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Mrs. May rose to her feet with a fixed and vacant stare, and moved slowly forward through the rooms. She had never yet in her heart thought that her child would die; woman-like, she had hoped against hope. For a moment she looked round vacantly; then all the scenes of those three days of torture crowded to her brain; the blood-shot eyes,
the red, furred cheeks, the breathing a succession of groans, the Doctor's words, his look; and then like a flash of lightning through her brain passed the words, “ Lottie must die,' and she uttered a piercing scream and fell senseless on the floor.
When she came to herself, she was on her bed, and Dr. Armour standing by her. Recollection returned, and she said, with an unnatural calmness which startled him:
Doctor, is my child dead ?'
Mrs. May looked at him with a surprised look, then rose and went to . her child's bed-side. Lottie knew her mother; and when Mrs. May took her hand, she felt it pulled slightly, and bent down her head until her lips touched those of her child, and she felt them move a little to kiss her ; then she tried to speak, bui could not; and the mother stood by the side of the bed with glazed eyes, in which were no tears, for she could not weep. Oh, how she wanted to weep, but could not, and her eyes
burned her as she gazed at the dying girl.
The doctors stood round in silence, for they knew that she was dying; the mother bent over her in silence, for she felt that she was dying; and the child gasped, and gasped,and a slight gurgle was heard in her throat, and she lifted her head suddenly, and said, with a faint voice, “Mother!' and fell back on the pillow quite dead.
"God of mercy, help me to bear this !' said Mrs. May. 'ALMIGHTY Father, help me to bear this!' and she fell on her knees and clasped her
hands in agony.
The doctors slowly and silently left the room, and went down stairs, and they stepped into the parlor, and shut the door to have a chat before they separated.
Mrs. May started suddenly from her kneeling position, and looked earnestly at her child, last hope of her heart, last link that bound her to earth; and she hurriedly felt her feet, hands, heart, and put her ear down to the still, silent lips, then glided swiftly and noiselessly down stairs, to the back parlor, where the folding-doors were ajar.
Lower down; the breathing showed that. I was afraid we were to be kept up all night.'
* I think you gave her too much calomel, Mason.'
*Not a bit, not a bit: she should have had more yesterday, instead of your arsenic.
• Well, well. Curious case.' Very.'
"Gentlemen,' said the old gray-headed Dr. Armour, who had wept at the death-bed, and had not spoken before; 'gentlemen, it is unprofessional for me to say so, and late in life to acknowledge it, but this is all wrong somewhere. The child should not have died, and I must
Mrs. May had been checked by the tone of indifference, almost of levity, of the first speakers; now she threw open the doors, and stood there, drawn to her full height, and with her earnest eyes dilating, with a look that made them shrink as if they had seen a spectre: but she only said:
• Heaven help ye, gentlemen, in your extreme need. Dr. Armour, for God's sake, come back and tell me if the child's dead!'
They returned, but the corpse was growing cold.
Mrs. May clasped her hands round its neck, bent her head over its face, tear after tear rolled down her cheeks, and there she sat through the long night, clinging to the garment that had held her Lottie.
Mrs. May sat by the little coffin that contained her child's form She had grown much older in the two long, weary, solemn days that Lottie had been dead. She could look at the death-sleep, and the little hands crossed on the bosom, and the closed lids over those dark, expressive eyes, and place fresh roses, and geraniums, and heliotrope, about the calm, lifelike corpse, without weeping now; but there was a deep, fixed, almost stern expression of grief on her pale, classic face, which seemed to ask no sympathy, and was feeding on the springs of her own life. She could not pray yet. Often had she fallen on her knees since the little one's last faint · Mother !' but no utterance followed, for her heart only asked in agony, Why, oh, why had He taken away her Lottie ?' And thoughts high and deep passed through her mind, of time and space, and heaven and immortality, until imagination had wandered and lost itself in the dim confines which separate thought from the impenetrable mysteries which surround us, until all consciousness of time and space in her present life were lost; and then the question would recur, did He take her away, or was she sent, uncalled from the earth, by unholy errors, by poisoning drugs; and she shrank from the question shuddering.
