Then Carlotta made her second move. A new interne had come into the house,
and was going through the process of learning that from a senior at the
medical school to a half-baked junior interne is a long step back. He had
to endure the good-humored contempt of the older men, the patronizing
instructions of nurses as to rules.
Carlotta alone treated him with deference. His uneasy rounds in Carlotta's
precinct took on the state and form of staff visitations. She flattered,
cajoled, looked up to him.
After a time it dawned on Wilson that this junior cub was getting more
attention than himself: that, wherever he happened to be, somewhere in the
offing would be Carlotta and the Lamb, the latter eyeing her with worship.
Her indifference had only piqued him. The enthroning of a successor galled
him. Between them, the Lamb suffered mightily--was subject to frequent
"bawling out," as he termed it, in the operating-room as he assisted the
anaesthetist. He took his troubles to Carlotta, who soothed him in the
corridor--in plain sight of her quarry, of course--by putting a sympathetic
hand on his sleeve.
Then, one day, Wilson was goaded to speech.
"For the love of Heaven, Carlotta," he said impatiently, "stop making love
to that wretched boy. He wriggles like a worm if you look at him."
"I like him. He is thoroughly genuine. I respect him, and--he respects
"It's rather a silly game, you know."
"Do you think I don't understand?"
"Perhaps you do. I--I don't really care a lot about him, Max. But I've
been down-hearted. He cheers me up."
Her attraction for him was almost gone--not quite. He felt rather sorry
"I'm sorry. Then you are not angry with me?"
"Angry? No." She lifted her eyes to his, and for once she was not acting.
"I knew it would end, of course. I have lost a--a lover. I expected that.
But I wanted to keep a friend."
It was the right note. Why, after all, should he not be her friend? He had
treated her cruelly, hideously. If she still desired his friendship, there
was no disloyalty to Sidney in giving it. And Carlotta was very careful.
Not once again did she allow him to see what lay in her eyes. She told him
of her worries. Her training was almost over. She had a chance to take up
institutional work. She abhorred the thought of private duty. What would
The Lamb was hovering near, hot eyes on them both. It was no place to talk.