By the middle of April the house-cleaning was done. One or two motor
parties had come out, dined sedately and wined moderately, and had gone
back to the city again. The next two weeks saw the weather clear. The
roads dried up, robins filled the trees with their noisy spring songs, and
still business continued dull.
By the first day of May, Tillie's uneasiness had become certainty. On that
morning Mr. Schwitter, coming in from the early milking, found her sitting
in the kitchen, her face buried in her apron. He put down the milk-pails
and, going over to her, put a hand on her head.
"I guess there's no mistake, then?"
"There's no mistake," said poor Tillie into her apron.
He bent down and kissed the back of her neck. Then, when she failed to
brighten, he tiptoed around the kitchen, poured the milk into pans, and
rinsed the buckets, working methodically in his heavy way. The tea-kettle
had boiled dry. He filled that, too. Then:-"Do you want to see a doctor?"
"I'd better see somebody," she said, without looking up. "And--don't
think I'm blaming you. I guess I don't really blame anybody. As far as
that goes, I've wanted a child right along. It isn't the trouble I am
thinking of either."
He nodded. Words were unnecessary between them. He made some tea clumsily
and browned her a piece of toast. When he had put them on one end of the
kitchen table, he went over to her again.
"I guess I'd ought to have thought of this before, but all I thought of was
trying to get a little happiness out of life. And,"--he stroked her
arm,--"as far as I am concerned, it's been worth while, Tillie. No matter
what I've had to do, I've always looked forward to coming back here to you
in the evening. Maybe I don't say it enough, but I guess you know I feel it
Without looking up, she placed her hand over his.
"I guess we started wrong," he went on. "You can't build happiness on what
isn't right. You and I can manage well enough; but now that there's going
to be another, it looks different, somehow."
After that morning Tillie took up her burden stoically. The hope of
motherhood alternated with black fits of depression. She sang at her work,
to burst out into sudden tears.
Other things were not going well. Schwitter had given up his nursery
business; but the motorists who came to Hillfoot did not come back. When,
at last, he took the horse and buggy and drove about the country for
orders, he was too late. Other nurserymen had been before him; shrubberies
and orchards were already being set out. The second payment on his
mortgage would be due in July. By the middle of May they were frankly up
against it. Schwitter at last dared to put the situation into words.