She had made herself hot chocolate, which she sipped thoughtfully.

“If we had waited until summer, that’s all we should have been doing: waiting. I’ve written to my mother, and she wrote straight back. Says she’s happy for me, will miss me, looks forward to meeting Eb. She says she will come here for the wedding, with my sisters. My mother – “

Florence paused as she framed what she wanted to say.

“You know my mother is an eldress?”

“I didn’t know,” said Harriet, imperturbably. She laid the sock down in her lap and picked up her drink.

“She is. And that means that she is more Mary than Martha. She does her chores around the house like everyone, and the smell of her cinnamon twists baking makes your mouth water; but all the while her hands are working, her mind is on the things of God.”

Harriet nodded. “How it should be.”

“Yes,” agreed Flo; “but I think for many people, their faith is the quilting and the baking, hoeing the rows of carrots and patching in new wood to the angle of the window-frame. It’s what they care about. My mother, she loves what’s underneath it. The melody and meaning of it. She listens to the quiet rhythms of life, until she can hear God singing. She loves the simplicity in the Plain, and she reaches out her hand to touch it, because when she closes her eyes she can feel it is the homespun hem of Jesus’ robe. She loves things for what they are, but beneath and behind that she’s loving them for what they’re not, too. She’s loving them for the thing that gives them meaning.”

Harriet watched her, listening. “I think I would like your mother,” she commented.

Flo smiled. “What I wanted to say, is my mother wouldn’t care as much as a row of beans if I get married now or next year, or never. She cares if I’m happy, and she cares if I walk in the light. She cares that when I get married, the ceremony is simple and holy; and that Eb and I are walking a path of heart in honest unity and trust. She cares about the love but not the cold meats and the potato salad. Hannah gives us her blessing too. That’s not the thing on my mind.”

Harriet finished her drink, set down the cup and re-threaded the yarn to her needle.