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13 January, 2012
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Chapter XXVIII: Reunion
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Week after week glided away in the St. Clare mansion, and
the waves of life settled back to their usual flow, where that
little bark had gone down. For how imperiously, how coolly, in
disregard of all one's feeling, does the hard, cold, uninteresting
course of daily realities move on! Still must we eat, and drink,
and sleep, and wake again,--still bargain, buy, sell, ask and answer
questions,--pursue, in short, a thousand shadows, though all interest
in them be over; the cold mechanical habit of living remaining,
after all vital interest in it has fled.
All the interests and hopes of St. Clare's life had
unconsciously wound themselves around this child. It was for Eva
that he had managed his property; it was for Eva that he had planned
the disposal of his time; and, to do this and that for Eva,--to
buy, improve, alter, and arrange, or dispose something for her,--had
been so long his habit, that now she was gone, there seemed nothing
to be thought of, and nothing to be done.
True, there was another life,--a life which, once believed
in, stands as a solemn, significant figure before the otherwise
unmeaning ciphers of time, changing them to orders of mysterious,
untold value. St. Clare knew this well; and often, in many a weary
hour, he heard that slender, childish voice calling him to the
skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life;
but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him,--he could not arise.
He had one of those natures which could better and more clearly
conceive of religious things from its own perceptions and
instincts, than many a matter-of-fact and practical Christian.
The gift to appreciate and the sense to feel the finer shades and
relations of moral things, often seems an attribute of those whose
whole life shows a careless disregard of them. Hence Moore, Byron,
Goethe, often speak words more wisely descriptive of the true
religious sentiment, than another man, whose whole life is governed
by it. In such minds, disregard of religion is a more fearful
treason,--a more deadly sin.
St. Clare had never pretended to govern himself by any
religious obligation; and a certain fineness of nature gave him
such an instinctive view of the extent of the requirements of
Christianity, that he shrank, by anticipation, from what he felt
would be the exactions of his own conscience, if he once did resolve
to assume them. For, so inconsistent is human nature, especially
in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all seems better
than to undertake and come short.
Still St. Clare was, in many respects, another man. He read
his little Eva's Bible seriously and honestly; he thought more
soberly and practically of his relations to his servants,--enough
to make him extremely dissatisfied with both his past and present
course; and one thing he did, soon after his return to New Orleans,
and that was to commence the legal steps necessary to Tom's
emancipation, which was to be perfected as soon as he could get
through the necessary formalities. Meantime, he attached himself
to Tom more and more, every day. In all the wide world, there was
nothing that seemed to remind him so much of Eva; and he would
insist on keeping him constantly about him, and, fastidious and
unapproachable as he was with regard to his deeper feelings, he
almost thought aloud to Tom. Nor would any one have wondered at
it, who had seen the expression of affection and devotion with
which Tom continually followed his young master.
"Well, Tom," said St. Clare, the day after he had commenced
the legal formalities for his enfranchisement, "I'm going to make
a free man of you;--so have your trunk packed, and get ready to
set out for Kentuck."
The sudden light of joy that shone in Tom's face as he raised
his hands to heaven, his emphatic "Bless the Lord!" rather
discomposed St. Clare; he did not like it that Tom should be so
ready to leave him.
"You haven't had such very bad times here, that you need
be in such a rapture, Tom," he said drily.
"No, no, Mas'r! 'tan't that,--it's bein' a freeman! that's
what I'm joyin' for."
"Why, Tom, don't you think, for your own part, you've been
better off than to be free?"
"No, indeed, Mas'r St. Clare," said Tom, with a flash of energy.
"Why, Tom, you couldn't possibly have earned, by your work,
such clothes and such living as I have given you."
"Knows all that, Mas'r St. Clare; Mas'r's been too good; but,
Mas'r, I'd rather have poor clothes, poor house, poor everything,
and have 'em mine, than have the best, and have 'em any man's
else,--I had so, Mas'r; I think it's natur, Mas'r."
