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The Database of Ornament


    AS Lucy Newcome walked down the street, with the baby
in her arms, her first sensation was one of thankfulness, to
be out of the long, blank, monotonous hospital, where she
had suffered obscurely ; to be once more free, and in the
open air.  How refreshing it is to be out of doors again !  she
said to herself.  But she had not walked many steps before
the unfamiliar morning air made her feel quite light-headed ; for a moment
she fancied she was going to faint ; and she leant against the wall, closing
her eyes, until the feeling had passed.  As she walked on again, things still
seemed a little dizzy before her eyes, and she had to draw in long breaths, for
fear that curious cloudy sensation should come into her brain once more.  She
held the baby carefully, drawing the edges of the cloak around its face, so that
it should not feel cold and wake up.  It was the first time she had carried the
baby out of doors, and it seemed to her that everyone must be looking at her.
She was not much afraid of being recognized, for she knew that she had altered
so much since her confinement ; and for that reason she was glad to be looking
so thin and white and ill.  But she felt sure that people would wonder who she
was, and why such a young girl was carrying a baby ; perhaps they would not
think it was hers ; she might be only carrying it for some married woman.
And she let her left hand, on which there was no wedding-ring, show from
under the shawl in which it had been her first instinct to envelope it.  Many
thoughts came into her mind, but in a dull confused way, as she walked slowly
along, feeling the weight of the baby dragging at her arms.  At last they
began to ache so much that she looked around for somewhere to sit down.
She had not noticed where she had been going ; why should she ?  where was
there for her to go ?  and she found herself in one of the side streets, at the end
of which, she remembered, was the park.  There, at all events, she could sit
down ; and when she had found a seat, she took the baby on her knees, and lay
back in the corner with a sense of relief.

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    At first she did not try to think of plans for the future.  She merely
resigned herself, unconsciously enough, to the vague, peaceful, autumn sadness
of the place and the hour.  The damp smell of the earth, sharp and comforting,
came to her nostrils ; the leaves, smelling a little musty, dropped now and then
past her face on to the shawl in which the baby was wrapt.  There was only
enough breeze to make a gentle sighing among the branches overhead ; and
she looked up at the leafy roof above her, as she had looked up so often when
a child, and felt better for being there.  Gradually her mind began to con-
centrate itself : what am I to do, she thought, what am I to do?

    Just then the little creature lying on her knees stirred a little, and opened
its blue eyes.  She caught it to her breast with kiss after kiss, and began to
rock it to and fro, with a passionate fondness.  “Mammy’s little one,” she
said ; “all Mammy’s, Mammy’s own ;” and began to croon over it, with a sort
of fierce insistence.  Yes, she must do something, and at once, for the child’s

    But the more she tried to find some plan for the future, the more hopeless
did the task seem to become.  There was her aunt, whom she would never go
back to, whom she would never see again ; never.  There was her cousin, who
had cast her off; and she said to herself that she hated her cousin.  All her
aunt’s friends were so respectable : they would never look at her ; and she
could never go to them.  Her cousin’s friends were like himself, only worse,
much worse.  No, there was nowhere for her to look for help ; and how was
she to help herself?  She knew nothing of any sort of business, she had no
showy accomplishments to put to use ; and besides, with a baby, who would
give her employment ?  Oh, why had she ever listened to her cousin, why had
she been such a fool as to have a baby ?  she said to herself, furiously ; and
then, feeling the bundle stir in her arms, she fell to hugging and kissing it

    As she lifted up her face, a woman who was passing half paused, looking
at her in a puzzled way, and then, after walking on a little distance, turned
and came back, hesitatingly.  Lucy knew her well : it was Mrs. Graham, her
aunt’s laundress, with whom she had had to settle accounts every week.  She
had never liked the woman, but now she was overjoyed at meeting her ; and as
Mrs. Graham said, questioningly, “Miss Lucy? Lord, now, it isn’t you?” she
answered, “Yes, it’s me ; don’t you know me, Mrs. Graham ?”

