Cousin Maude (Chapter 6, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 6

From the tall trees which shade the desolate old house the leaves
have fallen one by one, and the November rain makes mournful music
as in the stillness of the night it drops upon the withered foliage,
softly, slowly, as if weeping for the sorrow which has come upon the
household. Matty Kennedy is dead; and in the husband's heart there
is a gnawing pain, such as he never felt before; not even when Katy
died; for Katy, though pure and good, was not so wholly unselfish as
Matty had been, and in thinking of her, he could occasionally recall
an impatient word; but from Matty none.

Gentle, loving, and beautiful she had been to him in life; and now, beautiful in death,
she lay in the silent parlor, on the marble table she had brought
from home, while he--oh, who shall tell what thoughts were busy at
his heart, as he sat there alone, that dismal, rainy night.

In one respect his wishes had been gratified; Matty had not turned
from him in death. She had died within his arms; but so long as the
light of reason shone in her blue eyes,--so long had they, rested on
the rose-bush within the window,--the rose-bush brought from Harry's
grave! Nestled among its leaves was a half-opened bud, and when none
could hear, she whispered softly to Janet, "Place it in my bosom
just as you placed one years ago, when I was Harry's bride."

To Nellie and to Maude she had spoken blessed words of comfort,
commending to the latter as to a second mother the little Louis,
who, trembling with fear, had hidden beneath the bedclothes, so that
he could not see the white look upon her face. Then to her husband
she had turned, pleading with all a mother's tenderness for her
youngest born--her unfortunate one.

"Oh, husband," she said, "you will care for him when I am gone. You
will love my poor, crippled boy! Promise me this, and death will not
be hard to meet. Promise me, won't you?" and the voice was very,
very faint.

He could not refuse, and bending low, he said, "Matty, I will, I

"Bless you, my husband, bless you for that," was Matty's dying
words, for she never spoke again.

It was morning then,--early morning, and a long, dreary day had
intervened, until at last it was midnight, and silence reigned
throughout the house. Maude, Nellie, Janet, and John had wept
themselves sick, while in little Louis' bosom there was a sense of
desolation which kept him wakeful, even after Maude had cried
herself to sleep. Many a time that day had he stolen into the
parlor, and climbing into a chair, as best he could, had laid his
baby cheek against the cold, white face, and smoothing with his
dimpled hand the shining hair, had whispered, "Poor, sick mother,
won't you speak to Louis any more? "

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