Part 8 out of 12
"But people can love you, if you are black, Topsy. Miss Ophelia
would love you, if you were good."
Topsy gave the short, blunt laugh that was her common mode
of expressing incredulity.
"Don't you think so?" said Eva.
"No; she can't bar me, 'cause I'm a nigger!--she'd 's soon
have a toad touch her! There can't nobody love niggers, and niggers
can't do nothin'! _I_ don't care," said Topsy, beginning to whistle.
"O, Topsy, poor child, _I_ love you!" said Eva, with a sudden
burst of feeling, and laying her little thin, white hand on
Topsy's shoulder; "I love you, because you haven't had any father,
or mother, or friends;--because you've been a poor, abused child!
I love you, and I want you to be good. I am very unwell, Topsy,
and I think I shan't live a great while; and it really grieves me,
to have you be so naughty. I wish you would try to be good, for
my sake;--it's only a little while I shall be with you."
The round, keen eyes of the black child were overcast with
tears;--large, bright drops rolled heavily down, one by one,
and fell on the little white hand. Yes, in that moment, a
ray of real belief, a ray of heavenly love, had penetrated the
darkness of her heathen soul! She laid her head down between her
knees, and wept and sobbed,--while the beautiful child, bending
over her, looked like the picture of some bright angel stooping to
reclaim a sinner.
"Poor Topsy!" said Eva, "don't you know that Jesus loves
all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He loves you
just as I do,--only more, because he is better. He will help you
to be good; and you can go to Heaven at last, and be an angel
forever, just as much as if you were white. Only think of it,
Topsy!--_you_ can be one of those spirits bright, Uncle Tom
"O, dear Miss Eva, dear Miss Eva!" said the child; "I will try,
I will try; I never did care nothin' about it before."
St. Clare, at this instant, dropped the curtain. "It puts me
in mind of mother," he said to Miss Ophelia. "It is true what
she told me; if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be
willing to do as Christ did,--call them to us, and _put our hands
"I've always had a prejudice against negroes," said Miss
Ophelia, "and it's a fact, I never could bear to have that child
touch me; but, I don't think she knew it."
"Trust any child to find that out," said St. Clare; "there's
no keeping it from them. But I believe that all the trying in the
world to benefit a child, and all the substantial favors you can
do them, will never excite one emotion of gratitude, while that
feeling of repugnance remains in the heart;--it's a queer kind of
a fact,--but so it is."
"I don't know how I can help it," said Miss Ophelia; "they
_are_ disagreeable to me,--this child in particular,--how can I
help feeling so?"
"Eva does, it seems."
"Well, she's so loving! After all, though, she's no more
than Christ-like," said Miss Ophelia; "I wish I were like her.
She might teach me a lesson."
"It wouldn't be the first time a little child had been used
to instruct an old disciple, if it _were_ so," said St. Clare.
Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb,
In life's early morning, hath hid from our eyes.
 "Weep Not for Those," a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852).
Eva's bed-room was a spacious apartment, which, like all the
other robins in the house, opened on to the broad verandah.
The room communicated, on one side, with her father and mother's
apartment; on the other, with that appropriated to Miss Ophelia.
St. Clare had gratified his own eye and taste, in furnishing this
room in a style that had a peculiar keeping with the character of
her for whom it was intended. The windows were hung with curtains
of rose-colored and white muslin, the floor was spread with a
matting which had been ordered in Paris, to a pattern of his own
device, having round it a border of rose-buds and leaves, and a
centre-piece with full-flown roses. The bedstead, chairs, and
lounges, were of bamboo, wrought in peculiarly graceful and fanciful
patterns. Over the head of the bed was an alabaster bracket, on
which a beautiful sculptured angel stood, with drooping wings,
holding out a crown of myrtle-leaves. From this depended, over
the bed, light curtains of rose-colored gauze, striped with silver,
supplying that protection from mosquitos which is an indispensable
addition to all sleeping accommodation in that climate. The graceful
bamboo lounges were amply supplied with cushions of rose-colored
damask, while over them, depending from the hands of sculptured
figures, were gauze curtains similar to those of the bed. A light,
fanciful bamboo table stood in the middle of the room, where a
Parian vase, wrought in the shape of a white lily, with its buds,
stood, ever filled with flowers. On this table lay Eva's books and
little trinkets, with an elegantly wrought alabaster writing-stand,
which her father had supplied to her when he saw her trying to
improve herself in writing. There was a fireplace in the room,
and on the marble mantle above stood a beautifully wrought
statuette of Jesus receiving little children, and on either side
marble vases, for which it was Tom's pride and delight to offer
bouquets every morning. Two or three exquisite paintings of
children, in various attitudes, embellished the wall. In short,
the eye could turn nowhere without meeting images of childhood,
of beauty, and of peace. Those little eyes never opened, in the
morning light, without falling on something which suggested to the
heart soothing and beautiful thoughts.
The deceitful strength which had buoyed Eva up for a little
while was fast passing away; seldom and more seldom her light
footstep was heard in the verandah, and oftener and oftener she
was found reclined on a little lounge by the open window, her large,
deep eyes fixed on the rising and falling waters of the lake.
