She who a half hour ago could not live on must now live at all cost. She has other labors. She must visit the portrait painter’s to-day. She would that the gifted orator might be portrayed as standing before the immense audiences which used to greet his voice, but it cannot be done. She must be contented with the posthumous portraits which forever gratify and disturb the lovers of the dead.
It is a day’s labor done. The portrait will be praised on all hands, but it has not come without previous failures and despairs.
To return to the house out of which the light has gone—how Esther Lockwin dreads that nightly torment! Shall she linger at the parental home? Is it not the bitterer to feel that here the selfish life grew to the full? Is it not worse than sorrow to discover in this abode the same influences of estrangement? What is David Lockwin in the old home?
A dead man, to be forgotten as soon as possible!
No! no! Better to enter the door where the white arm reached out for the message of blackness. Better to go up and down the stairs searching for David, listening for Davy’s organ—better to fling one’s self on the couch, abandoning all to the tempest of regret and disappointment; to cry out to David; to apostrophize the unseen; to fall into the hideous abyss of hopelessness; to see once again the north star of religion; to call upon God for help; to doze; to awaken to the abominations of the reality; to remember the escape from perdition; to hasten to the duties of the day!
So goes the night. So comes the morning. She who would not live the evening before is terrified now for fear of death ere her last great labor shall be done.
She calls her carriage. She rides but a few squares. Every block in that noble structure represents a pang in her heart. Some of those great stones below must have been heavier than these sobs she now feels. “Oh, David! David! Every iron beam; every copestone, every coigne of vantage, every oriel window in this honorable edifice is for you! Every element has cost an agony in her who weeps for you.”
The widow gazes far aloft. It has been promised for this date, and it is done. Something of the old look of pride comes to the calm and beautiful face which the architect and the workmen have always seen.
The vari-colored slate shingles are going on the roof.
Her eye returns in satisfaction to the glittering black granite letters over the portal. She reads:
THE DAVID LOCKWIN ANNEX
[Illustration: Her eye returns in satisfaction to the glittering black granite letters over the portal.]
“A magnificent hospital,” says an approving press, “the very dream of an intelligent philanthropy.”