“Not yet, ma’am.”
“If he comes, send him in at once; but I feel sure he can do the poor woman no good now. Her life is nearly done.” Maum Isbel sighed, and dropped a tear at these ominous words; and then she shambled along into ward number two, to inspect the washing that Mark Antony Briggs, a colored man of her acquaintance, was doing there. There she grew garrulous over the demerits of the work, and soon forgot her emotion and her sympathy for the invalid. In the meantime, Mrs. Marshall hastened to the sick-room, and softly entered.
By the bedside sat the pale-faced little child, holding her mother’s hand, and bestowing upon it kiss after kiss of fervent love.
“Mamma, here is good Mrs. Marshall come in again. Mamma! mamma! wake up,” said the little girl as Mrs. Marshall entered.
Startled by the sound, the sick woman roused from her uneasy slumber, and turned her heavenly dark eyes, so lustrous and bright, full upon the face of the matron. Her eyes for an instant flashed, then filled with tears, and dropped again. There was a strange, mysterious expression in that one gaze, that thrilled the heart of Eliza, and filled it with sorrow. “What can I do for you now, dear Mrs. Moses?” she said with feeling. “The doctor will be here soon.”
Lifting her emaciated arms, her body shaking convulsively, the invalid said, in a tone shrill with emotion, “Come here! Come near to me, Lizzie Heartwell! Come to these dying arms of mine! I can hold out no longer!” Confounded at these singular words, and the more singular demonstration of an undemonstrative woman, Mrs. Marshall shrank back, and the invalid continued, “Come to me; nearer! nearer! I can hold out no longer. God knows how hard I’ve struggled! Lizzie Heartwell, don’t you know me? Have you never suspected your long-lost Leah? Have my disgrace and degradation wiped out my identity? In Heaven’s name, is there not one trace of resemblance left to the friend who loved you so much in our happy school days? O Lizzie Heartwell, I am indeed your long-lost Leah! Your unfortunate, heart-broken Leah! Your forsaken, despised Leah! Your dying, dying Leah Mordecai! Is there no trace left, not one? Here, see this-this hated scar. Do you know me now, dear Lizzie?”
Lizzie, who, terrified at these startling words, had stood like a statue, sprang forward when the pale hand pushed back the hair and revealed the scar, exclaiming:
“Is it you, my long-loved Leah, my own Leah Mordecai? In pity’s name, why this disguise? Why this cruel deception upon me, upon your faithful Lizzie, whose heart, like your own, has been wounded and bleeding so long? Tell me, dearest, tell me while you can; tell Lizzie Heartwell again of your sorrows.”