She was roused from this holy abstraction by the sound of Miss Benson's voice. It was very much as if she had been crying.
"Look, Ruth!" it said softly, "my brother sends you these. They are the first snowdrops in the garden." And she put them on the pillow by Ruth; the baby lay on the opposite side.
"Won't you look at him?" said Ruth; "he is so pretty!"
Miss Benson had a strange reluctance to see him. To Ruth, in spite of all that had come and gone, she was reconciled--nay, more, she was deeply attached; but over the baby there hung a cloud of shame and disgrace. Poor little creature! her heart was closed against it--firmly, as she thought. But she could not resist Ruth's low faint voice, nor her pleading eyes, and she went round to peep at him as he lay on his mother's arm, as yet his shield and guard.
"Sally says he will have black hair, she thinks," said Ruth. "His little hand is quite a man's, already. Just feel how firmly he closes it;" and with her own weak fingers she opened his little red fist, and taking Miss Benson's reluctant hand, placed one of her fingers in his grasp. That baby-touch called out her love; the doors of her heart were thrown open wide for the little infant to go in and take possession.
"Ah, my darling!" said Ruth, failing back weak and weary. "If God will but spare you to me, never mother did more than I will. I have done you a grievous wrong--but, if I may but live, I will spend my life in serving you!"
"And in serving God!" said Miss Benson, with tears in her eyes. "You must not make him into an idol, or God will, perhaps, punish you through him."
A pang of affright shot through Ruth's heart at these words; had she already sinned and made her child into an idol, and was there punishment already in store for her through him? But then the internal voice whispered that God was "Our Father," and that He knew our frame, and knew how natural was the first outburst of a mother's love; so, although she treasured up the warning, she ceased to affright herself for what had already gushed forth.