Death is at all times
solemn, at all times wonderful, often beautiful. If the life has
been beautiful then so is the death. In the mad whirl of affairs
that engulf us, we are apt to regard death as merely a natural
phenomenon and to lose sight of the fact, that when a Christian crosses
the bar the touch of the Divine Hand is always discernible.
But it was not to
last. The ever watchful, loving and merciful eye of a tender
Father was over her. To Him it was plain that the task was too
great, so he wisely relieved her frail body of the burden.
When it was first known that she was seriously ill and that her life
was hanging in the balance, we all felt that for the sake of her father
and the others dependent upon her, it would be best for her to
live. But when we turned to the other side of the picture and saw
her future with its duties, its perplexities that only a mother's
company would relieve, its sorrows and disappointments that do not
kill, but unmercifully leave us suffering, then we knew that for Emma's
sake it was best that she go.
Because of her reserved, sensitive nature, it was necessary to live
very near to her to know her. We are too prone to pass unnoticed
many charming and noble traits of character until death brings them
more prominently into view, yet to all who were in daily contact with Emma Howell
, the mention of her virtues will bring no surprises.
During the few months in which I had an opportunity to know her as a
student, I was enabled to penetrate the quiet exterior of her manners
and to find within a most beautiful nature, patient and loving.
To all commands she yielded an unquestioning obedience. No matter
how long the lesson or how hard, she simply smiled and went bravely to
work with no thought of complaint. She seemed to understand that
a teacher's path is not all roses, and she realized that "small service
is true service while it lasts." The weariness and heartache of
many a long day were lessened by her sunny little smiling "goodbye" at
the top of the stairs.
her companions also recognized her helpfulness. The new student
entering an unfamiliar room for the first time, always found Emma ready
to show the way. The tired child with a puzzling problem often
found Emma beside her deftly removing the tangles.
Deeds like these are not lost among children. On the morning of April 1st when news came that Emma Howell
was dying, the ache in many a youthful heart was apparent. The
dainty affectionate little girl, and the big fun loving boy full of
feeling never-the-less, all felt that something dear was going from us,
but that we had all been happier because she had lived.
During the few weeks of her illness the sense of responsibility never
left her. Her conscious hours were filled with thoughts of
others; of anxiety for her father and brother who were then almost as
near the Valley of the Shadow as she. Her gratefulness to her
nurses and her affection for them was touching. When her
fever-racked body was tossing in delirium, her thoughts were of the
children and their needs. Belle
must be kept in school and the baby brother must be cared for.
Nothing was forgotten, and when the icy hand was closing over her, her
feverish lips framed the petition that she would have uttered many
times had she lived. "Mama, come to me, I need you so
badly." The mother could not come; the daughter went.
Just one month from the day she bade her mother adieu she too was laid
to rest. Then Burnet witnessed the loneliest most pathetic
funeral for years. Of her own family only the sobbing little
, stood by the
grave and realized what was happening. The younger children
viewed the little white casket and the flower strewn mound that hid it
from view, and wondered what had become of Emma.
Kind friends and loving relatives performed the last sad rites and left her to sleep till the great awakening.
"Sleep soft, beloved, we sometimes say,
But have no tune to charm away
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep,
But [remainder of line unreadable]
Shall break the happy slumber when
He giveth his beloved sleep."