Work: A Story of Experience
XI. In The Strawberry Bed
FROM that day a new life began for Christie, a happy, quiet, useful life, utterly unlike
any of the brilliant futures she had planned for herself; yet indescribably pleasant to her
now, for past experience had taught her its worth, and made her ready to enjoy it.
Never had spring seemed so early or so fair, never had such a crop of hopeful thoughts
and happy feelings sprung up in her heart as now; and nowhere was there a brighter face,
a blither voice, or more willing hands than Christie's when the apple blossoms came.
This was what she needed, the protection of a home, wholesome cares and duties; and,
best of all, friends to live and labor for, loving and beloved. Her whole soul was in her
work now, and as health returned, much of the old energy and cheerfulness came with it,
a little sobered, but more sweet and earnest than ever. No task was too hard or humble;
no day long enough to do all she longed to do; and no sacrifice would have seemed too
great for those whom she regarded with steadily increasing love and gratitude.
Up at dawn, the dewy freshness of the hour, the morning rapture of the birds, the daily
miracle of sunrise, set her heart in tune, and gave her Nature's most healing balm. She
kept the little house in order, with Mrs. Sterling to direct and share the labor so
pleasantly, that mistress and maid soon felt like mother and daughter, and Christie often
said she did not care for any other wages.
The house-work of this small family was soon done, and then Christie went to tasks that
she liked better. Much out-of-door life was good for her, and in garden and green-house
there was plenty of light labor she could do. So she grubbed contentedly in the
wholesome earth, weeding and potting, learning to prune and bud, and finding Mrs.
Wilkins was quite right in her opinion of the sanitary virtues of dirt.
Trips to town to see the good woman and carry country gifts to the little folks; afternoon
drives with Mrs. Sterling in the old-fashioned chaise, drawn by the Roman-nosed horse,
and Sunday pilgrimages to church to be "righted up" by one of Mr. Power's stirring
sermons, were among her new pleasures. But, on the whole, the evenings were her
happiest times: for then David read aloud while she worked; she sung to the old piano
tuned for her use; or, better still, as spring came on, they sat in the porch, and talked as
people only do talk when twilight, veiling the outer world, seems to lift the curtains of
that inner world where minds go exploring, hearts learn to know one another, and souls
walk together in the cool of the day.
At such times Christie seemed to catch glimpses of another David than the busy, cheerful
man apparently contented with the humdrum duties of an obscure, laborious life, and the
few unexciting pleasures afforded by books, music, and much silent thought. She
sometimes felt with a woman's instinct that under this composed, commonplace existence
another life went on; for, now and then, in the interest of conversation, or the involuntary
yielding to a confidential impulse, a word, a look, a gesture, betrayed an unexpected
power and passion, a secret unrest, a bitter memory that would not be ignored.