There is the white crockery lamb that she gave me the day I was six years old! Poor little trumpery lamb! I snatch it up, and deluge its crinkly back, and its little pink nose, with my scalding tears.
At night I cannot sleep. I have pulled aside the curtains, that through the windows my eyes may see the high stars, beyond which she has gone. Through the pane they make a faint and ghostly glimmer on the empty bed.
I sit up in the dead middle of the night, when the darkness and so-called silence are surging and singing round me, while the whole room feels full of spirit presences. I alone! I am accompanied by a host—a bodiless host.
I stretch out my arms before me, and cry out:
“Barbara! Barbara! If you are here, make some sign! I command you, touch me, speak to me! I shall not be afraid!—dead or alive, can I be afraid of you?—give me some sign to let me know where you are— whether it is worth while trying to be good to get to you! I adjure you, give me some sign!”
The tears are raining down my cheeks, as I eagerly await some answer. Perhaps it will come in the cold, cold air, by which some have known of the presence of their dead; but in vain. The darkness and the silence surge round me. Still, still I feel the spirit-presences; but Barbara is dumb.
“You have been away such a short time!” I cry, piteously. “You cannot have gone far! Barbara! Barbara! I must get to you! If I had died, and you had lived, a hundred thousand devils should not have kept me from you. I should have broken through them all and reached you. Ah! cruel Barbara! you do not want to come to me!”
I stop, suffocated with tears; and through the pane the high stars still shine, and Barbara is dumb!
“The last touch of their hands in the morning, I keep it by day and by night. Their last step on the stairs, at the door, still throbs through me, if ever so light. Their last gift which they left to my childhood, far off in the long-ago years, Is now turned from a toy to a relic, and seen through the crystals of tears. ‘Dig the snow,’ she said, For my church-yard bed; Yet I, as I sleep, shall not fear to freeze, If one only of these, my beloveds, shall love with heart-warm tears, As I have loved these.’”
It seems to me in these days as if, but for the servants, I were quite alone in the house. Father is ill. We always thought that he never would care about any thing, or any of us, but we are wrong. Barbara’s death has shaken him very much. Mother is with him always, nursing him, and being at his beck and call, and I see nothing of her.
Tou Tou has gone to school, and so it comes to pass that, in the late populous school-room, I sit alone. Where formerly one could hardly make one’s voice heard for the merry clamor, there is now no noise, but the faint buzzing of the house-flies on the pane, and now and again, as it grows toward sunset, the loud wintry winds keening and calling.