    “Well,” the woman said, “I wasn’t sure ; how you have changed, miss
I asked Mrs. Newcome where you was, and she said you was gone abroad.”
The woman stopped and looked curiously at the baby.  She had taken

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in the situation at a glance ; and though she was rather surprised, she was not
nearly so much surprised as Lucy had expected, and she seemed more
interested than shocked.
    “Pretty baby, miss,” she said, stooping down to have a closer look.
    “Yes,” said Lucy, in a matter of fact way, “it ‘s my baby.  I’ve been very
    “Have you now, miss?” said Mrs. Graham, sitting down by her side, and
looking at her more curiously than ever.  “Well, you do look ill.  But where
have you been all this time, and where are you living now ?”
    “I’m not living anywhere,” said Lucy ; “I only came out of hospital
to-day and I’ve nowhere to go.”
    “You don’t mean to say that !” said Mrs. Graham ; “but,” she added,
looking at the baby, “his father   .   .   .”
    “He has left me,” said Lucy, as quietly as she could.

    At this Mrs. Graham glanced at her in a somewhat less favourable way.
She did not disapprove of people running away from home and getting
children as irregularly as they liked ; but she very much disapproved of their
being left.

    “I haven’t a penny in the world,” Lucy went on ; “at least, I have only
a little more than two shillings ; and I don’t know what I am going to do.”
    “Oh dear now, oh dear !” said Mrs. Graham, rather coldly, “that’s very
sad, it is.  I do say that’s hard lines.  And so you was left without anything.
That’s very hard lines.”
    “I’m so glad I met you, Mrs. Graham,” said Lucy.  “Perhaps you can
help me.  Oh, do try to help me if you can !  I haven’t anybody, really, to
look to, and I haven’t a roof to shelter me.  I can’t stay in the streets all day.
I’m so afraid the baby will take cold, or something.  It isn’t for myself I mind
so much.  What shall I do ?”

    While Lucy spoke, Mrs. Graham was considering matters.  Without
being exactly hard-hearted, she was not naturally sympathetic, and, while
she felt sorry for the poor girl, she was not at all carried away by her feelings.
But she did not like to leave her there as she was, and an idea had occurred
to her which made her all the more ready to act kindly towards a creature
in distress.  So she said, after a moment’s pause, “Well, you’d better come
along with me, miss, and have a rest, anyway.  Shan’t I carry the baby?”
    “Oh, you are good !” cried Lucy, seizing her hand, and almost crying as
she tried to thank her. ª“No, no, I’ll carry the baby !  And may I really come
in with you ?  You don’t mind ?  You don’t mind being seen ?”

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    “Oh, no, I don’t mind !  ”said Mrs. Graham, a little loftily.  “It’s this
way, miss.”

    And they began to walk across the park.  Lucy felt so immensely
relieved that she was almost gay.  She gave up thinking of what was going
to happen, and trudged along contentedly by the side of the older woman.
After they had left the park and had reached the poorer quarter of the town,
she suddenly stopped outside a sweet-shop.  “It won’t be very extravagant if
I get a pennyworth of acid-drops, will it ?” she said, with almost her old
smile ; and Mrs. Graham had to wait while she went in and bought them.  Then
they went on together through street after street, till at last Mrs. Graham
said, “It’s here, come in.”

    As the door opened Lucy heard the barking of a dog ; and next moment
she found herself in a room such as she had never been in in her life, but
which seemed to her, at that moment, the most delightful place in the world.
It was a kitchen, horribly dirty, with a dog-kennel in one corner, and a rabbit-
hutch on the top of the kennel ; there was a patchwork rug on the floor, and
a deal table in the middle, with a piece of paper on one end of it as a table-
cloth, and a loaf of bread, without a plate, standing in the middle of the table.