It was towards the middle of the afternoon, as she was so
reclining,--her Bible half open, her little transparent fingers
lying listlessly between the leaves,--suddenly she heard her mother's
voice, in sharp tones, in the verandah.
"What now, you baggage!--what new piece of mischief! You've been
picking the flowers, hey?" and Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.
"Law, Missis! they 's for Miss Eva," she heard a voice say,
which she knew belonged to Topsy.
"Miss Eva! A pretty excuse!--you suppose she wants _your_
flowers, you good-for-nothing nigger! Get along off with you!"
In a moment, Eva was off from her lounge, and in the verandah.
"O, don't, mother! I should like the flowers; do give them
to me; I want them!"
"Why, Eva, your room is full now."
"I can't have too many," said Eva. "Topsy, do bring them here."
Topsy, who had stood sullenly, holding down her head, now came
up and offered her flowers. She did it with a look of hesitation
and bashfulness, quite unlike the eldrich boldness and brightness
which was usual with her.
"It's a beautiful bouquet!" said Eva, looking at it.
It was rather a singular one,--a brilliant scarlet geranium,
and one single white japonica, with its glossy leaves. It was tied
up with an evident eye to the contrast of color, and the arrangement
of every leaf had carefully been studied.
Topsy looked pleased, as Eva said,--"Topsy, you arrange
flowers very prettily. Here," she said, "is this vase I haven't
any flowers for. I wish you'd arrange something every day for it."
"Well, that's odd!" said Marie. "What in the world do you
want that for?"
"Never mind, mamma; you'd as lief as not Topsy should do
it,--had you not?"
"Of course, anything you please, dear! Topsy, you hear your
young mistress;--see that you mind."
Topsy made a short courtesy, and looked down; and, as she
turned away, Eva saw a tear roll down her dark cheek.
"You see, mamma, I knew poor Topsy wanted to do something
for me," said Eva to her mother.
"O, nonsense! it's only because she likes to do mischief.
She knows she mustn't pick flowers,--so she does it; that's all
there is to it. But, if you fancy to have her pluck them, so be it."
"Mamma, I think Topsy is different from what she used to be;
she's trying to be a good girl."
"She'll have to try a good while before _she_ gets to be good,"
said Marie, with a careless laugh.
"Well, you know, mamma, poor Topsy! everything has always
been against her."
"Not since she's been here, I'm sure. If she hasn't been
talked to, and preached to, and every earthly thing done that
anybody could do;--and she's just so ugly, and always will be; you
can't make anything of the creature!"
"But, mamma, it's so different to be brought up as I've been,
with so many friends, so many things to make me good and
happy; and to be brought up as she's been, all the time, till she
"Most likely," said Marie, yawning,--"dear me, how hot it is!"
"Mamma, you believe, don't you, that Topsy could become an
angel, as well as any of us, if she were a Christian?"
"Topsy! what a ridiculous idea! Nobody but you would ever
think of it. I suppose she could, though."
"But, mamma, isn't God her father, as much as ours? Isn't
Jesus her Saviour?"
"Well, that may be. I suppose God made everybody," said Marie.
"Where is my smelling-bottle?"
"It's such a pity,--oh! _such_ a pity!" said Eva, looking
out on the distant lake, and speaking half to herself.
"What's a pity?" said Marie.
"Why, that any one, who could be a bright angel, and live with
angels, should go all down, down down, and nobody help them!--oh dear!"
"Well, we can't help it; it's no use worrying, Eva! I don't
know what's to be done; we ought to be thankful for our own
"I hardly can be," said Eva, "I'm so sorry to think of poor
folks that haven't any."
That's odd enough," said Marie;-- "I'm sure my religion
makes me thankful for my advantages."
"Mamma," said Eva, "I want to have some of my hair cut
off,--a good deal of it."
"What for?" said Marie.
"Mamma, I want to give some away to my friends, while I am
able to give it to them myself. Won't you ask aunty to come and
cut it for me?"
Marie raised her voice, and called Miss Ophelia, from the
The child half rose from her pillow as she came in, and,
shaking down her long golden-brown curls, said, rather playfully,
"Come aunty, shear the sheep!"
"What's that?" said St. Clare, who just then entered with
some fruit he had been out to get for her.
"Papa, I just want aunty to cut off some of my hair;--there's
too much of it, and it makes my head hot. Besides, I want to give
some of it away."
Miss Ophelia came, with her scissors.
"Take care,--don't spoil the looks of it!" said her father;
"cut underneath, where it won't show. Eva's curls are my pride."
"O, papa!" said Eva, sadly.
"Yes, and I want them kept handsome against the time I take
you up to your uncle's plantation, to see Cousin Henrique," said
St. Clare, in a gay tone.
"I shall never go there, papa;--I am going to a better country.
O, do believe me! Don't you see, papa, that I get weaker,
"Why do you insist that I shall believe such a cruel thing,
Eva?" said her father.
"Only because it is _true_, papa: and, if you will believe
it now, perhaps you will get to feel about it as I do."
St. Clare closed his lips, and stood gloomily eying the long,
beautiful curls, which, as they were separated from the child's
head, were laid, one by one, in her lap. She raised them up,
looked earnestly at them, twined them around her thin fingers,
and looked from time to time, anxiously at her father.