"I suppose so, Tom, and you'll be going off and leaving me,
in a month or so," he added, rather discontentedly. "Though why
you shouldn't, no mortal knows," he said, in a gayer tone; and,
getting up, he began to walk the floor.
"Not while Mas'r is in trouble," said Tom. "I'll stay with
Mas'r as long as he wants me,--so as I can be any use."
"Not while I'm in trouble, Tom?" said St. Clare, looking sadly
out of the window. . . . "And when will my trouble be over?"
"When Mas'r St. Clare's a Christian," said Tom.
"And you really mean to stay by till that day comes?" said
St. Clare, half smiling, as he turned from the window, and laid
his hand on Tom's shoulder. "Ah, Tom, you soft, silly boy!
I won't keep you till that day. Go home to your wife and children,
and give my love to all."
"I 's faith to believe that day will come," said Tom, earnestly,
and with tears in his eyes; "the Lord has a work for Mas'r."
"A work, hey?" said St. Clare, "well, now, Tom, give me
your views on what sort of a work it is;--let's hear."
"Why, even a poor fellow like me has a work from the Lord; and
Mas'r St. Clare, that has larnin, and riches, and friends,--how
much he might do for the Lord!"
"Tom, you seem to think the Lord needs a great deal done
for him," said St. Clare, smiling.
"We does for the Lord when we does for his critturs," said Tom.
"Good theology, Tom; better than Dr. B. preaches, I dare
swear," said St. Clare.
The conversation was here interrupted by the announcement
of some visitors.
Marie St. Clare felt the loss of Eva as deeply as she could
feel anything; and, as she was a woman that had a great faculty of
making everybody unhappy when she was, her immediate attendants
had still stronger reason to regret the loss of their young mistress,
whose winning ways and gentle intercessions had so often been a
shield to them from the tyrannical and selfish exactions of her
mother. Poor old Mammy, in particular, whose heart, severed from
all natural domestic ties, had consoled itself with this one
beautiful being, was almost heart-broken. She cried day and night,
and was, from excess of sorrow, less skilful and alert in her
ministrations of her mistress than usual, which drew down a
constant storm of invectives on her defenceless head.
Miss Ophelia felt the loss; but, in her good and honest heart,
it bore fruit unto everlasting life. She was more softened,
more gentle; and, though equally assiduous in every duty, it was
with a chastened and quiet air, as one who communed with her own
heart not in vain. She was more diligent in teaching Topsy,--taught
her mainly from the Bible,--did not any longer shrink from her
touch, or manifest an ill-repressed disgust, because she felt none.
She viewed her now through the softened medium that Eva's hand had
first held before her eyes, and saw in her only an immortal creature,
whom God had sent to be led by her to glory and virtue. Topsy did
not become at once a saint; but the life and death of Eva did work
a marked change in her. The callous indifference was gone; there
was now sensibility, hope, desire, and the striving for good,--a
strife irregular, interrupted, suspended oft, but yet renewed again.
One day, when Topsy had been sent for by Miss Ophelia, she
came, hastily thrusting something into her bosom.
"What are you doing there, you limb? You've been stealing
something, I'll be bound," said the imperious little Rosa, who had
been sent to call her, seizing her, at the same time, roughly by
"You go 'long, Miss Rosa!" said Topsy, pulling from her;
"'tan't none o' your business!"
"None o' your sa'ce!" said Rosa, "I saw you hiding something,--I
know yer tricks," and Rosa seized her arm, and tried to force her
hand into her bosom, while Topsy, enraged, kicked and fought
valiantly for what she considered her rights. The clamor and
confusion of the battle drew Miss Ophelia and St. Clare both
to the spot.
"She's been stealing!" said Rosa.
"I han't, neither!" vociferated Topsy, sobbing with passion.
"Give me that, whatever it is!" said Miss Ophelia, firmly.
