LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY 385
Week after week glided away in the St. Clare mansion, and the waves of life settled back to their usual flow, where that little bark had gone down. For how imperiously, how coolly, in disregard of all one's feeling, does the hard, cold, uninteresting course of daily realities move on ! Still must we eat, and drink, and sleep, and wake again, — still bargain, buy, sell, ask and answer questions, — pursue, in short, a thousand shadows, though all interest in them be over; the cold, mechanical habit of living remaining, after all vital interest in it has fled.
All the interests and hopes of St. Clare's life had unconsciously wound themselves around this child. It was for Eva that he had managed his property; it was for Eva that he had planned the disposal of his time; and, to do this and that for Eva, — to buy, improve, alter, and arrange, or dispose something for her, — had been so long his habit, that now she was gone, there seemed nothing to be thought of, and nothing to be done.
True, there was another life, — a life which, once believed in, stands as a solemn, significant figure before the otherwise unmeaning ciphers of time, changing them to orders of mysterious, untold value. St. Clare knew this well; and often, in many a weary hour, he heard that slender, childish voice calling him to the skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life; but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him, — he could not arise. He had one of those natures which could better and more clearly conceive of religious things from its own perceptions and instincts, than many a matter-of-fact and practical