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always in the house with the family; Lucy's bed-room was near mine, and every night be. fore she retired, for three months, we heard her sweet voice in an evening hymn. Gradually, however, from five or six verses she diminished to one, until at last no music was heard; but a hoarse, deep cough broke in even on my midnight slumbers.
Still she moved on in her daily duties, though I could not but regard with anxiety the colour that lit her cheek at evening, and made her intellectual face even beautiful. I gradually lightened her heavier employments, and gave her sewing in the parlour, for Polly had by this time become familiar with my arrangements, and with occasional assistance was strong enough to engage in carrying them out.
But Lucy drooped daily, struggling on; I was often obliged to take her work from her forcibly, so conscientious was she. I sent for a physician. She met him with a gentle smile. After parting with her, he said to me, “ There has been some heart-sickness in this case, I
suspect. There is a fine organization in some systems, tending to early decay, and yielding alike to mental and bodily pressure; and hers is of that stamp. The case is a call on your charity, and I will cheerfully co-operate with you."
When I returned to the parlour, Lucy had laid her sewing on her lap, and sat with her hands folded, as in revery.
“I see, by your countenance, Mrs. Packard," said she, “what Dr. Webster thinks of my case, and I am not very sorry. I am only sorry
because I shall be a source of care and anxiety, in such a scene of quiet happiness as your house always presents.
“To me, dear madam," continued she, after a pause, turning her large dark eyes upwards, " to me, to die is gain.”
I had been educated religiously, attended church regularly, learned appropriate catechisms and hymns, and found in the example of my dear mother the best of all instruction; but I had never suffered, never seen death in
any form, and my religion was the overflowing of gratitude, not the want of poor humanity. I could not realize the force of Lucy's expression. To be willing to leave this bright world, so full of the blossoms of hope and love, to quit the pure air, and the bright skies, and be the mouldering tenant of the solitary tomb—how could it be gain? I looked at her thin pale cheek inquiringly, and could not restrain my tears.
Lucy smiled sadly—“Life appears,” said she, "very differently to one who, like you, enjoys the sympathy of friends, of such friends too! I am now only a weed on the stream of time. When I pass into the ocean of eternity, who knows but that I may be attached to something bright and beautiful too ?”
From that moment, that little moment of heart and sensibility, my relations with Lucy assumed a different aspect. I drew a chair near her—" Lucy,” I said, cheerfully, “ I will be the beautiful thing to which you shall be at tached in this world; so do not talk of another,
dear.” I was checked by the pressure of her thin hand, where even labour had not been able to shade the blue veins, so light was their covering
From the moment that this delicate chain of sympathy was thrown over our minds, there was a quiet but distinct course of action between us. My part was to strengthen and animate her sinking frame. I brought her fresh flowers, new books, kind friends, and little luxuries that cool the feverish lip; but Lucy had a higher task to perform. It was, to direct my thoughts to a feeling of the value and necessity of Christianity; to teach me to subdue the idolatry of my affections, and give them a spiritual bias.
She spoke of Edward as a "being of soul, a candidate for immortality.”—“He is too beautiful for the grave, Lucy,” said I ; “I can never, never let him die.I can go myself, if God calls me, but I cannot spare him; that manly form, those high and generous feelings, that warm, warm heart,-oh, they are my life. Talk to me of any thing but the death of Edward !"
Still she gently recurred to high and spiritual topics, and led my thoughts at times beyond earthly affections. She marked passages in the Bible of the most attractive character for me to read to her, and, when her cough would allow, breathed out a hymn in sweet and happy strains, in which I soon loved to join. Time wore away, and she revived a little with reviving spring. She still had strength to carry her plants from window to window to catch the sunbeams, and could sit to watch the twilight in its dying glory.
But soon she failed again, and one night Edward and I were awaked to go to her. She could but whisper to us as we bent over her, “Do not love each other too well. Pray with and for each other. Forget not that Christ lived and died for you. I shall expect you both, both-in Heaven.” And thus she died.
One favour only had she asked of us. It was that she might be buried in the country churchyard of her native town.
“I would have overcome that little prefer