Topsy hesitated; but, on a second order, pulled out of her
bosom a little parcel done up in the foot of one of her own
Miss Ophelia turned it out. There was a small book, which
had been given to Topsy by Eva, containing a single verse of
Scripture, arranged for every day in the year, and in a paper the
curl of hair that she had given her on that memorable day when she
had taken her last farewell.
St. Clare was a good deal affected at the sight of it; the
little book had been rolled in a long strip of black crape, torn
from the funeral weeds.
"What did you wrap this round the book for?" said St.
Clare, holding up the crape.
"Cause,--cause,--cause 't was Miss Eva. O, don't take 'em
away, please!" she said; and, sitting flat down on the floor, and
putting her apron over her head, she began to sob vehemently.
It was a curious mixture of the pathetic and the ludicrous,--the
little old stockings,--black crape,--text-book,--fair, soft curl,--and
Topsy's utter distress.
St. Clare smiled; but there were tears in his eyes, as he said,
"Come, come,--don't cry; you shall have them!" and, putting
them together, he threw them into her lap, and drew Miss Ophelia
with him into the parlor.
"I really think you can make something of that concern,"
he said, pointing with his thumb backward over his shoulder.
"Any mind that is capable of a real sorrow is capable of good.
You must try and do something with her."
"The child has improved greatly," said Miss Ophelia. "I have
great hopes of her; but, Augustine," she said, laying her hand
on his arm, "one thing I want to ask; whose is this child to
be?--yours or mine?"
"Why, I gave her to you, " said Augustine.
"But not legally;--I want her to be mine legally," said
"Whew! cousin," said Augustine. "What will the Abolition
Society think? They'll have a day of fasting appointed for this
backsliding, if you become a slaveholder!"
"O, nonsense! I want her mine, that I may have a right to
take her to the free States, and give her her liberty, that all I
am trying to do be not undone."
"O, cousin, what an awful 'doing evil that good may come'!
I can't encourage it."
"I don't want you to joke, but to reason," said Miss Ophelia.
"There is no use in my trying to make this child a Christian child,
unless I save her from all the chances and reverses of slavery;
and, if you really are willing I should have her, I want you to
give me a deed of gift, or some legal paper."
"Well, well," said St. Clare, "I will;" and he sat down,
and unfolded a newspaper to read.
"But I want it done now," said Miss Ophelia.
"What's your hurry?"
"Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing
in," said Miss Ophelia. "Come, now, here's paper, pen, and ink;
just write a paper."
St. Clare, like most men of his class of mind, cordially
hated the present tense of action, generally; and, therefore, he
was considerably annoyed by Miss Ophelia's downrightness.
"Why, what's the matter?" said he. "Can't you take my word?
One would think you had taken lessons of the Jews, coming at
a fellow so!"
"I want to make sure of it," said Miss Ophelia. "You may die,
or fail, and then Topsy be hustled off to auction, spite of
all I can do."
"Really, you are quite provident. Well, seeing I'm in the
hands of a Yankee, there is nothing for it but to concede;" and
St. Clare rapidly wrote off a deed of gift, which, as he was well
versed in the forms of law, he could easily do, and signed his name
to it in sprawling capitals, concluding by a tremendous flourish.
"There, isn't that black and white, now, Miss Vermont?" he
said, as he handed it to her.
"Good boy," said Miss Ophelia, smiling. "But must it not
"O, bother!--yes. Here," he said, opening the door into
Marie's apartment, "Marie, Cousin wants your autograph; just put
your name down here."
"What's this?" said Marie, as she ran over the paper.
"Ridiculous! I thought Cousin was too pious for such horrid things,"
she added, as she carelessly wrote her name; "but, if she has a
fancy for that article, I am sure she's welcome."
"There, now, she's yours, body and soul," said St. Clare,
handing the paper.
"No more mine now than she was before," Miss Ophelia.
"Nobody but God has a right to give her to me; but I can protect
"Well, she's yours by a fiction of law, then," said St. Clare,
as he turned back into the parlor, and sat down to his paper.
Miss Ophelia, who seldom sat much in Marie's company, followed
him into the parlor, having first carefully laid away the paper.
