Poor little Reuby! when the first shovelful of earth fell on the coffin, his child’s heart gave way, and he broke into loud crying, which made the roughest men there hide their eyes. Draxy caught him up in her arms and whispered something which quieted him instantly. Then she set him down, and he stood till the end, looking away from the grave with almost a smile on his face. He told some one, the next day, that he kept saying over to himself all that time: “Beautiful gates of precious stones and angels with harps.”—“That’s the city, you know, where my papa has gone. It’s not half so far off as we think; and papa is so happy there, he don’t even miss us, though he can see us every minute. And mamma and I are going there pretty soon; next summer perhaps.”
For the first few days after the funeral, Draxy seemed to sink; the void was too terrible; only little Reuby’s voice roused her from the apathetic silence in which she would sit by the hour gazing out of the east bay-window on the road down which she had last seen her husband walk. She knew just the spot where he had paused and turned and thrown kisses back to Reuby watching him from the window.
But her nature was too healthy, too full of energy, and her soul too full of love to remain in this frame long. She reproached herself bitterly for the sin of having indulged in it even for a short time.
“I don’t believe my darling can be quite happy even in heaven, while he sees me living this way,” she said sternly to herself one morning. Then she put on her bonnet, and went down into the village to carry out a resolution she had been meditating for some days. Very great was the astonishment of house after house that morning, as Draxy walked quietly in, as had been her wont. She proposed to the mothers to send their younger children to her, to be taught half of every day.
“I can teach Reuby better if I have other children too,” she said. “I think no child ought to be sent into the district school under ten. The confinement is too much for them. Let me have all the boys and girls between six and eight, and I’ll carry them along with Reuby for the next two or three years at any rate,” she said.
The parents were delighted and grateful; but their wonder almost swallowed up all other emotions.
“To think o’ her!” they said. “The Elder not three weeks buried, an’ she a goin’ round, jest as calm ‘n’ sweet’s a baby, a gettin’ up a school!”
“She’s too good for this earth, that’s what she is,” said Angy Plummer. “I should jest like to know if anybody’d know this village, since she came into ’t. Why we ain’t one of us the same we used to be. I know I ain’t. I reckon myself’s jest about eight years old, if I have got three boys. That makes me born the summer before her Reuby, ’an that’s jest the time I was born, when my Benjy was seven months old!”