Spring came with its new life and promise, sweetly and serenely to the home and heart of Barton’s mother, who was looking and hoping for his return, with a strong, intense, but silent yearning. For herself, for his brothers, and more for Julia, whom she now understood, and tenderly loved, and whose secret was sacred to her woman’s heart; and most of all for Barton’s own sake; for she knew that when these two met, the shadow that had surrounded them would disappear. Some pang she felt that there should be to him a dearer one; but she knew that Julia did not come between them, and that nothing would chill that side of his heart—the child side—that was next her own.
On Wednesday morning Julia had galloped up and given her Bart’s letter of Tuesday, so that she knew he was in Chardon, well and hopeful, and would return to her as soon as he escaped from his trial.
Thursday evening Dr. Lyman came all aglow from Chardon. He had seen Bart and heard his argument, and all the enthusiasm of his nature was fully excited.
Now on this long, warm Friday—the anniversary of his departure—he was to come; and naturally enough she looked to see him come the way he went—from the east. Often, even before noon, she turned her eyes wistfully down the road, and until it met the rise the other side of the little valley, so on up past the red school house, and was lost over the summit; but the road was empty and lonely.
As the afternoon ran toward evening, she began to grow anxious. Suddenly the sound of wheels caught her ear, and she turned as Judge Markham’s grays headed up to her gate. She recognized Julia, who, without waiting to be helped, sprang lightly from the carriage, with her face radiant, and bounding to her threw her arms about her neck.
“Oh, mother—my mother now—he is here. I met him in those blessed woods and brought him to you.”
Then she made room for him, and for a moment the mother’s arms encircled them both. How glad and happy she was, no man may know; as no man understands, and no woman can reveal, the depth and strength of mother love.
The three in happy tears—tears, that soon vanish, went into the dear old house, into whose every room Bart rushed in a moment, calling for the boys, and asking a thousand unanswered questions, and coming back, with a flood of words, half tears and half laughs.
“So, Bart,” said the proud and happy mother, “it is all right,” with a look towards Julia. “I knew it would be.”
“And, mother, you knew it, too?”
“A woman sees where a man is blind, sometimes,” she answered. “And boys must find these things out for themselves. Poor boy, I wanted somebody to whisper it to you.”
“Somebody has done so, mother, and I am now so glad that it was left for that one to tell me.”
The boys came in, and were a little overwhelmed, even George, with the warmth of their brother’s reception. Julia went straight to George, saying, “Now, sir, you belong to me; you are to be my dear youngest brother! What a row of handsome brothers I shall have—there!—there!”—with a kiss for each word.