The Literary Sense

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The Literary Sense

He came into her presence pale with his resolution to be noble, to leave her for ever to happiness – and Tom. It was difficult though, even at that supreme moment, to look at her and to couple those two ideas.

"I've come to say good-bye," he said.

"Good-bye?" the dismay in her eyes seemed to make that unsealed letter leap in his side pocket.

"Yes – I'm going – circumstances I can't help – I'm going away for a long time."

"Is it bad news? Oh – I am sorry. When are you going?"

"To-morrow," he said, even as he decided to say, "to-night."

"But you can stay a little now, can't you? Don't go like this. It's dreadful. I shall miss you so – "

He fingered the letter.

"I must go and post a letter; then I'll come back, if I may. Where did I put that hat of mine?"

As she turned to pick up the hat from the table, he dropped the letter – the heart's blood written letter – on the floor behind him.

"I'll be back in a minute or two," he said, and went out to walk up and down the far end of Chenies Street and to picture her – alone with his letter.

She saw it at the instant when the latch of her flat clicked behind him. She picked it up, and mechanically turned it over to look at the address.

He, in the street outside, knew just how she would do it. Then she saw that the letter was unfastened.

How often had Tom said that there were to be no secrets between them! This was his letter. But it might hold Dick's secrets. But then, if she knew Dick's secrets she might be able to help him. He was in trouble – anyone could see that – awful trouble. She turned the letter over and over in her hands.

He, without, walking with half-closed eyes, felt that she was so turning it.

Suddenly she pulled the letter out and read it. He, out in the gas-lit night, knew how it would strike at her pity, her tenderness, her strong love of all that was generous and noble. He pictured the scene that must be when he should re-enter her room, and his heart beat wildly. He held himself in; he was playing the game now in deadly earnest. He would give her time to think of him, to pity him – time even to wonder whether, after all, duty and honour had not risen up in their might to forbid him to dare to try his faith by another sight of her. He waited, keenly aware that long as the waiting was to him, who knew what the ending was to be, it must be far, far longer for her, who did not know.

At last he went back to her. And the scene that he had pictured in the night where the east wind swept the street was acted out now, exactly as he had foreseen it.

She held in her hand the open letter. She came towards him, still holding it.

"I've read your letter," she said.

In her heart she was saying, "I must be brave. Never mind modesty and propriety. Tom could never love me like this. He's a hero – my hero."

In the silence that followed her confession he seemed to hear almost the very words of her thought.

He hung his head and stood before her in the deep humility of a chidden child.

"I am sorry," he said. "I am ashamed. Forgive me. I couldn't help it. No one could. Good-bye. Try to forgive me – "

He turned to go, but she caught him by the arms. He had been almost sure she would.

"You mustn't go," she said. "Oh – I am sorry for Tom – but it's not the same for him. There are lots of people he'd like just as well – but you – "

"Hush!" he said gently, "don't think of me. I shall be all right. I shall get over it."

His sad, set smile assured her that he never would – never, in this world or the next.

Her eyes were shining with the stress of the scene: his with the charm of it.

"You are so strong, so brave, so good," she made herself say. "I can't let you go. Oh – don't you see – I can't let you suffer. You've suffered so much already – you've been so noble. Oh – it's better to know now. If I'd found out later – "

She hung her head and waited.

But he would not spare her. Since he had sold his soul he would have the price: the full price, to the last blush, the last tear, the last tremble in the pretty voice.

"Let me go," he said, and his voice shook with real passion, "let me go – I can't bear it." He took her hands gently from his arms and held them lightly.

Next moment they were round his neck, and she was clinging wildly to him.

"Don't be unhappy! I can't bear it. Don't you see? Ah – don't you see?"

Then he allowed himself to let her know that he did see. When he left her an hour later she stood in the middle of her room and drew a long breath.

"Oh!" she cried. "What have I done? What have I done?"

He walked away with the maiden fire of her kisses thrilling his lips. "I've won – I've won – I've won!" His heart sang within him.

But when he woke in the night – these months had taught him the habit of waking in the night and facing his soul – he said —

"It was very easy, after all – very, very easy. And was it worth while?"

