“Aunt Hannah will stay with me to-night,” Nina said to Arthur the next day, referring to an old negress who had taken cure of her when a child; and Arthur yielded to her request the more willingly, because of his own weariness.
Accordingly old Hannah was installed watcher in the sick room, receiving orders that her patient should not on any account be permitted to talk more than was absolutely necessary. Nina heard this injunction of Arthur and a smile of cunning flitted across her face as she thought how she would turn it to her own advantage in case Hannah refused to comply with her request, which she made as soon as they were left alone.
Hannah must first prop her up in bed, she said, and then give her her port-folio, paper, pen and ink. As she expected, the negress objected at once, bidding her be still, but Nina declared her intention of talking as fast and as loudly as she could, until her wish was gratified. Then Hannah threatened calling Arthur, thereupon the willful little lady rejoined, “I’ll scream like murder, if you do, and burst every single blood-vessel I’ve got, so bring me the paper, please, or shall I got it myself,” and she made a motion as if the would leap upon the floor, while poor old Hannah, regretting the task she had undertaken, was compelled to submit and bring the writing materials as desired.
“Now you go to sleep,” Nina said coaxingly, and as old Hannah found but little difficulty in obeying the command, Nina was left to herself while she wrote that long, long message, a portion of which we give below.
“Dear Mr. Richard:
“Poor blind man! Nina is so sorry for you to-night, because she knows that what she has to tell you will crush the strong life all out of your big heart, and leave it as cold and dead as she will be when Victor reads this to you. There won’t be any Nina then, for Miggie and Arthur, and a heap more, will have gone with their way out where both my mothers are lying, and Miggie’ll cry, I reckon when she hears the gravel stones ruttling down just over my head, but I shall know they cannot hit me, for the coffin-lid will be between, and Nina’ll lie so still. No more pain; no more buzzing; no more headache; no more darkness; won’t it be grand, the rest I’m going to. I shan’t be crazy in Heaven. Arthur says so; and he knows.
“Poor Arthur! It is of him and Miggie I am writing to you, if I ever can get to them; and Richard; when you hear this read, Nina’ll be there with you; but you can’t see her, because you’re blind, and you couldn’t see if you wern’t, but she’ll be there just the same. She’ll sit upon your knee, and wind her arms around your neck, so as to comfort you when the great cry comes in, the crash like the breaking up of the winter ice on the northern ponds, and when you feel yourself all crushed like they are in the