boys and the whimpering Anne, to go to the club. The little gold crown of hair--the small buckskin slippers—Nancy could see them now. They were the real things, and it was only a terrible dream that she was running here through the merciless heat—