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A RE-FLOW OF TROUBLE.
N artist of wonderful power has appeared in Shiloh, and is painting the quiet little hamlet with a gorgeousness of color, a boldness of treatment, a breadth of effect, and a brilliancy of tone, beyond all that Ruskin could conceive, or Turner dare to paint. She charges the forests with great masses of glowing
reds, shading, at the edges, into orange. She makes a tree on the hillside-otherwise green-to hold out one bough burning as with flame, and another reddened as with blood. She paints the oaks in rich raiment of purple and crimson, blotched with golden brown. She dips her pencil in bright scarlet for the sumach, and pale yellow for the beeches. Here and there, in the meadows, an isolated maple becomes a fixed, earthly embodiment of the sunset's celestial and evanescent glories. At last, having emptied her palette of all its most brilliant colors, she tones down the dazzling effect by drawing over the picture, soft, gauzy veils of azure and amethystine haze. Needless to say that her name is Autumn!
Yes, Francesca, the feet of October are bright on the hilltops, and still I am in Shiloh! Two weeks ago Uncle John wrote to ask if it was not time for the " rose crop " to be in, and Flora ended a résumé of her winter's plans with a threat to come and see for herself what mischief I was about, if I did not at once return to help in their execu
tion. Even Aunt Belle added a gracious postscript to the effect that a kindly welcome home was ready for me whenever I chose to claim it; to characters so radically dissonant as hers and mine, an occasional separation is a wonderful promoter of harmony. We shall tolerate each other all the more cordially through the winter for the summer's escape from the necessity of toleration.
First, I was kept in Shiloh by the autumn pictures, to which every day added some new effect that I could not bear to miss; then, by a new wave of trouble, or rather, the reflow of an old one. In the fair, still, sunny days of late September, the fever, so long held in abeyance, broke out again. My child-woman, Libby, was one of the first to sicken. She was so unmistakably a child of God that, when Bob burst into my room crying out "Libby's got the fever!" I felt how fit it was that she should be called to enjoy her heavenly inheritance, and knew that I had not a thread to hang an earthly hope upon. A few days later her mortal part went to swell the immortal harvest to be finally reaped from Shiloh burial ground.
From the clods and the flowers laid gently upon her small grave, I went to Mrs. Burcham's bedside. She had been stricken down by the fever, about a week previous. Soon after, Major Burcham had sought Aunt Vin and begged her, with tears in his eyes, to take charge of the sick-room; his wife had no relatives within easy distance, none of them could reach her under some days; meanwhile, she would be left to such care, willing but unskilful, as he could give her, and the various assistance of the neighbors. The appeal was not made in vain. For five days the faithful old nurse had been at her post: for the past three days and nights she had scarcely slept. That morning, I had looked in upon her, on my way to Libby's corpse, and found her looking nearly as haggard as her patient.
"You are killing yourself," I remonstrated. "Surely, you can have watchers at night."
"Don't you be troubled! I'm made of tougher immaterial than you think. As to the watchers, there's plenty of 'em to be had for the askin'-good, bad, and different. But the truth is, that every time I've left her, she's run down unrecountably,-pulse all gone to most nothin',-and it's took all my wits to bring her up again. So I've made up my mind that it's easier to stick by her as long as she's in such a carious situation; or, at least, till you have done your last good deed for poor little Libby, and can come and stay with Mis' Burcham while I refute myself with a nap. I ain't afraid to trust her with you, but there ain't another person in all Shiloh that I'm willin' to leave her with, though it does sound a little like self-gloriousness! "
So Mr. Divine drove me directly from the graveyard to the house of Major Burcham. That gentleman was standing by the gate, and assisted me to alight. I saw him look at Leo (who was with us, as usual) in a way that I could not understand; I saw Leo look at him grimly, fiercely, giving utterance to a low growl.
"Leo!" said Mr. Divine, sharply, yet with no intonation of surprise.
