Ruey knew why it “paid,” though she didn’t tell her husband just then; she should never forget that night, nor the plain woman with the old bonnet who carried the untroubled face and the worn book. Deep in her heart a new purpose had taken root; an ambition not only to make cakes like Philip’s mother, but to attain to that blessed something which made this other woman so different from those about her.
Mrs. Faith Vincent was crying; there was no denying it, veritable tears were in her eyes and on her cheeks all the time she was bathing the plump limbs of her baby and robing her in dainty garments of flannel and embroidery. Then she struggled through the notes of a sad lullaby, and now the long lashes lay quietly on the pretty cheek, and the fair young mamma was free to lay her head on the side of the crib and indulge in a good cry.
The clue to all this trouble was condensed in a sentence that the young husband let fall just as he left for his business a few moments before—“I see no other way, my dear: you will be obliged to take baby and go to Uncle Joshua’s for the summer. The extreme heat will come on now very soon, and then neither you nor Daisy will be able to endure it in this room.”
Now that would not be a very appalling statement to make to most wives, that they must pack up and get out of the hot dusty city to a farmhouse in the country, even though they did leave their husbands sweltering behind, but there were several points to be taken into consideration in this case. In the first place, Mr. and Mrs. Vincent had not yet learned how to maintain a separate existence. Life apart from each other was a tame, spiritless thing, simply to be endured, not enjoyed; then, too, Uncle Joshua’s home was not a Paradise, although he and Aunt Patty were kind and pleasant. Faith had vivid memories of a few weeks spent there soon after her marriage. They lived on their farm, two simple-minded old people, spending the evening of their lives in quiet happiness; but the place was dreary, remote from any town or neighbours. She had found it pleasant when her husband was with her and the two took long rambles, or spent the day under the trees, reading and talking, but how could she endure it alone? rising with the birds to an early breakfast, then an interminable day stretching before her, the long afternoon of silence broken only by the click of Aunt Patty’s knitting-needles, the ticking of the old clock, and the hum of the bees; for these old people had lived too long in quiet on these silent hills to make much conversation. She could not see herself going through the same monotonous round as each long day dragged its slow length, while miles stretched between her and her beloved, toiling on in the distant city. The dreary separation—that was the hard part of it, after all.