PRIZE STORIES OF 1924
was one of indescribable beauty. No wonder so many artists have been moved to paint mother and child. But it cannot really be done, because there is mystery about that beauty. It isn’t entirely for the eye. No; the very air is vibrant with it. The windows of the soul are opened to light and fragrance never sensed before. I have known husbands who were so dazed by the wonder of such a scene that they were suddenly embittered by a feeling of their own pitiful unimportance. Having given all he had to give an adored wife, the husband would realize at such a moment that she had passed into a new world beyond even male imagination, much less experience, and it would hurt cruelly. But Howard Blake was not such a one. He couldn’t share it; no man could: but he worshipped at the shrine, and in a little while she came back to be his sweetheart and partner. A great many women forget to come back, but Maggie always came back quickly.
The following year, just after the crops were laid by, Howard Blake died. Typhoid fever, I think it was. He was ill only about two weeks. Death had always seemed very remote to me up to that time; some ghostly tale based on hearsay. Grief, in which was mixed considerable terror and enormous concern about his welfare in the next world, made me ill. Maggie stood the shock much more bravely. For a month there was a frightened look in her eyes, but she went resolutely about the work of the farm, and it was very soon evident that the property was going to be just as well cared for as ever. Farm hands could be hired for from eight to ten dollars a month, and they worked from dawn until dark, which was usually more than twelve hours. She never had any trouble getting “hands.” They liked to work for her. It came to be understood that she could have the pick of them. They said she treated them well. I think they fell under her spell just as I did. She had a way of inspiring a man to tell her all about himself and his life. It was largely through these farm hands that she later knew what was going on in the town and community, after her contact with other people had ended. She knew how to give orders simply and sensibly, and her orders were always intelligent. She knew the business. I have often marvelled at her fortitude during this period, because I know her grief was terrible. The vital spark, the will to live, and her physical strength gave recuper-