Flossy went to the window and stood looking out into the starless night. The pain in her heart deepened with every moment.
“If there was only some one to ask, some one to say a word to me,” she sighed to herself. “It seems as though I could never go to sleep with this feeling clinging to me. I wonder what can be the matter? Perhaps I am sick and am going to die. It feels almost like that, and I am not fit to die—I am afraid. I wonder if Ruth Erskine is afraid to die? I have almost a mind to ask her. I wonder if she ever prays? People who are not afraid of death are always those who pray. Perhaps she will to-night. I feel as though I wanted to pray: I think if I only knew how it would be just the thing to do. If she kneels down I mean to go and kneel beside her.”
These were some of the thoughts that whirled through her brain as she stood with her nose pressed to the glass. But Ruth did not pray. She went around with the composed air of one who was at peace with all the world; and when her elaborate preparations for rest were concluded she laid her head on her pillow without one thought of prayer.
“Why in the name of sense don’t you come to bed?” she presently asked, surveying with curious glance the quiet little creature whose face was hidden from her, and who was acting entirely out of accordance with anything she had ever seen in her before. “What can you possibly find to keep you gazing out of that window? It can’t be called star-gazing, for to my certain knowledge there isn’t a single star visible; in fact, I should say nothing could be visible but the darkness.”
For a minute Flossy made no answer. She did not move nor turn her head; but presently she said, in a low and gentle voice:
“Ruth, should you be afraid to die?”
“To die!” said Ruth; and I have no means of telling you what an astonished face and voice she had. “Flossy Shipley, what do you mean?”
“Why, I mean that,” said Flossy, in the same quiet tone. “Of course we have got to die, and everybody knows it; and what I say is, should you be afraid if it were to-night, you know?”
“Humph!” said Ruth, turning her pillow and waiting to beat it into shape before she spoke further. “I haven’t the least idea of dying to-night.”
“But how can you be sure of that? You might have to die to-night, you know people do sometimes.”
“I know one thing, am perfectly certain of it, and that is, that you will take cold standing there and making yourself dismal. You are shivering like a leaf, I can see you from here. If that is all the good to be gotten from the ‘religious impressions’ that they harp about being so great here, the less religion they have the better, and there is quite little enough you may be sure.” Saying which, Ruth turned her pillow again and her head, so that she could not see the small creature at the window. She was unaccountably rasped, not to say startled, by her question, and she did not like to be startled; she liked to have her current of life run smoothly.