    “Have something to eat, miss,” said Mrs. Graham, and Lucy sank into
an old stuffed armchair, which stood by the side of the fire-place, the springs
broken and protruding, and the flock coming through the horse-hair in great
gray handfuls.

    The baby was still asleep, and lay quietly on her lap as she munched
ravenously at the thick slice of bread and butter which Mrs. Graham cut for
her.  All at once she heard a little cry, and, looking round in the corner
behind her, she saw a baby lying in a clothes-basket.

    “You’ll have to sleep with the children to-night,” said Mrs. Graham.
“We’ve only two rooms besides this, and the children has one of them.
When you’ve had a bit of a meal, you’d better lie down and rest yourself.”

    When Lucy went into the room which was to be her bedroom for the
night, she could not at first distinguish the bed.  There were no bedclothes, but
some old coats and petticoats had been heaped up over a mattress on a little
iron bedstead in the corner.

    “Now just lie down for a bit,” said Mrs. Graham, “and you give me the
baby. I know the ways of them.”

    Lucy threw herself on the bed.  She could at least rest there ; and she
put a couple of acid-drops into her mouth, and then, almost before she knew
it, she was asleep, in her old baby-fashion, sucking her thumb.

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    Lucy slept at Mrs. Graham’s two nights.  She had been told that she
would have to work ; and she would do anything, she said, anything.  Mrs.
Graham had a cousin, Mrs. Marsh, who had a large laundry ; and Mrs. Marsh
happened to be just then in want of a shirt and collar hand.  Lucy knew
nothing about ironing, but she was sure she could learn it without the least
difficulty.  So the two women set out for Mrs. Marsh’s. It was not very far
off, and when they got there Mr. and Mrs. Marsh were standing at the big side-
gate, where the things were brought in and out, watching one of their vans
being unloaded.  The shop-door was open, and inside, in the midst of the
faint steam, rising from piles of white linen, smoking under the crisp hiss of
the hot irons, Lucy saw four young women, wearing loose blouses, their
sleeves rolled up above their elbows, their faces flushed with the heat, bending
over their work.  Mrs. Marsh looked at her amiably enough, and she led the
way into the laundry.  Besides the four girls, the two shirt and collar hands,
the gauferer and the plain ironer, there was a man ramming clothes into a
boiler with a long pole, and a youth, Mrs. Marsh’s son, turning a queer, new-
fangled instrument like a barrel, which dollied the clothes by means of some
mechanical contrivance.  Clothes were hanging all around on clothes-horses,
and overhead, on lines ; the shirts were piled up in neat heaps at the end of
the ironing-boards ; some of the things lay in baskets on the ground. As
Lucy looked around, her eye suddenly caught a white embroidered dress
which was hanging up to dry ; and for the moment she felt quite sick ; it was
exactly like a dress of her mother’s.

    And the heat, too, was overpowering ; she scarcely knew what was being
said, as the two women discussed her to her face, and bargained between
themselves as to the price of her labour.  She realized that she was to come
there next day ; that she was to learn to iron cuffs and collars and shirt-fronts
like the young woman nearest to her, whom they called Polly ; and, as a
special favour, she was to be paid eight shillings a-week, the full price at once
instead of only six shillings, which was generally given to beginners.  That
she realized, she realized it acutely ; for she was already beginning to find
out that money means something very definite when you are poor, and that a
shilling more or less may mean all the difference between everything and

