Once she thought of wakening Edith to share in her transports, but was withheld from doing so by a feeling that “Miggie” would not approve her work.
“It’s light as noonday,” she said, seating herself upon the bedside. “Can’t you see me now?”
“No, Nina, I shall never look on your dear face again until we meet in Heaven. There you will be my own. No one can come between us,” and the feeble arms wound themselves lovingly around the maiden, who laid her cheek against his feverish one, while her little fingers strayed once more amid the mass of disordered hair, pushing it back from the damp forehead, which she touched with her sweet lips.
“Nina,” and the voice was so low that Nina bent her down to catch the sound, “I am dying, darling. You are not afraid to stay with me till the last?”
“No,” she answered, “not afraid, but I do so wish you could see the splendid illumination. Twenty candles and fifteen lamps—the wicks of them all an inch in height. Oh, it’s grand!” and again Nina chuckled as she saw how the lurid blaze lit up the window panes with a sheet of flame which, flashing backward, danced upon the wall in many a grotesque form, and cast a reddish glow even upon the white face of the dying.
He was growing very restless now, for the last great struggle had commenced; the soul was waging a mighty battle with the body, and the conflict was a terrible one, wringing groans of agony from him and great tears from Nina, who forgot her bonfire in her grief. Once when the fever had scorched her veins and she had raved in mad delirium, Dr. Griswold had rocked her in his arms as he would have rocked a little child, and remembering this the insane desire seized on Nina to rock him, too, to sleep. But she could not lift him up, though she bent every energy to the task, and at last, passing one arm beneath his neck she managed to sit behind him, holding him in such a position that he rested easier, and his convulsive movements ceased entirely. With his head upon her bosom she rocked to and fro, uttering a low, cooing sound, as if soothing him to sleep.
“Sing, Nina, sing,” he whispered, and on the night air a mournful cadence rose, swelling sometimes so high that Edith moved uneasily upon her pillow, while even Phillis stretched out a hand as if about to awaken.
Then the music changed to a plaintive German song, and Edith dreamed of Bingen on the Rhine, while Dr. Griswold listened eagerly, whispering at intervals,
“Precious Nina, blessed dove, sing on—sing till I am at rest.”
This was sufficient for Nina, and one after another she warbled the wild songs she knew he loved the best, while the lamps upon the table and the candles upon the floor flickered and flamed and cast their light far out into the yard, where the August rain was falling, and where more than one bird, startled from its slumbers, looked up to see whence came the fitful glare, wondering, it may be, at the solemn dirge, floating out into the darkness far beyond the light.