But do you know what that little thing did? She thought I was playing with her. She gave a crow of delight and came bowling after me.
That finished me. I stooped and picked her up in my arms, throwing her up in the air to hear her crow and feel her come down again.
"Mouse," I said, "we'll just have a little trip together. The nurse that'd lose you deserves to worry till you're found. The mother that's lucky enough to own you will be benefited hereafter by a sharp scare on your account just now. Come on, sweetheart!"
Oh, the feel of a baby in your arms, Mag! It makes the Cruelty seem a perfectly unreal thing, a thing one should be unutterably ashamed of imagining, of accusing human nature of; a thing only an irredeemably vile thing could imagine. Just the weight of that little body riding like a bonny boat at anchor on your arm, just the cocky little way it sits up, chirping and confident; just the light touch of a bit of a hand on your collar; just that is enough to push down brick walls; to destroy pictures of bruised and maimed children that endure after the injuries are healed; to scatter records that even I--I, Nancy Olden--can't believe and believe, too, that other women have carried their babies, as I did some other woman's baby, across the Square.
On the other side I set her down. I didn't want to. I was greedy of every moment that I had her. But I wanted to get some change ready before climbing up the steps to the L-station.
She clutched my dress as we stood there a minute in a perfectly irresistible way. I know now why men marry baby-women: it's to feel that delicious, helpless clutch of weak fingers; the clutch of dependence, of trust, of appeal.
I looked down at her with that same silly adoration I've seen on Molly's face for her poor, lacking, twisted boy. At least, I did in the beginning. But gradually the expression of my face must have changed; for all at once I discovered what had been done to me.
Yes, Maggie Monahan, clean gone! My pocket had been as neatly picked as I myself--well, never mind, as what. I threw back my head and laughed aloud. Nance Olden, the great doer-up, had been done up so cleverly, so surely, so prettily, that she hadn't had an inkling of it.
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