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On a fine, mild autumn day, when all was tranquil and at peace:
when the soft sweet air crept in at the open window of the quiet
room, and not a sound was heard but the gentle rustling of the
leaves: Nicholas sat in his old place by the bedside, and knew that
the time was nearly come. So very still it was, that, every now and
then, he bent down his ear to listen for the breathing of him who
lay asleep, as if to assure himself that life was still there, and that
he had not fallen into that deep slumber from which on earth
there is no waking.
While he was thus employed, the closed eyes opened, and on
the pale face there came a placid smile.
‘That’s well!’ said Nicholas. ‘The sleep has done you good.’
‘I have had such pleasant dreams,’ was the answer. ‘Such
pleasant, happy dreams!’
‘Of what?’ said Nicholas.
The dying boy turned towards him, and, putting his arm about
his neck, made answer, ‘I shall soon be there!’
After a short silence, he spoke again.
‘I am not afraid to die,’ he said. ‘I am quite contented. I almost
think that if I could rise from this bed quite well I would not wish
to do so, now. You have so often told me we shall meet again--so
very often lately, and now I feel the truth of that so strongly--that
I can even bear to part from you.’
The trembling voice and tearful eye, and the closer grasp of the
arm which accompanied these latter words, showed how they
filled the speaker’s heart; nor were there wanting indications of
how deeply they had touched the heart of him to whom they were
‘You say well,’ returned Nicholas at length, ‘and comfort me