"It's just what I've been foreboding!" said Marie; "it's just
what has been preying on my health, from day to day, bringing
me downward to the grave, though nobody regards it. I have seen
this, long. St. Clare, you will see, after a while, that I was right."
"Which will afford you great consolation, no doubt!" said
St. Clare, in a dry, bitter tone.
Marie lay back on a lounge, and covered her face with her
Eva's clear blue eye looked earnestly from one to the other.
It was the calm, comprehending gaze of a soul half loosed from its
earthly bonds; it was evident she saw, felt, and appreciated, the
difference between the two.
She beckoned with her hand to her father. He came and sat
down by her.
"Papa, my strength fades away every day, and I know I must go.
There are some things I want to say and do,--that I ought to do;
and you are so unwilling to have me speak a word on this subject.
But it must come; there's no putting it off. Do be willing I should
"My child, I _am_ willing!" said St. Clare, covering his
eyes with one hand, and holding up Eva's hand with the other.
"Then, I want to see all our people together. I have some
things I _must_ say to them," said Eva.
"_Well_," said St. Clare, in a tone of dry endurance.
Miss Ophelia despatched a messenger, and soon the whole of
the servants were convened in the room.
Eva lay back on her pillows; her hair hanging loosely about
her face, her crimson cheeks contrasting painfully with the
intense whiteness of her complexion and the thin contour of her
limbs and features, and her large, soul-like eyes fixed earnestly
on every one.
The servants were struck with a sudden emotion. The spiritual
face, the long locks of hair cut off and lying by her, her
father's averted face, and Marie's sobs, struck at once upon
the feelings of a sensitive and impressible race; and, as they came
in, they looked one on another, sighed, and shook their heads.
There was a deep silence, like that of a funeral.
Eva raised herself, and looked long and earnestly round at
every one. All looked sad and apprehensive. Many of the women
hid their faces in their aprons.
"I sent for you all, my dear friends," said Eva, "because I
love you. I love you all; and I have something to say to you,
which I want you always to remember. . . . I am going to leave you.
In a few more weeks you will see me no more--"
Here the child was interrupted by bursts of groans, sobs, and
lamentations, which broke from all present, and in which her
slender voice was lost entirely. She waited a moment, and then,
speaking in a tone that checked the sobs of all, she said,
"If you love me, you must not interrupt me so. Listen to what
I say. I want to speak to you about your souls. . . . Many of
you, I am afraid, are very careless. You are thinking only about
this world. I want you to remember that there is a beautiful world,
where Jesus is. I am going there, and you can go there. It is for
you, as much as me. But, if you want to go there, you must not
live idle, careless, thoughtless lives. You must be Christians.
You must remember that each one of you can become angels, and be
angels forever. . . . If you want to be Christians, Jesus will
help you. You must pray to him; you must read--"
The child checked herself, looked piteously at them, and
"O dear! you _can't_ read--poor souls!" and she hid her face in
the pillow and sobbed, while many a smothered sob from those she
was addressing, who were kneeling on the floor, aroused her.
"Never mind," she said, raising her face and smiling brightly
through her tears, "I have prayed for you; and I know Jesus will
help you, even if you can't read. Try all to do the best you can;
pray every day; ask Him to help you, and get the Bible read to you
whenever you can; and I think I shall see you all in heaven."
"Amen," was the murmured response from the lips of Tom and
Mammy, and some of the elder ones, who belonged to the Methodist
church. The younger and more thoughtless ones, for the time
completely overcome, were sobbing, with their heads bowed upon
"I know," said Eva, "you all love me."
"Yes; oh, yes! indeed we do! Lord bless her!" was the
involuntary answer of all.
"Yes, I know you do! There isn't one of you that hasn't always
been very kind to me; and I want to give you something that,
when you look at, you shall always remember me, I'm going to give
all of you a curl of my hair; and, when you look at it, think that
I loved you and am gone to heaven, and that I want to see you all there."
It is impossible to describe the scene, as, with tears and sobs,
they gathered round the little creature, and took from her hands
what seemed to them a last mark of her love. They fell on
their knees; they sobbed, and prayed, and kissed the hem of her
garment; and the elder ones poured forth words of endearment,
mingled in prayers and blessings, after the manner of their
As each one took their gift, Miss Ophelia, who was apprehensive
for the effect of all this excitement on her little patient,
signed to each one to pass out of the apartment.
At last, all were gone but Tom and Mammy.
"Here, Uncle Tom," said Eva, "is a beautiful one for you. O, I am
so happy, Uncle Tom, to think I shall see you in heaven,--for
I'm sure I shall; and Mammy,--dear, good, kind Mammy!" she said,
fondly throwing her arms round her old nurse,--"I know you'll be
"O, Miss Eva, don't see how I can live without ye, no how!"
said the faithful creature. "'Pears like it's just taking everything
off the place to oncet!" and Mammy gave way to a passion of grief.
Miss Ophelia pushed her and Tom gently from the apartment,
and thought they were all gone; but, as she turned, Topsy was
"Where did you start up from?" she said, suddenly.