It was plain that the dog had an antipathy to Major Burcham, and that Mr. Divine understood it well.
Mrs. Divine began to make kind inquiries after Mrs. Burcham. Before they came to an end, I discovered that the soft, warm slippers, in which I had expected to be "shod with silence" and with comfort, during the nightwatch, had been left behind; and I begged Mrs. Divine to send them to me, by Leo, sometime in the course of the evening.
"He has seen me alight here," said I, in conclusion, "and will know where to find me.'
"Ye-es," returned she, hesitatingly. Then, seeing that Mr. Divine had engaged the Major's attention, she leaned over, and whispered;-"Leo'll bring them, I guess, seeing it's you; but you had better keep had better keep a little lookout for him,
for I doubt if he'll come inside the gate,—that is, unless he sees you somewhere round. I'll send him about eight o'clock."
The wagon rolled away; Leo, after a long, wistful look at me, as he saw me turn toward the house with Major Burcham, bounded after it; and I went in, wondering what possible cause of feud could exist between the faithful, mildtempered dog and the pompous man at my side.
"Mr. Divine told me that he had bought Leo of Major Burcham's Irishman," said I to myself. "Ah! yes, I see,the Irishman's dog, treated with contempt, possibly with cruelty, by the Irishman's master. Leo remembers and
Aunt Vin met me at the door of the sick-room. When she had made me fully acquainted with its routine, I said to her;
"Now, go straight to bed, and leave every care behind,"
"I'm agoin'," replied she, with a long yawn, "I don't need but one such conjunction. I didn't know I was so sleepy till you come in; the very sight of you was omnivorous! Be sure and call me at nine o'clock; then, it'll be time to shift her on to t'other bed." And Aunt Vin took herself off.
Mrs. Burcham appeared not to notice the change of nurses. She lay with her eyes closed, in a half stupor, from which (I had been warned) she roused completely only at intervals. Sometimes she slept,—a troubled, uneasy sleep,-wherefrom it was necessary to waken herpartially, at least-every few moments.
Two hours crept slowly away; twilight began to gather. With it, heavy clouds rolled up from the east; a peal of thunder sounded from afar. Mrs. Burcham woke from a brief slumber with a start and a moan, and the sorrowful lament of David fell brokenly from her lips ;
"My son! my son! oh, my son!"
I heard it with alarm. Delirium was always a dreaded symptom, in the fever. And no question but she was delirious,—for, if she had ever had a son, he must have been dead years ago; I had never heard of him. Indeed, I believed her to have been childless. I laid my hand upon her head, felt her pulse, listened anxiously to her breathing, but could detect no sign of increasing fever or weakness; and I sat down again, a little reassured, just as another rumble of thunder filled the air. It helped to rouse her completely. She opened her eyes and looked at me, intelligently enough. There was no sign of the delirium I had feared,
"It is Miss Frost," said she, feebly.. "You are very kind. Is Aunt Vin resting?"
"Yes; for a little while. She needed rest; and she said she was not at all afraid to leave you with me," replied I, fearing lest she might be disturbed at finding herself in other hands than those of her accustomed and experienced nurse.
"I am very glad that she is resting, I mean. I hope you are making yourself comfortable. There is wine in the closet; it will help to keep up your strength. And there is an easier chair in the parlor, tell Bridget to bring it in for you."
"Do not trouble yourself about me, I am quite comfortable," I answered, much marveling at the change that a few days of sickness had wrought in Mrs. Burcham's manGratitude for kindness and consideration for others were not its most prominent characteristics, formerly.
She insisted, and, to satisfy her, the chair was brought. Then, she closed her eyes, and sank again into stupor. An hour went by. Darkness was fully come. The storm, which had seemed to retreat, for a time, now drew near again; heavy drops of rain fell; flashes of lightning came and went, followed by the loud roll of thunder.
Glancing at my watch, I saw that it was about time for Leo to arrive; and began to wonder how I was to manage