“They think it’s nothing, what we suffer,—nothing, what our children suffer! It’s all a small matter; yet I’ve walked the streets when it seemed as if I had misery enough in my one heart to sink the city. I’ve wished the houses would fall on me, or the stones sink under me. Yes! and, in the judgment day, I will stand up before God, a witness against those that have ruined me and my children, body and soul!
“When I was a girl, I thought I was religious; I used to love God and prayer. Now, I’m a lost soul, pursued by devils that torment me day and night; they keep pushing me on and on—and I’ll do it, too, some of these days!” she said, clenching her hand, while an insane light glanced in her heavy black eyes. “I’ll send him where he belongs,—a short way, too,—one of these nights, if they burn me alive for it!” A wild, long laugh rang through the deserted room, and ended in a hysteric sob; she threw herself on the floor, in convulsive sobbing and struggles.
In a few moments, the frenzy fit seemed to pass off; she rose slowly, and seemed to collect herself.
“Can I do anything more for you, my poor fellow?” she said, approaching where Tom lay; “shall I give you some more water?”
There was a graceful and compassionate sweetness in her voice and manner, as she said this, that formed a strange contrast with the former wildness.
Tom drank the water, and looked earnestly and pitifully into her face.
“O, Missis, I wish you’d go to him that can give you living waters!”
“Go to him! Where is he? Who is he?” said Cassy.
“Him that you read of to me,—the Lord.”
“I used to see the picture of him, over the altar, when I was a girl,” said Cassy, her dark eyes fixing themselves in an expression of mournful reverie; “but, he isn’t here! there’s nothing here, but sin and long, long, long despair! O!” She laid her land on her breast and drew in her breath, as if to lift a heavy weight.
Tom looked as if he would speak again; but she cut him short, with a decided gesture.
“Don’t talk, my poor fellow. Try to sleep, if you can.” And, placing water in his reach, and making whatever little arrangements for his comforts she could, Cassy left the shed.
“And slight, withal,
may be the things that bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside forever; it may be a sound,
A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound,—
Striking the electric chain wherewith we’re darkly bound.”
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE, CAN. 4.