With a heart-broken cry she fell on her knees by the bed. “You ain’t going, you shan’t! Charlie, you shan’t go away from me—you must stay with me till I go too—”
“You will come to me, mother, but I shall go first, and I’ll tell God all about how you have had to work, and how hard it has been for you, and He will understand—”
“You can’t—you mustn’t go! Oh, my dear, my dear, don’t leave me.”
“Oh, mother, I am so tired, and I—I think I want to go, but I want you to come too. You will, won’t you, mother?” and he tried again to draw her face down to his.
“I will try,” she promised faintly, and then burst into a passion of heart-broken sobs.
A month later, when in the country the hedges were full of primroses and violets, and pure little daisies, Charlie took the last steps of his painful journey, and reached the “rest” for which he craved.
It was on a Saturday that his brief journey through this life ended, and on the Sunday those whom he had loved—his mother, and Jessie, Miss Patch and Tom Salter—gathered in the little bare, quiet bedroom, with him in the midst of them once more, but so silent now, so very quiet and still.
“I am sure he is with us in spirit, the darling,” said Miss Patch softly, as she looked at the worn little face, so peaceful now, and free from the drawn lines of pain they had worn hitherto; and, while they all knelt around his bed, she said a few simple prayers, such as went straight to their sad hearts, and sowed the germs, at least, of comfort there; and while they still knelt, thinking their own sad thoughts, her sweet voice broke softly into song.
“Sleep on, beloved, sleep and take thy rest.
Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast,
We love thee well, but Jesus loves thee best—
The others knelt, rapt, breathless, afraid to move lest they should break the spell and the sweet singing, or lose one of the beautiful words. Through the whole exquisite hymn she continued until the last verse was reached—
“Until we meet again before His throne,
Clothed in the spotless robes He gives His own,
Until we know, even as we are known;—
Voice and words died away together. Then one by one they rose and, bending over him, kissed him fondly.
“Good-night, little Charlie, ‘good-night,’ not ‘good-bye.’”
When Harry Lang was told that Charlie was dead, he looked shocked for the moment, then, having remarked glibly that “it was all for the best,” and “at any rate he wouldn’t suffer any more,” he told Jessie to make haste and get him some food, and became absorbed in making his own plans for his own comfort.