But the next evening, when they met, neither tasted in the other's kisses the bitterness of last night's regrets. And in three days Tom was to come home. He came. All the long way in the rattling, shaking train a song of delight sang itself over and over in his brain. He, too, had his visions: he was not too commonplace for those. He saw her, her bright beauty transfigured by the joy of reunion, rushing to meet him with eager hands and gladly given lips. He thought of all he had to tell her. The fifty pounds saved already. The Editor's probable resignation, his own almost certain promotion, the incredibly dear possibility of their marriage before another year had passed. It seemed a month before he pressed the electric button at her door, and pressed it with a hand that trembled for joy.

The door opened and she met him, but this was not the radiant figure of his vision. It seemed to be not she, but an image of her – an image without life, without colour.

"Come in," she said; "I've something to tell you."

"What is it?" he asked bluntly. "What's happened, Harry? What's the matter?"

"I've found out," she said slowly, but without hesitation: had she not rehearsed the speech a thousand times in these three days? "I've found out that it was a mistake, Tom. I – I love somebody else. Don't ask who it is. I love him. Ah —don't!"

For his face had turned a leaden white, and he was groping blindly for something to hold on to.

He sat down heavily on the chair where Dick had knelt at her feet the night before. But now it was she who was kneeling.

"Oh, don't, Tom, dear – don't. I can't bear it. I'm not worth it. He's so brave and noble – and he loves me so."

"And don't I love you?" said poor Tom, and then without ado or disguise he burst into tears.

She had ceased to think or to reason. Her head was on his shoulder, and they clung blindly to each other and cried like two children.

When Tom went to the Temple that night he carried a note from Harry to Dick. With sublime audacity and a confidence deserved she made Tom her messenger.

"It's a little secret," she said, smiling at him, "and you're not to know."

Tom thought it must be something about a Christmas present for himself. He laughed – a little shakily – and took the note.

Dick read it and crushed it in his hand while Tom poured out his full heart.

"There's been some nonsense while I was away," he said; "she must have been dull and unhinged – you left her too much alone, old man. But it's all right now. She couldn't care for anyone but me, after all, and she knew it directly she saw me again. And we're to be married before next year's out, if luck holds."

"Here's luck, old man!" said Dick, lifting his whisky. When Tom had gone to bed, weary with the quick sequence of joy and misery and returning joy, Dick read the letter again.

"I can't do it," said the letter, "it's not in me. He loves me too much. And I am fond of him. He couldn't bear it. He's weak, you see. He's not like you – brave and strong and noble. But I shall always be better because you've loved me. I'm going to try to be brave and noble and strong like you. And you must help me, Dear. God bless you. Good-bye."

"After all," said Dick, as he watched the white letter turn in the fire to black, gold spangled, "after all, it was not so easy. And oh, how it would have been worth while!"

MISS EDEN'S BABY

MISS EDEN'S life-history was a sad one. She told it to her employer before she had been a week at the Beeches. Mrs. Despard came into the school-room and surprised the governess in tears. No one could ever resist Mrs. Despard – I suppose she has had more confidences than any woman in Sussex. Anyhow, Miss Eden dried her tears and faltered out her poor little story.

She had been engaged to be married – Mrs. Despard's was a face trained to serve and not to betray its owner, so she did not look astonished, though Miss Eden was so very homely, poor thing, that the idea of a lover seemed almost ludicrous – she had been engaged to be married: and her lover had been killed at Elendslaagte, and her father had died of heart disease – an attack brought on by the shock of the news, and his partner had gone off with all his money, and now she had to go out as a governess: her mother and sister were living quietly on the mother's little fortune. There was enough for two but not enough for three. So Miss Eden had gone governessing.

"But you needn't pity me for that," she said, when Mrs. Despard said something kind, "because, really, it's better for me. If I were at home doing nothing I should just sit and think of him– for hours and hours at a time. He was so brave and strong and good – he died cheering his men on and waving his sword, and he did love me so. We were to have been married in August."

 

She was weeping again, more violently than before; Mrs. Despard comforted her – there is no one who comforts so well – and the governess poured out her heart. When the dressing-bell rang Miss Eden pulled herself together with a manifest effort.

"I've been awfully weak and foolish," she said, "and you've been most kind. Please forgive me – and – and I think I'd rather not speak of it any more – ever. It's been a relief, just this once – but I'm going to be brave. Thank you, thank you for all your goodness to me. I shall never forget it."

