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Yes. There, before those that stood around, the doctor, the nurse, whose duty led them to such sad scenes as these, and who, this soul fled away, would hasten away to another bedside to tend and watch ; in presence of the kind lady she had learnt now to love ; above all, in view of him lying there, the good, generous Great-heart thus stricken down, thus leaving her, for ever, Dot, the fragile, timid, could hold her own and stand bravely by whilst the bold Trixie lay upon the bed, moaning and helpless. Afterwards she would give way and be prostrate too, truly. Then would she say of herself that all joy had passed away from her life; that she also was ready and waiting for the end. But as she stood there? no.
A dead silence fell on all, the ticking of a distant clock alone piercing the stillness, or when the sufferer was rent by a hacking cough, and, supported by kindly aid, he gasped for breath ; after that he would lie back for a while and rest. But he raised a feeble hand
feeble hand at length and beckoned the doctor to him, whispering something in his ear.
He signed to the nurse and the lady (they had said good-bye before) to leave ; then he himself followed, to be close within call.
Thus were those three once more alone together. Oh, how different the surroundings, the causes of the meeting! Before, all happiness, content; now, only bitter sorrow and lament, with the dim foreshadowing of boundless grief.
As the door closed, Dot was in Great-heart's arms, her head again upon his breast, her lips to his, in one fond long embrace.
Then came the feeble voice, from which all strength had fled away.
"You see, love, the time has come round for us three to part ; to say good-bye to one another. I had hoped myself to have taken you down below again, but it has been willed otherwise ; others will see to that now. Of course you know all ? How I have been ill, stricken down with fever; how it has pleased the Almighty that I should not recover from it, but should go to Him presently, leave this world with all its cares and sorrows behind, for ever. Is it not a blessed thing to have to tell you of, sweet Dot? Instead of going away, as so many do, unprepared, suddenly, perchance in the midst of sin, without the gentle chastening or the glorious repentance that has come to me; to sink away thus, ready, with arms outstretched, at peace with all, longing for the end, happy ? Surely that is a bliss worth all the dull misery of remorse ! (Oh the heavenly light in those sunken eyes then !) But listen, sweet
child, and answer me.
You would not mingle one atom of alloy with this earthly parting? You would not willingly cause one grain of regret to enter your Great-heart's soul, and thus dim his happiness at the last ? You would wish him to leave you in this great joy at going without one single bitter drop of pain ?"
Dot could only murmur, with her lips to his, “ Yes, yes, yes, my love," to all.
The dying man raised himself with an effort, to give such force as was within him to these words :
“ Promise me once more then, my little Dot, and darling Trixie too," as he wound an round that prostrate child, “promise that in that future which is before you both, when all those full powers come, which will enable you to mingle here, unseen, and work your mystic spells, that every action, every effort shall tend in one direction, with but one steadfast object, the influence after good. That no first failure shall turn you back, but that always, without ceasing, unflinching, you will seek the heart of man and whisper there only those words of hope, patience, comfort, tell it of the bright reward which must surely come if they are but good.”
Trixie had crept up now and hidden her face
where Dot's had lain so long. The answer came as they, with bowed heads, spoke not alone with pale lips, and sorrow-stricken faces, but by their tear-dimmed eyes, “We promise, we promise, love !"
An unutterable look of joy passed over the man's face, as a deep sigh fell upon the air, and he murmured, “I am ready now.”
He sank back, and the door behind opened slowly as the figures returned. Still he clasped those little forms to him as in solemn silence all awaited the end.
But before it quite came he motioned for a book that lay open beside him. A page was turned down upon a certain passage he much loved to quote :
“And the night shall be filled with music,
There came no sound ; but those were the last words upon the dear lips of Great-heart as his spirit fed away to that land he so pined after, the which he had been so long prepared to enter.
Spottie and Croaker waited below.
“They should be here by this time,” said Spottie concernedly.
“They ought indeed," re-echoed Croaker. “Their queen may come this way any day now.”
“What would happen if they missed her ?” cried the lady-frog.
“ It will be all right," consoled the male one.
There was a rustle. The young ones were back again : nymphets, green and dripping.
They flew to their parents.
But why, as the arms were twined about their necks, were bitter tears mingled with those kisses which fell upon the old ones' cheeks. These were not tears of joy; nor were the looks in the pale faces. How was this, grief and sorrow in those young hearts already ? Was this all the result of that visit up to earth ?
Spottie and Croaker were full of inquiring pity, and solace.
“ He is dead! he is gone !" came back the sad lament.
Then they all sat down, and mingled their tears together.