“Again I swear!” came the Professor’s resonant voice.
Mrs. Harker smiled, positively smiled, as with a sigh of relief she leaned back and said, “And now one word of warning, a warning which you must never forget. This time, if it ever come, may come quickly and unexpectedly, and in such case you must lose no time in using your opportunity. At such a time I myself might be . . . nay! If the time ever come, shall be, leagued with your enemy against you.
“One more request,” she became very solemn as she said this, “it is not vital and necessary like the other, but I want you to do one thing for me, if you will.”
We all acquiesced, but no one spoke. There was no need to speak.
“I want you to read the Burial Service.” She was interrupted by a deep groan from her husband. Taking his hand in hers, she held it over her heart, and continued. “You must read it over me some day. Whatever may be the issue of all this fearful state of things, it will be a sweet thought to all or some of us. You, my dearest, will I hope read it, for then it will be in your voice in my memory forever, come what may!”
“But oh, my dear one,” he pleaded, “death is afar off from you.”
“Nay,” she said, holding up a warning hand. “I am deeper in death at this moment than if the weight of an earthly grave lay heavy upon me!”
“Oh, my wife, must I read it?” he said, before he began.
“It would comfort me, my husband!” was all she said, and he began to read when she had got the book ready.
How can I, how could anyone, tell of that strange scene, its solemnity, its gloom, its sadness, its horror, and withal, its sweetness. Even a sceptic, who can see nothing but a travesty of bitter truth in anything holy or emotional, would have been melted to the heart had he seen that little group of loving and devoted friends kneeling round that stricken and sorrowing lady; or heard the tender passion of her husband’s voice, as in tones so broken and emotional that often he had to pause, he read the simple and beautiful service from the Burial of the Dead. I cannot go on . . . words . . . and v-voices . . . f-fail m-me!
She was right in her instinct. Strange as it was, bizarre as it may hereafter seem even to us who felt its potent influence at the time, it comforted us much. And the silence, which showed Mrs. Harker’s coming relapse from her freedom of soul, did not seem so full of despair to any of us as we had dreaded.