And now Miss Eden went about her duties with a courageous smile, and Mrs. Despard could not but see and pity the sad heart beneath the bravely assumed armour. Miss Eden was fairly well educated, and she certainly was an excellent teacher. The children made good progress. She worshipped Mrs. Despard – but then every one did that – and she made herself pleasures of the little things she was able to do for her – mending linen, arranging flowers, running errands, and nursing the Baby. She adored the Baby. She used to walk by herself in the Sussex lanes, for Mrs. Despard often set her free for two or three hours at a time, and more than once the mother and children, turning some leafy corner in their blackberrying or nutting expeditions, came upon Miss Eden walking along with a far-away look in her eyes, and a face set in a mask of steadfast endurance. She would sit sewing on the lawn with Mabel and Gracie playing about her, answering their ceaseless chatter with a patient smile. To Mrs. Despard she was a pathetic figure. Mr. Despard loathed her, but then he never liked women unless they were pretty.

"I ought to be used to your queer pets by now," he said; "but really this one is almost too much. Upon my soul, she's the ugliest woman I've ever seen."

She certainty was not handsome. Her eyes were fairly good, but mouth and nose were clumsy, and hers was one of those faces that seem to have no definite outline. Her complexion was dull and unequal. Her hair was straight and coarse, and somehow it always looked dusty. Her figure was her only good point, and, as Mr. Despard observed, "If a figure without a face is any good, why not have a dressmaker's dummy, and have done with it?"

Mr. Despard was very glad when he heard that a little legacy had come from an uncle, and that Miss Eden was going to give up governessing and live with her people.

Miss Eden left in floods of tears, and she clung almost frantically to Mrs. Despard.

"You have been so good to me," she said. "I may write to you, mayn't I? and come and see you sometimes? You will let me, won't you?"

Tears choked her, and she was driven off in the station fly. And a new governess, young, commonplacely pretty, and entirely heart-whole, came to take her place, to the open relief of Mr. Despard, and the little less pronounced satisfaction of the little girls.

"She'll write to you by every post now, I suppose," said Mr. Despard when the conventional letter of thanks for kindness came to his wife. But Miss Eden did not write again till Christmas. Then she wrote to ask Mrs. Despard's advice. There was a gentleman, a retired tea-broker, in a very good position. She liked him – did Mrs. Despard think it would be fair to marry him when her heart was buried for ever in that grave at Elendslaagte?

"But I don't want to be selfish, and poor Mr. Cave is so devoted. My dear mother thinks he would never be the same again if I refused him."

Mr. Despard read the letter, and told his wife to tell the girl to take the tea-broker, for goodness' sake, and be thankful. She'd never get such another chance. His wife told him not to be coarse, and wrote a gentle, motherly letter to Miss Eden.

On New Year's Day came a beautiful and very expensive handkerchief-sachet for Mrs. Despard, and the news that Miss Eden was engaged. "And already," she wrote, "I feel that I can really become attached to Edward. He is goodness itself. Of course, it is not like the other. That only comes once in a woman's life, but I believe I shall really be happy in a quiet, humdrum way."

After that, news of Miss Eden came thick and fast. Edward was building a house for her. Edward had bought her a pony-carriage. Edward had to call his house No. 70, Queen's Road – a new Town Council resolution – and it wasn't in a street at all, but quite in the country, only there was going to be a road there some day. And she had so wanted to call it the Beeches, after dear Mrs. Despard's house, where she had been so happy. The wedding-day was fixed, and would Mrs. Despard come to the wedding? Miss Eden knew it was a good deal to ask; but if she only would!

"It would add more than you can possibly guess to my happiness," she said, "if you could come. There is plenty of room in my mother's little house. It is small, but very convenient, and it has such a lovely old garden, so unusual, you know, in the middle of a town; and if only dear Mabel and Gracie might be among my little bridesmaids! The dresses are to be half-transparent white silk over rose colour. Dear Edward's father insists on ordering them himself from Liberty's. The other bridesmaids will be Edward's little nieces – such sweet children. Mother is giving me the loveliest trousseau. Of course, I shall make it up to her; but she will do it, and I give way, just to please her. It's not pretentious, you know, but everything so good. Real lace on all the under things, and twelve of everything, and – "

The letter wandered on into a maze of lingerie and millinery and silk petticoats.

Mr. and Mrs. Despard were still debating the question of the bridesmaids whose dresses were to come from Liberty's when a telegraph boy crossed the lawn.

Mrs. Despard tore open the envelope.

