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31. CHAPTER XXXI
THEIR night came unheralded.
Kennicott was on a country call. It was cool but Carol huddled on the porch, rocking, meditating, rocking. The house was lonely and repellent, and though she sighed, "I ought to go in and read--so many things to read--ought to go in," she remained. Suddenly Erik was coming, turning in, swinging open the screen door, touching her hand.
"Saw your husband driving out of town. Couldn't stand it."
"Well---- You mustn't stay more than five minutes."
"Couldn't stand not seeing you. Every day, towards evening, felt I had to see you--pictured you so clear. I've been good though, staying away, haven't I!"
"And you must go on being good."
"Why must I?"
"We better not stay here on the porch. The Howlands across the street are such window-peepers, and Mrs. Bogart----"
She did not look at him but she could divine his tremulousness as he stumbled indoors. A moment ago the night had been coldly empty; now it was incalculable, hot, treacherous. But it is women who are the calm realists once they discard the fetishes of the premarital hunt. Carol was serene as she murmured, "Hungry? I have some little honey-colored cakes. You may have two, and then you must skip home."
"Take me up and let me see Hugh asleep."
"I don't believe----"
"Just a glimpse!"
She doubtfully led the way to the hallroom-nursery. Their heads close, Erik's curls pleasant as they touched her cheek, they looked in at the baby. Hugh was pink with slumber. He had burrowed into his pillow with such energy that it was almost smothering him. Beside it was a celluloid rhinoceros; tight in his hand a torn picture of Old King Cole.
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