Friday, February 17, 2006

07Feb1857, A New Baby

LONDON, February 7th, 1857.
—When I was called this morning, Amelia whispered to me that the Baby might be expected soon, that Locock had been in the house during the night (having returned), and Fergusson. She frightened me dreadfully when she bent over me ; oh, such a turn ! In fact one's anxiety was great after the words had been said. I wrote out a short prayer for the little ones, and made them say it with their morning prayers. Little they knew of it all ! Then I got up myself and when half-dressed, Miss Smith came into the room. I said : " Oh dear, so it's coming to an upshot at last ? " She said yes, but went out directly. I said my prayers and had just ended them, feeling much comforted by them, when Auntie Pussy came eagerly into the room : " The Baby's born ! " I was stricken with astonishment, I never expected it was to happen at once : if to-day at all, did not think till much later, fancying Amelia's words only meant the illness had just begun, or was likely to begin. " Oh, Auntie Pussy !—boy or girl ? " " Oh, boy—never mind what it is." " Oh, how is she ? " " So quiet and well." Oh, the relief ! This dialogue was just outside my room door, and took about four seconds. We both dashed away, Auntie P. stole into the room, and I rushed to the stairs. I had to pass the little room destined for the baby, the door was ajar, and there I saw the broad back of Loftus the nurse, and a tiny red head, covered with brown down. A thrill shot through me. On the landing were Miss Smith and Meriel. A demand for ice, for water was heard ; Miss S. and M. shot noiselessly downstairs, and appeared with the requisite articles. I seized hold of the pail of ice, and put it down by Baby's door. Locock came out : we sat down on the window-seat and presently heard a tiny little wailing cry. I crept in to look at the Baby, and saw a small pink scrap, with quantities of brown hair, and large eyes. Oh, the precious ! I forgot to say that after Auntie P. had told me, I met Miss S. who asked eagerly, " Boy or girl ? " When I told her, she said something about Papa, and we had a sort of race downstairs. I reached his room, told him. He made a curious pucker with his mouth, opened his eyes wide, and said, " A boy ! Why, I was never told ! " and stamped upstairs with a terrible noise. I followed him ; on the top he said to Miss S. and me with a delighted chuckle, " Another boy ! What in the world shall we do with another boy ! " and went into the room. Well, we sat on the stairs for some time, and baby was taken in to see Mamma. I went on tiptoe to the room-door, which was ajar, peeped through the crack, and saw a bit of Mamma, heard her dear weak voice saying, " Oh, what a darling ! " —and fondling him. There was Locock and Loftus there, the former in a state of rapture over the baby, whom Papa took in his arms to the light, I suppose to see the colour of his eyes, which is always his mania. When at last we went downstairs (it was now about 9 o'clock) we found Auntie P. and Mrs. Talbot in Papa's room, and had a quiet cry together, with a gushing overpowering sense of thankfulness and relief that made the tears grateful. By and bye, Uncle William came to the house door. I let him in, and he and Auntie P. had a confabulation in a low voice. He had heard : how I don't quite know, for Locock had declared that no one must be told till more time had passed. He seemed hardly to imagine that she could be so well, with good reason as we heard afterwards. We went to the schoolroom (I had told the little ones, who were first utterly incredulous and then over the moon : had known nothing about it) ; and there Auntie P., Mrs. Talbot, Miss S., M., and the children knelt while I read, with such an egg in my throat ! some earnest thanksgivings which were the greatest comforts to us. Oh dear. ! I think it was now that Auntie P. and the others told Meriel and me how much more awful the danger which was over had been than we knew.

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