She expressed a desire to accompany Lucy in some of her visits to the poor Italian, who was perceptibly sinking fast with the advancing spring. He had, however, grown much in trust in his Saviour, and in spiritual knowledge, especially since Lucy had procured for him an Italian Bible, which he could read with much more ease and profit than an English one. He seemed now to have a deep sense of the evil of his past careless life, when even the external forms of religion had been given up, and he had been, like the prodigal, wandering in a far country.
“And how good is the Father in heaven, that He has a welcome home and a fatted calf for His wanderer!” he would say earnestly, the tears rising to the dark lustrous eyes, that sparkled so brightly in the pale, sunken face.
Sophy listened, half wonderingly, half wistfully, to the few and broken, but earnest words in which he told of the pardon and peace he had found in “Looking unto Jesus.” “I see the blessed words there all the day,” he said, pointing to the wall, “and they make me glad.”
“Lucy, you have a card like that,” said Sophy, as they left the house. “I wish you would give it to me to keep in my room, to remind me of that poor man’s words.”
Lucy gladly complied with the request, though she missed her card a good deal, and hoped that its motto might be of use to its new owner. Sophy, however, painted the motto in much more elaborate and beautiful workmanship, had it framed and glazed, and hung it up in her cousin’s room one day while she was out, with a little slip of paper attached, bearing the inscription, “With Sophy’s love and hearty thanks.”
One lovely day in May, when all nature seemed rejoicing in the gladness of the approaching summer, Lucy went as usual to visit Antonio, carrying some of the delicacies which Mrs. Brooke still continued to send him, chiefly for Amy’s sake. How often might the rich greatly alleviate the sufferings of sickness in poverty, by timely gifts of luxuries, which at such a time are almost necessaries, yet which the poor cannot buy!
Lucy found the patient unable now to rise, and struggling with the suffocating sensation of oppressed breathing. He could scarcely speak, but he listened with pleasure to the few words she read to him; and as she left him, he pressed her hand convulsively, saying in a low, expressive tone, “Good-bye.”
Lucy felt she should not see him again in life, and was not surprised when Nelly came next day, crying bitterly, to tell her that her adopted father’s weary pilgrimage was ended.
The poor girl remained in the now desolate home only until the simple funeral was over, and then entered Mrs. Brooke’s family, where her warm, grateful heart found comfort in doing everything she could for Miss Lucy, whose presence made her new place seem again a home.