    That day it was arranged that she should rent a little attic in a house

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not far from Mrs. Graham’s, a house where a carpenter and his wife lived :
they had no children, and she could have a room to herself.  She was
to pay five shillings a-week for her room and what they called her keep, that
is to say, breakfast and supper, which, she soon found out, meant bread and
cheese one day, bread and dripping another, and bread and lard a third,
always with some very weak tea, water just coloured.  Then there was the
baby ; she could not look after the baby while she was out at work, so the
carpenter’s wife, who was called Mrs. Marsh, like the laundress, though she was
no relation, promised to take charge of the baby during the day for half-a-
crown extra.  Five shillings and half-a-crown made seven-and-six, and that
left her only sixpence a week to live on : could one say to live on ?  At all
events, she had now a roof over her head ; she would scarcely starve, not
quite starve ; and she sat in her attic, the first night she found herself there,
and wondered what was going to happen : if she would have strength to do
the work, strength to live on, day after day, strength to nurse her baby, whose
little life depended on hers.  She sat on the edge of the bed, looking out at
the clear, starry sky, visible above the roofs, and she sent up a prayer, up into
that placid, unresponsive sky, hanging over her like the peace that passeth
understanding, and has no comfort in it for mere mortals, a prayer for
strength, only for the strength of day by day, one day at a time.

    Next morning she took up her place at the ironing-board, next to Polly,
between her and the head ironer, whom she was told to watch.  They were all
Lancashire girls, not bad-hearted, but coarse and ignorant, always swearing
and using foul language.  Lucy had never heard people who talked like that ;
it wounded her horribly, and her pale face went crimson at every one of their
coarse jokes.  They had no sort of ill-will to her, but they knew she had a
child, and was not married, and they could not help reminding her of the fact,
which indeed seemed to them no less scandalous than their language seemed
to her.  They really believed that a woman who had been seduced was exactly
the same as a prostitute ; they talked of people who led a gay life : “Ah, my
wench, it’s a gay life, but a short one ;” and they were convinced that every-
one who led a gay life came to a deplorable end before she was five-and-
twenty.  To have had a child, without having been married, was the first
step, so they held, in an inevitably downward course ; indeed, they believed
that all kinds of horrible things came of it, and they talked to one another of
the ghastly stories they had “heerd tell.” Lucy had never heard of such
things, and she half believed them. “Can all this really be true ?” she said
to herself sometimes, in a paroxysm of terror ; and she tried not to think of

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it, as of something that might possibly be true, but must certainly be kept
out of sight and out of mind.

    One of the girls, Polly, was always very nice to her, and would come
round sometimes to her little room and hold the baby for her ; but the others
called her “Miss Stuck-up,” “Miss Fine-airs,” and when she blushed, cried,
even, at the ribaldries which seemed to them so natural and matter-of-course,
they would taunt her with her bastard, and ask her if she didn’t know how a
baby was made, she who pretended to be such an innocent.  She never tried
to answer them ; she did her work (after three days she could do it almost as
well as the most practised of them), and she got through day after day as best she
could.  “It was for baby’s sake,” she whispered to herself, “all for baby’s sake.”

    In the middle of the day they had a dinner-hour, and the girls brought
their dinner with them, which they generally ate out of doors, in the drying-
ground at the back, glad to be out of the steam and heat for a few minutes.
That hour was Lucy’s terror.  She had no dinner to bring with her : how
could she, out of sixpence a week ?  and every day she pretended to go out
and get her meal at an eating-house, scared lest one of them should come
round the corner, and see her walking up and down the road, filling up the
time until she could venture to go back again.  She knew that if any one of
them had guessed the truth, had known that she could never afford even the
cheapest price of a dinner, they would one and all have shared with her their
sandwiches, and bread and cheese, and meat pies, and apple dumplings.
But she would not have let them know for worlds ; and the aching suspense,
lest she should be found out, was almost as bad to bear as the actual pang of
hunger.  She grew thinner and paler, and every day it seemed to her that the
baby grew thinner and paler too.  How could she nourish it, when she had no
nourishment herself?  She wept over it, and prayed God in agony not to visit
her sin on the child.  All this while the poor little thing lay and wailed,
a feeble, fretful, continual wail, ceasing and going on, ceasing and going on
again.  It seemed to her that the sound would lodge itself in her brain, and
drive her mad, quite mad.  She heard it when she was in the laundry, bending
over the steaming linen ; it pierced through the crisp hiss of the irons as they
passed shiningly over the surface ; she heard it keeping time to her footsteps
as she walked hungrily up and down that road in the dinner-hour ; she
dreamt of it even, and woke up to hear the little wail break out in the stillness
of the night, in her attic bed.  And the wail was getting feebler and feebler ;
the baby was dying, oh !  she knew that it was dying, and she could not save
it ; there was no way, absolutely no way to save it.


