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have done all I can. Surely there is some one near
see, there! It is the face of a little child, and her long hair is on my face, and her hands upon my eyes! Oh, my pretty Marie — my own little girl;" and then there was a gradual sinking of words into fading whispers, a low soft laugh, and he lay as if in sleep.
“How happy!” thought Helen, as she watched his placid rest! "How happy could he die thus, with visions of his lost loved ones near him, and with the gentle touch of his child's fingers on his cheek!" Glad'y would she have prolonged for him this precious slumler, but the sense of a yet unfulfilled duty urging her to rouse him once again, she passed her hand over his forehead tenderly.
"Pardon forgiveness -- tell her that I forgave her, ard that I loved the children." These were the faltering sounds that, feebly uttered, told her that his soul stil lingered.
"One word more," she whispered; ' "all you have inquired of me I will faithfully perform, but —"
"No nore, my Helen, you have promised, and my mind is at rest."
“But for my satisfaction, dearest Philip, and, above all, for theirs, you have yet one more duty to perform. Think you that, with the unsupported testimony of my own assertions I can venture into the presence of those whose prejulices against me must be indeed insurmountable; or that I can claim a right to judge of actions committed by a lawful wife? No such daring were indeed beyond my power; but were the wishes you have expressed, and the commands you have laid upon me, to appear as written' evidence, and
attested by your signature, then indeed they might be induced to accept of reparation, even at hands which they must deem so vile as mine."
"You are right, Helen, and quick-witted as you ever were; but hasten with what you have to do, for life is ebbing fast. Place your hand upon my heart," and she, obeying him, knew that there was indeed no time to lose. From the moment that the medical attendant had pronounced the dread decree that rendered his further visits useless, the sufferer had shown a marked dislike to the approach of any person but the woman whom he called his “best friend,” and in whose presence alone he wished to die. And so it chanced that when, in furtherance of her object, she searched for writing materials, and found one important item wanting, she felt for a moment uncertain how to act. Rather, however, than agitate the dying man by taking active measures to remedy the deficiercy, she had recourse to the blank leaf of a large volune which stood on the table, and on it (little dreamiıg of the consequences which might ensue from her incautious act) she wrote the words which might eventually consign her to comparative poverty.
"And now, dear Philip,” said the persevering woman (whose energy in the cause of justice seemed untiring), “now I greatly fear that, unless you are able to sign this paper, the precaution we have taken will be unavailing. Will you not endeavvur to do so? Let me raise your arm; one effort, and it may be
She lowered the coverlid, and lifted up the powerless limb, so lately full of muscular vgour; but alas! it fell heavily and by its own weight upon the bed:
and he, sighing wearily, and murmuring those saddest of all words, "Too late,” felt, for the first time within his memory, large tears filling his eyes and rolling slowly down his cheeks.
Helen's heart well-nigh broke at the sight; but it was no moment for the indulgence of tender emotions: there was work for others to be done, and the time for weeping would come when she had naught else to do.
“Not too late, dear Philip," she said, encouragingly, “for 'one witness to the authenticity of this paper will be sufficient for our purpose; and your old servant Turner is, I am sure, close at hand, anxiously waiting in the hope that he may be permitted to see you once again."
It needed but the opening of the door to prove how well founded was her conjecture, for there in truth stood the faithful serving-man the constant attendant on his master, and who, despite of age (for he had numbered more than threescore years), had kept unwearied watch during the anxious hours of the night and day.
“Turner," said Helen to him on his entrance, "you are required to witness that this expression of Sir Philip's wishes has been written by me at his desire and from his dictation. Is this not so, dear Philip?” she asked; and on his signifying his assent, she proceeded to read aloud from the volume that she held, and on which she had hastily inscribed the few words the importance of which appeared to her so vital. The ceremony was soon over, and then Philip, turning his eyes towards the old man, said, kindly:
“Come near me, Turner. This will be nearly
your last service for your master, my old friend; but you have been faithful to us through three generations; and in your declining years you will be cared for when I am gone. Raise me up: do not fear to hurt me: I feel nothing now, and am helpless as an infant."
By their united efforts they raised him on the pillow; and then, a pen being placed between his fingers, Helen guided the hand that traced his signature upon the page. The old man next, with shaking fingers, traced his name, Richard Turner, as witness to the document, sobbing as he did so, and shedding the scant and hardly wrung tears of age.
A kiss was reverently pressed upon the cold and torpid hand of the master whom from childhood to manhood he had loved and respected; and then the two, who were so soon to part, were left once more alone. The room was restored to its former quiet; and all that was left for Helen was to count the feeble respirations, as the soul seemed struggling to escape its earthly tenement.
Night had closed upon the scene, and, the window being open to admit the air, a light wind swept into the chamber, raising the gauzy curtains, and bringing with it curious moths, that fluttered to the candle, and there perished. Suddenly there broke
the air a wail of mournful music, soft and low, and sounding almost unearthly to the overwrought imagination of that lonely watcher. It burst forth clear and thrilling, the melody being wildly beautiful — one of those exquisite Lebewohls which (when played by the music-loving people from whose hearts they spring) speak so eloquently to the sorrowing ones who are to part for ever.
The touching "Farewell" found its way through the mists of approaching dissolution to the dulled senses of the expiring man, and brought back his wandering soul to earth. For a single moment he was young again
young, with a loved wife near him, and gay children playing by his side: with happiness around him and hope before, and a path strewn with roses on which their feet would tread!
“Gertrude, my own,” he murmured; and Helen no longer grudged her those last thoughts, as the calm face grew calmer still beneath their soothing influence. And so, amidst those blissful memories, he might have yielded up his spirit, but for a disturbing noise of voices speaking loudly, as though in angry argument. Helen, fearing that the sound might in that solemn moment trouble his repose, gently disengaged her hand, and, half opening the door, beheld a sight that filled her with dismay. In the passage, nay, almost in the doorway, stood a lady, whom she knew to be Philip's cousin, and the “enemy” connected in his mind with the sorest trial in his life.
Her aspect was dark and menacing as, turning haughtily from Helen, she repeated her commands to the housekeeper (with whom she had been disputing) to admit her at once to the presence of Sir Philip. In a moment Helen was by his side again.
“Philip, dearest,” she whispered, “it is your cousin; will you not forgive, that you in your extremity may be forgiven likewise?”
“Forgive,” he muttered, and his words were scarcely audible, “who asks for pardon? She has kissed me let me die in peace!"
There was no time for further exhortation, for ere