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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 28

June 6

It is a long time since I have written here. I did not want to open the book till I was sure that I could open it quietly, and could speak as she would like to have me speak, of what remains to be written. But a very few words will tell it all. It happened so naturally and so happily, she was so glad when the time came, and she made me so glad for her sake, that I cannot grieve. I say it from my honest heart, I cannot grieve. In the place out of which she has gone, she has left me peace. I think of something that Miss Procter said about the opening of that golden gate,

"round which the kneeling spirits wait.
The halo seemed to linger round those kneeling closest to the door:
The joy that lightened from that place shines still upon the watcher's face."

I think more often of some things that she herself said in the very last of those pleasant talks, when, turning a leaf in her little Bible, she pointed out to me the words :—"It is expedient for you that I go away; for, if I go not away, the Comforter will not come." It was one spring-like night,—the twenty-ninth of March. She had been in less pain, and had chatted and laughed more with us than for many a day. She begged that Faith might stay till dark, and might bring her Noah's ark and play down upon the foot of the bed where she could see her. I sat in the rocking-chair with my face to the window. We did not light the lamps. The night came on slowly. Showery clouds flitted by, but there was a blaze of golden colour behind them. It broke through and scattered them; it burned them and melted them; it shot great pink and purple jets up to the zenith; it fell and lay in amber mist upon the hills. A soft wind swept by, and darted now and then into the glow, and shifted it about, colour away from colour, and back again.

"See, Faith!" she said softly; "put down the little camel a minute, and look!" and added after, but neither to the child nor to page 95 me, it seemed: "At eventide there shall be light." PhŒbe knocked presently, and I went out to see what she wanted, and planned a little for Auntie's breakfast, and came back.

Faith, with her little ark, was still playing quietly upon the bed. I sat down again in my rocking-chair with my face to the window. Now and then the child's voice broke the silence, asking, where should she put the elephant, and was there room there for the yellow bird? and now and then her mother answered her, and so presently the skies had faded, and so the night came on.

I was thinking it was Faith's bedtime, and that I had better light the lamp, when a few distinct, hurried words from the bed attracted my attention.

"Faith, I think you had better kiss mamma now, and get down."

There was a change in the voice. I was there in a moment, and lifted the child from the pillow, where she had crept. But she said,

"Wait a minute, Mary; wait a minute,"—for Faith clung to her, with one hand upon her cheek, softly patting it. I went over and stood by the window. It was her mother herself who gently put the little fingers away at last.

"Mother's own little girl! Good night, my darling, my darling."

So I took the child away to Phoebe, and came back and shut the door.

"I thought you might have some message for Roy," she said.


"Now, I think."

We had often talked of this, and she had promised to remember it, whatever it might be. So I told her—But I will not write what I told her.

I saw that she was playing weakly with her wedding-ring, which hung very loosely below its little worn guard.

"Take the little guard," she said, "and keep it for Faith; but bury the other with me: he put it on; nobody else must take it——"

The sentence dropped, unfinished. I crept up on the bed beside her, for she seemed to wish it. I asked if I should light the lamp, but she shook her head. The room seemed light, she said, quite quite light. She wondered then if Faith were asleep, and if she would waken early in the morning. After that I kissed her, and then we said nothing more, only presently she asked me to hold her hand.

It was quite dark when she turned her face at last towards the window.

"John!" she said,—"why, John!"

* * * * * * *

They came in, with heads uncovered and voices hushed, to see her, in the days while she was lying down stairs among the flowers.

Once when I thought that she was alone, I went in,—it was at twilight,—and turned, startled by a figure that was crouched sobbing on the floor.

"O,I want to go too, I want to go too!" it cried.

page 96

"She's ben there all day long," said PhŒbe, wiping her eyes, "and she won't go home for a mouthful of victuals, poor creetur! but she jest sets there and cries and cries, an' there's no stoppin' of her."

It was little Clo.

At another time, I was there with fresh flowers, when the door opened, creaking a little, and 'Bin Quirk came in on tiptoe, trying in vain to still the noise of his new boots. His eyes were red and wet, and he held out to me timidly a single white carnation.

"Could you put it somewhere, where it would'nt do any harm? I walked away over to Worcester and back to get it. If you could jest hide it under the others out of sight, seems to me it would do me a sight of good to feel it was there, you know."

I motioned him to lay it himself between her fingers.

"O, I dars n't. I'm not fit, I'm not. She'd rether have you."

But I told him I knew she would be as pleased that he should give it to her himself as she was when he gave her the China pinks on that distant summer day. So the great awkward fellow bent down, as simply as a child, as tenderly as a woman, and left the flower in its place.

"She liked 'em," he faltered; maybe, if what she used to say is all so, she'll like 'em now. She liked 'em better than she did machines. I've just got my carpet-sweeper through; I was thinking how pleased she'd be; I wanted to tell her. If I should go to the good place,—if ever I do go, it will be just her doin's—I'll tell her then, maybe I—" He forgot that anybody was there, and, sobbing, hid his face in his great hands.

So we are waiting for the morning when the gates shall open,—Faith and I. I, from my stiller watches, am not saddened by the music of her life. I feel sure that her mother wishes it to be a cheery life. I feel sure that she is showing me, who will have no motherhood by which to show myself, how to help her little girl.

And Roy,—all, well, and Roy,—he knows. Our hour is not yet come. If the Master will that we should be about His Father's business, what is that to us?