“Ey, ey,” repeated Garth, “a broken heart is all my part.”
Very tremulous was the voice of the singer as she sang,—
O Lord, my God,
Or ere I die,
And silent lie
Beneath the sod,
Do Thou make whole
This bruised soul.
“This bruised soul,” murmured the blacksmith.
Rotha had stopped, and buried her face in her hands.
“There’s another verse, Rotha; there’s another verse.”
But the singer could sing no more. Then the dying man himself sang in his feeble voice, and with panting breath,—
Dear Lord, my God—
Weary and worn,
Bleeding and torn—
Spare now Thy rod.
Lord, give me rest.
There was a bright light in his eyes. And surely victory was his at last. The burden was cast off forever. “Lord, give me rest,” he murmured again, and the tongue that uttered the prayer spoke no more.
Rotha took his hand. His pulse sank—slower, slower, slower. His end was like the going out of a lamp—down, down, down—then a fitful flicker—and then—
Death, the merciful mediator; Death, the Just Judge; Death, the righter of the wronged; Death was here—here!
Mrs. Garth’s grief was uncontrollable. The hard woman was as nerveless as a baby now. Yet it was not at first that she would accept the evidence of her senses. Reaching over the bed, she half raised the body in her arms.
“Why, he’s dead, my boy he’s dead!” she cried. “Tell me he’s not dead, though he lies sa still.”
Rotha drew her away, and, stooping, she kissed the cold wasted whitened lips.
At midnight a covered cart drove up to the cottage by the smithy. John Jackson was on the seat outside. Rotha and Mrs. Garth got into it. Then they started away.
As they crossed the bridge and turned the angle of the road that shut out the sight of the darkened house they had left, the two women turned their heads towards it and their hearts sank within them as they thought of him whom they left behind. Then they wept together.
PEACE, PEACE, AND REST.
In Carlisle the time of the end was drawing near. Throughout the death-day of the blacksmith at Wythburn the two men who were to die for his crime on the morrow sat together in their cell in the Donjon tower.
Ralph was as calm as before, and yet more cheerful. The time of atonement was at hand. The ransom was about to be paid. To break the hard fate of a life, of many lives, he had come to die, and death was here!
Bent and feeble, white as his smock, and with staring eyes, Sim continued to protest that God would not let them die at this time and in this place.
“If He does,” he said, “then it is not true what they have told us, that God watches over all!”