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And—this touch of pride forgive me—where death sought
our gallant host— Where our stricken lines were weakest, there it ever waved
Bear it back and tell her fondly, brighter, purer, steadier far, 'Mid the crimson tide of battle, shone my life's fast setting star.
But forbear, dear Uncle Jared, when there's something more to tell,
When her lips with rapid blanching, bid you answer how I fell;
Teach your tongue the trick of slighting, though 'tis faithful to the rest,
Lest it say her brother's bullet is the bullet in my breast; But if it must be that she learn it despite your tenderest care, Twill soothe her bleeding heart to know my bayonet pricked the air.
Life is ebbing, Uncle Jared—my enlistment endeth here; — Death, the Conqueror has drafted—I can no more volunteer,—
But I hear the roll-call yonder and I go with willing feet— Through the shadows of the valley where victorious armies meet.
Raise the ensign, Uncle Jared! let it's dear folds o'er me
fall— Strength and Union for my country—and God's banner over
EVA'S DEATH— H. B. Stowe.
Eva, after this, declined rapidly: there was no more any doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded. Her beautiful room was avowedly a sick-room; and Miss Ophelia, day and night, performed the duties of a uurse, and never did her friends appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well-trained a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art which could promote neatness and comfort and keep out of sight every disagreeable incident of sickness,—with such a perfect sense of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy m remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors,—she was everything to St. Clare. They who had shrugged their shoulders at the little peculiarities and setnesses— Bo unlike the careless freedom of Southern manners—ac knowledged that now she was the exact person that was wanted.
Uncle Tom was much in Eva's room. The child suffered much from nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried; and it was Tom's greatest delight to garry hei little frail form in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now out into the veranda; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from the lake,—and the child felt freshest in the morning,—he would sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden, or sitting down in some of their old seats, sing to her their favorite old hymns.
Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was elighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him,—
"Oh, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! it pleases him; and you know it's all he can do now, and he wants to do something!"
"So do I, Eva!" said her father.
"Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me. You read to me,—you sit up nights; and Tom has only this one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than you can. He carries me so strong!"
The desire to do something was not confined to Tom. Every servant in the establishment showed the same feeling, and in their way did what they could. But the friend who knew most of Eva's own imaginings and foreshadowings was her faithful bearer, Tom. To him she said what she would not disturb her father by saying. To him she imparted those mysterious intimations which the soul feels as the cords begin to unbind ere it leaves its clay forever.
Tom, at last, would not sleep in his room, but lay all night in the outer veranda, ready to rouse at every call.
"Uncle Tom, what alive have you taken to sleeping anywhere and everywhere, like a dog, for? " said Miss Ophelia. "I thought you was one of the orderly sort that liked to lie in bed in a Christian way."
"I do, Miss Feely," said Tom, mysteriously. "I do; hut now—"
"Well, what now?"
"We mustn't speak loud; Mas'r St. Clare won't hear on't, but Miss Feely, you know there must be somebody watchin' for the bridegroom."
"What do you mean, Tom?"
'4 You know it says in Scripture, 'At midnight there wag a great cry made. Behold the bridegroom cometh.' That's what I'm spectin' now, every night, Miss Feely; and I couldn't sleep out o' hearin', no ways."
"Why, Uncle Tom, what makes you think so?"
"Miss Eva she talks to me. The Lord, He sends his messenger in the soul. I must be thar, Miss Feely; for when that ar blessed child goes into the kingdom they'll open the door so wide, we'll all get a look in at the glory, Miss Feely."
"Uncle Tom, did Miss Eva say she felt more unwell than usual, to-night?"
"No; but she telled me this morning she was comin' nearer—thar*s them that tells it to the child, Miss Feely. It's the angels,—' it's the trumpet sound afore the break o' day,'" said Tom, quoting from a favorite hymn.
This dialogue passed between Miss Ophelia and Tom, between ten and eleven, one evening, after her arrangements had all been made for the night, when on going to bolt hei outer door, she found Tom stretched along by it, in the outer veranda.
