A slight sound from the apartment adjoining the parlour attracted my attention. Had Lily stopped there to read her letter instead of going to her chamber? and had she, consequently, overheard our foolish remarks? The door was slightly ajar, and I pushed it open. There was a slight rustling, but I thought it only the waving of the window curtain.
A half-hour passed away, and Lily had not returned to us. I began to be alarmed, and my companions partook of my fears. Had she overheard us? and, if so, what must that sensitive heart be suffering?
I went out to call her; but half way up the flight of stairs I saw the letter from her father lying on the carpet, unopened, though it had been torn from its envelope. I know not how I found my way up stairs, but I stood by Lily’s bed.
Merciful Heaven! what a sight was presented to my gaze. The white covering was stained with blood, and from those cold, pale lips the red drops were fast falling. Her eyes turned slowly till they rested on mine. What a look was that! I see it now; so full of grief; so full of reproach; and then they closed. I thought her dead, and my frantic shrieks called my companions to her bedside. They aroused her, too, from that swoon, but they did not awaken her to consciousness. She never more turned a look of recognition on us, or seemed to be aware that we were near her. Through all that night, so long and so full of agony to us, she was murmuring, incoherently, to herself,
“They did not know I was dying,” she would say; “that I have been dying ever since I have been here! They have not dreamed of my sufferings through these long months; I could not tell them, for I believed they loved me, and I would not grieve them. But no one loves me—not one in the wide world cares for me! My mother, you will not have forgotten your child when you meet me in the spirit-land! Their loved tones made me deaf to the voice which was calling to me from the grave, and the sunshine of his smile broke through the dark cloud which death was drawing around me. Oh, I would have lived, but death, I thought, would lose half its bitterness, could I breathe my last in their arms! But, now, I must die alone! Oh, how shall I reach my home—how shall I ever reach my home?”
Dear Lily! The passage was short; when morning dawned, she was there.
A BOON of inestimable worth is a calm, thankful heart—a treasure that few, very few, possess. We once met an old man, whose face was a mixture of smiles and sunshine. Wherever he went, he succeeded in making everybody about him as pleasant as himself.
Said we, one day,—for he was one of that delightful class whom everybody feels privileged to be related to,—“Uncle, uncle, how is it that you contrive to be so happy? Why is your face so cheerful, when so many thousands are craped over with a most uncomfortable gloominess?”