"I was here," said Topsy, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"O, Miss Eva, I've been a bad girl; but won't you give _me_
"Yes, poor Topsy! to be sure, I will. There--every time
you look at that, think that I love you, and wanted you to be a
"O, Miss Eva, I _is_ tryin!" said Topsy, earnestly; "but,
Lor, it's so hard to be good! 'Pears like I an't used to it,
"Jesus knows it, Topsy; he is sorry for you; he will help you."
Topsy, with her eyes hid in her apron, was silently passed
from the apartment by Miss Ophelia; but, as she went, she hid the
precious curl in her bosom.
All being gone, Miss Ophelia shut the door. That worthy
lady had wiped away many tears of her own, during the scene; but
concern for the consequence of such an excitement to her young
charge was uppermost in her mind.
St. Clare had been sitting, during the whole time, with
his hand shading his eyes, in the same attitude.
When they were all gone, he sat so still.
"Papa!" said Eva, gently, laying her hand on his.
He gave a sudden start and shiver; but made no answer.
"Dear papa!" said Eva.
"_I cannot_," said St. Clare, rising, "I _cannot_ have it so!
The Almighty hath dealt _very bitterly_ with me!" and St. Clare
pronounced these words with a bitter emphasis, indeed.
"Augustine! has not God a right to do what he will with
his own?" said Miss Ophelia.
"Perhaps so; but that doesn't make it any easier to bear,"
said he, with a dry, hard, tearless manner, as he turned away.
"Papa, you break my heart!" said Eva, rising and throwing
herself into his arms; "you must not feel so!" and the child sobbed
and wept with a violence which alarmed them all, and turned her
father's thoughts at once to another channel.
"There, Eva,--there, dearest! Hush! hush! I was wrong; I
was wicked. I will feel any way, do any way,--only don't distress
yourself; don't sob so. I will be resigned; I was wicked to speak
as I did."
Eva soon lay like a wearied dove in her father's arms; and
he, bending over her, soothed her by every tender word he could
Marie rose and threw herself out of the apartment into her
own, when she fell into violent hysterics.
"You didn't give me a curl, Eva," said her father, smiling sadly.
"They are all yours, papa," said she, smiling--"yours and
mamma's; and you must give dear aunty as many as she wants. I only
gave them to our poor people myself, because you know, papa, they
might be forgotten when I am gone, and because I hoped it might
help them remember. . . . You are a Christian, are you not, papa?"
said Eva, doubtfully.
"Why do you ask me?"
"I don't know. You are so good, I don't see how you can
"What is being a Christian, Eva?"
"Loving Christ most of all," said Eva.
"Do you, Eva?"
"Certainly I do."
"You never saw him," said St. Clare.
"That makes no difference," said Eva. "I believe him, and
in a few days I shall _see_ him;" and the young face grew fervent,
radiant with joy.
St. Clare said no more. It was a feeling which he had seen
before in his mother; but no chord within vibrated to it.
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 nurse,--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 in
remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors,-- she
was everything to him. They who had shrugged their shoulders at
her little peculiarities and setnesses, so unlike the careless
freedom of southern manners, acknowledged 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 carry her little frail form
in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now
out into the verandah; 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
slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him,
"O, 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.
Poor Mammy's heart yearned towards her darling; but she
found no opportunity, night or day, as Marie declared that the
state of her mind was such, it was impossible for her to rest; and,
of course, it was against her principles to let any one else rest.
Twenty times in a night, Mammy would be roused to rub her feet, to
bathe her head, to find her pocket-handkerchief, to see what the
noise was in Eva's room, to let down a curtain because it was too
light, or to put it up because it was too dark; and, in the daytime,
when she longed to have some share in the nursing of her pet, Marie
seemed unusually ingenious in keeping her busy anywhere and everywhere
all over the house, or about her own person; so that stolen interviews
and momentary glimpses were all she could obtain.
"I feel it my duty to be particularly careful of myself, now,"
she would say, "feeble as I am, and with the whole care and
nursing of that dear child upon me."
"Indeed, my dear," said St. Clare, "I thought our cousin
relieved you of that."
"You talk like a man, St. Clare,--just as if a mother _could_
be relieved of the care of a child in that state; but, then,
it's all alike,--no one ever knows what I feel! I can't throw
things off, as you do."
St. Clare smiled. You must excuse him, he couldn't help
it,--for St. Clare could smile yet. For so bright and placid was
the farewell voyage of the little spirit,--by such sweet and fragrant
breezes was the small bark borne towards the heavenly shores,--that
it was impossible to realize that it was death that was approaching.
The child felt no pain,--only a tranquil, soft weakness, daily and
almost insensibly increasing; and she was so beautiful, so loving,
so trustful, so happy, that one could not resist the soothing
influence of that air of innocence and peace which seemed to breathe
around her. St. Clare found a strange calm coming over him. It was
not hope,--that was impossible; it was not resignation; it was
only a calm resting in the present, which seemed so beautiful that
he wished to think of no future. It was like that hush of spirit
which we feel amid the bright, mild woods of autumn, when the bright
hectic flush is on the trees, and the last lingering flowers by
the brook; and we joy in it all the more, because we know that soon
it will all pass away.
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 verandah, 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
"I do, Miss Feely," said Tom, mysteriously. "I do, but 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
"What do you mean, Tom?"