"Oh – how frightfully sad!" she said. "I am sorry! 'Edward's father dangerously ill. Wedding postponed.'"

The next letter was black-edged, and was not signed "Eden." Edward's father had insisted on the marriage taking place before he died – it had, in fact, been performed by his bedside. It had been a sad time, but Mrs. Edward was very happy now.

"My husband is so good to me, his thoughtful kindness is beyond belief," she wrote. "He anticipates my every wish. I should be indeed ungrateful if I did not love him dearly. Dear Mrs. Despard, this gentle domestic love is very beautiful. I hope I am not treacherous to my dead in being as happy as I am with Edward. Ah! I hear the gate click – I must run and meet him. He says it is not like coming home unless my face is the first he sees when he comes in. Good-bye. A thousand thanks for ever for all your goodness.

"Your grateful Ella Cave."

"Either their carriage drive is unusually long, or her face was not the first," said Mr. Despard. "Why didn't she go and meet the man, and not stop to write all that rot?"

"Don't, Bill," said his wife. "You were always so unjust to that girl."

"Girl!" said Mr. Despard.

And now the letters were full of detail: the late Miss Eden wrote a good hand, and expressed herself with clearness. Her letters were a pleasure to Mrs. Despard.

"Poor dear!" she said. "It really rejoices my heart to think of her being so happy. She describes things very well. I almost feel as though I knew every room in her house; it must be very pretty with all those Liberty muslin blinds, and the Persian rugs, and the chair-backs Edward's grandmother worked – and then the beautiful garden. I think I must go to see it all. I do love to see people happy."

"You generally do see them happy," said her husband; "it's a way people have when they're near you. Go and see her, by all means."

And Mrs. Despard would have gone, but a letter, bearing the same date as her own, crossed it in the post; it must have been delayed, for it reached her on the day when she expected an answer to her own letter, offering a visit. But the late Miss Eden had evidently not received this, for her letter was a mere wail of anguish.

"Edward is ill – typhoid. I am distracted. Write to me when you can. The very thought of you comforts me."

"Poor thing," said Mrs. Despard, "I really did think she was going to be happy."

Her sympathetic interest followed Edward through all the stages of illness and convalescence, as chronicled by his wife's unwearying pen.

Then came the news of the need of a miniature trousseau, and the letters breathed of head-flannels, robes, and the charm of tiny embroidered caps. "They were Edward's when he was a baby – the daintiest embroidery and thread lace. The christening cap is Honiton. They are a little yellow with time, of course, but I am bleaching them on the sweet-brier hedge. I can see the white patches on the green as I write. They look like some strange sort of flowers, and they make me dream of the beautiful future."

In due season Baby was born and christened; and then Miss Eden, that was, wrote to ask if she might come to the Beeches, and bring the darling little one.

Mrs. Despard was delighted. She loved babies. It was a beautiful baby – beautifully dressed, and it rested contentedly in the arms of a beautifully dressed lady, whose happy face Mrs. Despard could hardly reconcile with her recollections of Miss Eden. The young mother's happiness radiated from her, and glorified her lips and eyes. Even Mr. Despard owned, when the pair had gone, that marriage and motherhood had incredibly improved Miss Eden.

And now, the sudden departure of a brother for the other side of the world took Mrs. Despard to Southampton, whence his boat sailed, and where lived the happy wife and mother, who had been Miss Eden.

When the tears of parting were shed, and the last waving handkerchief from the steamer's deck had dwindled to a sharp point of light, and from a sharp point of light to an invisible point of parting and sorrow, Mrs. Despard dried her pretty eyes, and thought of trains. There was no convenient one for an hour or two.

"I'll go and see Ella Cave," said she, and went in a hired carriage. "No. 70, Queen's Road," she said. "I think it's somewhere outside the town."

"Not it," said the driver, and presently set her down in a horrid little street, at a horrid little shop, where they sold tobacco and sweets and newspapers and walking-sticks.

"This can't be it! There must be some other Queen's Road?" said Mrs. Despard.

"No there ain't," said the man. "What name did yer want?"

"Cave," said Mrs. Despard absently; "Mrs. Edward Cave."

The man went into the shop. Presently he returned.

"She don't live here," he said; "she only calls here for letters."

Mrs. Despard assured herself of this in a brief interview with a frowsy woman across a glass-topped show-box of silk-embroidered cigar-cases.

