“And in the visions there are times when Katie is very quiet. So still. Hushed by the wonder of love. Then Katie’s laughing eyes are deep with mystery, Katie’s face seems melted to pure love, and from it shines the light that makes life noble.
“In these days of a fathomless loneliness I dare not look long upon that vision.
“Do you ever hear a call, dear heart? A call to a freer country than any country you have known? Call to a country where the things which bind you could bind no more? And if in fancy you sometimes let yourself drift into that other country, am I with you there? Do you ever have a picture of our venturing together into the unknown ways—daring—suffering—rejoicing—growing? Sometimes sunshine and sometimes storm—but always open country and everwidening sky-line. Oh Katie—how splendid it might be!”
She read and re-read it, dreaming and picturing. And at length there settled upon her that stillness, that pause before life’s wonder and mystery. Her eyes were deep. The light that makes life noble glorified her tender face.
She broke from it at last to look for a card they had there giving dates of sailings.
They would get in late that afternoon. Off on the horizon was a hazy mass which held the United States of America, as sometimes the haze of a dream may hold a mighty truth.
Katie and Mrs. Prescott were having a brisk walk on deck. They paused and peered off at that mist out of which New York must soon shape itself.
“Just off yonder’s your country, Katie,” the older woman was saying. “Soon you’ll see the flag flying over Governor’s Island. Will it make you thrill?”
“It always has,” replied Katie.
Mrs. Prescott stole a keen look at her, seeing that she was not answered. They had had some strange talks on that homeward trip, talks to stir in the older woman’s mind vague apprehensions for the daughter of her old friend. It did not seem to Mrs. Prescott what she called “best” that a woman—and particularly an unmarried one—should be doing as much thinking as Katie seemed to be doing. She wished Katie would not read such strange books; she was sure Walt Whitman, for one, could not be a good influence. What would happen to the world if the women of Katie’s class were to—let down the bars, she vaguely and uneasily thought it. And she was too fond of Katie to want her to venture out of shelter.
“Well it ought to, Katie dear. I don’t know who has the right to thrill to it, if you haven’t. Doesn’t it make you think of those sturdy forefathers of yours who came to it long ago, when it was an unknown land, and braved dangers for it? Your people have always fought for it, Katie. There would be no country had not such lives as theirs been given to it.”
Katie was peering off at the faint outlines which one moment seemed discernible in the mist and the next seemed but a phantom of the imagination, as the truth which is to stand out bold and incontestable may at first suggest itself so faintly through the dream as to be called a phantom of the imagination. “True,” she said. “And fine. And equally true and fine that there’s just as much to fight for now as there ever was.”