Work: A Story of Experience
XIX. Little Heart's-Ease
WHEN it was all over, the long journey home, the quiet funeral, the first sad excitement,
then came the bitter moment when life says to the bereaved: "Take up your burden and
go on alone." Christie's had been the still, tearless grief hardest to bear, most impossible
to comfort; and, while Mrs. Sterling bore her loss with the sweet patience of a pious
heart, and Letty mourned her brother with the tender sorrow that finds relief in natural
ways, the widow sat among them, as tranquil, colorless, and mute, as if her soul had
followed David, leaving the shadow of her former self behind.
"He will not come to me, but I shall go to him," seemed to be the thought that sustained
her, and those who loved her said despairingly to one another: "Her heart is broken: she
will not linger long."
But one woman wise in her own motherliness always answered hopefully: "Don't you be
troubled; Nater knows what's good for us, and works in her own way. Hearts like this
don't break, and sorrer only makes 'em stronger. You mark my words: the blessed baby
that's a comin' in the summer will work a merrycle, and you'll see this poor dear a happy
Few believed in the prophecy; but Mrs. Wilkins stoutly repeated it and watched over
Christie like a mother; often trudging up the lane in spite of wind or weather to bring
some dainty mess, some remarkable puzzle in red or yellow calico to be used as a pattern
for the little garments the three women sewed with such tender interest, consecrated with
such tender tears; or news of the war fresh from Lisha who "was goin' to see it through ef
he come home without a leg to stand on." A cheery, hopeful, wholesome influence she
brought with her, and all the house seemed to brighten as she sat there freeing her mind
upon every subject that came up, from the delicate little shirts Mrs. Sterling knit in spite
of failing eyesight, to the fall of Richmond, which, the prophetic spirit being strong
within her, Mrs. Wilkins foretold with sibylline precision.
She alone could win a faint smile from Christie with some odd saying, some shrewd
opinion, and she alone brought tears to the melancholy eyes that sorely needed such
healing dew; for she carried little Adelaide, and without a word put her into Christie's
arms, there to cling and smile and babble till she had soothed the bitter pain and hunger
of a suffering heart.
She and Mr. Power held Christie up through that hard time, ministering to soul and body
with their hope and faith till life grew possible again, and from the dust of a great
affliction rose the sustaining power she had sought so long.
As spring came on, and victory after victory proclaimed that the war was drawing to an
end, Christie's sad resignation was broken, by gusts of grief so stormy, so inconsolable,
that those about her trembled for her life. It was so hard to see the regiments come home
proudly bearing the torn battle-flags, weary, wounded, but victorious, to be rapturously
welcomed, thanked, and honored by the grateful country they had served so well; to see
all this and think of David in his grave unknown, unrewarded, and forgotten by all but a