Song of the Lark
For the next four days it seemed to Dr. Archie that his patient might slip through
his hands, do what he might. But she did not. On the contrary, after that she
recovered very rapidly. As her father remarked, she must have inherited the
"constitution" which he was never tired of admiring in her mother.
One afternoon, when her new brother was a week old, the doctor found Thea
very comfortable and happy in her bed in the parlor. The sunlight was pouring in
over her shoulders, the baby was asleep on a pillow in a big rocking-chair beside
her. Whenever he stirred, she put out her hand and rocked him. Nothing of him
was visible but a flushed, puffy forehead and an uncompromisingly big, bald
cranium. The door into her mother's room stood open, and Mrs. Kronborg was
sitting up in bed darning stockings. She was a short, stalwart woman, with a short
neck and a determined-looking head. Her skin was very fair, her face calm and
unwrinkled, and her yellow hair, braided down her back as she lay in bed, still
looked like a girl's. She was a woman whom Dr. Archie respected; active,
practical, unruffled; goodhumored, but determined. Exactly the sort of woman to
take care of a flighty preacher. She had brought her husband some property,
too,--one fourth of her father's broad acres in Nebraska,--but this she kept in her
own name. She had profound respect for her husband's erudition and eloquence.
She sat under his preaching with deep humility, and was as much taken in by his
stiff shirt and white neckties as if she had not ironed them herself by lamplight the
night before they appeared correct and spotless in the pulpit. But for all this, she
had no confidence in his administration of worldly affairs. She looked to him for
morning prayers and grace at table; she expected him to name the babies and to
supply whatever parental sentiment there was in the house, to remember
birthdays and anniversaries, to point the children to moral and patriotic ideals. It
was her work to keep their bodies, their clothes, and their conduct in some sort of
order, and this she accomplished with a success that was a source of wonder to
her neighbors. As she used to remark, and her husband admiringly to echo, she
"had never lost one." With all his flightiness, Peter Kronborg appreciated the
matter-of-fact, punctual way in which his wife got her children into the world and
along in it. He believed, and he was right in believing, that the sovereign State of
Colorado was much indebted to Mrs. Kronborg and women like her.
Mrs. Kronborg believed that the size of every family was decided in heaven.
More modern views would not have startled her; they would simply have seemed
foolish-thin chatter, like the boasts of the men who built the tower of Babel, or like
Axel's plan to breed ostriches in the chicken yard. From what evidence Mrs.
Kronborg formed her opinions on this and other matters, it would have been
difficult to say, but once formed, they were unchangeable. She would no more
have questioned her convictions than she would have questioned revelation.