LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 333
hands get so wise, that a child cannot cough, or sneeze, but you see desperation and ruin at hand. Only take care of the child, keep her from the night air, and don't let her play too hard, and she '11 do well enough."
So St. Clare said; but he grew nervous and restless. He watched Eva feverishly day by day, as might be told by the frequency with which he repeated over that " the child was quite well," — that there was n't anything in that cough, — it was only some little stomach affection, such as children often had. But he kept by her more than before, took her oftener to ride with him, brought home every few days some receipt or strengthening mixture, — " not," he said, " that the child needed it, but then it would not do her any harm."
If it must be told, the thing that struck a deeper pang to his heart than anything else was the daily increasing maturity of the child's mind and feelings. While still retaining all a child's fanciful graces, yet she often dropped, unconsciously, words of such a reach of thought, and strange, unworldly wisdom, that they seemed to be an inspiration. At such times, St. Clare would feel a sudden thrill, and clasp her in his arms, as if that fond clasp could save her; and his heart rose up with wild determination to keep her, never to let her go.
The child's whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works of love and kindness. Impulsively generous she had always been ; but there was a touching and womanly thoughtfulness about her now, that every one noticed. She still loved to play with Topsy, and the various colored children ; but she now seemed rather a spectator than an actor of their plays, and she would sit, for half an hour at a time, laughing at the odd tricks of Topsy, — and then a shadow would seem to pass across her face, her eyes grew misty, and her thoughts were afar.
" Mamma," she said, suddenly, to her mother, one day, " why don't we teach our servants to read ? "
" What a question, child ! People never do."