The guardian angel.
To the charming freshness of the sisters’ faces had succeeded a livid pallor. Their large blue eyes, now hollow and sunk in, appeared of enormous dimensions. Their lips, once so rosy, were now suffused with a violet hue, and a similar color was gradually displacing the transparent carmine of their cheeks and fingers. It was as if all the roses in their charming countenances were fading and turning blue before the icy blast of death.
When the orphans met, tottering and hardly able to sustain themselves, a cry of mutual horror burst from their lips. Each of them exclaimed, at sight of the fearful change in her sister’s features. “Are you also ill, sister?” And then, bursting into tears, they threw themselves into each other’s arms, and looked anxiously at one another.
“Good heaven, Rose! how pale you are!”
“Like you, sister.”
“And do you feel a cold shudder?”
“Yes, and my sight fails me.”
“My bosom is all on fire.”
“Sister, we are perhaps going to die.”
“Let it only be together!”
“And our poor father?”
“Sister, our dream has come true!” cried Rose, almost deliriously, as she threw her arms round Blanche’s neck. “Look! look! the Angel Gabriel is here to fetch us.”
Indeed, at this moment, Gabriel entered the open space at the end of the room. “Heaven! what do I see?” cried the young priest. “The daughters of Marshal Simon!”
And, rushing forward, he received the sisters in his arms, for they were no longer able to stand. Already their drooping heads, their half-closed eyes, their painful and difficult breathing, announced the approach of death. Sister Martha was close at hand. She hastened to respond to the call of Gabriel. Aided by this pious woman, he was able to lift the orphans upon a bed reserved for the doctor in attendance. For fear that the sight of this mournful agony should make too deep an impression on the other patients, Sister Martha drew a large curtain, and the sisters were thus in some sort walled off from the rest of the room. Their hands had been so tightly clasped together, during a nervous paroxysm, that it was impossible to separate them. It was in this position that the first remedies were applied—remedies incapable of conquering the violence of the disease,