What was it he saw that made his heart stand still? Why was no word spoken between the two? Thou canst say, who hast seen that same expression on the face dearest to thee;—that look indescribable, hopeless, unmistakable, that says to thee that thy beloved is no longer thine.
On the face of the child, however, there was no ghastly imprint,—only a high and almost sublime expression,—the overshadowing presence of spiritual natures, the dawning of immortal life in that childish soul.
They stood there so still, gazing upon her, that even the ticking of the watch seemed too loud. In a few moments, Tom returned, with the doctor. He entered, gave one look, and stood silent as the rest.
“When did this change take place?” said he, in a low whisper, to Miss Ophelia.
“About the turn of the night,” was the reply.
Marie, roused by the entrance of the doctor, appeared, hurriedly, from the next room.
“Augustine! Cousin!—O!—what!” she hurriedly began.
“Hush!” said St. Clare, hoarsely; "she is dying!"
Mammy heard the words, and flew to awaken the servants. The house was soon roused,—lights were seen, footsteps heard, anxious faces thronged the verandah, and looked tearfully through the glass doors; but St. Clare heard and said nothing,—he saw only that look on the face of the little sleeper.
“O, if she would only wake, and speak once more!” he said; and, stooping over her, he spoke in her ear,—“Eva, darling!”
The large blue eyes unclosed—a smile passed over her face;—she tried to raise her head, and to speak.
“Do you know me, Eva?”
“Dear papa,” said the child, with a last effort, throwing her arms about his neck. In a moment they dropped again; and, as St. Clare raised his head, he saw a spasm of mortal agony pass over the face,—she struggled for breath, and threw up her little hands.
“O, God, this is dreadful!” he said, turning away in agony, and wringing Tom’s hand, scarce conscious what he was doing. “O, Tom, my boy, it is killing me!”
Tom had his master’s hands between his own; and, with tears streaming down his dark cheeks, looked up for help where he had always been used to look.
“Pray that this may be cut short!” said St. Clare,—“this wrings my heart.”
“O, bless the Lord! it’s over,—it’s over, dear Master!” said Tom; “look at her.”
The child lay panting on her pillows, as one exhausted,—the large clear eyes rolled up and fixed. Ah, what said those eyes, that spoke so much of heaven! Earth was past,—and earthly pain; but so solemn, so mysterious, was the triumphant brightness of that face, that it checked even the sobs of sorrow. They pressed around her, in breathless stillness.
“Eva,” said St. Clare, gently.
She did not hear.
“O, Eva, tell us what you see! What is it?” said her father.