“Tibi splendet focus!” quoted Mrs. Carey, pointing to Olive’s inscription under the mantelpiece. “For you the hearth fire glows!”
“Have I not felt it from the beginning?” asked Ralph. “I never knew my mother, Mrs. Carey, and few women have come into my life; I have been too poor and too busy to cultivate their friendship. Then I came to Beulah and you drew me into your circle; admitted an unknown, friendless fellow into your little group! It was beautiful; it was wonderful!”
“What are mothers for, but to do just that, and more than all, for the motherless boys?”
“Well, I may never again have the courage to say it, so just believe me when I say your influence will be the turning-point in my life. I will never, so help me God, do anything to make me unworthy to sit in this fireglow! So long as I have brains and hands to work with, I will keep striving to create another home like this when my time comes. Any girl that takes me will get a better husband because of you; any children I may be blessed with will have a better father because I have known you. Don’t make any mistake, dear Mrs. Carey, your hearth fire glows a long, long distance!”
Mother Carey was moved to the very heart. She leaned forward and took Ralph Thurston’s young face, thin with privation and study, in her two hands. He bent his head instinctively, partly to hide the tears that had sprung to his eyes, and she kissed his forehead simply and tenderly. He was at her knees on the hearth rug in an instant; all his boyish affection laid at her feet; all his youthful chivalry kindled at the honor of her touch.
And there are women in the world who do not care about being mothers!
GROOVES OF CHANGE
The winter passed. The snow gradually melted in the meadows and the fields, which first grew brown and then displayed patches of green here and there where the sun fell strongest. There was deep, sticky mud in the roads, and the discouraged farmers urged their horses along with the wheels of their wagons sunk to the hub in ooze. Then there were wet days, the wind ruffling the leaden surface of the river, the sound of the rain dripping from the bare tree-boughs, the smell of the wet grass and the clean, thirsty soil. Milder weather came, then blustery days, then chill damp ones, but steadily life grew, here, there, everywhere, and the ever-new miracle of the awakening earth took place once again. Sap mounted in the trees, blood coursed in the children’s veins, mothers began giving herb tea and sulphur and molasses, young human nature was restless; the whole creation throbbed and sighed, and was tremulous, and had growing pains.
April passed, with all its varying moods of sun and shower, and settled weather came.
All the earth was gay.
Land and sea
Gave themselves up to jollity
And with the heart of May
Did every Beast keep holiday.