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Homespun Tales

12. The Hills of Home
Susanna had found Sue in the upper chamber at the Office Building, and began to make
the simple preparations for her homeward journey. It was the very hour when John
Hathaway was saying:--
"Set her place at hearth and board
As it used to be."
Sue interfered with the packing somewhat by darting to and fro, bringing her mother
sacred souvenirs given her by the Shaker sisters and the children-- needle-books, pin-
balls, thimble-cases, packets of flower-seeds, polished pebbles, bottles of flavoring
extract.
"This is for Fardie," she would say, "and this for Jack and this for Ellen and this for Aunt
Louisa--the needle-book, 'cause she's so useful. Oh, I'm glad we're going home, Mardie,
though I do love it here, and I was most ready to be a truly Shaker. It's kind of pityish to
have your hair shingled and your stocking half-knitted and know how to say 'yee' and
then have it all wasted."
Susanna dropped a tear on the dress she was folding. The child was going home, as she
had come away from it, gay, irresponsible, and merry; it was only the mothers who hoped
and feared and dreaded. the very universe was working toward Susanna's desire at that
moment, but she was all unaware of the happiness that lay so near. She could not see the
freshness of the house in Farnham, the new bits of furniture here and there; the autumn
leaves in her own bedroom; her worktable full of the records of John's sorrowful summer;
Jack handsomer and taller, and softer, also, in his welcoming mood; Ellen rosy and
excited. She did not know that Joel Atterbury had said to John that day, "I take it all back,
old man, and I hope you'll stay on in the firm!" nor that Aunt Louisa, who was putting
stiff, short-stemmed chrysanthemums in cups and tumblers here and there through the
house, was much more flexible and human than was natural to her; nor that John,
alternating between hope and despair, was forever humming:
"Set her place at hearth and board
As it used to be:
Higher are the hills of home,
Bluer is the sea!"
It is often so. They who go weeping to look for the dead body of a sorrow, find a vision
of angels where the body has lain.
 
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