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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » A Loyal Little Red-Coat » CHAPTER XXIII—FLUTTERS LOSES ONE OF THE OLD FRIENDS
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CHAPTER XXIII—FLUTTERS LOSES ONE OF THE OLD FRIENDS
OSEPPIINE had stood in the doorway of the little cottage half a dozen times within the last hour peering anxiously down the road in search of Flutters, and now that she discovered him coming cross-cut through the meadow near which he had left the wagon, no one could have told how relieved she felt.

“Oh, Flutters, I’m so glad you’ve come!” she called softly, as soon as he came within speaking distance, and then immediately turned back into the room. Flutters followed her on tip-toe, for she had motioned him to come in quietly. “What is the matter?” he asked, going close to Bobbin’s cot.

“Oh, I don t know,” Josephine whispered, with tears of anxious sympathy filling her gray eyes; “we had had a lovely talk together, and then he asked me to read out of a book, your Prayer-Book, he said it was, and so I read ever so many psalms from the Psalter, till suddenly looking up I saw that he was in great pain, and when I spoke to him he seemed neither to see nor hear me. In a little while the pain passed over, and ever since he has lain there so still that I have had to put my ear down very close to make sure that he was breathing.”

“Dear old Bobbin,” said Flutters, stroking the thin gray hair. The well-known voice, or perhaps the gentle touch, seemed to rouse him, for he slowly opened his eyes and seeing Flutters, smiled.

“You’ll not try to keep me this time,” he said slowly, looking up at Flutters beseechingly, but in a voice too low and weak for even Josephine to hear.

“He said not to try to keep him this time,” Flutters explained, “but don’t you think I ought to go right away for a doctor?”

Bobbin moved his head entreatingly from side to side, so Josephine said: “Well, perhaps not yet, Flutters, he seems so much more comfortable now,” whereupon Bobbin looked the thanks he felt. After a while, when he had once again mustered strength, he said: “Flutters, the little book.”

Flutters, knowing well enough what he meant, took the Prayer-Book which had been soon restored to Bobbin after that night when he had first joyfully discovered it, and turning to the selections for the twenty-fifth day of the month began to read. Josephine drew a chair to the fireplace and sat listening, with her hands folded in her lap, while Bobbin never took his eyes from Flutters’s face, as he sat close beside him so that he might hear distinctly.

The little hut looked very cheery and cosey, converted as it had been into such a comfortable shelter, more comfortable indeed than Bobbin had ever known, and at a time, too, when a warm room and a quiet one meant more to him than it could have meant at anytime in all his life before. But the light in the room was momentarily growing more and more dim, and Flutters had to hold the book high in his hand toward the little window in order to see at all. Gradually Bobbin’s tired eyes closed, and the last words that fell on his ears were these: “My soul has longed for Thy salvation and I have a good hope because of Thy Word. Mine eyes long sore for Thy Word, saying, Oh, when wilt Thou comfort me?” Flutters finished the selection and looked up. “Miss Josephine!” was all he found words to say, but both of them knew in a moment that in very truth “Evacuation Day” had come for Bobbin too, evacuation from all the sorrows of a long, hard life.

“I am not sorry,” said Josephine, looking down on the calm face from which all the care seemed at once to have vanished.

“Nor I,” said Flutters, “but he was such a good friend to me when no one else cared,” and then, unable to keep the tears back, he laid his arm on Bobbin’s bed, and burying his face upon it, cried bitterly.

There was something sacred about this deep sense of personal loss that was finding vent in Flutters’s hot tears, and for a while Josephine hesitated to intrude upon it. She moved quietly about the room setting its few little articles to rights, and then when there was nothing else to be done, and Flutters had gotten himself somewhat in hand, she sat down by his side.

“What do you know about Bobbin’s history, Flutters?” she asked.

“Not much,” trying to master the emotion that made it difficult to speak; “he never liked to talk about himself, but he told me once he had always been sort of alone ever since he could remember, and that he hadn’t a relative in the world.”

Two days afterward, Bobbin was laid away in a corner of the little cemetery surrounding St. George’s Church, Mr. Marberry having gained the consent of the Vestry to have him buried there. Mr. Marberry read the service from Flutters’s own Prayer-Book, and about the grave of the old man whose life had been so lonely, gathered at the last a little company of loving friends. It seemed to Flutters as if, with Bobbin’s death, the chapter of his life that had to do with the wretched circus had been forever closed, but, oh, how thankful he was to have been able to make so calm and peaceful the last days of the only friend it had ever given him. Once again the road-side cottage was dismantled of everything that made it homelike, and as the bleak wintry winds whistled round and through it, who would have thought that such a little while ago an old man had been comfortably housed there, and that it was only now left tenantless, because its occupant no longer had need of any earthly shelter.


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