LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 179
in the corner, engaged in the anti-patriarchal operation of shaving. Everything went on so sociably, so quietly, so harmoniously, in the great kitchen, — it seemed so pleasant to every one to do just what they were doing, there was such an atmosphere of mutual confidence and good-fellowship everywhere, — even the knives and forks had a social clatter as they went on to the table ; and the chicken and ham had a cheerful and joyous fizzle in the pan, as if they rather enjoyed being cooked than otherwise ; — and when George and Eliza and little Harry came out, they met such a hearty, rejoicing welcome, no wonder it seemed to them like a dream.
At last, they were all seated at breakfast, while Mary stood at the stove baking griddle-cakes, which, as they gained the true, exact, golden-brown tint of perfection, were transferred quite handily to the table.
Rachel never looked so truly and benignly happy as at the head of her table. There was so much motherliness and full-heartedness even in the way she passed a plate of cakes or poured a cup of coffee, that it seemed to put a spirit into the food and drink she offered.
It was the first time that ever George had sat down on equal terms at any white man's table; and he sat down, at first, with some constraint and awkwardness; but they all exhaled and went off like fog, in the genial morning rays of this simple, overflowing kindness.
This, indeed, was a home, — home, — a word that George had never yet known a meaning for ; and a belief in God, and trust in his providence, began to encircle his heart, as, with a golden cloud of protection and confidence, dark, misanthropic, pining, atheistic doubts, and fierce despair, melted away before the light of a living gospel, breathed in living faces, preached by a thousand unconscious acts of love and good-will, which, like the cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple, shall never lose their reward.
" Father, what if thee should get found out again ?" said Simeon second, as he buttered his cake.