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The Well of loneliness

3
The son that they waited for seemed long a-coming; he had not arrived
when Stephen was seven. Nor had Anna produced other female offspring.
thus Stephen remained cock of the roost. It is doubtful if any only child
is to be envied, for the only child is bound to become introspective;
having no one of its own ilk in whom to confide, it is apt to confide in
itself. It cannot be said that at seven years old the mind is beset by
serious problems, but nevertheless it is already groping, may already be
subject to small fits of dejection, may already be struggling to get a
grip on life--on the limited life of its surroundings. At seven there are
miniature loves and hatreds, which, however, loom large and are extremely
disconcerting. There may even be present a dim sense of frustration, and
Stephen was often conscious of this sense, though she could not have put
it into words. To cope with it, however, she would give way at times to
sudden fits of hot temper, working herself up over everyday trifles that
usually left her cold. It relieved her to stamp and then burst into tears
at the first sign of opposition. After such outbursts she would feel much
more cheerful, would find it almost easy to be docile and obedient. In
some vague, childish way she had hit back at life, and this fact had
restored her self-respect.
Anna would send for her turbulent offspring and would say: 'Stephen
darling, Mother's not really cross--tell Mother what makes you give way
to these tempers; she'll promise to try and understand if you'll tell
her--'
But her eyes would look cold, though her voice might be gentle, and her
hand when it fondled would be tentative, unwilling. The hand would be
making an effort to fondle, and Stephen would be conscious of that
effort. Then looking up at the calm, lovely face, Stephen would be filled
with a sudden contrition, with a sudden deep sense of her own
shortcomings; she would long to blurt all this out to her mother, yet
would stand there tongue-tied, saying nothing at all. For these two were
strangely shy with each other--it was almost grotesque, this shyness of
theirs, as existing between mother and child. Anna would feel it, and
through her Stephen, young as she was, would become conscious of it; so
that they held a little aloof when they should have been drawing
together.
Stephen, acutely responsive to beauty, would be dimly longing to find
expression for a feeling almost amounting to worship, that her mother's
face had awakened. But Anna, looking gravely at her daughter, noting the
plentiful auburn hair, the brave hazel eyes that were so like her
father's, as indeed were the child's whole expression and bearing, would
be filled with a sudden antagonism that came very near to anger.
She would awake at night and ponder this thing, scourging herself in an
access of contrition; accusing herself of hardness of spirit, of being an
unnatural mother. Sometimes she would shed slow, miserable tears,
remembering the inarticulate Stephen.
She would think: I ought to be proud of the likeness, proud and happy and
glad when I sec it! then back would come flooding that queer antagonism
that amounted almost to anger.
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