'AFTERNOON OF A DRYAD'
FLEUR, though still gracefully concealing most of what Michael called 'the eleventh baronet,' now due in about two months' time, seemed to be adapting herself, in mind and body, to the quiet and persistent collection of the heir. Michael knew that, from the first, following the instructions of her mother, she had been influencing his sex, repeating to herself, every evening before falling asleep, and every morning on waking, the words: "Day by day, in every way, he is getting more and more male," to infect the subconscious which, everybody now said, controlled the course of events; and that she was abstaining from the words: "I will have a boy," for this, setting up a reaction, everybody said, was liable to produce a girl.
Michael noted that she turned more and more to her mother, as if the French, or more naturalistic, side of her had taken charge of a process which had to do with the body. She was frequently at Mapledurharm, going down in Soames' car, and her mother was frequently in South Square. Annette's handsome presence, with its tendency to black lace, was always pleasing to Michael, who had never forgotten her espousal of his suit in days when it was a forlorn hope. Though he still felt only on the threshold of Fleur's heart, and was preparing to play second fiddle to 'the eleventh baronet,' he was infinitely easier in mind since Wilfrid had been gone. And he watched, with a sort of amused adoration, the way in which she focussed her collecting powers on an object that had no epoch, a process that did not date.