THE CHILD IN THE GRAVE
There was sorrow in the house, sorrow in every heart. The youngest child, a bo}^ four years old, the joy and hope of his parents, had died. There still remained to them two daughters, the elder of whom was about to be confirmed —good, charming girls both ; but the child that one has lost always seems the dearest; and here it was the youngest, and a son. It was a heavy trial. The sisters mourned as young hearts can, and were especially moved at the sight of their parents' sorrow. The father was bowed down, and the mother completely overpowered by the great grief. Day and night she had been busy about the sick child, and had tended, lifted, and carried it ; she had felt how it was a part of herself. She could not realize that the child was dead, and that it must be laid in a coffin and sleep in the ground. She thought God could not take this child from her ; and when it was so, nevertheless, and there could be no more doubt on the subject, she said in her feverish pain,
' God did not know it. He has heartless servants here on earth, who do according to their own liking, and hear not the prayers of a mother.'
In her grief she fell away from God, and then there came dark thoughts, thoughts of death, of everlasting death— that man was but dust in the dust, and that with this life all was ended. But these thoughts gave her no stay, nothing on which she could take hold ; and she sank into the fathomless abyss of despair.
In her heaviest hours she could weep no more, and she thought not of the young daughters who were still left to her. The tears of her husband fell upon her forehead, but she did not look at him. Her thoughts were with the dead child ; her whole thought and being were fixed upon it, to call back every remembrance of the little one, every innocent childish word it had uttered.
The day of the funeral came. For nights before, the mother had not slept; but in the morning twilight she now slept, overcome by weariness; and in the meantime