And now Matt was on his homeward journey, and Miriam knew that shortly they would be together in their cottage home. How should she meet him, and greet him, and confess to him the joy that overwhelmed her? What would he say? Would he love her more, or would the advent of the little life divide the love hitherto her undisputed own? Was the love of father towards mother a greater and stronger and holier love than that of husband towards wife? or did the birth of children draw off from each what was before a mutual interchange? Thus she teased her throbbing brain, and vexed her mind with questions she knew not how to solve. And yet her woman’s instincts told her that the new love would weld together more closely the old, and that she and Matt would become one as never before. And then a dim memory of a sentence in the old creed came upon her—something about ’One in three and three in one, undivided and eternal’—but she knew not what she thought.
As Miriam stood upon the little mound within the shadow of her roof-tree, eagerly scanning the moors for Matt’s return, cool airs laden with moorland scents played around her, and masses of snowy cloud sailed along the horizon, flushing beneath the touch of the after-glow with as pure a rose as that mantling on her womanly face. The blue distances overhead were deepening with sundown, and the great sweeps of field and wild were sombre with the hill shadows that began to fall. In a copse near where she stood a little bird was busy with her fledglings, and from a meadow came the plaintive bleat of a late yeaned lamb. From the distant village the wind carried to her ears the cry of an infant—a cry that lingered and echoed and started strange melodies in the awakening soul of Miriam. Child of the hills as she was, never before in all her thirty years of familiarity with them, and freedom among them, had she seen and felt them as now. A great and holy passion was upon her, and she took all in through the medium of its golden haze. The early flowers at her feet glowed like stars of hope and promise—and the bursting buds of the trees told of spring’s teeming womb and dew of youth; while the shadow of her cottage gable and chimney—falling as it did across the little mound on which she stood—recalled to her the promises of Him who setteth the solitary in families.
Then she returned to herself, and to her new and opening world of maternity. No longer would she be the butt at which the rude, though good-natured, jests of her neighbours were thrown, for she too would soon hold up her head proudly among the mothers of Rehoboth. And as for Matt’s mother—fierce Calvinist that she was, and whom in the past she had so much feared—what cared she for her now? She would cease to be counted by her as one of the uncovenanted, and told that she had broken the line of promise given to the elect. How well she remembered the night when the old woman, taking up the Bible, read out aloud: ’The promise is unto you,