"Augustine," she said, suddenly, as she sat knitting, "have you
ever made any provision for your servants, in case of your death?"
"No," said St. Clare, as he read on.
"Then all your indulgence to them may prove a great cruelty,
by and by."
St. Clare had often thought the same thing himself; but he
"Well, I mean to make a provision, by and by."
"When?" said Miss Ophelia.
"O, one of these days."
"What if you should die first?"
"Cousin, what's the matter?" said St. Clare, laying down his
paper and looking at her. "Do you think I show symptoms
of yellow fever or cholera, that you are making post mortem
arrangements with such zeal?"
"'In the midst of life we are in death,'" said Miss Ophelia.
St. Clare rose up, and laying the paper down, carelessly,
walked to the door that stood open on the verandah, to put an end
to a conversation that was not agreeable to him. Mechanically, he
repeated the last word again,--"Death!"--and, as he leaned against
the railings, and watched the sparkling water as it rose and fell
in the fountain; and, as in a dim and dizzy haze, saw flowers and
trees and vases of the courts, he repeated, again the mystic word
so common in every mouth, yet of such fearful power,--"DEATH!"
"Strange that there should be such a word," he said, "and such a
thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and
beautiful, full of hopes, desires and wants, one day, and the next
be gone, utterly gone, and forever!"
It was a warm, golden evening; and, as he walked to the other
end of the verandah, he saw Tom busily intent on his Bible,
pointing, as he did so, with his finger to each successive word,
and whispering them to himself with an earnest air.
"Want me to read to you, Tom?" said St. Clare, seating
himself carelessly by him.
"If Mas'r pleases," said Tom, gratefully, "Mas'r makes it
so much plainer."
St. Clare took the book and glanced at the place, and began
reading one of the passages which Tom had designated by the heavy
marks around it. It ran as follows:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his
holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his
glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall
separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep
from the goats." St. Clare read on in an animated voice, till he
came to the last of the verses.
"Then shall the king say unto him on his left hand, Depart
from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire: for I was an hungered,
and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I
was a stranger, an ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not:
I was sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they
answer unto Him, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or
a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister
unto thee? Then shall he say unto them, Inasmuch as ye did it not
to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me."
St. Clare seemed struck with this last passage, for he read it
twice,--the second time slowly, and as if he were revolving the
words in his mind.
"Tom," he said, "these folks that get such hard measure seem
to have been doing just what I have,--living good, easy,
respectable lives; and not troubling themselves to inquire how many
of their brethren were hungry or athirst, or sick, or in prison."
Tom did not answer.
St. Clare rose up and walked thoughtfully up and down the
verandah, seeming to forget everything in his own thoughts; so
absorbed was he, that Tom had to remind him twice that the teabell
had rung, before he could get his attention.
St. Clare was absent and thoughtful, all tea-time. After tea,
he and Marie and Miss Ophelia took possession of the parlor
almost in silence.
Marie disposed herself on a lounge, under a silken mosquito
curtain, and was soon sound asleep. Miss Ophelia silently busied
herself with her knitting. St. Clare sat down to the piano, and
began playing a soft and melancholy movement with the AEolian
accompaniment. He seemed in a deep reverie, and to be soliloquizing
to himself by music. After a little, he opened one of the drawers,
took out an old music-book whose leaves were yellow with age, and
began turning it over.
"There," he said to Miss Ophelia, "this was one of my mother's
books,--and here is her handwriting,--come and look at it.
She copied and arranged this from Mozart's Requiem." Miss
Ophelia came accordingly.
"It was something she used to sing often," said St. Clare.
"I think I can hear her now."
He struck a few majestic chords, and began singing that
grand old Latin piece, the "Dies Irae."
