PART IV. The White Mulberry Tree
5. CHAPTER V
When Frank Shabata came in from work at five o'clock that evening,
old Moses Marcel, Raoul's father, telephoned him that Amedee had
had a seizure in the wheatfield, and that Doctor Paradis was going
to operate on him as soon as the Hanover doctor got there to help.
Frank dropped a word of this at the table, bolted his supper, and
rode off to Sainte-Agnes, where there would be sympathetic discussion
of Amedee's case at Marcel's saloon.
As soon as Frank was gone, Marie telephoned Alexandra. It was a
comfort to hear her friend's voice. Yes, Alexandra knew what there
was to be known about Amedee. Emil had been there when they carried
him out of the field, and had stayed with him until the doctors
operated for appendicitis at five o'clock. They were afraid it
was too late to do much good; it should have been done three days
ago. Amedee was in a very bad way. Emil had just come home, worn
out and sick himself. She had given him some brandy and put him
Marie hung up the receiver. Poor Amedee's illness had taken on a
new meaning to her, now that she knew Emil had been with him. And
it might so easily have been the other way--Emil who was ill and
Amedee who was sad! Marie looked about the dusky sitting-room.
She had seldom felt so utterly lonely. If Emil was asleep, there
was not even a chance of his coming; and she could not go to
Alexandra for sympathy. She meant to tell Alexandra everything,
as soon as Emil went away. Then whatever was left between them
would be honest.
But she could not stay in the house this evening. Where should she
go? She walked slowly down through the orchard, where the evening
air was heavy with the smell of wild cotton. The fresh, salty scent
of the wild roses had given way before this more powerful perfume
of midsummer. Wherever those ashes-of-rose balls hung on their
milky stalks, the air about them was saturated with their breath.
The sky was still red in the west and the evening star hung
directly over the Bergsons' wind-mill. Marie crossed the fence at
the wheatfield corner, and walked slowly along the path that led
to Alexandra's. She could not help feeling hurt that Emil had not
come to tell her about Amedee. It seemed to her most unnatural
that he should not have come. If she were in trouble, certainly
he was the one person in the world she would want to see. Perhaps
he wished her to understand that for her he was as good as gone