“It’s this way, Addy dear,” said Nancy, cuddling up to his waistcoat and giving a sigh of delight that there were so many nice people in the world. “It’s just this way. First there’s mother, and then all round mother there’s a wide, wide space; and then father and you come next the space.”
The Admiral smiled; a grave, lovely smile that often crept into his eyes when he held Mother Carey’s chickens on his knee. He kissed Nancy on the little white spot behind the ear where the brown hair curled in tiny rings like grape tendrils, soft as silk and delicate as pencil strokes. He said nothing, but his boyish dreams were in the kiss, and certain hopes of manhood that had never been realized. He was thinking that Margaret Gilbert was a fortunate and happy woman to have become Mother Carey; such a mother, too, that all about her was a wide, wide space, and next the space, the rest of the world, nearer or farther according to their merits. He wondered if motherhood ought not to be like that, and he thought if it were it would be a great help to God.
How about Julia?
We often speak of a family circle, but there are none too many of them. Parallel lines never meeting, squares, triangles, oblongs, and particularly those oblongs pulled askew, known as rhomboids, these and other geometrical figures abound, but circles are comparatively few. In a true family circle a father and a mother first clasp each other’s hands, liking well to be thus clasped; then they stretch out a hand on either side, and these are speedily grasped by children, who hold one another firmly, and complete the ring. One child is better than nothing, a great deal better than nothing; it is at least an effort in the right direction, but the circle that ensues is not, even then, a truly nice shape. You can stand as handsomely as ever you like, but it simply won’t “come round.” The minute that two, three, four, five, join in, the “roundness” grows, and the merriment too, and the laughter, and the power to do things. (Responsibility and care also, but what is the use of discouraging circles when there are not enough of them anyway?)
The Carey family circle had been round and complete, with love and harmony between all its component parts. In family rhomboids, for instance, mother loves the children and father does not, or father does, but does not love mother, or father and mother love each other and the children do not get their share; it is impossible to enumerate all the little geometrical peculiarities which keep a rhomboid from being a circle, but one person can just “stand out” enough to spoil the shape, or put hands behind back and refuse to join at all. About the ugliest thing in the universe is that non-joining habit! You would think that anybody, however dull, might consider his hands, and guess by the look of them that they must be made to work, and help, and take hold of somebody else’s hands! Miserable, useless, flabby paws, those of the non-joiner; that he feeds and dresses himself with, and then hangs to his selfish sides, or puts behind his beastly back!