Page:Little Women.djvu/287

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Dark Days.

mother's easy-chair, with her face hidden. A dreadful fear passed coldly over Jo, as she thought, " Beth is dead, and Meg is afraid to tell me."

She was back at her post in an instant, and to her excited eyes a great change seemed to have taken place. The fever flush, and the look of pain, were gone, and the beloved little face looked so pale and peaceful in its utter repose, that Jo felt no desire to weep or to lament. Leaning low over this dearest of her sisters, she kissed the damp forehead with her heart on her lips, and softly whispered, " Good-by, my Beth ; good-by ! "

As if waked by the stir, Hannah started out of her sleep, hurried to the bed, looked at Beth, felt her hands, listened at her lips, and then, throwing her apron over her head, sat down to rock to and fro, ex- claiming, under her breath, " The fever's turned ; she's sleepin nat'ral ; her skin's damp, and she breathes easy. Praise be given ! Oh, my goodness me ! "

Before the girls could believe the happy truth, the doctor came to confirm 'it. He was a homely man, ^ but they thought his face quite heavenly when he |p. smiled, and said, with a fatherly look at them, " Yes, my dears ; I think the little girl will pull through this time. Keep the house quiet ; let her sleep, and when she wakes, give her — "

What they were to give, neither heard ; for both crept into the dark hall, and, sitting on the stairs, held each other close, rejoicing with hearts too full for words. When they went back to be kissed and cud- dled by faithful Hannah, they found Beth lying, as she used to do, with her cheek pillowed on her hand, the