The Well of loneliness
many matrons called to give good advice to Anna.
But: 'Man proposes--God disposes', and so it happened that on Christmas
Eve, Anna Gordon was delivered of a daughter; a narrow-hipped,
wide-shouldered little tadpole of a baby, that yelled and yelled for
three hours without ceasing, as though outraged to find itself ejected
Anna Gordon held her child to her breast, but she grieved while it drank,
because of her man who had longed so much for a son. And seeing her
grief, Sir Philip hid his chagrin, and he fondled the baby and examined
'What a hand!' he would say. 'Why it's actually got nails on all its ten
fingers: little, perfect, pink nails!'
Then Anna would dry her eyes and caress it, kissing the tiny hand.
He insisted on calling the infant Stephen, nay more, he would have it
baptized by that name. 'We've called her Stephen so long,' he told Anna,
'that I really can't see why we shouldn't go on--'
Anna felt doubtful, but Sir Philip was stubborn, as he could be at times
The Vicar said that it was rather unusual, so to mollify him they must
add female names. The child was baptized in the village church as Stephen
Mary Olivia Gertrude--and she throve, seeming strong, and when her hair
grew it was seen to be auburn like Sir Philip's. There was also a tiny
cleft in her chin, so small just at first that it looked like a shadow;
and after a while when her eyes lost the blueness that is proper to
puppies and other young things, Anna saw that her eyes were going to be
hazel--and thought that their expression was her father's. On the whole
she was quite a well-behaved baby, owing, no doubt, to a fine
constitution. Beyond that first energetic protest at birth she had done
very little howling.
It was happy to have a baby at Morton, and the old house seemed to become
more mellow as the child, growing fast now and learning to walk,
staggered or stumbled or sprawled on the floors that had long known the
ways of children. Sir Philip would come home all muddy from hunting and
would rush into the nursery before pulling off his boots, then down he
would go on his hands and knees while Stephen clambered on to his back.
Sir Philip would pretend to be well corned up, bucking and jumping and
kicking wildly, so that Stephen must cling to his hair or his collar, and
thump him with hard little arrogant fists. Anna, attracted by the
outlandish hubbub, would find them, and would point to the mud on the
She would say: 'Now, Philip, now, Stephen, that's enough! It's time for
your tea', as though both of them were children. Then Sir Philip would
reach up and disentangle Stephen, after which he would kiss Stephen's