"You know it says in Scripture, `At midnight there was 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
"No; but she telled me, this morning, she was coming
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 her outer door, she
found Tom stretched along by it, in the outer verandah.
She was not nervous or impressible; but the solemn, 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 all; she is certainly better;" and
he had retired with a lighter heart in his bosom than he had had there
But at midnight,--strange, mystic hour!--when the veil 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? He was up and in the room in an instant, 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
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! Cousin!--O!--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 verandah, 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.
"O, if she would only wake, and speak once more!" he said;
and, stooping over her, he spoke in her ear,--"Eva, darling!"
The large blue eyes unclosed--a smile passed over her
face;--she tried to raise her head, and to speak.
"Do you know me, Eva?"
"Dear papa," said the child, with a last effort, throwing her
arms 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!" he said, turning away in agony,
and wringing Tom's hand, scarce conscious what he was doing.
"O, 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!" said St. Clare,--"this
wrings my heart."
"O, 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.
"O, Eva, tell us what you see! What is it?" said her father.
A bright, a glorious smile passed over her face, and she
said, brokenly,--"O! 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. O, 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!"
"This Is the Last of Earth"
 "This is the last of Earth! I am content," last words of
John Quincy Adams, uttered February 21, 1848.
The statuettes and pictures in Eva's room were shrouded in
white napkins, and only hushed breathings and muffled footfalls
were heard there, and the light stole in solemnly through windows
partially darkened by closed blinds.
The bed was draped in white; and there, beneath the drooping
angel-figure, lay a little sleeping form,--sleeping never to waken!
There she lay, robed in one of the simple white dresses she had
been wont to wear when living; the rose-colored light through
the curtains cast over the icy coldness of death a warm glow.
The heavy eyelashes drooped softly on the pure cheek; the head
was turned a little to one side, as if in natural steep, but
there was diffused over every lineament of the face that high
celestial expression, that mingling of rapture and repose, which
showed it was no earthly or temporary sleep, but the long, sacred
rest which "He giveth to his beloved."
There is no death to such as thou, dear Eva! neither darkness
nor shadow of death; only such a bright fading as when the morning
star fades in the golden dawn. Thine is the victory without the
battle,--the crown without the conflict.
So did St. Clare think, as, with folded arms, he stood
there gazing. Ah! who shall say what he did think? for, from the
hour that voices had said, in the dying chamber, "she is gone," it
had been all a dreary mist, a heavy "dimness of anguish." He had
heard voices around him; he had had questions asked, and answered
them; they had asked him when he would have the funeral, and where
they should lay her; and he had answered, impatiently, that he
Adolph and Rosa had arranged the chamber; volatile, fickle
and childish, as they generally were, they were soft-hearted and
full of feeling; and, while Miss Ophelia presided over the general
details of order and neatness, it was their hands that added those
soft, poetic touches to the arrangements, that took from the
death-room the grim and ghastly air which too often marks a New
There were still flowers on the shelves,--all white, delicate
and fragrant, with graceful, drooping leaves. Eva's little table,
covered with white, bore on it her favorite vase, with a single
white moss rose-bud in it. The folds of the drapery, the fall of
the curtains, had been arranged and rearranged, by Adolph and Rosa,
with that nicety of eye which characterizes their race. Even now,
while St. Clare stood there thinking, little Rosa tripped softly
into the chamber with a basket of white flowers. She stepped back
when she saw St. Clare, and stopped respectfully; but, seeing that
he did not observe her, she came forward to place them around
the dead. St. Clare saw her as in a dream, while she placed in
the small hands a fair cape jessamine, and, with admirable taste,
disposed other flowers around the couch.
The door opened again, and Topsy, her eyes swelled with
crying, appeared, holding something under her apron. Rosa made a
quick forbidding gesture; but she took a step into the room.
"You must go out," said Rosa, in a sharp, positive whisper;
"_you_ haven't any business here!"
"O, do let me! I brought a flower,--such a pretty one!"
said Topsy, holding up a half-blown tea rose-bud. "Do let me put
just one there."
"Get along!" said Rosa, more decidedly.
"Let her stay!" said St. Clare, suddenly stamping his foot.
"She shall come."
Rosa suddenly retreated, and Topsy came forward and laid her
offering at the feet of the corpse; then suddenly, with a wild
and bitter cry, she threw herself on the floor alongside the bed,
and wept, and moaned aloud.
Miss Ophelia hastened into the room, and tried to raise
and silence her; but in vain.
"O, Miss Eva! oh, Miss Eva! I wish I 's dead, too,--I do!"
There was a piercing wildness in the cry; the blood flushed
into St. Clare's white, marble-like face, and the first tears he
had shed since Eva died stood in his eyes.
"Get up, child," said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice;
"don't cry so. Miss Eva is gone to heaven; she is an angel."
"But I can't see her!" said Topsy. "I never shall see
her!" and she sobbed again.
They all stood a moment in silence.
"_She_ said she _loved_ me," said Topsy,-- "she did! O, dear!
oh, dear! there an't _nobody_ left now,--there an't!"
"That's true enough" said St. Clare; "but do," he said to
Miss Ophelia, "see if you can't comfort the poor creature."
"I jist wish I hadn't never been born," said Topsy. "I didn't
want to be born, no ways; and I don't see no use on 't."