Tom, who was listening in the outer verandah, was drawn by the
sound to the very door, where he stood earnestly. He did not
understand the words, of course; but the music and manner of singing
appeared to affect him strongly, especially when St. Clare sang
the more pathetic parts. Tom would have sympathized more heartily,
if he had known the meaning of the beautiful words:
Recordare Jesu pie
Quod sum causa tuar viae
Ne me perdas, illa die
Querens me sedisti lassus
Redemisti crucem passus
Tantus laor non sit cassus.
[ These lines have been thus rather inadequately translated:
Think, O Jesus, for what reason
Thou endured'st earth's spite and treason,
Nor me lose, in that dread season;
Seeking me, thy wom feet hasted,
On the cross thy soul death tasted,
Let not all these toils be wasted.
(Mrs. Stowe's note.)]
St. Clare threw a deep and pathetic expression into the words;
for the shadowy veil of years seemed drawn away, and he seemed
to hear his mother's voice leading his. Voice and instrument
seemed both living, and threw out with vivid sympathy those strains
which the ethereal Mozart first conceived as his own dying requiem.
When St. Clare had done singing, he sat leaning his head upon his
hand a few moments, and then began walking up and down the floor.
"What a sublime conception is that of a last judgment!"
said he,--"a righting of all the wrongs of ages!--a solving of
all moral problems, by an unanswerable wisdom! It is, indeed,
a wonderful image."
"It is a fearful one to us," said Miss Ophelia.
"It ought to be to me, I suppose," said St. Clare stopping,
thoughtfully. "I was reading to Tom, this afternoon, that chapter
in Matthew that gives an account of it, and I have been quite struck
with it. One should have expected some terrible enormities charged
to those who are excluded from Heaven, as the reason; but no,--they
are condemned for not doing positive good, as if that included
every possible harm."
"Perhaps," said Miss Ophelia, "it is impossible for a person
who does no good not to do harm."
"And what," said St. Clare, speaking abstractedly, but with
deep feeling, "what shall be said of one whose own heart, whose
education, and the wants of society, have called in vain to some
noble purpose; who has floated on, a dreamy, neutral spectator of
the struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man, when he should have been
"I should say," said Miss Ophelia, "that he ought to repent,
and begin now."
"Always practical and to the point!" said St. Clare, his face
breaking out into a smile. "You never leave me any time for
general reflections, Cousin; you always bring me short up against
the actual present; you have a kind of eternal now, always in
"Now is all the time I have anything to do with," said
"Dear little Eva,--poor child!" said St. Clare, "she had
set her little simple soul on a good work for me."
It was the first time since Eva's death that he had ever
said as many words as these to her, and he spoke now evidently
repressing very strong feeling.
"My view of Christianity is such," he added, "that I think no
man can consistently profess it without throwing the whole weight
of his being against this monstrous system of injustice that lies
at the foundation of all our society; and, if need be, sacrificing
himself in the battle. That is, I mean that I could not be a
Christian otherwise, though I have certainly had intercourse with
a great many enlightened and Christian people who did no such thing;
and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject,
their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have
engendered in me more scepticism than any other thing."
"If you knew all this," said Miss Ophelia, "why didn't you
"O, because I have had only that kind of benevolence which
consists in lying on a sofa, and cursing the church and clergy for
not being martyrs and confessors. One can see, you know, very
easily, how others ought to be martyrs."
"Well, are you going to do differently now?" said Miss Ophelia.
"God only knows the future," said St. Clare. "I am braver than
I was, because I have lost all; and he who has nothing to lose
can afford all risks."
"And what are you going to do?"
"My duty, I hope, to the poor and lowly, as fast as I find
it out," said St. Clare, "beginning with my own servants, for whom
I have yet done nothing; and, perhaps, at some future day, it may
appear that I can do something for a whole class; something to save
my country from the disgrace of that false position in which she
now stands before all civilized nations."
"Do you suppose it possible that a nation ever will
voluntarily emancipate?" said Miss Ophelia.
"I don't know," said St. Clare. "This is a day of great deeds.
Heroism and disinterestedness are rising up, here and there,
in the earth. The Hungarian nobles set free millions of serfs,
at an immense pecuniary loss; and, perhaps, among us may be
found generous spirits, who do not estimate honor and justice
by dollars and cents."
