694 THE CHILD IN THE GRAVE
the coffin was carried into a distant room, and there nailed down, that she might not hear the blows of the hammer.
When she awoke, and wanted to see her child, the husband said,
1 We have nailed down the coffin. It was necessary to do so.'
* When God is hard towards me, how should men be better ? ' she said, with sobs and groans.
The coffin was carried to the grave. The inconsolable mother sat with her young daughters. She looked at her daughters, and yet did not see them, for her thoughts were no longer busied with home. She gave herself up to her grief, and grief tossed her to and fro as the sea tosses a ship without compass or rudder. So the day of the funeral passed away, and similar days followed, of dark, wearying pain. With moist eyes and mournful glances, the sorrowing daughters and the afflicted husband looked upon her who would not hear their words of comfort; and, indeed, what words of comfort could they speak to her, when they themselves were heavily bowed down ?
It seemed as though she knew sleep no more ; and yet he would now have been her best friend, who would have strengthened her body, and poured peace into her soul. They persuaded her to seek her couch, and she lay still there, like one who slept. One night her husband was listening to her breathing, and fully believed that she had now found rest and relief. He folded his arms and prayed, and soon sank into a deep healthy sleep ; and thus he did not notice that his wife arose, threw on her clothes, and silently glided from the house, to go where her thoughts always lingered—to the grave which held her child. She stepped through the garden of the house, and over the fields, where a path led to the churchyard. No one saw her and she saw no one.
It was a lovely starlight night; the air was still mild; it was in the beginning of September. She entered the churchyard, and stood by the little grave, which looked like a great nosegay of fragrant flowers. She sat down, and bowed her head low over the grave, as if she could have seen her child through the earth, her little boy, whose smile rose so vividly before her—the gentle expression of