A stranger passing Abel Edwards’s house the day after his return might have gotten the impression that one of the functions of village life—a wedding or a funeral—was going on there. From morning until late at night the people came down the road, wading through the snow, the men with trousers tucked into boots, the women with yarn-stockings over their shoes, their arms akimbo, pinning their kilted petticoats to their hips. Many drove there in sleighs, tilting to the drifts. The Edwards’s door-yard was crowded with teams.
All the relatives who had come fourteen years before to Abel Edwards’s funeral came now to his resurrection. They had gotten the news of it in such strange, untraceable ways, that it seemed almost like mental telegraphy. The Greens of Westbrook were there—the three little girls in blue, now women grown. One of them came with her husband and baby; another with a blushing lout of a lad, to whom she was betrothed; and the third, with a meek blue eye, on the watch for a possible lover in the company. The Lawson sisters, from Granby, arrived early in the day, being conveyed thither by an obliging neighbor. Amelia Stokes rode to Upham on the butcher’s wagon, in lieu of another conveyance, and her journey was a long one, necessitating hot ginger-tea and the toasting of her slim feet at the fire upon her arrival. Amelia was clad in mourning for her old mother, who had died the year before. At intervals she wept furtively, incited to grief by recollections of her mother, which the place and occasion awakened.
“Every once in a while it comes over me how poor mother relished them hot biscuits and that tea at your funeral,” she whispered softly to Abel, who smiled with child-like serenity in response.
All day Abel sat in state, which was, however, intensified in the afternoon by a new suit of clothes, which Jerome had purchased in Dale. As soon as Jerome returned with it, he was hustled into the bedroom with his father.
“Get your father into ’em quick, before anybody else comes,” said Ann Edwards. She was dressed in her best, and Elmira had further adorned her with a little worked lace kerchief of her own, fastened at the bosom with a sprig of rose-geranium leaves and blossoms. Ann had confined herself to her chair since arising that morning. She made no allusion to her walking the night before, and seemed to expect assistance as usual.
“Do you suppose mother can’t walk this morning?” Elmira whispered to Jerome.
“Hush,” he replied, “don’t bother her with it unless she speaks of it herself. I have a book which gives instances of people recovering under strong excitement, and then going back to where they were before. I don’t believe mother can walk, or she would.”