“What!” said the steward of the Charleston ship, “then you must have known our cabin-boy, he belonged to the same vessel!”
“What was his name?” inquired Manuel.
“Tommy Ward! and as nice a little fellow as ever served the cabin; poor little fellow, we could hardly get him across.”
“Gracious! that’s my Tommy,” said Manuel. “Where is he? He loves me as he does his life, and would run to me as a child would to its father. Little as he is, he has been a friend through my severest trials, and a companion in my pleasures.”
“Ah, poor child! I’m afraid you wouldn’t know him now. He has suffered much since you saw him.”
“Is he not aboard? Where can I find him?” inquired Manuel, hastily.
“No, he is not aboard; he is at the hospital in Dennison street. Go there to-morrow, and you will find him.”
The scene of anguish.
We are sorry, that having traced the details of our narrative as they occurred, without adding for dramatic effect, we are constrained to conclude with a picture at once painful and harrowing to the feelings. We do this that we may be sustained by records, in what we have stated, rather than give one of those more popular conclusions which restore happiness and relieve the reader’s feelings.
Manuel retired to his berth, full of meditation. His little companion was before him, pictured in his child-like innocence and playfulness. He saw him in the youthful zeal and freshness of the night when he brought the well-laden haversack into his dreary cell, and which kind act was repaid by a night of suffering in the guard-house. There was too much of life and buoyancy in the picture his imagination called up, to reconcile the belief that any thing serious had befallen him; and yet the man spoke in a manner that aroused the intensity of his feelings. It was a whisper full of fearful forebodings, and filled his mind with anxious expectation. He could not sleep-the anxiety of his feelings had awakened a nervvous restlessness that awaited the return of morning with impatience.
Morning came. He proceeded to the hospital and rang the bell. An aged gentleman came to the door, and to his questions about Tommy being there, answered in the affirmative, and called an attendant to show him the ward in which the little sufferer lay. He followed the attendant, and after ascending several flights of stairs and following a dark, narrow passage nearly to its end, was shown into a small, single-room on the right. The result was suggestive in the very atmosphere, which had a singular effect upon the senses. The room, newly-whitewashed, was darkened by a green curtain tacked over the frame of the window. Standing near the window were two wooden-stools and a little table, upon which burned the faint light of a small taper, arranged in a cup of oil, and shedding its feeble flickers on the evidences of a sick-chamber. There, on a little, narrow cot, lay the death-like form of his once joyous companion, with the old nurse sitting beside him, watching his last pulsation. Her arm encircled his head, while his raven locks curled over his forehead, and shadowed the beauty of innocence even in death.