Carriage after carriage drove up to the door, the rooms were filled with friends and acquaintances of the mourner and the mourned, and a solemnlooking man opened the Bible, and read, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven !' Then he said many beautiful things about the child, which he had known from its birth; but Mrs. May could not listen, and, sobbing out her anguish, left the room : for why had He taken away her Lottie? After the ceremony was over, she returned, and stood by the coffin, and looked at her child for the last time. She thought of all her grace
repose, even amongst her little play-mates, and all her arch and winning ways, and hot tears fell on the cold form. Then they closed the coffin, and placed it in the carriage with Mrs. May alone; she would have it so. They drove slowly down Broadway, and Mrs. May was startled by the noise of carts and oinnibuses. It seemed strange that they drove on so furiously while Lottie was carried by; and crowds of people lined the streets, all gay and unheeding. Mrs. May drew down the curtains, and hid them from her sight. They passed over the South Ferry, and so on to Greenwood; and between the beautiful sculptures and white monuments, (standing over buried hopes, like the rainbow over the abyss of the cataract, or the fair face over a crushed hearty) until they came to Lottie's grave. It
was a sweet spot, on the southern side of a gentle rise that overlooked the Bay and Narrows, and caught the first smile of Day, as he rose from the horizon and bathed himself in light; and the last rays of the sun rested on its bosom, while the twilight lingered there when darkness had hidden all below. Lottie had often played on it, and told her mother which was her corner. Poor child ! she little thought how soon she would take possession ; indeed, she always said it with as happy a smile as if she had been immortal, and would never need an earthly resting-place.
Mrs. May remained in the carriage, and when they took the coffin toward the grave, there was again that fixed and glassy look, those tearless eyes. How she longed to keep even the corpse for ever near her!
They lowered the little coffin into the grave, and, as the earth fell on the lid, said, “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes!' and a little mound marked the place where, down, down in the earth, the fair-haired girl awaited the final reckoning. They came to Mrs. May as they passed out, but she
waved them away, and one after another left, until she was quite alone. Then she descended from the carriage, and went to the grave; and the servant brought a basket of flowers, and wept as he retired, for they all loved Lottie; and Mrs. May bent over the grave, and scattered flowers about it, she felt so wholly desolate, now that they had taken away the last link, the body of her poor child. The sun went down, and the night came on, as she knelt there, and tree and leaf and insect, all were hushed as still as the grave beneath her; and she looked up to the heavens, and saw the stars, like tapers on the pall of darkness which shrouded her, and she gazed and gazed, and her heart longed for a revelation of her child's fate and her own in that mysterious sphere, and her heart was softened as she gazed. Then she bent over the grave again, and took a little flower and put it in her bosom, and thought of her child and its last faint ‘Mother!! and the tears came to her eyes, her bursting heart found vent, and she wept, oh, how long and passionately, as if existence itself were welling from her eyelids! Then she looked up again, and the sky seemed to have lost its darkness; and the stars dilated, and seemed to fill the heavens with glory; and her spirit became more rapt and exalted, as if spiritual influences were about her with which she could commune; and her lips were opened at last. She prayed long and earnestly to the Father who had taken her idol. She felt now too truly that it had been an idol, and she blessed His holy name, and knew why he had taken her Lottie. Her mind became more exalted; a transcendent exoltation took possession of her soul, and it seemed to expand super-sensually, until it lost sight of earth and its earthly tenement, and rose to the feeling, the consciousness of the INFINITE. She seemed to have a dual existence, a being separate from her being; and looked down on herself, as she knelt at the grave, with an infinite pity. (Whether under the direct influence of the inspiration of heaven,' or the native powers of her soul drawn from their slumbers by surrounding circumstances, who shall tell ?) And her soul expanded in its exaltation, until she felt herself a link between the INFINITE of Holiness and the great Soul of Humanity; and while a feeling of infinite love and pity for mankind took possession of her
soul, their errors and weaknesses shrank into the back-ground: even her own sorrows became vague, undefined, distant, almost little.
This consciousness, this exaltation, vouchsafed to the best of us so rarely, from the low or grovelling for ever barred, may come sometimes perhaps to mothers at the birth of their first-born, oftener at its death. A revelation to great minds at the moment of their best conceptions; to others, at the moment of death, or when death suddenly becomes imminent and near, and fear does not paralyze the soul. Sometimes it comes with the fervid devotion of the worshipper, filled with a holy and living faith ; seldom, if ever, in mere religious ecstasy ; this, the flash of the torch, soon out and lost; that, like the June sunshine, lighting all things, and drawing them from the earth to warmth and life. But it comes to none without leaving him better, wiser, stronger to endure and bear, and with deeper sympathies for the sufferings and errors of his kind.
Mrs. May knelt there, wrapped in her new existence, hour after hour, far into the night, until her servants were alarmed, and they came and accosted her, but she answered them calmly, and left the grave with blessed peace in her heart; and they drove over the lonely road, and through the quiet and deserted streets, toward her desolate home, a sad, but a wiser, a better being; for her soul had known the divine depth, her heart had become the sanctuary of sorrow.
God had taken away her loved ones for a time, but he had given his own love in their place, and she wept no more.
In the land of Greece, that glorious land,
L. L. B
COME and see me in the autumn, fruitful season of the year,
Just behind those alder-bushes, skirting that low, mossy spot,
You are weary: let us enter. Pray, forgive my husband's stay;
right our parlors lie, neatly furnished, long and wide,