154                                  THE SAVOY


    She had now been eight weeks at the laundry, and she seemed to get
thinner every day.  As she looked at her face in the glass, she was quite
frightened at the long hollows she saw in her white cheeks, the dark lines
under her eyes : her own face seemed to fade away from her as she looked at
it, away into a mist ; and through the mist she heard the small persistent
crying of the baby, as if from a great way off.  “Am I going to be ill ?” she
wondered, looking down at her fingers helplessly.  Certainly both she and the
child were in need of the doctor ; but who was to pay for a doctor ?  It was

    That day, for the first time since she had been at the laundry, she had a
half-holiday, and she put on her hat and went out into the streets, merely to
walk about, and so think the less.  “I can at least look at the shops,” she said
to herself, and she made her way to the more fashionable part of the town,
where the milliners’ and jewellers’ shops were, and as she looked at the rings
and bracelets, the smart hats and stylish jackets, it seemed to her worse than
ever, to see all these things, and to know that none of them would ever be hers.
It was now three o’clock ; she had had nothing since her early breakfast, and
the long walk, the loitering about, had tired her ; it seemed to her, once more,
as if a mist came floating up about her, through which the sound of voices was
deadened before it reached her ears, and the ground felt a little uncertain
under her feet, as if it were slightly elastic as she trod upon it.  She turned
aside out of the main street, into the big arcade, where she thought it would
be quieter, and she found herself staring at a row of photographs of actresses,
quite blankly, hardly seeing them.  As she put her hand to her forehead, to
press down her eyelids for a moment, she heard some one speaking to her,
and looking round she saw a middle-aged gentleman standing by her side,
and saying in a very kind voice : “My child, are you ill ?” Was she then
looking so ill ?  she wondered, or was she really ill ?  She did not think so,
only hungry and faint.  How hungry and faint she was !  And as she shook her
head, and said “No, thank you,” she felt certain that the old gentleman, who
looked so kind, would not believe her.  Evidently he did not believe her, for
he continued to look at her, and to say  .  .  .  what was it ?  she only, knew that
he told her, quite decidedly, that she must come and have some tea.  “Thank
you,” she said again : how was she to say no ?  and she walked along beside
the gentleman in silence.  He did not say anything more, but before she

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quite knew it, they were sitting at a little table in a tea-shop, and she had a
cup of tea before her, real tea (how well she remembered, from what a distance,
the taste of real tea !), and she was buttering a huge scone that made her
mouth water, only to look at it.

    When she had eaten her scone and drunk her tea, she saw that the
gentleman was looking at her more kindly than ever, but with a certain ex-
pression which she could not help understanding.  He was a man of about
fifty, somewhat tall, with broad shoulders and a powerful head, on which the
iron-gray hair was cut close.  His face was bronzed, he had a thick, closely-
cut beard, and his eyes were large, gray, luminous, curiously sympathetic eyes,
very kind, but a little puzzling in their expression.  And he began to talk to
her, asking her questions, feeling his way.  She blushed furiously : how he
had misunderstood her !  She was not angry, only frightened and disturbed ;
and of course such a thing could never be, never.  He seemed quite grieved
when she told him hurriedly that she must go ; and when they were outside
the shop he insisted on walking a few steps with her ; if not then, would she
not come and see him some other day ?  He would be so glad to do anything
he could to help her ; that is, if she would come and see him.  But she blushed
again, and shook her head, and told him how impossible it was ; but as he
insisted on her taking his card, she took it.  What was the harm ? He had
been kind to her. And of course she would never use it.

