An officer of the Confederate army tells in his Recollections of how, on his way home after the sunset at Appomattox, he saw, sitting in the seat across from him, a frail, withered, hard-worked woman dressed in faded calico, with a sunbonnet on her head. She held by the hand a young man who had lost his sight from a wound received in battle. Not only was the light of the eye quenched—the light of the mind was also quenched. From her home away down in Texas the mother had come to Virginia to take her now sightless and idiotic boy back home. She had sent him forth full of energy and hope and enthusiasm. And the war had returned to her—a sightiess idiot. But he was her son.
A noble example, that, of the mother's love that many waters cannot quench, neither can the floods drown!
No one ever read Victor Hugo's Notre Dame without being moved and purified and cleansed in heart at that marvelous scene where the demented mother, who has been searching over all Europe for her child, long years before stolen by the gypsies, matches the shoe she carries with the shoe the maid has carried all the years about her neck, and discovers her long-lost child. The heavenliness of her joy, and the terribleness of her anger and grief when her daughter is again dragged from her, exhibit perhaps as well as anything that was ever written the strange and awful powers of human love.
God sent an angel down from heaven to find the most beautiful thing on earth and bring it back to heaven. When the angel saw the flowers at springtime he said, "These must be the most beautiful things on earth"; and he gathered them up to take with him back to heaven. Then he met a child of wondrous beauty and golden hair and lovely smile. When he saw the child he said, "This must be the most wonderful thing on earth. Nothing could be sweeter than the smile of that innocent child."
But farther along, in a remote valley, he came to a humble cottage where a mother sat in the doorway with her little babe on her lap. As he watched her tender and beautiful care for the little babe, he said, "This must be the fairest thing on earth. I will take that mother's love back with me to heaven."
When he reached the portals of heaven the flowers had faded and were dead, the smile on the child's face had changed into a scowl—but the mother's love was unchanged.