"How much d'you earn?"
Sixteen shillings a week was not much to keep a wife and child on. The room the couple lived in showed that their poverty was extreme. It was a fair size, but it looked quite large, since there was hardly any furniture in it; there was no carpet on the floor; there were no pictures on the walls; and most rooms had something, photographs or supplements in cheap frames from the Christmas numbers of the illustrated papers. The patient lay on a little iron bed of the cheapest sort. It startled Philip to see how young she was.
"By Jove, she can't be more than sixteen," he said to the woman who had come in to `see her through.'
She had given her age as eighteen on the card, but when they were very young they often put on a year or two. Also she was pretty, which was rare in those classes in which the constitution has been undermined by bad food, bad air, and unhealthy occupations; she had delicate features and large blue eyes, and a mass of dark hair done in the elaborate fashion of the coster girl. She and her husband were very nervous.
"You'd better wait outside, so as to be at hand if I want you," Philip said to him.
Now that he saw him better Philip was surprised again at his boyish air: you felt that he should be larking in the street with the other lads instead of waiting anxiously for the birth of a child. The hours passed, and it was not till nearly two that the baby was born. Everything seemed to be going satisfactorily; the husband was called in, and it touched Philip to see the awkward, shy way in which he kissed his wife; Philip packed up his things. Before going he felt once more his patient's pulse.
"Hulloa!" he said.
He looked at her quickly: something had happened. In cases of emergency the S. O. C.--senior obstetric clerk--had to be sent for; he was a qualified man, and the `district' was in his charge. Philip scribbled a note, and giving it to the husband, told him to run with it to the hospital; he bade him hurry, for his wife was in a dangerous state. The man set off. Philip waited anxiously; he knew the woman was bleeding to death; he was afraid she would die before his chief arrived; he took what steps he could. He hoped fervently that the S. O. C. would not have been called elsewhere. The minutes were interminable. He came at last, and, while he examined the patient, in a low voice asked Philip questions. Philip saw by his face that he thought the case very grave. His name was Chandler. He was a tall man of few words, with a long nose and a thin face much lined for his age. He shook his head.
"It was hopeless from the beginning. Where's the husband?"
"I told him to wait on the stairs," said Philip.
"You'd better bring him in."
Philip opened the door and called him. He was sitting in the dark on the first step of the flight that led to the next floor. He came up to the bed.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"Why, there's internal bleeding. It's impossible to stop it." The S. O. C. hesitated a moment, and because it was a painful thing to say he forced his voice to become brusque. "She's dying."
The man did not say a word; he stopped quite still, looking at his wife, who lay, pale and unconscious, on the bed. It was the midwife who spoke.
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