She nodded, smiling tenderly, and Gray felt Marjorie rising to her feet.
“Call us, mother,” she whispered.
Both saw her kneel, and then they were alone in the big hallway, and Gray, still dazed, was looking into Marjorie’s eyes.
Her answer was a rush into his outstretched arms, and, locked fast, they stood heart to heart until the door opened behind them. Again hand in hand they kneeled side by side with the mother. The colonel’s eyes dimmed slowly with the coming darkness, the smiling, pallid lips moved, and both leaned close to hear.
“Gray—Marjorie—Mary.” His last glance turned from them to her, rested there, and then came the last whisper:
Jason did not meet young Aaron on the train, though as he neared the county-seat he kept a close watch, whenever the train stopped at a station, on both doors of his car, with his bag on the seat in front of him unbuckled and unlocked. At the last station was one Honeycutt lounging about, but plainly evasive of him. There was a little group of Hawns about the Hawn store and hotel, and more Honeycutts and Hawns on the other side of the street farther down, but little Aaron did not appear. It seemed, as he learned a few minutes later, that both factions were in town for the meeting between Aaron and him, and later still he learned that young Honeycutt loped into town after Jason had started up the river and was much badgered about his late arrival. At the forks of the road Jason turned toward the mines, for he had been casually told by Arch Hawn that he would find his mother up that way. The old circuit rider’s wife threw her arms around the boy when he came to her porch, and she smiled significantly when she told him that his mother had walked over the spur that morning to take a look at her old home, and that Mavis had gone with her.
Jason slowly climbed the spur. To his surprise he saw a spiral of smoke ascending on the other side, just where he once used to see it, but he did not hurry, for it might be coming from a miner’s cabin that had been built near the old place. On top of the spur, however, he stopped-quite stunned. That smoke was coming out of his mother’s old chimney. There was a fence around the yard, which was clear of weeds. The barn was rebuilt, there was a cow browsing near it, and near her were three or four busily rooting pigs. And stringing beans on the porch were his mother—and Mavis Hawn. Jason shouted his bewilderment, and the two women lifted their eyes. A high, shrill, glad answer came from his mother, who rose to meet him, but Mavis sat where she was with idle hands.
“Mammy!” cried Jason, for there was a rich color in the pallid face he had last seen, she looked years younger, and she was smiling. It was all the doing of Arch Hawn—a generous impulse or an act of justice long deferred.