Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/51

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The Financiers

and asked him not to make a noise as the child had just gone to sleep. They kissed each other and she helped him to remove his wet overcoat. Then they both went softly into the kitchen.

This room was about the same size as the sitting-room. At one end was a small range with an oven and a boiler, a high mantelpiece painted black. On the mantel-shelf was a round alarm clock and some brightly-polished tin canisters. At the other end of the room, facing the fireplace, was a small dresser, on the shelves of which were neatly arranged a number of plates and dishes. The walls were papered with oak paper. On one wall, between two coloured almanacks, hung a tin lamp with a reflector behind the light. In the middle of the room was an oblong deal table with a white tablecloth, upon which the tea things were set ready. There were four kitchen chairs, two of which were placed close to the table. Overhead, about eighteen inches from the ceiling, were stretched several cords upon which were drying a number of linen or calico undergarments, a coloured shirt, and Easton's white apron and jacket. On the back of a chair at one side of the fire more clothes were drying. At the other side, on the floor, was a wicker cradle in which a baby was sleeping. Near by stood a chair with a towel hung on the back, arranged so as to shade the infant's face from the light of the lamp. An air of homely comfort pervaded the room; the atmosphere was warm, and the fire blazed cheerfully over the whitened hearth.

They walked softly to the cradle and stood looking at the child, who kept turning uneasily in its sleep. Its face was very flushed and its eyes were moving under the half-closed lids. Every now and again its lips were drawn back slightly, showing part of the gums; presently it began to whimper, drawing up its knees as if in pain.

'He seems to have something wrong with him,' said Easton.

'I think it's his teeth,' replied the mother. 'He's been very restless all day and he was awake nearly all last night.'

'P'raps he's hungry.'

'No, it can't be that. He had the best part of an egg this morning, and I've nursed him several times to-day. And then at dinner-time he had a whole saucer full of fried potato with little bits of bacon in it.'

Again the infant whimpered and twisted in its sleep, its lips drawn back, showing the gums; its knees pressed closely to its body, the little fists clenched, and face flushed. Then after