    That night, as she ate her supper of bread and dripping, washing it down
with what Mrs. Marsh called tea, she thought of the tea-shop and the meal
she had had there, the pleasantness of the place, the bright little tables, the
waitresses gliding about, the well-dressed people who had been in there.  And
the life she was living seemed more unbearable than ever.  At first she had
been so glad to be anywhere, to find any sort of refuge, where there was a
roof over her head, and some sort of bed to lie on, that the actual sordidness
of her surroundings had seemed of little moment ; but now it seemed more
and more impossible to go on living among such people, without an educated
person to speak to, without a book to read, without any of the little pleasant-
nesses of comfortable life.  No, I cannot go on with this for ever, she said
to herself; and she began to muse, thinking vague things, vaguely ; thinking
of what the girls at the laundry said to her, what they thought of her, and how
to them it would be no difference at all, no difference at all ; for was she not
(they all said it) a fallen creature ?  When she went upstairs, and heard the
feeble wail of her child, she almost wondered that she could have refused to
take the man’s money, which would have paid for a doctor.  Oh, yes, she was

156                                  THE SAVOY

a fallen creature, no doubt ; and when you are once fallen you go on falling.
But of course, all the same, it was impossible : she could not ; and there was
an end of it.

    But such thoughts as these, once set wandering through her brain, came
back, and brought others with them.  They came especially when she was
very hungry ; they seemed to float to her on the steam of that tea which she
had drunk in the tea-shop ; they whispered to her from the small, prim letters
of the card which she still kept, with its sober, respectable-looking name,
“Mr. Reginald Barfoot,” and the address of a huge, handsome building
which she had often seen, mostly laid out in bachelor’s flats, very expensive
flats.  But of course, all the same, it was impossible.


    On the Saturday of that week, while she was working at the laundry, she
had a message from Mrs. Marsh to say that her child was very ill.  She
hurried back, and found the little thing in convulsions.  The poor little wasted
body shook as if every moment would be its last.  She held it in her arms,
and crooned over it, and cried over it, and with her lips and fingers seemed to
soothe the pain out of it.  Presently it dropped into a quiet slumber.  Lucy
sat on the chair by the bedside, and thought.  She had never seen an
attack like that : she was terribly frightened : would it not come on again ?
and if so, what was to be done ?  A doctor, certainly a doctor must be
called.  But she had no money, and doctors (she remembered her aunt’s
doctor) were so expensive.  The money must be got, and at once.  She
looked at the card, at the address.  Was it not a matter of life or death ?  She
would go.

    Then she felt that it was impossible ; that she could never do it.  Was it
really a matter of life or death ? The baby slept quietly.  She would wait till

    Through that night, and half-way through Sunday, the child seemed much
better ; but about three the convulsions came on again.  Lucy was frantic with
terror, and when the little thing, now growing feebler and feebler, had got over
a worse paroxysm than ever, and had quieted down again, she called Mrs.
Marsh, and begged her to look after the child while she went and fetched the
doctor. “I may be a little while,” she said ; “but baby is quiet now ; you’ll

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be very careful, won’t you ?“ She gave the child one big kiss on both his little
eyes ; then she put on her hat and went out.

    She went straight to the address on the card, without hesitation now, rang
at the door, and a man-servant showed her into a room which seemed to her
filled with books and photographs and pretty things.  There was a fire in the
grate, which shed a warm, comfortable glow over everything.  She held
out her hands to it ; she was shivering a little.  How nice it is here, she could
not help thinking, or, rather, the sensation of its comfort flashed through her
unconsciously, as she stood there looking at the photographs above the mantel-
piece, as blankly as she had looked at those photographs, that other day, in the
arcade.  And then the door opened, and Mr. Barfoot came in, smiling, as he
had smiled at her before.  He did not say anything, only smiled ; and as he
came quite close, and took her hand, a sudden terror came into her eyes, she
drew back violently, and covering her face with her hands, sobbed out, “I can’t,
I can’t !”