Miss Ophelia raised her gently, but firmly, and took her from
the room; but, as she did so, some tears fell from her eyes.
"Topsy, you poor child," she said, as she led her into her
room, "don't give up! _I_ can love you, though I am not like that
dear little child. I hope I've learnt something of the love of
Christ from her. I can love you; I do, and I'll try to help you
to grow up a good Christian girl."
Miss Ophelia's voice was more than her words, and more than
that were the honest tears that fell down her face. From that
hour, she acquired an influence over the mind of the destitute
child that she never lost.
"O, my Eva, whose little hour on earth did so much of good,"
thought St. Clare, "what account have I to give for my long years?"
There were, for a while, soft whisperings and footfalls in the
chamber, as one after another stole in, to look at the dead;
and then came the little coffin; and then there was a funeral, and
carriages drove to the door, and strangers came and were seated;
and there were white scarfs and ribbons, and crape bands, and
mourners dressed in black crape; and there were words read from
the Bible, and prayers offered; and St. Clare lived, and walked,
and moved, as one who has shed every tear;--to the last he saw only
one thing, that golden head in the coffin; but then he saw the
cloth spread over it, the lid of the coffin closed; and he walked,
when he was put beside the others, down to a little place at the
bottom of the garden, and there, by the mossy seat where she and
Tom had talked, and sung, and read so often, was the little grave.
St. Clare stood beside it,--looked vacantly down; he saw them lower
the little coffin; he heard, dimly, the solemn words, "I am the
resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in me, though he were
dead, yet shall he live;" and, as the earth was cast in and filled
up the little grave, he could not realize that it was his Eva that
they were hiding from his sight.
Nor was it!--not Eva, but only the frail seed of that bright,
immortal form with which she shall yet come forth, in the
day of the Lord Jesus!
And then all were gone, and the mourners went back to the place
which should know her no more; and Marie's room was darkened,
and she lay on the bed, sobbing and moaning in uncontrollable grief,
and calling every moment for the attentions of all her servants.
Of course, they had no time to cry,--why should they? the grief
was _her_ grief, and she was fully convinced that nobody on earth
did, could, or would feel it as she did.
"St. Clare did not shed a tear," she said; "he didn't
sympathize with her; it was perfectly wonderful to think how
hard-hearted and unfeeling he was, when he must know how she
So much are people the slave of their eye and ear, that many
of the servants really thought that Missis was the principal
sufferer in the case, especially as Marie began to have hysterical
spasms, and sent for the doctor, and at last declared herself dying;
and, in the running and scampering, and bringing up hot bottles,
and heating of flannels, and chafing, and fussing, that ensued,
there was quite a diversion.
Tom, however, had a feeling at his own heart, that drew him
to his master. He followed him wherever he walked, wistfully
and sadly; and when he saw him sitting, so pale and quiet, in Eva's
room, holding before his eyes her little open Bible, though seeing
no letter or word of what was in it, there was more sorrow to Tom
in that still, fixed, tearless eye, than in all Marie's moans and
In a few days the St. Clare family were back again in the city;
Augustine, with the restlessness of grief, longing for another
scene, to change the current of his thoughts. So they left the
house and garden, with its little grave, and came back to New
Orleans; and St. Clare walked the streets busily, and strove to
fill up the chasm in his heart with hurry and bustle, and change
of place; and people who saw him in the street, or met him at the
cafe, knew of his loss only by the weed on his hat; for there he
was, smiling and talking, and reading the newspaper, and speculating
on politics, and attending to business matters; and who could see
that all this smiling outside was but a hollowed shell over a heart
that was a dark and silent sepulchre?
"Mr. St. Clare is a singular man," said Marie to Miss Ophelia,
in a complaining tone. "I used to think, if there was anything
in the world he did love, it was our dear little Eva; but he
seems to be forgetting her very easily. I cannot ever get him
to talk about her. I really did think he would show more feeling!"
"Still waters run deepest, they used to tell me," said Miss
"O, I don't believe in such things; it's all talk. If people
have feeling, they will show it,--they can't help it; but,
then, it's a great misfortune to have feeling. I'd rather have
been made like St. Clare. My feelings prey upon me so!"
"Sure, Missis, Mas'r St. Clare is gettin' thin as a shader.
They say, he don't never eat nothin'," said Mammy. "I know he
don't forget Miss Eva; I know there couldn't nobody,--dear, little,
blessed cretur!" she added, wiping her eyes.
"Well, at all events, he has no consideration for me," said
Marie; "he hasn't spoken one word of sympathy, and he must know
how much more a mother feels than any man can."
"The heart knoweth its own bitterness," said Miss Ophelia,
"That's just what I think. I know just what I feel,--nobody
else seems to. Eva used to, but she is gone!" and Marie lay back
on her lounge, and began to sob disconsolately.
Marie was one of those unfortunately constituted mortals,
in whose eyes whatever is lost and gone assumes a value which it
never had in possession. Whatever she had, she seemed to survey
only to pick flaws in it; but, once fairly away, there was no
end to her valuation of it.
While this conversation was taking place in the parlor
another was going on in St. Clare's library.
