400 THE STORY OF A MOTHER
And all at once there was an icy cold rush through the hall, and the blind mother felt that Death was arriving.
' How did you find your way hither ? ' said he. ' How have you been able to come quicker than I ? '
11 am a mother,' she answered.
And Death stretched out his long hands towards the little delicate flower ; but she kept her hands tight about it, and held it fast; and yet she was full of anxious care lest she should touch one of the leaves. Then Death breathed upon her hands, and she felt that his breath was colder than the icy wind ; and her hands sank down powerless.
* You can do* nothing against me,' said Death.
' But the merciful God can,' she replied.
' I only do what He commands,' said Death. ' I am His gardener. I take all His trees and flowers, and transplant them into the great Paradise gardens, in the unknown land. But how they will flourish there, and how it is there, I may not tell you.'
1 Give me back my child,' said the mother ; and she implored and wept. All at once she grasped two pretty flowers with her two hands, and called to Death, ' I'll tear off all your flowers, for I am in despair.'
' Do not touch them,' said Death. ' You say you are so unhappy, and now you would make another mother just as unhappy ! '
' Another mother ? ' said the poor woman ; and she let the flowers go.
1 There are your eyes for you,' said Death. ' I have fished them up out of the lake ; they gleamed up quite brightly. I did not know that they were yours. Take them back—• they are clearer now than before—and then look down into the deep well close by. I will tell you the names of the two flowers you wanted to pull up, and you will see their whole future, their whole human life; you will see what you were about to frustrate and destroy.'
And she looked down into the well, and it was a happiness to see how one of them became a blessing to the world, how much joy and gladness was diffused around her. And the woman looked at the life of the other, and it was made up of care and poverty, misery and woe.
1 Both are the will of God,' said Death.