"I hardly think so," said Miss Ophelia.
"But, suppose we should rise up tomorrow and emancipate, who would
educate these millions, and teach them how to use their freedom?
They never would rise to do much among us. The fact is, we are
too lazy and unpractical, ourselves, ever to give them much of
an idea of that industry and energy which is necessary to form
them into men. They will have to go north, where labor is the
fashion,--the universal custom; and tell me, now, is there enough
Christian philanthropy, among your northern states, to bear with
the process of their education and elevation? You send thousands
of dollars to foreign missions; but could you endure to have the
heathen sent into your towns and villages, and give your time, and
thoughts, and money, to raise them to the Christian standard?
That's what I want to know. If we emancipate, are you willing
to educate? How many families, in your town, would take a negro
man and woman, teach them, bear with them, and seek to make
them Christians? How many merchants would take Adolph, if I wanted
to make him a clerk; or mechanics, if I wanted him taught a trade?
If I wanted to put Jane and Rosa to a school, how many schools are
there in the northern states that would take them in? how many families
that would board them? and yet they are as white as many a woman,
north or south. You see, Cousin, I want justice done us. We are
in a bad position. We are the more obvious oppressors of the
negro; but the unchristian prejudice of the north is an oppressor
almost equally severe."
"Well, Cousin, I know it is so," said Miss Ophelia,--"I know it
was so with me, till I saw that it was my duty to overcome it;
but, I trust I have overcome it; and I know there are many good
people at the north, who in this matter need only to be taught
what their duty is, to do it. It would certainly be a greater
self-denial to receive heathen among us, than to send missionaries
to them; but I think we would do it."
"You would I know," said St. Clare. "I'd like to see
anything you wouldn't do, if you thought it your duty!"
"Well, I'm not uncommonly good," said Miss Ophelia. "Others
would, if they saw things as I do. I intend to take Topsy home,
when I go. I suppose our folks will wonder, at first; but I think
they will be brought to see as I do. Besides, I know there are
many people at the north who do exactly what you said."
"Yes, but they are a minority; and, if we should begin to
emancipate to any extent, we should soon hear from you."
Miss Ophelia did not reply. There was a pause of some moments;
and St. Clare's countenance was overcast by a sad, dreamy expression.
"I don't know what makes me think of my mother so much, tonight,"
he said." I have a strange kind of feeling, as if she were
near me. I keep thinking of things she used to say. Strange, what
brings these past things so vividly back to us, sometimes!"
St. Clare walked up and down the room for some minutes
more, and then said,
"I believe I'll go down street, a few moments, and hear
the news, tonight."
He took his hat, and passed out.
Tom followed him to the passage, out of the court, and
asked if he should attend him.
"No, my boy," said St. Clare. "I shall be back in an hour."
Tom sat down in the verandah. It was a beautiful moonlight
evening, and he sat watching the rising and falling spray of the
fountain, and listening to its murmur. Tom thought of his home,
and that he should soon be a free man, and able to return to it
at will. He thought how he should work to buy his wife and boys.
He felt the muscles of his brawny arms with a sort of joy, as he
thought they would soon belong to himself, and how much they could
do to work out the freedom of his family. Then he thought of his
noble young master, and, ever second to that, came the habitual
prayer that he had always offered for him; and then his thoughts
passed on to the beautiful Eva, whom he now thought of among the
angels; and he thought till he almost fancied that that bright face
and golden hair were looking upon him, out of the spray of the fountain.
And, so musing, he fell asleep, and dreamed he saw her coming bounding
towards him, just as she used to come, with a wreath of jessamine
in her hair, her cheeks bright, and her eyes radiant with delight;
but, as he looked, she seemed to rise from the ground; her cheeks
wore a paler hue,--her eyes had a deep, divine radiance, a golden
halo seemed around her head,--and she vanished from his sight; and
Tom was awakened by a loud knocking, and a sound of many voices at
He hastened to undo it; and, with smothered voices and heavy
tread, came several men, bringing a body, wrapped in a cloak,
and lying on a shutter. The light of the lamp fell full on the
face; and Tom gave a wild cry of amazement and despair, that rung
through all the galleries, as the men advanced, with their burden,
to the open parlor door, where Miss Ophelia still sat knitting.
