His sister Rebecca was moving feebly up the road with her little baby in her arms. She was taking her first walk out in the spring sunshine. The nurse had gone away the week before. Her face was clear and pale. All her sweet color was gone, but her eyes were radiant, and she held up her head in the old way. This new love was lifting her above her old memories.
She stared wonderingly over the baby’s little downy head at her brother. “It can’t be Barney,” she said out loud to herself. She stood still in the road, staring after him with parted lips. The baby wailed softly, and she hushed it mechanically, her great, happy, startled eyes fixed upon her brother.
Barnabas went on up the hill to Charlotte Barnard’s. The spring was advancing. All the trees were full of that green nebula of life which comes before the blossom. Little wings, bearing birds and songs, cut the air. A bluebird shone on a glistening fence-rail, like a jewel on a turned hand. Over across the fields red oxen were moving down plough-ridges, the green grass was springing, the air was full of that strange fragrance which is more than fragrance, since it strikes the thoughts, which comes in the spring alone, being the very odor thrown off by the growing motion of life and the resurrection.
Barney Thayer went slowly up the hill with a curious gait and strange gestures, as if his own angel were wrestling with himself, casting him off with strong motions as of wings.
He fought, as it were, his way step by step. He reached the top of the hill, and went into the yard of the Barnard house. Sarah Barnard saw him coming, and shrieked out, “There’s Barney, there’s Barney Thayer comin’! He’s walkin’, he’s walkin’ straight as anybody!”
When Barney reached the door, they all stood there—Cephas and Sarah and Charlotte. Barney stood before them all with that noble bearing which comes from humility itself when it has fairly triumphed.
Charlotte came forward, and he put his arm around her. Then he looked over her head at her father. “I’ve come back,” said he.
“Come in,” said Cephas.
And Barney entered the house with his old sweetheart and his old self.