The ball was over, and the night was nearly gone. A friend took charge of the thoughtless young girl that had accompanied Charles to the dance. Two young men, his companions in riot, undertook to convey him to his father’s house. The stars were just beginning to fade away as they reached the threshold. Speechless, and almost lifeless, they laid him upon his bed. It proved his death-bed!
SICKNESS AND DEATH.
The debauch of the previous night laid the foundation of disease, from which Charles never recovered. On the following day he seemed at times wild, and partially deranged. A violent fever set in, and for many days he was confined to his bed. His sufferings were extreme; so high did his fever rise that it seemed as though the fire within would consume him. His physician watched the progress of his disease, and did all in his power to restore his health. The fever ran its course, and the crisis came. There was a change for the better. It was thought that he would get up. The hopes of his parents were revived; and many were the wishes that, with restored health, there might be a reformation of manners. Of this, however, there was little prospect.
These hopes of a recovery were soon cut off. Charles’s disease assumed a new form. He was taken with a cough, and night-sweats followed. His eyes were a little sunken, but full of expression. His countenance was pale, and, slightly tinged with blue, gave evidence that consumption had marked him for its victim, and that the grave must soon swallow him up: he was rapidly sinking into the arms of death.
Toward the latter part of his sickness, a rude contrivance was adopted to change his position in bed. Two hooks were driven into the ceiling, over the foot of the bedstead. To these pulleys were attached. These pulleys were rigged with cords, one end of which was made fast to the upper part of the bed. By hoisting on these cords he could be raised to any desired angle; and, instead of being bolstered up, he hung as if in a hammock. [See Frontispiece.]
During his illness Charles gave little evidence of any change in his feelings. No sorrow was expressed for anything in his past conduct. He was still fretful, still obstinate. He appeared like one early sold to sin.