St. Clare had turned into a cafe, to look over an evening paper.
As he was reading, an affray arose between two gentlemen in the
room, who were both partially intoxicated. St. Clare and one
or two others made an effort to separate them, and St. Clare
received a fatal stab in the side with a bowie-knife, which he was
attempting to wrest from one of them.
The house was full of cries and lamentations, shrieks and
screams, servants frantically tearing their hair, throwing
themselves on the ground, or running distractedly about, lamenting.
Tom and Miss Ophelia alone seemed to have any presence of mind;
for Marie was in strong hysteric convulsions. At Miss Ophelia's
direction, one of the lounges in the parlor was hastily prepared,
and the bleeding form laid upon it. St. Clare had fainted,
through pain and loss of blood; but, as Miss Ophelia applied
restoratives, he revived, opened his eyes, looked fixedly on them,
looked earnestly around the room, his eyes travelling wistfully
over every object, and finally they rested on his mother's picture.
The physician now arrived, and made his examination. It was
evident, from the expression of his face, that there was no hope;
but he applied himself to dressing the wound, and he and Miss
Ophelia and Tom proceeded composedly with this work, amid the
lamentations and sobs and cries of the affrighted servants, who
had clustered about the doors and windows of the verandah.
"Now," said the physician, "we must turn all these creatures
out; all depends on his being kept quiet."
St. Clare opened his eyes, and looked fixedly on the distressed
beings, whom Miss Ophelia and the doctor were trying to urge
from the apartment. "Poor creatures!" he said, and an expression
of bitter self-reproach passed over his face. Adolph absolutely
refused to go. Terror had deprived him of all presence of mind;
he threw himself along the floor, and nothing could persuade him
to rise. The rest yielded to Miss Ophelia's urgent representations,
that their master's safety depended on their stillness and obedience.
St. Clare could say but little; he lay with his eyes shut, but
it was evident that he wrestled with bitter thoughts. After a
while, he laid his hand on Tom's, who was kneeling beside him,
and said, "Tom! poor fellow!"
"What, Mas'r?" said Tom, earnestly.
"I am dying!" said St. Clare, pressing his hand; "pray!"
"If you would like a clergyman--" said the physician.
St. Clare hastily shook his head, and said again to Tom,
more earnestly, "Pray!"
And Tom did pray, with all his mind and strength, for the soul
that was passing,--the soul that seemed looking so steadily
and mournfully from those large, melancholy blue eyes. It was
literally prayer offered with strong crying and tears.
When Tom ceased to speak, St. Clare reached out and took his hand,
looking earnestly at him, but saying nothing. He closed his eyes,
but still retained his hold; for, in the gates of eternity,
the black hand and the white hold each other with an equal clasp.
He murmured softly to himself, at broken intervals,
"Recordare Jesu pie--
* * * *
Ne me perdas--illa die
Querens me--sedisti lassus."
It was evident that the words he had been singing that evening
were passing through his mind,--words of entreaty addressed
to Infinite Pity. His lips moved at intervals, as parts of the
hymn fell brokenly from them.
"His mind is wandering," said the doctor.
"No! it is coming HOME, at last!" said St. Clare, energetically;
"at last! at last!"
The effort of speaking exhausted him. The sinking paleness
of death fell on him; but with it there fell, as if shed from the
wings of some pitying spirit, a beautiful expression of peace, like
that of a wearied child who sleeps.
So he lay for a few moments. They saw that the mighty hand
was on him. Just before the spirit parted, he opened his eyes, with
a sudden light, as of joy and recognition, and said "Mother!"
and then he was gone!