|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Whatsoever a Man Soweth|
" Has there been no change, Margaret; has 6he been asleep since I left her?" "Yes, ma'am; she seemed a little fretful onoe, but never woke up, and has been very quiet since." " You did not go to bed at all last night, Margaiet. Go and lie down; you need a rest. " If you don't mind, ma'am, I would much rather stay in the room. I don't feel at all tired." " Would it not be better for you to lie down, even if for a little while?" " I should like to stay, ma'am," said Margaret, pleadingly." And Margaret had her wish. How could Grace refuse it when she knew that Telsie's life was ebbing fast away? The child had become dull and listless "soon after leaving home; but this had occasioned no alarm. When, however, her healthy colour forsook her and she began to grow visibly weaker, the only medical practitioner of the township near
by was called in. "There was nothing seriously wrong with the child," he said. " A little out of sorts, that was all. Plenty of fresh country air would soon put her right." By this time both Grace and Margaret were growing anxious, but the doctor's view of the case somewhat allayed their fears. Still they were not alto^ther satisfied. R-eece was informed of Telsie's indisposition, but nothing was said which could possibly lead him to believe tha t serious consequences were anticipated. Grace did not wish to alarm him, and therefore made light of the matter. Bnt days passed on, and still the doctor's hopeful prediction was not fulfilled. Instead of growing better Telsie grew rapidly worse. She never complained, and no trace of disease could be found. Yet it was plain that something ailed the child. She had become strangely quiet; her strength was failing, and she would lie for hours—indifferent to everything about her—staring dreamily into space. Grace could not understand it, and the doctor, too, seemed altogether at fault. They watched her with a growing uneasiness, and saw that gradually her little form was wasting away to a shadow. What could they do? Send for other advice, the doctor said, and Grace beggod him to do so, while she wrote an urgent uote to her husband. The doctor came, and seemed as much at a loss as his learned friend. The uote to Reece went astray, and he came not. It was written on a Wednesday, and the two following days i showed a great change in Telsie. She sank so quickly that it was feared she would not live till the Sunday. Grace telegraphed to Reece early on Saturday morning, but night came an<^ nothing had been heard from him. He was out when the massage was delivered at his house, and did not receive it till the evening. And meanwhile Telsie's brief earthly career was drawing to a close. "Papa! Papa!" she cried continually, and it wrung Grace's very soul. " He will be here soon, my darling," she answered soothingly, though she felt that this was false. Yet what else could she say? There was no other way of comforting her child. And Sunday dawned. " Will Telsie live till to-morrow?" she asked herself with a strange sinking fear at her heart. There was no train running on Sunday, and Reece would be unable to leave Melbourne, she thought. But Margaret was more hopeful. " He may hire horses," she said, "and reach here to-night if he has received your message." The loug, hot .Sabbath day was fading, Through the open window the sweet scent of floorers stole into the room, and the window curtains flapped idly in the summer breeze. The quacking of the ducks as they settled themselves for the night was heard, mingled with the voices of the farmer and his son, who were harnessing a horse to the cart, while the female members of the household prepared themselves to attend the evening service at the little Church down in the valley. Margaret stood gazing sorrowfully through the window at the winding road that stretched far away into the distance, and her ears were strained to catch the faint rumble of approaching wheels. Grace knelt by the bedside, and, laying her head on the pillow, drew Telsie into her arms. The • child awoke, and nestled closer to her mother. " Papa!" she murmured softly. "Is papa tumin'?" " Yes, my sweet—he will not be long now," replied Grace brokenly. " I'se so seepy, mamma; I 'ant to see papa fore I do to by-by." " Yes, you shall see him, my darling. Oh, God! how hard it is."
