VISIONS IN DELIRIUM
There came a terrible day and night when Bobby’s life hung in the balance. A burning fever was upon him. His reason wandered, and he talked of strange things.
“Mamma! Mamma!” he called, and time and again he plead: “Uncle Robert, give me a drink of water! Uncle Robert, I’m so thirsty! Oh, I’m so thirsty!”
And then it would be Abel Zachariah or Mrs. Abel, or Jimmy, or Skipper Ed himself, who was addressed. Every subject under the sun was running through Bobby’s poor, delirious mind. Sometimes he spoke in Eskimo, sometimes in English. “Father!” he would cry, “see this cod. He’s a fine one! We’ll have a fine catch this season.” And so he would ramble along about the fishing for a time, and then perhaps grow silent, only to resume, upon some other thought.
After each brief silence there was something new. Perhaps he was warning Jimmy to run, or declaring that he knew he could get the bear if he only had time to load. Or perhaps he was telling Mrs. Abel that he was tired, oh, so tired, and begging her to sing a lullaby to him as she used to do when he was little.
Skipper Ed, foreseeing this state of affairs, had removed his other patients, who were now convalescing, to his own tent, where he gave them strict instructions as to their conduct, and such casual attention as he could. But for the most part he remained with Bobby. Indeed, during the day and night of Bobby’s delirium he scarcely left Bobby’s side for an instant. And more than once during this period of vigil and fear and foreboding Skipper Ed fell upon his knees and poured out his soul to the Great Master in an appeal for his young friend’s life.
It was near sunrise on the second morning of his delirium that Bobby suddenly ceased to speak and lay very quiet—so quiet that an awful dread came into Skipper Ed’s heart. He leaned over the still form and with fearful apprehension listened for breathing that he could not hear, and felt for heart beats that were too faint for his discovery.
And then again he fell upon his knees, for he was a God-fearing man and he had the love of God in his heart, and he prayed that if it were not too late God in His goodness would again place the breath of life into Bobby and return him to them. He prayed aloud, and as he prayed the tears ran down his weather-beaten cheeks.
At last he rose. Bobby’s face had assumed an unnatural, peaceful repose. The color had left the cheeks that had been fever flushed for so long. The lips were partly open, and there was no movement or sign of life.
Skipper Ed staggered to the tent front, and thrusting the flaps aside staggered out. The world lay quiet and serene, as though it held no grief. The waves lapped gently against the rocks. The sky was afire with radiant beauty.