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Uncle Tom's Cabin
Altemus' Young People's Library
Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1900

CHAPTER XXVII.

"THIS IS THE LAST OF EARTH."—John Q. Adams.

  THE BED was draped in white; and there, beneath a drooping angel-figure, lay a little sleeping form, sleeping never to awaken!

  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. 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. 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.


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  "Let her stay!" said St. Clare, suddenly stamping his foot. "She shall come."

  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.


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  "Get up, child," said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice; "don't cry so. Miss Eva is gone to heaven: she is an angel."

  "She said she loved me," said Topsv,—"she did! O, dear! oh, dear! there an't nobody left now,—there an'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.

  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 while 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.

  One day after the funeral 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


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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.

  "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, and 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 bow 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


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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?"

  "Does Mas'r?"

  "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. 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."