"The young person calls every day, mum," she said; "quite a respectable young person, mum, I should say – if she was after your situation."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Despard mechanically, yet with her own smile – the smile that still stamps her in the frowsy woman's memory as "that pleasant-spoken lady."

She paused a moment on the dirty pavement, and then gave the cabman the address of the mother and sister, the address of the little house – small, but very convenient – and with a garden – such a lovely old garden – and so unusual in the middle of a town.

The cab stopped at a large, sparkling, plate-glassy shop – a very high-class fruiterer's and greengrocer's.

The name on the elaborately gilded facia was, beyond any doubt, Eden – Frederick Eden.

Mrs. Despard got out and walked into the shop. To this hour the scent of Tangerine oranges brings to her a strange, sick, helpless feeling of disillusionment.

A stout well-oiled woman, in a very tight puce velveteen bodice with bright buttons and a large yellow lace collar, fastened with a blue enamel brooch, leaned forward interrogatively.

"Mrs. Cave?" said Mrs. Despard.

"Don't know the name, madam."

"Wasn't that the name of the gentleman Miss Eden married?"

"It seems to me you're making a mistake, madam. Excuse me, but might I ask your name?"

"I'm Mrs. Despard. Miss Eden lived with me as governess."

"Oh, yes" – the puce velvet seemed to soften – "very pleased to see you, I'm sure! Come inside, madam. Ellen's just run round to the fishmonger's. I'm not enjoying very good health just now" – the glance was intolerably confidential – "and I thought I could fancy a bit of filleted plaice for my supper, or a nice whiting. Come inside, do!"

 

Mrs. Despard, stunned, could think of no course save that suggested. She followed Mrs. Eden into the impossible parlour that bounded the shop on the north.

"Do sit down," said Mrs. Eden hospitably, "and the girl shall get you a cup of tea. It's full early, but a cup of tea's always welcome, early or late, isn't it?"

"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Despard, automatically. Then she roused herself and added, "But please don't trouble, I can't stay more than a few minutes. I hope Miss Eden is well?"

"Oh, yes – she's all right. She lives in clover, as you might say, since her uncle on the mother's side left her that hundred a year. Made it all in fried fish, too. I should have thought it a risk myself, but you never know."

Mrs. Despard was struggling with a sensation as of sawdust in the throat – sawdust, and a great deal of it, and very dry.

"But I heard that Miss Eden was married – "

"Not she!" said Mrs. Eden, with the natural contempt of one who was.

"I understood that she had married a Mr. Cave."

"It's some other Eden, then. There isn't a Cave in the town, so far as I know, except Mr. Augustus; he's a solicitor and Commissioner for Oaths, a very good business, and of course he'd never look the same side of the road as she was, nor she couldn't expect it."

"But really," Mrs. Despard persisted, "I do think there must be some mistake. Because she came to see me – and – and she brought her baby."

Mrs. Eden laughed outright.

"Her baby? Oh, really! But she's never so much as had a young man after her, let alone a husband. It's not what she could look for, either, for she's no beauty – poor girl!"

Yet the Baby was evidence – of a sort. Mrs. Despard hated herself for hinting that perhaps Mrs. Eden did not know everything.

"I don't know what you mean, madam." The puce bodice was visibly moved. "That was my baby, bless his little heart. Poor Ellen's a respectable girl – she's been with me since she was a little trot of six – all except the eleven months she was away with you – and then my Fred see her to the door, and fetched her from your station. She would go – though not our wish. I suppose she wanted a change. But since then she's never been over an hour away, except when she took my Gustavus over to see you. She must have told you whose he was – but I suppose you weren't paying attention. And I must say I don't think it's becoming in you, if you'll excuse me saying so, to come here taking away a young girl's character. At least, if she's not so young as she was, of course – we none of us are, not even yourself, madam, if you'll pardon me saying so."

"I beg your pardon," said Mrs. Despard. She had never felt so helpless – so silly. The absurd parlour, ponderous with plush, dusky with double curtains, had for her all the effect of a nightmare.

She felt that she was swimming blindly in a sea of disenchantment.

"Don't think me inquisitive," she said, "but Miss Eden was engaged, wasn't she, some time ago, to someone who was killed in South Africa?"

"Never – in all her born days," said Mrs. Eden, with emphasis. "I suppose it's her looks. I've had a good many offers myself, though I'm not what you might call anything out of the way – but poor Ellen – never had so much as a nibble."

