“She didn’t tell anyone, Scarlett, especially not you. She was afraid you’d scold her if you knew. She wanted to wait three—till she thought it safe and sure and then surprise you all and laugh and say how wrong the doctors had been. And she was so happy. You know how she was about babies—how much she’s wanted a little girl. And everything went so well until—and then for no reason at all—”
The door of Melanie’s room opened quietly and Dr. Meade came out into the hall, shutting the door behind him. He stood for a moment, his gray beard sunk on his chest, and looked at the suddenly frozen four. His gaze fell last on Scarlett. As he came toward her, she saw that there was grief in his eyes and also dislike and contempt that flooded her frightened heart with guilt.
“So you finally got here,” he said.
Before she could answer, Ashley started toward the closed door.
“Not you, yet,” said the doctor. “She wants to speak to Scarlett.”
“Doctor,” said India, putting a hand on his sleeve. Though her voice was toneless, it plead more loudly than words. “Let me see her for a moment. I’ve been here since this morning, waiting, but she— Let me see her for a moment. I want to tell her—must tell her—that I was wrong about—something.”
She did not look at Ashley or Scarlett as she spoke, but Dr. Meade allowed his cold glance to fall on Scarlett.
“I’ll see, Miss India,” he said briefly. “But only if you’ll give me your word not to use up her strength telling her you were wrong. She knows you were wrong and it will only worry her to hear you apologize.”
Pitty began, timidly: “Please, Dr. Meade—”
“Miss Pitty, you know you’d scream and faint.”
Pitty drew up her stout little body and gave the doctor glance for glance. Her eyes were dry and there was dignity in every curve.
“Well, all right, honey, a little later,” said the doctor, more kindly. “Come, Scarlett.”
They tiptoed down the hall to the closed door and the doctor put his hand on Scarlett’s shoulder in a hard grip.
“Now, Miss,” he whispered briefly, “no hysterics and no deathbed confessions from you or, before God, I will wring your neck! Don’t give me any of your innocent stares. You know what I mean. Miss Melly is going to die easily and you aren’t going to ease your own conscience by telling her anything about Ashley. I’ve never harmed a woman yet, but if you say anything now—you’ll answer to me.”
He opened the door before she could answer, pushed her into the room and closed the door behind her. The little room, cheaply furnished in black walnut, was in semi-darkness, the lamp shaded with a newspaper. It was as small and prim a room as a schoolgirl’s, the narrow little low-backed bed, the plain net curtains looped back, the clean faded rag rugs on the floor, were so different from the lavishness of Scarlett’s own bedroom with its towering carved furniture, pink brocade draperies and rose-strewn carpet.