She was not nervous or impressible; but the soJemn, heart felt manner struck her. Eva had been unusually bright and cheerful that afternoon, and had sat raised in her bed, and looked over all her little trinkets and precious things, and designated the friends to whom she would have them given; and her manner was more animated, and her voice more natural, than they had known it for weeks. Her father had been in, in the evening, and had said that Eva appeared more like her former self than ever she had done since her sickness; and when he kissed her for the night, he said to Miss Ophelia, " Cousin, we may keep her with us after air she is certainly better;" and he had retired with a lighter heart in his bosom than ho had had there for weeks.
But at midnight,—strange, mystic hour!—when the veii between the frail present and the eternal future grows thin, —then came the messenger!
There was a sound in that chamber,. first of one who stepped quickly. It was Miss Ophelia, who had resolved to sit up all night with her little charge, and who at the turn of the night had discerned what experienced nurses significantly call "a change." The outer door was quickly opened and Tom, who was watching outside, was on the alert in a moment.
"Go for the doctor, Tom! Lose not a moment," said Miss Ophelia; and stepping across the room she rapped at St. Clare's door.
"Cousin," she said," I wish you would come."
Those words fell on his heart like clods upon a coffin. Why did they I He was up and in the room in an inst ant, and bending over Eva, who still slept.
What was it he saw that made his heart stand still? Why was no word spoken between the two? Thou canst say, who hast seen that same expression on the face dearest to thee,— that look indescribable, hopeless, unmistakable, that says to thee that thy beloved is no longer thine.
On the face of the child, however, there was no ghastly imprint,—only a high and almost sublime expression,—the overshadowing presence of spiritual natures, the dawning of immortal life in that childish soul.
They stood there so still, gazing upon her, that even the ticking of the watch seemed too loud. In a few moments Tom returned with the doctor. He entered, gave one look, and stood silent as the rest.
"When did this change take place?" said he, in a low whisper to Miss Ophelia.
"About the turn of the night," was the reply.
Marie, roused by the entrance of the doctor, appeared hurriedly, from the next room.
'' Augustine I Cousin!—Oh!—what!" she hurriedly began.
"Hush!" said St. Clare, hoarsely, " She is dying!"
Mammy heard the words and flew to awaken the servants. The house was soon roused,—lights were seen, footsteps heard, anxious faces thronged the veranda and looked tearfully through the glass doors; but St. Clare heard and said nothing,—he saw only that look on the face of the little sleeper.
"Oh, if she would only wake, and speak once more!" he said; and stooping over her, he spoke in her ear,—" Eva, darlmg!"
The large blue eyes unclosed,—a smile passed over her face; she tried to raise her head, and speak. "Do you know me, Eva?"
"Dear papa," said the child, with a last effort, throwing her amis about his neck. In a moment they dropped again; and as St. Clare raised his head he saw a spasm of mortal agony pass over the face; she struggled for breath, and threw up her little hands.
"O God, this is dreadful I" he said, turning away in agony, and wringing Tom's hand, scarce conscious what he was doing. "Oh, Tom, my boy, it is killing me!"
Tom had his master's hands between his own, and with tears streaming down his dark cheeks, looked up for help where he had always been used to look.
"Pray that this may be cut short I " said St. Clare: "this wrings my heart!"
"Oh, bless the Lord! it's over,—it's over, dear master!" said Tom. "Look at her."
The child lay panting on her pillows as one exhausted,— the large clear eyes rolled up and fixed. Ah, what said those eyes that spoke so much of heaven? Earth was past, and earthly pain; but so solemn, so mysterious, was the triumphant brightness of that face, that it checked even the sobs of sorrow. They pressed around her, in breathless stillness.
"Eva!" said St, Clare, gently. She did not hear.
"Oh, Eva, tell us what you see! What is it?" said her father.
A bright, a glorious smile passt'd over her face, and she said, brokenly, " Oh ! love—joy—peace!" gave one sigh, and passed from death unto life!
Farewell, beloved child! the bright, eternal doors have closed after thee; we shall see thy sweet face no more. Oh, woe for them who watched thy entrance into heaven, when they shall wake and find only the cold gray sky of daily life, and thou gone forever!