Read Books Online, for Free
|Part I||F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|Page 3 of 4||
"Am I mad?" thundered Mr. Button, his terror resolving into rage. "Is this some ghastly hospital joke?
"It doesn't seem like a joke to us," replied the nurse severely. "And I don't know whether you're mad or not--but that is most certainly your child."
The cool perspiration redoubled on Mr. Button's forehead. He closed his eyes, and then, opening them, looked again. There was no mistake--he was gazing at a man of threescore and ten--a baby of threescore and ten, a baby whose feet hung over the sides of the crib in which it was reposing.
The old man looked placidly from one to the other for a moment, and then suddenly spoke in a cracked and ancient voice. "Are you my father?" he demanded.
Mr. Button and the nurse started violently.
"Because if you are," went on the old man querulously, "I wish you'd get me out of this place--or, at least, get them to put a comfortable rocker in here,"
"Where in God's name did you come from? Who are you?" burst out Mr. Button frantically.
"I can't tell you exactly who I am," replied the querulous whine, "because I've only been born a few hours--but my last name is certainly Button."
"You lie! You're an impostor!"
The old man turned wearily to the nurse. "Nice way to welcome a new-born child," he complained in a weak voice. "Tell him he's wrong, why don't you?"
"You're wrong. Mr. Button," said the nurse severely. "This is your child, and you'll have to make the best of it. We're going to ask you to take him home with you as soon as possible-some time to-day."
"Home?" repeated Mr. Button incredulously.
"Yes, we can't have him here. We really can't, you know?"
"I'm right glad of it," whined the old man. "This is a fine place to keep a youngster of quiet tastes. With all this yelling and howling, I haven't been able to get a wink of sleep. I asked for something to eat"--here his voice rose to a shrill note of protest--"and they brought me a bottle of milk!"
Mr. Button, sank down upon a chair near his son and concealed his face in his hands. "My heavens!" he murmured, in an ecstasy of horror. "What will people say? What must I do?"
"You'll have to take him home," insisted the nurse--"immediately!"
A grotesque picture formed itself with dreadful clarity before the eyes of the tortured man--a picture of himself walking through the crowded streets of the city with this appalling apparition stalking by his side.
"I can't. I can't," he moaned.
People would stop to speak to him, and what was he going to say? He would have to introduce this--this septuagenarian: "This is my son, born early this morning." And then the old man would gather his blanket around him and they would plod on, past the bustling stores, the slave market--for a dark instant Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black--past the luxurious houses of the residential district, past the home for the aged....
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
|The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2008