“Now,” replied Mrs. Harwood, “can I die willingly. Since my illness it has been my daily and nightly prayer, that should it be the will of Heaven that I should not recover, God would raise up friends to care for my orphan boy, and that prayer is now answered.”
Just six weeks from the evening on which Mrs. Harwood entered the dwelling of Mr. Humphrey, her eyes were closed in death. The last day of her life was passed mostly in a kind of lethargy, from which it was almost impossible to arouse her. Toward evening she rallied, and her mind seemed clear and calm. She was aware that the hour of her death had arrived; but she felt no fears in the prospect of her approaching dissolution. She thanked Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey for their kindness to her, and again tenderly committed to their care her boy, who would soon become an orphan.
“I am powerless to reward you,” said the dying woman, “but God will certainly reward you for your kindness to the widow and orphan.”
She requested that her child might be brought and placed by her side. Placing her thin wasted hands upon his head she said, in a voice scarcely audible,—
“May the God who never forsakes the orphan preserve my precious boy amid the perils and dangers of the sinful world!”
She drew the face of the child close to her own, and imprinted a mother’s last kiss upon his brow, and sank back exhausted upon her pillow. A few more fluttering quick drawn breaths and her spirit had winged its way from earth, and no one who witnessed her death felt a doubt that its flight was heavenward.
The following brief account of the early life of Mrs. Harwood I give as nearly as possible in her own words:—
“My earliest recollection carries me back to a small village in Scotland, about one hundred miles distant from the city of Edinburgh, where I was born the daughter of a minister of the Church of Scotland. I was an only child. The salary which my father received was moderate, but was nevertheless sufficient to support us respectably. When I became of suitable age I was sent to school, and continued to pursue my studies until I arrived at the age of fourteen years. At that period I was deprived by death of a fond and indulgent father. Previous to the death of my father neither my mother nor myself had ever experienced an anxious thought as regarded the future. The salary my father received had enabled us to live in comfort and respectability; and we do not often anticipate the death of a strong and healthy man. He died very suddenly; and when my mother’s grief at our sudden bereavement had so far subsided as to allow her taking some thought for the future, she found that although my father had died free from debt he had been unable to lay by anything for our future support. During my father’s lifetime we had occupied the parsonage, rent free, as had been