Graydon found himself by the same window at which Madge had sat in her long vigil. The bed had been removed, and in its place was a plain yet tasteful casket. Mr. Wendall, with his head bowed down, sat at its foot, wiping away tears from time to time with a bandana handkerchief. Two or three stanch friends and helpers sat also in the room, for it would appear that the Wendalls had no relatives in the vicinity.
As Madge sat down by Mrs. Wendall, so intent was the mother’s gaze upon her dead child that she did not at first notice the young girl’s presence. Madge took a thin, toil-worn hand caressingly in both her own, and then the tearless eyes were turned upon her, and the light of recognition came slowly into them, as if she were recalling her thoughts from an immense distance.
“I’m glad you’ve come,” she said, in a loud, strange whisper. “She wanted you to be with me. She said you had trouble, and would know how to sustain me. She left a message for you. She said, ’Tell dear Madge that the dying sometimes have clear vision—tell her I’ve prayed for her ever since, and she’ll be happy yet, even in this world. Tell her that I only saw her a little while, but she belongs to those I shall wait for to welcome.’ You’ll stay by me till it’s all over, won’t you?”
Madge was deeply agitated, but she managed to say distinctly, “Tilly also said something to me, and I want you to think of her words through all that is to come. She said, ’Think where I have gone, and don’t grieve a moment.’”
“Yes, I’ll come to that by and by; but now I can think of only one thing—they are going to take away my baby;” and she laid her head on the still bosom with a yearning in her face which only God, who created the mother’s heart, could understand.
What followed need not be dwelt upon. The mother and father took their last farewell, the casket was carried to the outer room, the simple service was soon over, the tearful tributes paid, and then the slow procession took its way to a little graveyard on a hillside among the mountains.
“I can’t go and see Tilly buried,” said Mrs. Wendall, in the same unnatural whisper. “I will go to her grave some day, but not yet. I am trying to keep up, but I don’t feel that I could stand on my feet a minute now.”
“I’ll stay with you till they come back,” Madge answered, tenderly; and at last she was left alone in the house, holding the tearless mother’s hand. She soon bowed her young head upon it, bedewing it with her tears. The poor woman’s deep absorption began to pass away. The warm tears upon her hand, the head upon her lap, began to waken the instincts of womanhood to help and console another. She stroked the dark hair and murmured, “Poor child, poor child! Tilly was right. Trouble makes us near of kin.”
“You loved Tilly, Mrs. Wendall,” Madge sobbed. “Think of where she’s gone. No more tears; no more pain; no more death.”