Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/278

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from the bed to the chair by the fireside, and back again from the weary chair to the joyless bed—his bed and hers—their marriage-bed; till even this short journey ceased, and his head lay all day upon the pillow, and hers all night beside it. How long poor Mr. Toothaker was kept in misery! Death seemed to draw near the door, and often to lift the latch, and sometimes to thrust his ugly skull into the chamber, nodding to Rose, and pointing at her husband, but still delayed to enter. 'This bedridden wretch cannot escape me!' quoth Death. 'I will go forth, and run a race with the swift, and fight a battle with the strong, and come back for Toothaker at my leisure!' Oh, when the deliverer came so near, in the dull anguish of her worn-out sympathies, did she never long to cry, 'Death, come in!'

But, no! We have no right to ascribe such a wish to our friend Rose. She never failed in a wife's duty to her poor sick husband. She murmured not, though a glimpse of the sunny sky was as strange to her as him, nor answered peevishly, though his complaining accents roused her from her sweetest dream, only to share his wretchedness. He knew her faith, yet nourished a cankered jealousy; and when the slow disease had chilled all his heart, save one lukewarm spot, which Death's frozen fingers were searching for, his last words were: 'What would my Rose have done for her first love, if she has been so true and kind to a sick old man like me!' And then his poor soul crept away, and left the body lifeless, though hardly more so than for years before, and Rose a widow, though in truth it was the wedding night that widowed