“Will she live? My mother never told me how serious it was, or I should have returned at once.”
“We hope so, sir, but—” And there Cicely’s voice failed, as she hid her face and sobbed.
“My dear girl, don’t give way. Keep up your heart, hope, pray, will that the darling shall live, and that may do some good. We can’t let her go! we won’t let her go! Let me see her; I know much of fevers far worse than this, and might be able to suggest something,” begged Mr. Dover, throwing down his hat, and waving an immense fan with such an air of resolution and cheery good-will that tired Cis felt comforted at once, and led the way upstairs entirely forgetting the great feud, as he did.
At the threshold of the door he paused, till the girl had whispered his name. Miss Penny, always a gentlewoman, rose at once and went to meet him, but Miss Henny did not even seem to see him, for just then, as if dimly feeling that her friend was near, Rosy stirred, and gave a long sigh.
Silently the three stood and looked at the beloved little creature lying there in the mysterious shadow of death, and they so helpless to keep her if the hour for departure had come.
“God help us!” sighed pious Miss Penny, folding her old hands, as if they did that often now.
“Drifting away, I fear;” and Miss Henny’s plump face looked almost beautiful, with the tears on it, as she leaned nearer to listen to the faint breath at the child’s lips.
“No; we will keep her, please the Lord! If we can make her sleep quietly for the next few hours she is safe. Let me try. Fan slowly with this, Miss Henrietta, and you, dear lady, pray that the precious little life may be given us.”
As he spoke, Mr. Dover gave the great fan to Miss Henny, took the small cold hands in his, and sitting on the bedside held them close in his large warm ones, as if trying to pour life and strength into the frail body, as his eyes, fixed on the half-opened ones, seemed to call back the innocent soul hovering on the threshold of its prison, like the butterfly poised upon the chrysalis before it soars away.
Miss Penny knelt down near by, and laying her white head on the other pillow, again besought God to spare this treasure to the father and mother over the sea. How long they remained so none of them ever knew, silent and motionless but for the slow waving of the noiseless fan, which went to and fro like the wing of a great white bird, as if Miss Henny’s stout arm could never tire. Miss Penny was so still she seemed to be asleep. Mr. Dover never stirred, but grew paler as the minutes passed; and Cicely, creeping now and then to look in and steal away, saw strange power in the black eyes that seemed to hold the fluttering spirit of the little child by the love and longing that made them both tender and commanding.
A level ray of sunlight stole through the curtain at last and turned the tangles of bright hair to pure gold. Miss Henny rose to shut it out, and as if her movement broke the spell, Rosy took a long full breath, turned on the pillow, and putting one hand under her cheek, seemed to fall asleep as naturally as she used to do when well. Miss Penny looked up, touched the child’s forehead, and whispered, with a look of gratitude as bright as if the sunshine had touched her also,—