    For a moment the man looked at her wonderingly ; then the expression
of his face changed, he took her hands very gently, saying, “My poor child !”
Something in the voice and touch reassured her ; she let him draw away her
hands from before her eyes, in which the tears were beginning to creep over
the lower eyelids.  She looked straight into his face ; there was no smile there
now, and she almost wondered why she had been so frightened a moment
before.  He led her to a chair.  “Sit down, now,” he said, “and let us have a
talk.” She sat down, already with a sense of relief, and he drew up a chair
beside her, and took her hand again, soothingly, as one might take the hand of
a timid child.  “Now,” he said, “tell me all about it.  How ill you look, my
poor girl.  You are in trouble.  Tell me all about it.”

    At first she was silent, looking into his face with a sort of hesitating con-
fidence.  Then, looking down again, she said, “May I ?”

    “I want you to,” he said.  “I want you to let me help you.”

    “Oh, will you ?” she said impulsively, pressing the hand he held.  “I
haven’t a friend in the world.  I am all alone.  I have been very unhappy.  It
was all my fault.  Will you really help me?  It isn’t for myself, it  .  .  .  it’s my
baby.  I am afraid he’s dying, he’s so very ill, and to-day he had convulsions,
and I thought  .  .  .   I thought he would really have died.  And I haven’t a
penny to get a doctor.  And that’s why I came.”

    She broke off, and the hesitation came into her eyes again.  She let her
hand rest quite still ; he felt the fingers turning cold as she waited for what he
would say.

158                                  THE SAVOY

    “Why didn’t you tell me before ?”  was all he said, but the voice and the
eyes were kinder than ever.  She almost smiled, she was so grateful ; and he
went on, “Now we must see about the doctor at once.  There’s a doctor who
lives only three doors from here.  If he’s in, you must take him back with
you.  Here, do you see, you’ll give him this card ; or, no, I’ll see him about
that.  Just get him to come with you.  And now I’m going to give you a
sovereign, for anything you want, and to-morrow  .  .  .   but first of all, the
doctor.  Would you like me to come with you ?”

    “No, please,” said Lucy.
    “Well, you had better go there at once.  And mind you get anything you
want, and for yourself, too.  Why, you don’t know how ill you look yourself!
And then to-morrow I shall come and see how you are getting on, and then
you must tell me all about yourself. ’Not now. ’You go straight to the doctor.
By the way, what is your address ?”

    Lucy told him, hardly able to speak ; she could not quite understand how
it was that things had turned out so differently from what she had expected,
or how everything seemed to be coming right without any trouble at all.  She
was bewildered, grateful, quiescent ; and as she got up, and closed her hand
mechanically over the sovereign he slipped into it, she was already thinking of
the next thing to do, to find the doctor, to take the doctor back with her at
once, to save her child.

    “Now I shall come in to-morrow at eleven,” she heard him saying, “and
then I’ll see if you want anything more.  Now good-bye.  Dr. Hedges, the
third door from here, on the same side.”

    He opened the door for her himself, and as she went downstairs she felt
the sovereign in her hand, pressing into her flesh, in a little round circle.  She
wrapped up the sovereign in her handkerchief, and thrust it into her bodice.
She was repeating, “Dr. Hedges, the third door from here, on the same side,”
over and over again, without knowing it, so mechanically, that she would have
passed the door had she not seen a brougham standing outside.  It was the
doctor’s brougham, and as she went up the steps in front of the house, the
door opened and the doctor himself came out.  “I want you, please, to come
with me at once,” she said ; “my baby  .  .  .   I’m afraid he’ll die if you don’t.
Can you come at once ?”

    The doctor looked at her critically ; he liked pretty women, and this one
was so young too.  “Yes, my dear,” he said, “I’ll come at once, if you like.
Where is it ?  All right ; jump in ; we’ll be there in a minute.”

