It required extreme effort to cross the little yard, to mount the porch. In a moment more he would see his mother. He heard her within, somewhere at the back of the house. Wherefore he tip-toed round to the kitchen door. Here he paused, quaking. A cold sweat broke out all over him. Why was this return so dreadful? He pressed a shaking hand over his heart. How surely he knew he could not deceive his mother! The moment she saw him, after the first flash of joy, she would see the wreck of the boy she had let go to war. Lane choked over his emotion, but he could not spare her. Opening the door he entered.
There she stood at the stove and she looked up at the sound he made. Yes! but stranger than all other changes was the change in her. She was not the mother of his boyhood. Nor was the change alone age or grief or wasted cheek. The moment tore cruelly at Lane’s heart. She did not recognize him swiftly. But when she did....
“Oh God!... Daren! My boy!” she whispered.
His mother divined what he knew. And her embrace was so close, almost fierce in its tenderness, her voice so broken, that Lane could only hide his face over her, and shut his eyes, and shudder in an ecstasy. God alone had omniscience to tell what his soul needed, but something of it was embodied in home and mother.
That first acute moment past, he released her, and she clung to his hands, her face upturned, her eyes full of pain and joy, and woman’s searching power, while she broke into almost incoherent speech; and he responded in feeling, though he caught little of the content of her words, and scarcely knew what he was saying.
Then he reeled a little and the kitchen dimmed in his sight. Sinking into a chair and leaning on the table he fought his weakness. He came close to fainting. But he held on to his sense, aware of his mother fluttering over him. Gradually the spell passed.