« AnteriorContinuar »
DEATH OF LITTLE NELL,
would have crushed—was stirring nimbly in its cage ; and the strong heart of its child-mistrèss was mute and motionless for
Where were the traces of her early cares, her sufferings, and fatigues? All gone. Sõrrow was dead, indeed, in her; but peace and perfect happiness were born-imaged—in her tranquil beauty and profound repose.
3. And still her former self lay there, unaltered in this chānge. Yes. The old fireside had smiled upon that same sweet face ; it had passed, like a dream, through haunts of misery and care ; at the door of the poor schoolmaster on the summer evening, before the furnace-fire upon the cold, wet night, at the still bedside of the dying boy, there had been the same mild and lovely look. So shall we know the angels in their majesty, after death.
4. The old man held one languid arm in his, and the small, tight hand folded to his breast for warmth. It was the hand she had stretched out to him with her last smile—the hand that had led him on through all their wanderings. Ever and anon he pressed it to his lips; then hugged it to his breast again, murmuring that it was warmer now; and, as he said it, he looked in agony to those who stood around, as if imploring them to help her.
5. She was dead, and past all help, or need of help. Theāncient rooms she had seemed to fill with life, even while her own was waning fast—the garden she had tended—the eyes she had gladdened—the noiseless haunts of many a thoughtless hour the paths she had trodden, as it were, but yesterday—could know her no more.
6. “It is not," said the schoolmaster, as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek, and gave his tears free vent, “it is not in this world that Heaven's justice ends. Think what earth is, compared with the world to which her young spirit has winged its early flight, and say, if one deliberate wish, expressed in solemn tones above this bed, could call her back to life, which of us would utter it !”
7. She had been dead two days. They were all about her at the time, knowing that the end was drawing on.
She died soon after daybreak. They had read and talked to her in the earlier portion of the night; but as the hours crept on, she sank to sleep. They could tell, by what she faintly uttered in her dreams, that they were of her journeyings with the old man : they were of no painful scenes, but of those who had helped them and used them kindly; for she often said “God bless you!" with great fervor.
8. Waking, she never wandered in her mind but once, and that was at beautiful music, which she said, was in the air. God knows. It may have been. Opening her eyes at last, from a věry quiet sleep, she begged that they would kiss her once again. That done, she turned to the old man, with a lovely smile upon her face—such, they said, as they had never seen, and never could forgět—and clung, with both her arms, about his neck. She had never murmured or complained : but, with a quiet mind, and manner quite unaltered-save that she
every day became more earnest and more grateful to them-faded like the light upon the summer's evening.
9. The child who had been her little friend, came there, almost as soon as it was day, with an offering of dried flowers, which he begged them to lay upon her breast. He told them of his dream again, and that it was of her being restored to them, just as she used to be. He begged hard to see her, saying that he would be very quiet, and that they need not fear his being alarmed, for he had sat alone by his younger brother all day lõng when he was dead, and had felt glad to be so near him. They let him have his wish ; and, indeed, he kept his word, and was, in his childish way, a lesson to them all.
10. Up to that time, the old man had not spoken once-except to her—or stirred from the bedside. But when he saw her little favorite, he was moved as they had not seen him yet, and made as though he would have him come nearer. Then, pointing to the bed, he burst into tears for the first time, and they who stood by, knowing that the sight of this child had done him good, left them alone together.
11. Soothing him with his artless talk of her, the child persuaded him to take some rest, to walk abroad, to do almost as he desired him. And, when the day came on which they must remove her, in her earthly shape, from earthly eyes forever, he led him away, that he might not know when she was taken from him. They were to găther fresh leaves and berries for her bed.
12. And now the bell—the bell she had so often heard by night and day, and listened to with solemn pleasure, almost as a living voice-rung its remorseless toll for her, so young, so beau
DEATH OF LITTLE NELL.
tiful, so good. Decrepit age, and vigorous life, and blooming youth, and helpless infancy, poured forth-on crutches, in the pride of health and strength, in the full blush of promise, the mere dawn of life—to găther round her tomb. Old men were there, whose eyes were dim and senses failing ; grandmothers, who might have died ten years ago, and still been old; the deaf, the blind, the lame, the palsied—the living dead, in many shapes and forms,—to see the closing of that early grave.
13. Along the crowded path they bore her now, pure as the newly-fallen snow that covered it—whose day on earth had been as fleeting. Under that põrch where she had sat when Heaven in its mercy brought her to that peaceful spot, she passed again, and the old church received her in its quiet shade.
14. They carried her to one old nook, where she had, many and many a time sat musing, and laid their burden softly on the pavement. The light streamed on it through the colored window-a window where the boughs of trees were ever rustling in the summer, and where the birds sang sweetly all day long.. With every breath of air that stirred among those branches in the sunshine, some trembling, changing light would fall upon
15. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Many a young hand dropped in its little wreath, many a stifled sob was heard. Some—and they were not few_knelt down. All were sincere and truthful in their sorrow. The service done, the mourners stood apart, and the villagers closed round to look into the grave before the stone should be replaced.
16. One called to mind how he had seen her sitting on that věry spot, and how her book had fallen on her lap, and she was gazing, with a pensive face, upon the sky. Another told how he had wondered much that one so delicate as she should be so bold, how she had never feared to enter the church alone at night, but had loved to linger there when all was quiet, and even to climb the tower-stair, with no more light than that of the moon-rays stealing through the loop-holes in the thick old walls. A whisper went about among the oldest there, that she had seen and talked with angels ; and when they called to mind how she had looked, and spoken, and her early death, some thought it might be so indeed. 17. Thus coming to the grave in little knots, and glancing
down, and giving place to others, and falling off in whispering groups of three or four, the church was cleared, in time, of all but the sexton and the mourning friends. Then, when the dusk of evening had come on, and not a sound disturbed the sacred stillness of the place : when the bright moon poured in her light on tomb and monument, on pillar, wall, and arch, and, most of all, it seemed to them, upon her quiet grave; in that calm time, when all outward things and inward thoughts teem with assurances of immortality, and worldly hopes and fears are humbled in the dust before them, then, with tranquil and submissive hearts, they turned away, and left the child with God.
HEN on my ear your loss was knelled,
And tender sympathy upburst,
Which once had quenched my bitter thirst;
A portion of its mild relief,
To steal some fever from your grief.
Up to the Father took its way,
Like a long twilight haunting lay,
Her little spirit's swift remove,
Was told to us by one we love.
Soon crop the meadows' tender prime,
The shepherd strives to make them climb
That hang along the mountain's side,
And down through mist the sunbeams slide.
4. But nought can tempt the timid things
The steep' and rugged path to try,
And seared below the pastures lie,
Along the dizzy verge to go ;
They follow on õ'er rock and snow.
More dewy-soft than lowland mead,
And sheep and lambs together feed.
Blew on me as the south-wind free
From icy thralldom to the sea.
Would all my happy senses sway
Or climbing up the starry way,
While, like the murmur of the sea,
Saying, " Arise, and follow me." MARIA LOWELL.
1 “Except the Lord build the vain for you to rise up early, to sit house, they labor in vain that build up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: it: except the Lord keep the city, the for so he giveth his beloved sleep." watchman waketh but in vain. It is (Psalm cxxvii. 1, 2.)