In a few minutes, she returned.
“The doctor says it will be of no use, Aunt Patty. But Mr. Lansdowne would like to make an attempt to restore him. So come, mamma and I will help you”.
Notwithstanding Mrs. McNab’s subdued state of mind and her genuine, unselfish wish to do all in her power to bring consciousness to the stricken form, she could not avoid, as she made one application after another, making also a few indicative observations to Mrs. Dubois.
“Did ye hear what the preacher said to the young mon as we cam’ alang? He’s a mighty quick way o’ desmeesin a’ bonnie creetur like this out o’ the warld and sayin’ he’s satisfied aboot it”.
“That was not what the missionary said, Mrs. McNab”, replied Mrs. Dubois. “He said that Mr. Somers is happy now. He is in Paradise, and we must not wish him back. He is satisfied to be with Jesus and the angels and his own mother. That is what he meant. And does he not look satisfied? See his blissful countenance!”
Mrs. Dubois leaned over him a moment, and thinking of his sister, Mrs. Lansdowne, parted his hair with her pale, slender fingers and imprinted a kiss on his forehead.
All efforts to restore warmth, or life to that marble form were in vain, and at length they covered his face gently, until the day-dawn.
John sat by the bedside, his head buried in his hands, until morning. He thought over all his past companionship with this youthful Uncle Ned, of his pleasantness, wit and fascination, of his generous spirit, of his love for his mother and himself, and wondered at the awful strangeness that had thus fallen, in a moment, between them. Then the thought of his mother’s bitter grief swept over him like a flood and nearly unmanned him. Like the drowning man, his brain was stimulated to an unwonted activity. He lived over again his whole life, in a few minutes of time. This dread Power, who had never crossed his path before, shocked him inexpressibly. Who of the young, unstricken by sorrow, ever associates death with himself or with those he loves, till the Arch Reaper comes some day and cuts down and garners his precious treasure?
John had heard of death, but he had heard of it just as he had heard of the poisonous Upas-tree, growing on some distant ocean island, or of an evil star, under whose baleful influence he might never fall.
The young live as if this life were immortal. So much the more bitter their experience, when they wake up from the delusion.
The others of the party were gathered in an adjoining room, gazing silently at the scene without. It was fearful, yet sublime. The whole northern side of the Miramichi river, for over one hundred miles, had become involved in one mighty sheet of flame, which was sweeping on in swift destruction to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The river boiled with the fierce heat and tossed its foaming waters, filled with its now lifeless inhabitants, to the shore. The fire was fed by six thousand square miles of primeval forest,—a dense growth of resinous trees,—by houses and barns filled with crops, and by thriving towns upon the river’s bank.