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- This Freedom - 60/61 -


Rosalie began to pray.

Harry would not attend the trial. He had done all that could be done, and of his position there was very much that he was able to do, and had attended the police court during the initial proceedings. He would not go to the Old Bailey. He would not go out. He would not read the papers. He used to sit about the house. "My son a felon.... My boy a felon. My son.... My eldest son...."

Rosalie was given a seat in the floor of the court on the first days of the hearing. On the day when the verdict was to be given and sentence passed she could not bear that. An usher, much pitying, obtained her a place in the gallery. She looked down immediately upon her Huggo. Her hands, upon the ledge before her, were all the time clasped. Her eyes alternately were in her hands and on her Huggo. Her heart moved between her Huggo and her God.

"You, Occleve, stand in a different position. . . ."

She began to pray. All of her being, all of her soul, all of her life, with a spiritual and a physical intensity transcending all that her body and her mind had ever known, was in apotheosis of supplication. "O God the Father! O God the Father! O God the Father!"

Her Huggo! Those words that only in snatches she heard were being addressed to her Huggo.

"... Your counsel has most eloquently pleaded for you.... You bear an honoured name.... You bear a name held in these precincts in honour, in esteem, in love, in admiration.... You have had a good home, a great and a noble father, a distinguished and devoted mother...."

That suppliant crouched lower in her supplication.

"... You have been the dupe, you have been the tool, you have been in large part, as your counsel has pleaded, and as I believe, the unsuspecting agent.... Nevertheless, the least sentence I can pass on you--"

"O God the Father, the Father!"

"... is six months' imprisonment."

That boy, whose head had been hung and eyes downcast, lifted his head and raised his eyes and gave one look into the eyes of that suppliant for him that sat above him. There was recalled by that suppliant a look that had passed from the place of accusation to the place of assembly in the place called the Sanhedrin.

Her Huggo!

They took him away.

Doda didn't stop going out. She seemed to go out more. The pain within that house, brought there by Huggo, seemed to make that house more than before unbearable to Doda. She often spent the night, or the week end away, staying with the foreign friend, she generally said. She would have nothing whatever to do with the baby now installed in the house. She never would go near it. Once she passed it in the hall in its perambulator. She stopped and stooped over the face of lovely innocence that lay there and gazed upon it with an extraordinary intensity. She drew back with a sharp catch at her breath and sharply stepped away and turned and ran very quickly upstairs. After that. when she chanced to pass the child, she turned aside and would not look upon the child. She began not to look well, Rosalie thought. There often was upon her lovely face a pinched and drawn expression, disfiguring it. On the rare occasions when she was in to dinner she sat strangely moody. There only was a moodiness about that table then; but the moodiness of Doda was noticeable to Rosalie. She ate hardly at all. She sometimes would get up suddenly before a meal was ended and go away, generally to her own room. Very many times Rosalie would seek anxiously to question her, but apart from the independence which commonly she maintained towards Rosalie, Doda seemed very much to resent solicitude upon her health. "What should be the matter? I look perfectly well, don't I?"

"Doda, you don't. I've noticed it a long time."

"Well, I am perfectly well. If I wasn't I'd say so."

Strike on!

Rosalie was called up on the telephone by the foreign friend. It was the evening, about ten o'clock. Doda was away for a week at Brighton with the foreign friend. She was due back to-morrow. Harry was out with Benji. Benji was nineteen then and was home on vacation from Oxford. Harry never could bear Benji out of his sight when Benji was home. In the affliction that had come upon them, he seemed to cling to Benji. Rosalie had persuaded him that evening to go with Benji to a concert. Harry said the idea of anything like that was detestable to him, but Rosalie had pleaded with him. Just a little chamber concert was different. It would do him so much good to have an evening away and to hear a little music and Benji would love it. Harry allowed himself to be persuaded and went off arm-in-arm with Benji. He always put his arm in Benji's when he walked with Benji.

Rosalie was waiting for them when the telephone bell rang and she was spoken to by the foreign friend.

It then happened like this.

The voice of the foreign friend was very alarmingly urgent. "Would she come and see Doda at once, at once, at once?"

The voice struck a chill to the heart of Rosalie. "But where are you? You're at Brighton, aren't you? Are you speaking from Brighton?"

"No, no. At my flat. At my flat."

"But what is it? What is it? Why don't you tell me what it is?"

"It's an--it's an--." The voice stammered and hesitated.

"Oh, speak! Oh, speak."

She could hear the voice gulping.

"Oh, please do speak!"

"Doda isn't very well. Doda's very ill. It's an--it's an accident."

"I'll come. I'll come."

"Is Mr. Occleve there?"

"He isn't. He's out."

"Can you get him?"

"No. Yes. I don't know. I can't think. Oh, tell me. Tell me."

"Will you leave a message for him to come at once?"

"At once. At once."

She wrote a message for Harry and she picked up a wrap and she ran out hatless to find a cab.

She found a cab and went to Doda.

This all happened as quickly as bewilderingly. It was not like a dream, and it was not like a nightmare. It was like a kind of trance to Rosalie.

The foreign friend was not seen at the flat. She was in some other room and did not appear. She said afterwards, and proved, that she had been away the previous night, leaving Doda at the flat, and had returned to find her--as she was found; and had immediately called the nearest doctor and then Doda's mother.

It was the doctor that opened the door to Rosalie. He was a Scotchman; a big and rugged man, all lines and whiskers and with a rugged accent.

He said, "You'rre her mother, arren't ye? Where's her father?"

"He's coming. Where is my child?"

The doctor jerked his head towards a wall. "She's yon."

"Tell me, please."

He pushed a chair towards her but she shook her head. "Please tell me."

"Ye'll want your courage." He again indicated the chair. She again shook her head. "It'll try ye. She's dying."

The lips of Rosalie formed the words: "Tell me." There was no sound in her.

The doctor said, "I cannot tell ye. It is for your husband to hear."

The heart of Rosalie stood still. She put both her hands upon her heart and she said to the doctor, "Tell me. I am strong."

The doctor looked upon Rosalie intently and he said: (he was perhaps dexterously giving her time that she might weld herself) he said, "Ye'll need be strong. Ye look sensible. Ye'll need be sensible." He said, "There's been before me here another--There's been a creature here before me. There's been blackguarrd work here. There's been--that poor child there..." He told her.

She moaned: "O God, be merciful!"

That child, as that night went, was in delirium. She seemed to lie upon a bed. She lay, in fact, upon the altar of her gods, of self, of what is vain, of liberty undisciplined, of restless itch for pleasure, and of the gods of Rosalie, a piteous sacrifice to them. You that have tears to shed prepare to shed them now. Or if you have no tears, but for emotion only sneers, do stop and put the thing away. It is intolerable to think to have beside that bed, beside that child, beside that Rosalie, your sneers. It's not for you, and you do but exacerbate the frightful pain there's been in feeling it with them.

Rosalie was all night with that child. Harry was there upon the


This Freedom - 60/61

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