The sun sank in golden radiance behind the green lindens, and slowly the father and child wended their way towards the high house in the narrow street.
Long, long days.
It was not many days after the events mentioned in the last chapter. Dora sat by her father’s bedside, her head buried in the pillows, vainly striving to choke down her tears and sobs. It seemed as if her heart must break. The Major lay back on his pillow, white and still, with a peaceful smile on his calm face. Dora could not understand it, could not take it in, but she knew it. Her father was gone to join her mother in heaven.
In the morning her father had not come as usual to her bedside to awaken her, so when at last she opened her eyes, she went to seek him, and she found him still in bed, and lying so quiet that she seated herself quite softly by his side, that she might not disturb him.
Presently the servant came up with the breakfast, and looking through the open door into the bed-room where Dora sat by her father’s bed-side, she called out in terror,
“Oh God, he is dead! I will call your aunt, child,” and hurried away.
Dora’s heart seemed cut in two by these words. She put her head upon the pillow and sobbed and wept. Presently she heard her aunt come into the room, and she raised her head and tried to control herself, for she dreaded the scene that she knew was coming. And it came—cries and sobs, loud groans and lamentations. Aunt Ninette declared that she could never bear this terrible blow; she did not know which way to turn, nor what to do first.
In the open drawer of the table by the side of the bed, lay several papers, and as she laid them together, meaning to lock them up, she saw a letter addressed to herself. She opened it and read as follows:
“Dear Sister Ninette,
“I feel that I shall shall soon leave you, but I will not talk to you about it, for the sad time will come only too quickly. One only wish that I have greatly at heart I now lay before you, and that is, that you will take my child under your protection for as long as she may need your care. I shall leave very little money behind me, but I beg you to employ this little in teaching Dora something that will enable her, with God’s help, to support herself when she is old enough.
“Do not, my dear sister, give way to your grief; try to believe as I believe, that God will always take our children under his care, when we are obliged to leave them and can no longer provide for them ourselves. Receive my heartfelt thanks for all the kindness you have shown to me and my child. God will reward you for it all.”
Aunt Ninette read and re-read these touching lines, and could not help growing calmer as she read. She turned to the silently weeping Dora with these words,