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"Only God, Maggie, knows whether you will die or live. You are in His hands, dear. But they are such wise, and strong, and loving hands! You may trust yourself to them without a fear. If you do trust them, you are just as safe in your deathbed, as ever you were in your cradle."

Her lip quivered. Then she said, faintly, halting over the unfamiliar words, "I wish I knew how to ask Him to give me the-victory-over-death!"

I looked at her father. He had turned his face away. Evidently, he left the matter in my hands.

"Don't you know how to pray?" I asked.

"Not much. Mother taught me, 'Now I lay me.'”

Only that! A lightning intuition showed me that the sceptical father had forbidden, or laughed at, all religious instruction; and that the meek, gentle mother had not dared to withstand his authority.

"That will do very well, dear," I replied. "To God's children, death is only a chamber darkened for a quiet sleep. Ask Him to keep your soul, for Christ's sake."

She closed her eyes, and I think she uttered the childish prayer, but I do not know. For I bowed my own head on her pillow, heart-heavy with poignant pain and pity, and prayed silently for that poor, helpless, untaught soul, drifting affrightedly out into an unknown future, and groping about for some hand unto which to cling,-prayed with greater intensity and fervor than ever I prayed for myself, I think, though I need prayer enough, Heaven knows! And the prayer was not lost! If it availed nothing for her, it, at least, calmed and strengthened me. Without it, the long strain of that death-scene would have been more than I could bear.

When I looked up, Mrs. Warren stood near, perfectly calm, patient, and resigned, as seemed her unvarying habit. "I expected this," she said, quietly, taking my place at the bedside, and smoothing Maggie's long, dark hair, with in

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effable tenderness.

The girl opened her eyes, and once

more repeated her wailing question "Isn't it morning?" Almost," answered the mother.

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"I'm so tired!" she moaned again.

The father and mother lifted her, but she looked dissatisfied, and half impatient, with their efforts to relieve her. "Nobody holds me like she did," she said, indicating met with her eyes.

I came forward. again?" I asked,

"Would you like me to hold you

Her eyes brightened. I assumed the old position, and received her in my arms.

"It feels so nice!" she said, faintly. Her mother sat down beside her, with her fingers on her pulse. The father walked the room, or hung over the bed's foot, with a face of mute misery.

I cannot tell how long I sat there, watching the slow, almost imperceptible lapse of the stream of life into the ocean of eternity;-it could not have been more than an hour, but it seemed ages, ere the low voice of Mrs. Warren broke the silence.

"Our Maggie is gone," she said; adding, almost immediately, "Miss Frost, your hard task is over, you."

Thank

She lifted the fair, still form from my arms, and I staggered to the window. A bright strip of gold bordered the eastern horizon; the morning, for which that dead girl had so longed, was breaking. Was there good reason for hope that her eyes had opened upon a morning of more enduring glory,—a morning of endless light and knowledge and love, in Christ?

I grew sick amid the whirling uncertainties of the investigation.

"Take this, Miss Frost, you are faint," said a quiet voice.

I drank the water, and then looked at the giver in

amazement. Mrs. Warren was pale, sad, but quite collected, and gentle as ever. If there were tears in her heart, they did not moisten her eyes. A poignant pity smote me, What storms, I thought, must that woman have come through, to have attained to calm such as this! And what a history of long self-abnegation, and patient doing of "the duty which lies nearest," was discernible in the fact that, after duly closing the eyes and laying straight the limbs of her dead daughter, her first care had been for a stranger,-overwhelmed by the woful scene wherein she stood so tranquil! I leaned my head against the windowframe, and my thoughts went wandering off, lost and bewildered amid the mysteries-not of death, not of revelation, but of life-of this strange earthly being of ours. Oh, Life, Life! let us drink reverently of the rich, strong, sweet, bitter cup! So shall we learn, Thou Cross-Lifted and Thorn-Crowned, to thank Thee for the kingly gift!

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V.

SETTING THE EARTHLY HOUSE" IN ORDER.

NCE more, Mrs. Warren's mild voice recalled me to the present's realities. Looking at her, I seemed to recognize a visible incarnation of Duty, treading her narrow path steadily, serenely, unassumingly; neither turning to the right nor left, neither looking behind nor before; but keeping her eyes always bent on the ground, to make her footing sure. At least,

this was Mrs. Warren's outer seeming;-if the hidden soul walked in white robes of consecration upon the serene heights of faith, or was bound by chains of suffering to some chill rock of despair, I could not tell. From these deeper things of her life, my eyes were necessarily holden.

"I have sent," said she, "for some one to lay Maggie out. She will be here soon. I know you are tired, and would like to go home."

I was tired; yet I felt a strong reluctance to leave that beautiful piece of clay, which had so lately given up its vital part in my arms, while any tender or helpful service remained to be performed for it. Those artless words of the dying girl, "Nobody holds me like she did," had touched some very deep-down chord in my heart. It was so long since I had felt myself really of more use than another to any human being!

"Is there, then, nothing more for me to do?" I asked. "Nothing, until Aunt Vin comes,-perhaps I should

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say, Miss Lavinia Rust, to you, though the first title is the only one in use among us."

"She is not a relative, then?

"No; she is an elderly, and somewhat eccentric, maiden lady; who has somehow slidden into the office of laying out the dead for this whole neighborhood. Perhaps some secret heart-sore first led her to give herself to the work of nursing, watching, and similar acts of self-devotion; and so, by degrees, she learned how to do the other sad duty, and does it constantly,―chiefly, it appears, because there is no one who can do it any better. She is not even a poor woman; she has a small farm of her own, which she manages with much method and shrewdness."

"But she will want some help," I said, after a moment. "Not much. And if she does, I doubt if you are able to give it. I will help her myself."

And no doubt she would have done it, as she did everything else, submissively and serenely. Neverthless, it pained me to think of it, and I said, earnestly,

"No, no, let me stay and do it, please. I am stronger than you think. It was not so much the fatigue of holding Maggie that overcame me just now, as sorrowful recollections of another deathbed, which left me alone in the world, -my father's. But it would give me real pleasure to render this last service to Maggie, if you will permit me, and if you do not still think me too much of a stranger."

Just for one moment the mother's voice shook. "You will never be a stranger to me, after this," she faltered. Then, turning instantly from the masterful grief to the waiting, composing duty, she went on. "It is very kind of you to stay, for Sam wants me, I know; and the breakfast is to be got ready; and there are so many things to be done, that I cannot see my way clear to refuse your assistance, if you really wish to give it."

"I really do," I answered, heartily. She gave my hand a single, strong pressure, which, from her, was more touch

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