The Quest of the Silver Fleece HTML version

Thirty-one: A Parting Of Ways
"Was the child born dead?"
"Worse than dead!"
Somehow, somewhere, Mary Cresswell had heard these words; long, long, ago, down
there in the great pain-swept shadows of utter agony, where Earth seemed slipping its
moorings; and now, today, she lay repeating them mechanically, grasping vaguely at their
meaning. Long she had wrestled with them as they twisted and turned and knotted
themselves, and she worked and toiled so hard as she lay there to make the thing clear—
to understand.
"Was the child born dead?"
"Worse than dead!"
Then faint and fainter whisperings: what could be worse than death? She had tried to ask
the grey old doctor, but he soothed her like a child each day and left her lying there.
Today she was stronger, and for the first time sitting up, looking listlessly out across the
world—a queer world. Why had they not let her see the child—just one look at its little
dead face? That would have been something. And again, as the doctor cheerily turned to
go, she sought to repeat the old question. He looked at her sharply, then interrupted,
saying kindly:
"There, now; you've been dreaming. You must rest quietly now." And with a nod he
passed into the other room to talk with her husband.
She was not satisfied. She had not been dreaming. She would tell Harry to ask him—she
did not often see her husband, but she must ask him now and she arose unsteadily and
swayed noiselessly across the floor. A moment she leaned against the door, then opened
it slightly. From the other side the words came distinctly and clearly:
"—other children, doctor?"
"You must have no other children, Mr. Cresswell."
"Because the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth
Slowly, softly, she crept away. Her mind seemed very clear. And she began a long
journey to reach her window and chair—a long, long journey; but at last she sank into the