"Why is 'oo kyin, mamma? 'Oor keeks is kite wet," and the little arms were stretched out, and clasped round the mother's neck. Mother is very sad, my pet." Telsie did not understand the meaning of "sad," nor would she ever realize it. tahe closed her eyes, and fell asleep, resting her head on her mother's shoulder. The minutes sped. Once the farmer's wife j entered the room to see whether she could bo of any assistance5before going to Church. Then fo'lovTd tho sound of the cart being driven past- the house, and all was still. The golden light i i the west faded fast: the Sabbath day and the little child would die together. Presently, from the valley below the Church ljell rang ont its summons to evening ; service. Grace lifted up her face and held ' her breath. It recalled to her mind another ; scpae, mo-e sad even than this. A^ain in her ; imagination she heard the " tinkle, tinlde" of ! the cattle bells in Dingo Scrub: the hoarse ! " caw, caw'" of the solitary crow ; the tones of j a voice that was for ever silent. How long aj,-o it wr.s, yet how we'll she remembered it all. i What hr.d she known since then ? Shame and \ sorrow, happiness, pair., and grief. What was there left for her? Nothing hut grief and pain for evermore. Oh, that she could take the place ol' her child !• that she could die and be at rest. In her ago^y a low cry burst from her lips, and T"'lsie again awoke. " 'Issen mamma! 'issen!" she exclaimed. " Yes, my child ; it is the Church bell ringing." "No mamma; papa is tumin. 'Issen : da in mamma,"' aud Telsie almost, scrambled from tlio bed in her eagerness as Reece's voice was heard without. lie entered quickly, and, without a word to Grace, bent over the lied and took the child in his arms, Grace withdrew into t!;- darkest corner of the room. She was not wanted now, she felt; and a. great lump rose iu her throat as she heard Tolsie'y esclr.matioiis of doli^hr, and ncr husband's tenderly whispered responses. Even at this moment she did not care to remain at her child's bedside, for fe.ir that Reece might consider her presence itiPTe unwelcome ; that he might tveist her coldly or i ~nore her altogether. She was nothing to him now; nothing to hor child. She was alone in her great sorrow B u t n o_n o t klone; for a warm hand was outstretched to clasp her own in token of sympathy, and she realized that there was one —even the faithful Alar^aret, who understood and felt for her. Hand in hand they stood as the darkness closed in aljout t'r.cui. And soon Telsie's feeble voice was heard calling "Mamma! mamma!'' Grace's heart gave a grea t bound, and sue yt-an.M i.o respond to that cry, yet rejn.iued irresolute. What right hail slw to approach t h e ;J=<1 tili her husband bade her do so? Rut r^inraret gently drew her forward, and fell !jer i^e^ by the bedside of her dWug f.hilci ~ - f um too gandmamma Market," murmcred the sweet voice; and Margaret anproaohed. "I'se vary seepy, and l'se doin' to by-by, now. 'issen 'ile I say iny pairs. ' Dod bess rapa. aTid ir.aaima, and gandmammp, AlurcV/r, and tiverydody ; and make me drow up dood 'ikle di.Iy.' Is I a dood "ilde dirly, mamma?" "Yes, my darling; the best little girly in the whole -world, and you must not leave me," cried Grace, passionately. " I'se doin to seep. " Tiss me dood-night-, g&ndmamtna Martlet."
Margaret stooped aud kissed the tiny face; then drew back into the shadow with a sob. "Now papa, tiss me dood-night," and Reece obeyed. Now mamma tiss me." Grace bent her head, while the tears fell thick and fast from her burning eyes. "Why is "oo kyin, mamma? "Oo must'nt do it." cried Telsie in distress. But Grace could not control iier tears, and Telsie lay silent, lost in thought. And presently one little arm stole out from beneath the bedclothes and wound itself round Grace's neck. Then Telsie withdrew the other and clasped it about the neck of her father. She remembered how her mother had acted when she had cried. Using the little strength she had the ciiild drew the two faces close together, saying, "Papa, tiss mamma's tears away, and make her keeks kite dry. Turn, papa!"' It was the dving wish of his child. Could Reece refuse it? He looked at the pale, worn, wistful faco so near his own, and the memory of that past sin was blotted out for ever. Rising swiftly he crossed round the end of the bed, ana raising his wife pressed her closely to him, and the kis3 of forgiveness was sealed. In that moment of reconciliation they were wrapt up in themselves. Even their child was forgotten, till the sound of a sweet, faint voice was heard stealing through the room— "Dod bess papa, and mamma, and gaudmamma Mar" The Sabbath day was ended; the twilight had faded; night had come. THE END.