The doctor talked cheerfully, and without expecting any answer, all the

                  PAGES FROM THE LIFE OF LUCY NEWCOME   159

way to the house.  “It’s the mother,” he thought to himself, “who wants the
doctor.”  Lucy sat by his side white and motionless, putting up her hand
sometimes to her bodice, to feel if the gold was there.  “Heart wrong,”
thought the doctor.

    When they reached the house, Lucy opened the door.  “Come in,” she
said, and began to fly up the stairs ; then, suddenly checking herself, “No,
come quietly, perhaps baby is sleeping.”  They went up quietly, and Lucy
opened the attic door with infinite precaution.  As she held open the door
for the doctor to come in, she saw Mrs. Marsh move towards her, she saw the
bed, and on the bed a little body lying motionless, its white face on the
pillow ; she saw it all at a glance, and, as the doctor came cheerfully into the
room, she realized that everything had been in vain, that (she said to herself)
she had waited just too long.

    She sat down by the side of the bed, and looked straight in front of her,
not saying a word, nor crying ; she seemed to herself to have been stunned.
The doctor examined the child, and then, taking Mrs. Marsh into a corner of
the room, began to question her.  “Poor little thing,” said Mrs. Marsh, “he
just went off like you might have snuffed out a candle.  He was always
weakly, like ; and she, you know, sir, she ain’t by no means strong, not fit to
have the charge of a baby, sir.  I’m that thankful she takes it so quiet like.
Did you say, sir, there’ll have to be a crowner’s quest ?  Well, I do hope not ;
it do look so bad.”

    At this moment they heard a wild cry behind them ; both turned, and
saw Lucy fling herself full length upon the bed, clasping the little body in her
arms, sobbing convulsively.  The tears streamed down her cheeks, the sobs
forced themselves out in great bursts, almost in shouts.  “It will do her good
to have a good cry,” said the doctor. ”I’ll leave you now ; rely on me to see
after things.” And he went out quietly.

    Lucy never remembered quite how she got through the rest of that day.
It always seemed to her afterwards like a bad dream, through which she had
found her way vaguely, in a thick darkness.  Early in the evening she
undressed and went to bed, and then, lying awake in the little room where
the dead baby lay folded in white things and covered up for its long sleep,
her mind seemed to soak in, unconsciously, all the discomfortable impressions
that had made up her life since she had been living in that miserable little
room.  Through all the hopeless sordidness of that life she lived again,
enduring the insults of the laundry, the labour of long days, starvation almost,
and the loneliness of forced companionship with such people as Mrs. Marsh

160                                  THE SAVOY

and Polly the ironer.  She had borne it for her child’s sake, and now there
was no longer any reason for bearing it.  Her life had come to a full stop ;
the past was irrevocably past, folded away like the little dead body ; her
mind had not the courage to look a single step before her into the future ; she
closed her eyes, and tried to shut down the darkness upon her brain.

    When she awoke in the morning it was nearly nine o’clock.  She got up
and dressed slowly, carefully, and when she had had her breakfast she went out
to an undertaker’s, from whom she ordered a baby’s coffin.  Remembering that
she had a sovereign, she asked him to make it very nicely, and chose the
particular kind of wood.  She stayed in the shop some time, looking at
inscriptions on the coffin lids, and asking questions about the ages of the
people who were going to be buried.  When she got back it was nearly
eleven.  She had taken off her hat, and was tidying her hair, quite mechanically,
in front of the glass, when she heard a clock strike.  Then she remembered
that Mr. Barfoot was coming to see her about eleven.  She stood there, lifting
the hair back from her forehead with her two thin hands, and her eyes met
their reflection in the glass, very seriously and meditatively.

                                                                                                Arthur Symons.

MLA citation:

Symons, Arthur. “Pages from the Life of Lucy Newcome.” The Savoy, vol. 2, April 1896, pp. 147-160. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.