Tom, who was always uneasily following his master about, had seen
him go to his library, some hours before; and, after vainly waiting
for him to come out, determined, at last, to make an errand in.
He entered softly. St. Clare lay on his lounge, at the further
end of the room. He was lying on his face, with Eva's Bible open
before him, at a little distance. Tom walked up, and stood by
the sofa. He hesitated; and, while he was hesitating, St. Clare
suddenly raised himself up. The honest face, so full of grief, and
with such an imploring expression of affection and sympathy, struck
his master. He laid his hand on Tom's, and bowed down his forehead
"O, Tom, my boy, the whole world is as empty as an egg-shell."
"I know it, Mas'r,--I know it," said Tom; "but, oh, if Mas'r
could only look up,--up where our dear Miss Eva is,--up to
the dear Lord Jesus!"
"Ah, Tom! I do look up; but the trouble is, I don't see
anything, when I do, I wish I could."
Tom sighed heavily.
"It seems to be given to children, and poor, honest fellows,
like you, to see what we can't," said St. Clare. "How comes it?"
"Thou has `hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto
babes,'" murmured Tom; "`even so, Father, for so it seemed good in
"Tom, I don't believe,--I can't believe,--I've got the
habit of doubting," said St. Clare. "I want to believe this
Bible,--and I can't."
"Dear Mas'r, pray to the good Lord,--`Lord, I believe; help
thou my unbelief.'"
"Who knows anything about anything?" said St. Clare, his eyes
wandering dreamily, and speaking to himself. "Was all that
beautiful love and faith only one of the ever-shifting phases
of human feeling, having nothing real to rest on, passing away
with the little breath? And is there no more Eva,--no heaven,--no
"O, dear Mas'r, there is! I know it; I'm sure of it," said
Tom, falling on his knees. "Do, do, dear Mas'r, believe it!"
"How do you know there's any Christ, Tom! You never saw
"Felt Him in my soul, Mas'r,--feel Him now! O, Mas'r, when
I was sold away from my old woman and the children, I was jest
a'most broke up. I felt as if there warn't nothin' left; and then
the good Lord, he stood by me, and he says, `Fear not, Tom;' and
he brings light and joy in a poor feller's soul,--makes all peace;
and I 's so happy, and loves everybody, and feels willin' jest to
be the Lord's, and have the Lord's will done, and be put jest where
the Lord wants to put me. I know it couldn't come from me, cause
I 's a poor, complainin'cretur; it comes from the Lord; and I know
He's willin' to do for Mas'r."
Tom spoke with fast-running tears and choking voice. St. Clare
leaned his head on his shoulder, and wrung the hard, faithful,
"Tom, you love me," he said.
"I 's willin' to lay down my life, this blessed day, to
see Mas'r a Christian."
"Poor, foolish boy!" said St. Clare, half-raising himself.
"I'm not worth the love of one good, honest heart, like yours."
"O, Mas'r, dere's more than me loves you,--the blessed Lord
Jesus loves you."
"How do you know that Tom?" said St. Clare.
"Feels it in my soul. O, Mas'r! `the love of Christ, that
"Singular!" said St. Clare, turning away, "that the story of a
man that lived and died eighteen hundred years ago can affect
people so yet. But he was no man," he added, suddenly. "No man
ever had such long and living power! O, that I could believe
what my mother taught me, and pray as I did when I was a boy!"
"If Mas'r pleases," said Tom, "Miss Eva used to read this
so beautifully. I wish Mas'r'd be so good as read it. Don't get
no readin', hardly, now Miss Eva's gone."
The chapter was the eleventh of John,--the touching account
of the raising of Lazarus, St. Clare read it aloud, often pausing
to wrestle down feelings which were roused by the pathos of
the story. Tom knelt before him, with clasped hands, and with an
absorbed expression of love, trust, adoration, on his quiet face.
"Tom," said his Master, "this is all _real_ to you!"
"I can jest fairly _see_ it Mas'r," said Tom.
"I wish I had your eyes, Tom."
"I wish, to the dear Lord, Mas'r had!"
"But, Tom, you know that I have a great deal more knowledge than
you; what if I should tell you that I don't believe this Bible?"
"O, Mas'r!" said Tom, holding up his hands, with a deprecating gesture.
"Wouldn't it shake your faith some, Tom?"
"Not a grain," said Tom.
"Why, Tom, you must know I know the most."
"O, Mas'r, haven't you jest read how he hides from the wise
and prudent, and reveals unto babes? But Mas'r wasn't in earnest,
for sartin, now?" said Tom, anxiously.
"No, Tom, I was not. I don't disbelieve, and I think there
is reason to believe; and still I don't. It's a troublesome bad
habit I've got, Tom."
"If Mas'r would only pray!"
"How do you know I don't, Tom?"
"I would, Tom, if there was anybody there when I pray; but it's
all speaking unto nothing, when I do. But come, Tom, you pray now,
and show me how."
Tom's heart was full; he poured it out In prayer, like waters
that have been long suppressed. One thing was plain enough;
Tom thought there was somebody to hear, whether there were or not.
In fact, St. Clare felt himself borne, on the tide of his faith
and feeling, almost to the gates of that heaven he seemed so vividly
to conceive. It seemed to bring him nearer to Eva.