Mrs. Despard gasped. She clung against reason to the one spar of hope in this sea of faiths dissolved. It might be – it must be – some mistake!

"You see, poor Ellen" – Mrs. Eden made as much haste to smash up the spar as though she had seen it – "poor Ellen, when her mother and father died she was but six. There was only her and my Fred, so naturally we took her, and what little money the old lady left we spent on her, sending her to a good school, and never counting the bit of clothes and victuals. She was always for learning something, and above her station, and the Rev. Mrs. Peterson at St. Michael, and All Angels – she made a sort of pet of Ellen, and set her up, more than a bit."

Mrs. Despard remembered that Mrs. Peterson had been Miss Eden's reference.

"And then she would come to you – though welcome to share along with us, and you can see for yourself it's a good business – and when that little bit was left her, of course, she'd no need to work, so she came home here, and I must say she's always been as handy a girl and obliging as you could wish, but wandering, too, in her thoughts. Always pens and ink. I shouldn't wonder but what she wrote poetry. Yards and yards of writing she does. I don't know what she does with it all."

But Mrs. Despard knew.

Mrs. Eden talked on gaily and gladly – till not even a straw was left for her hearer to cling to.

"Thank you very much," she said. "I see it was all a mistake. I must have been wrong about the address." She spoke hurriedly – for she had heard in the shop a step that she knew.

For one moment a white face peered in at the glass door – then vanished; it was Miss Eden's face – her face as it had been when she told of her lost lover who died waving his sword at Elendslaagte! But the telling of that tale had moved Mrs. Despard to no such passion of pity as this. For from that face now something was blotted out, and the lack of it was piteous beyond thought.

"Thank you very much. I am so sorry to have troubled you," she said, and somehow got out of the plush parlour, and through the shop, fruit-filled, orange-scented.

At the station there was still time, and too much time. The bookstall yielded pencil, paper, envelope, and stamp. She wrote —

"Ella, dear, whatever happens, I am always your friend. Let me know – can I do anything for you? I know all about everything now. But don't think I'm angry – I am only so sorry for you, dear – so very, very sorry. Do let me help you."

She addressed the letter to Miss Eden at the greengrocer's. Afterwards she thought that she had better have left it alone. It could do no good, and it might mean trouble with her sister-in-law, for Miss Eden, late Mrs. Cave, the happy wife and mother. She need not have troubled herself – for the letter came back a week later with a note from Mrs. Eden of the bursting, bright-buttoned, velvet bodice. Ellen had gone away – no one knew where she had gone.

Mrs. Despard will always reproach herself for not having rushed towards the white face that peered through the glass door. She could have done something – anything. So she thinks, but I am not sure.

"And it was none of it true, Bill," she said piteously, when, Mabel and Gracie safely tucked up in bed, she told him all about it. "I don't know how she could. No dead lover – no retired tea-broker – no pretty house, and sweet-brier hedge with … and no Baby."

"She was a lying lunatic," said Bill. "I never liked her. Hark! what's that? All right, Love-a-duck – daddy's here!"

He went up the stairs three at a time to catch up his baby, who had a way of wandering, with half-awake wailings, out of her crib in the small hours.

"All right, Kiddie-winks, daddy's got you," he murmured, coming back into the drawing-room with the little soft, warm, flannelly bundle cuddled close to him.

"She's asleep again already," he said, settling her comfortably in his arms. "Don't worry any more about that Eden girl, Molly – she's not worth it."

His wife knelt beside him and buried her face against his waistcoat and against the little flannel night-gown.

"Oh, Bill," she said, and her voice was thick with tears, "don't say things like that. Don't you see? It was cruel, cruel! She was all alone – no mother, no sister, no lover. She was made so that no one could ever love her. And she wanted love so much – so frightfully much, so that she just had to pretend that she had it."

"And what about the Baby?" asked Mr. Despard, taking one arm from his own baby to pass it round his wife's shoulders. "Don't be a darling idiot, Molly. What about the Baby?"

"Oh – don't you see?" Mrs. Despard was sobbing now in good earnest. "She wanted the Baby more than anything else. Oh – don't say horrid things about her, Bill! We've got everything – and she'd got nothing at all – don't say things – don't!"

Mr. Despard said nothing. He thumped his wife sympathetically on the back. It was the baby who spoke.

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