But neither tears, nor prayers could avail to keep the mother longer. Her work on earth was done, and after this conversation with her daughter, she grew worse so rapidly that hope died out of Alice’s heart, and she knew that soon she would be motherless. There were days and nights of pain and delirium in which the sick woman recognized none of those around her save Alice, whom she continually blessed as her darling, praying that God, too, would bless and keep His covenant child. At last there came a change, and one lovely Sabbath morning, ere the bell from St. Paul’s tower sent forth its summons to the house of God, there rang from its belfry a solemn toll, and the villagers listening to it, said, as they counted forty-four, that Mrs. Johnson was dead.
MR. LISTON AND THE DOCTOR
Among Snowdon’s poor that day, as well as among the wealthier class, there was many an aching heart, and many a prayer was breathed for the stricken Alice, not less beloved than the mother had been. At Terrace Hill mansion too, much sorrow was expressed. On the whole it was very unfortunate that Mrs. Johnson should have died so unexpectedly, and they did wish John was there to comfort the young girl who, they heard, refused to see any one except the clergyman and Mr. Liston.
“Suppose we telegraph for John,” Eudora said, and in less than two hours thereafter, Dr. Richards in New York read that Alice was an orphan.
There was a pang as he thought of her distress, a wish that he were with her, and then in his selfish heart the thought arose, “What if she does not prove as wealthy as I have supposed? Will that make any difference?”
“I must do something,” he soliloquized, “or how can I ever pay those debts in New York, of which mother knows nothing? I wish that widow—”
He did not finish his wishes, for a turn in the path brought him suddenly face to face with Mr. Liston, whom he had seen at a distance, and whom he recognized at once.
“I’ll quiz the old codger,” he thought. “He don’t, of course, know me, and will never suspect my object.”
Mistaken, doctor! The old codger was fully prepared. He did know Dr. Richards by sight, and was rather glad than otherwise when the elegant dandy, taking a seat upon the gnarled roots of the tree under which he was sitting, made some trivial remark about the weather, which was very propitious for the crowd who were sure to attend Mrs. Johnson’s funeral.
Yes, Mr. Liston presumed there would be a crowd. It was very natural there should be, particularly as the deceased was greatly beloved and was also reputed wealthy, “It beats all what a difference it makes, even after death, whether one is supposed to be rich or poor,” and the codger worked away industriously at the pine stick he was whittling.
“But in this case the supposition of riches must be correct, though I know people are oftener overvalued than otherwise,” and with his gold-headed cane the doctor thrust at a dandelion growing near.