"Thank you, my boy," said St. Clare, when Tom rose. "I like
to hear you, Tom; but go, now, and leave me alone; some other
time, I'll talk more."
Tom silently left the room.
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!
We hear often of the distress of the negro servants, on
the loss of a kind master; and with good reason, for no creature
on God's earth is left more utterly unprotected and desolate than
the slave in these circumstances.
The child who has lost a father has still the protection of
friends, and of the law; he is something, and can do something,--has
acknowledged rights and position; the slave has none. The law
regards him, in every respect, as devoid of rights as a bale of
merchandise. The only possible ackowledgment of any of the longings
and wants of a human and immortal creature, which are given to him,
comes to him through the sovereign and irresponsible will of his
master; and when that master is stricken down, nothing remains.
The number of those men who know how to use wholly irresponsible
power humanely and generously is small. Everybody knows this,
and the slave knows it best of all; so that he feels that there
are ten chances of his finding an abusive and tyrannical master,
to one of his finding a considerate and kind one. Therefore is
it that the wail over a kind master is loud and long, as well
it may be.
When St. Clare breathed his last, terror and consternation
took hold of all his household. He had been stricken down so in
a moment, in the flower and strength of his youth! Every room
and gallery of the house resounded with sobs and shrieks of despair.
Marie, whose nervous system had been enervated by a constant
course of self-indulgence, had nothing to support the terror of
the shock, and, at the time her husband breathed his last, was
passing from one fainting fit to another; and he to whom she had
been joined in the mysterious tie of marriage passed from her
forever, without the possibility of even a parting word.
Miss Ophelia, with characteristic strength and self-control,
had remained with her kinsman to the last,--all eye, all ear, all
attention; doing everything of the little that could be done, and
joining with her whole soul in the tender and impassioned prayers
which the poor slave had poured forth for the soul of his dying master.
When they were arranging him for his last rest, they found upon
his bosom a small, plain miniature case, opening with a spring.
It was the miniature of a noble and beautiful female face; and on
the reverse, under a crystal, a lock of dark hair. They laid them
back on the lifeless breast,--dust to dust,--poor mournful relics
of early dreams, which once made that cold heart beat so warmly!
Tom's whole soul was filled with thoughts of eternity; and while
he ministered around the lifeless clay, he did not once think
that the sudden stroke had left him in hopeless slavery. He felt
at peace about his master; for in that hour, when he had poured
forth his prayer into the bosom of his Father, he had found an
answer of quietness and assurance springing up within himself.
In the depths of his own affectionate nature, he felt able to
perceive something of the fulness of Divine love; for an old oracle
hath thus written,--"He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and
God in him." Tom hoped and trusted, and was at peace.
But the funeral passed, with all its pageant of black crape,
and prayers, and solemn faces; and back rolled the cool,
muddy waves of every-day life; and up came the everlasting
hard inquiry of "What is to be done next?"
It rose to the mind of Marie, as, dressed in loose morning-robes,
and surrounded by anxious servants, she sat up in a great
easy-chair, and inspected samples of crape and bombazine.
It rose to Miss Ophelia, who began to turn her thoughts towards
her northern home. It rose, in silent terrors, to the minds of
the servants, who well knew the unfeeling, tyrannical character of
the mistress in whose hands they were left. All knew, very well,
that the indulgences which had been accorded to them were not from
their mistress, but from their master; and that, now he was gone,
there would be no screen between them and every tyrannous infliction
which a temper soured by affliction might devise.
It was about a fortnight after the funeral, that Miss Ophelia,
busied one day in her apartment, heard a gentle tap at the door.
She opened it, and there stood Rosa, the pretty young quadroon,
whom we have before often noticed, her hair in disorder,
and her eyes swelled with crying.
"O, Miss Feeley," she said, falling on her knees, and catching
the skirt of her dress, "_do, do go_ to Miss Marie for me! do
plead for me! She's goin' to send me out to be whipped--look there!"
And she handed to Miss Ophelia a paper.
It was an order, written in Marie's delicate Italian hand, to the
master of a whipping-establishment to give the bearer fifteen lashes.
"What have you been doing?" said Miss Ophelia.
"You know, Miss Feely, I've got such a bad temper; it's very
bad of me. I was trying on Miss Marie's dress, and she slapped
my face; and I spoke out before I thought, and was saucy; and she
said that she'd bring me down, and have me know, once for all, that
I wasn't going to be so topping as I had been; and she wrote this,
and says I shall carry it. I'd rather she'd kill me, right out."
Miss Ophelia stood considering, with the paper in her hand.
"You see, Miss Feely," said Rosa, "I don't mind the whipping
so much, if Miss Marie or you was to do it; but, to be sent to a
_man!_ and such a horrid man,--the shame of it, Miss Feely!"
Miss Ophelia well knew that it was the universal custom to send
women and young girls to whipping-houses, to the hands of the
lowest of men,--men vile enough to make this their profession,--there
to be subjected to brutal exposure and shameful correction. She had
_known_ it before; but hitherto she had never realized it, till
she saw the slender form of Rosa almost convulsed with distress.
All the honest blood of womanhood, the strong New England blood of
liberty, flushed to her cheeks, and throbbed bitterly in her