The chance of hope destroyed
‘For your part, you could pray, perhaps.’
Lionel said bitterly, ‘Medically speaking, do you advise that?’
‘From the point of view of the recovery of a patient, no. But it is sometimes of help to the relatives.’
That night, looking at the still white face before he retired for the night, Lionel thought that the small flicker of animation there was in it would be extinguished before the morning. But in the morning the child still lived, and later, when Victoria put him to her breast, he sucked – feebly and not for long, but he took nourishment. During that day he grew no worse. The following morning Lionel heard his cries again and took heart from them. He thought he detected an angrier, more defiant note than before – the cry of rage prefiguring joy.
He said to the doctor, ‘He has more strength than you thought.’
‘Yes. But he needs it still.’
‘I’m beginning to have hopes again,’ Lionel said.
‘I advise against that. No, not professionally. It is just that I do not think the pleasures of hope weigh much against the chance of hope destroyed. It is better to wait. Be sober but be prepared to smile.’
‘I prefer to hope.’
The doctor shrugged. ‘We do as our temperaments require us. Perhaps yours is the happier one.’