The Dolls' Dressmaker Discovers A Word

A DARKENED and hushed room; the river outside the windows flowing on to the vast ocean; a figure on the bed, swathed and bandaged and bound, lying helpless on its back, with its two useless arms in splints at its sides. Only two days of usage so familiarized the little dressmaker with this scene, that it held the place occupied two days ago by the recollections of years.

He had scarcely moved since her arrival. Sometimes his eyes were open, sometimes closed. When they were open, there was no meaning in their unwinking stare at one spot straight before them, unless for a moment the brow knitted into a faint expression of anger, or surprise. Then, Mortimer Lightwood would speak to him, and on occasions he would be so far roused as to make an attempt to pronounce his friend’s name. But, in an instant consciousness was gone again, and no spirit of Eugene was in Eugene’s crushed outer form.

They provided Jenny with materials for plying her work, and she had a little table placed at the foot of his bed. Sitting there, with her rich shower of hair falling over the chair-back, they hoped she might attract his notice. With the same object, she would sing, just above her breath, when he opened his eyes, or she saw his brow knit into that faint expression, so evanescent that it was like a shape made in water. But as yet he had not heeded. The “they” here mentioned, were the medical attendant; Lizzie, who was there in all her intervals of rest; and Lightwood, who never left him.

The two days became three, and the three days became four. At length, quite unexpectedly, he said something in a whisper.

“What was it, my dear Eugene?”

“Will you, Mortimer—”

“Will I—?”

—“Send for her?”

“My dear fellow, she is here.”

Quite unconscious of the long blank, he supposed that they were still speaking together.

The little dressmaker stood up at the foot of the bed, humming her song, and nodded to him brightly. “I can’t shake hands, Jenny,” said Eugene, with something of his old look; “but I am very glad to see you.”

Mortimer repeated this to her, for it could only be made out by bending over him and closely watching his attempts to say it. In a little while, he added:

“Ask her if she has seen the children.”

Mortimer could not understand this, neither could Jenny herself, until he added:

“Ask her if she has smelt the flowers.”

“Oh! I know!” cried Jenny. “I understand him now!” Then, Lightwood yielded his place to her quick approach, and she said, bending over the bed, with that better look: “You mean my long bright slanting rows of children, who used to bring me ease and rest? You mean the children who used to take me up, and make me light?”

Eugene smiled, “Yes.”

“I have not seen them since I saw you. I never see them now, but I am hardly ever in pain now.”

“It was a pretty fancy,” said Eugene.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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