put things in her mouth? Needles—while she was sewing? Pins, coins, anything like that? Seeds? Did she ever eat watermelon? Sometimes the appendix—"
Steve shook his head wearily. "I don't know."
"It was just a thought." Doctor Blair drove slowly off down the narrow tree-lined street, leaving two dark streaks, two soiled lines that marred the pale, glistening snow.
SPRING came, warm and sunny. The ground turned black and rich. Overhead the sun shone, a hot white orb, full of strength.
"Stop here," Steve murmured.
Ed Patterson brought the car to a halt at the side of the street. He turned off the motor. The two men sat in silence, neither of them speaking.
At the end of the street children were playing. A high school boy was mowing a lawn, pushing the machine over the wet grass. The street was dark in the shade of the great trees growing along each side.
"Nice," Ed said.
Steve nodded without answering. Moodily, he watched a young girl walking by, a shopping bag under her arm. The girl climbed the stairs of a porch and disappeared into an old-fashioned yellow house.
Steve pushed the car door open. "Come on. Let's get it over with."
Ed lifted the wreath of flowers from the back seat and put them in his son's lap. "You'll have to carry it. It's your job."
"All right." Steve grabbed the flowers and stepped out onto the pavement.
The two men walked up the street together, silent and thoughtful.
"It's been seven or eight months, now," Steve said abruptly.
"At least." Ed lit the cigar as they walked along, puffing clouds of gray smoke around them. "Maybe a little more."
"I never should have brought her up here. She lived in town all her life. She didn't know anything about the country."
"It would have happened anyhow."
"If we had been closer to a hospital—"
The doctor said it wouldn't have made any difference. Even if we'd called him right away instead of waiting until morning." They came to the corner and turned. "And as you know—"
"Forget it," Steve said, suddenly tense.
The sounds of the children