Beulah (Chapter 5, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 5

Little Johnny's illness proved long and serious, and for many days
and nights he seemed on the verge of the tomb. His wailings were
never hushed except in Beulah's arms, and, as might be supposed,
constant watching soon converted her into a mere shadow of her
former self. Dr. Hartwell often advised rest and fresh air for her,
but the silent shake of her head proved how reckless she was of her
own welfare. Thus several weeks elapsed, and gradually the sick
child grew stronger. One afternoon Beulah sat holding him on her
knee: he had fallen asleep, with one tiny hand clasping hers, and
while he slept she read.

Absorbed in the volume Eugene had given
her, her thoughts wandered on with the author, amid the moldering
monuments of Westminster Abbey, and finally the sketch was concluded
by that solemn paragraph: "Thus man passes away; his name perishes
from record and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told,
and his very monument becomes a ruin." Again she read this sad
comment on the vanity of earth and its ephemeral hosts, and her mind
was filled with weird images, that looked out from her earnest eyes.
Dr. Hartwell entered unperceived, and stood for some moments at the
back of her chair, glancing over her shoulder at the last page.

At length she closed the book, and, passing her hand wearily over her
eyes, said audibly: "Ah! if we could only have sat down together in that gloomy garret,
and had a long talk! It would have helped us both. Poor Chatterton!
I know just how you felt, when you locked your door and lay down on
your truckle-bed, and swallowed your last draught!"

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