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Chapter 9
 They laid her in the grave—the sweet mother with her baby in her arms—while the Christmas snow lay thick upon the graves. It was Mr. Cleves who buried her. On the first news of Mr. Barton’s calamity1, he had ridden over from Tripplegate to beg that he might be made of some use, and his silent grasp of Amos’s hand had penetrated2 like the painful thrill of life-recovering warmth to the poor benumbed heart of the stricken man.  
The snow lay thick upon the graves, and the day was cold and dreary3; but there was many a sad eye watching that black procession as it passed from the vicarage to the church, and from the church to the open grave. There were men and women standing4 in that churchyard who had bandied vulgar jests about their pastor5, and who had lightly charged him with sin; but now, when they saw him following the coffin6, pale and haggard, he was consecrated7 anew by his great sorrow, and they looked at him with respectful pity.
All the children were there, for Amos had willed it so, thinking that some dim memory of that sacred moment might remain even with little Walter, and link itself with what he would hear of his sweet mother in after years. He himself led Patty and Dickey; then came Sophy and Fred; Mr. Brand had begged to carry Chubby8, and Nanny followed with Walter. They made a circle round the grave while the coffin was being lowered. Patty alone of all the children felt that mamma was in that coffin, and that a new and sadder life had begun for papa and herself. She was pale and trembling, but she clasped his hand more firmly as the coffin went down, and gave no sob9. Fred and Sophy, though they were only two and three years younger, and though they had seen mamma in her coffin, seemed to themselves to be looking at some strange show. They had not learned to decipher that terrible handwriting of human destiny, illness and death. Dickey had rebelled against his black clothes, until he was told that it would be naughty to mamma not to put them on, when he at once submitted; and now, though he had heard Nanny say that mamma was in heaven, he had a vague notion that she would come home again to-morrow, and say he had been a good boy and let him empty her work-box. He stood close to his father, with great rosy10 cheeks, and wide open blue eyes, looking first up at Mr. Cleves and then down at the coffin, and thinking he and Chubby would play at that when they got home.
The burial was over, and Amos turned with his children to re-enter the house—the house where, an hour ago, Milly’s dear body lay, where the windows were half darkened, and sorrow seemed to have a hallowed precinct for itself, shut out from the world. But now she was gone; the broad snow-reflected daylight was in all the rooms; the Vicarage again seemed part of the common working-day world, and Amos, for the first time, felt that he was alone—that day after day, month after month, year after year, would have to be lived through without Milly’s love. Spring would come, and she would not be there; summer, and she would not be there; and he would never have her again with him by the fireside in the long evenings. The seasons all seemed irksome to his thoughts; and how dreary the sunshiny days that would be sure to come! She was gone from him; and he could never show her his love any more, never make up for omissions11 in the past by filling future days with tenderness.
O the anguish12 of that thought that we can never atone13 to our dead for the stinted14 affection we gave them, for the light answers we returned to their plaints or their pleadings, for the little reverence15 we showed to that sacred human soul that lived so close to us, and was the divinest thing God had given us to know.
Amos Barton had been an affectionate husband, and while Milly was with him, he was never visited by the thought that perhaps his sympathy with her was not quick and watchful16 enough; but now he re-lived all their life together, with that terrible keenness of memory and imagination which bereavement17 gives, and he felt as if his very love needed a pardon for its poverty and selfishness.
No outward solace18 could counteract19 the bitterness of this inward woe20. But outward solace came. Cold faces looked kind again, and parishioners turned over in their minds what they could best do to help their pastor. Mr. Oldinport wrote to express his sympathy, and enclosed another twenty-pound note, begging that he might be permitted to contribute in this way to the relief of Mr. Barton’s mind from pecuniary
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