She could not tell, the woman said.

‘Why, you yourself—you wear the colour too!’ he cried. ‘Windows are closed that never used to be by day. What does this mean?’

Again the woman said she could not tell.

‘We must go back,’ said the old man, hurriedly. ‘We must see what this is.’

‘No, no,’ cried the child, detaining him. ‘Remember what you promised. Our way is to the old green lane, where she and I so often were, and where you found us more than once making those garlands for her garden. Do not turn back!’

‘Where is she now?’ said the old man. ‘Tell me that.’

‘Do you not know?’ returned the child. ‘Did we not leave her, but just now?’

‘True. True. It was her we left—was it!’

He pressed his hand upon his brow, looked vacantly round, and as if impelled by a sudden thought, crossed the road, and entered the sexton’s house. He and his deaf assistant were sitting before the fire. Both rose up, on seeing who it was.

The child made a hasty sign to them with his hand. It was the action of an instant, but that, and the old man’s look, were quite enough.

‘Do you—do you bury any one today?’ he said, eagerly.

‘No, no! Who should we bury, Sir?’ returned the sexton.

‘Ay, who indeed! I say with you, who indeed?’

‘It is a holiday with us, good Sir,’ returned the sexton mildly. ‘We have no work to do today.’

‘Why then, I’ll go where you will,’ said the old man, turning to the child. ‘You’re sure of what you tell me? You would not deceive me? I am changed even in the little time since you last saw me.’

‘Go thy ways with him, Sir,’ cried the sexton, ‘and Heaven be with ye both!’

‘I am quite ready,’ said the old man, meekly. ‘Come, boy, come—’ and so submitted to be led away.

And now the bell—the bell she had so often heard by night and day, and listened to with solemn pleasure almost as a living voice— rang its remorseless toll for her, so young, so beautiful, so good. Decrepit age, and vigorous life, and blooming youth, and helpless infancy, poured forth—on crutches, in the pride of strength and health, in the full blush of promise, in the mere dawn of life—to gather round her tomb. Old men were there, whose eyes were dim and senses failing—grandmothers, who might have died ten years ago, and still been old—the deaf, the blind, the lame, the palsied, the living dead in many shapes and forms, to see the closing of that early grave. What was the death it would shut in, to that which still could crawl and creep above it!

Along the crowded path they bore her; pure as the newly fallen snow that covered it; whose day on earth had been as fleeting. Under the porch, where she had sat when Heaven in its mercy brought her to that peaceful spot, she passed again, and the old church received her in its quiet shade.

They carried her to one old nook, where she had many and many a time sat musing, and laid their burden softly on the pavement. The light streamed on it through the coloured window—a window, where the

  By PanEris using Melati.

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