Friday, April 13, 2012

A Land Behind The Mountain

The little child was dying.  His weary limbs were racked with pain no more.  The flesh was fading from his thin cheeks, and the fever that had been for weeks drying up his blood, was now cooling rapidly under the touch of the icy hand that was upon him.  There were sounds and tokens of suppressed grief in that dim chamber for the dying boy was very dear to many hearts.  They knew that he was departing, and the thought was hard to bear; but they tried to command their feelings that they might not disturb the last moments of their darling.  The father and mother, and the kind physician, stood beside dear Eddy’s bed, and watch his heavy breathing.  He had been silent for some time and appeared to sleep.  They thought that it might be thus that he would pass away; but suddenly his blue eyes opened wide and clear, and a beautiful smile broke over his features.  He looked upward and forward first, then turning his eyes upon his mother’s face said in a sweet voice: “Mother, what is the name of the beautiful country that I see beyond the mountains – the high mountains?”

“I can see nothing, my child,” said the mother; “There are no mountains in sight of our house.”

“Look there, dear mother,” said the child pointing upward, “yonder are the mountains.  Can you not see them now?” he asked in tones of the greatest astonishment, as his mother shook her head.  “They are near me now – so large and so high, and behind them the country looks so beautiful, and the people there are so happy – there are no sick children there. Paps, cannot you see behind the mountains?  Tell me the name of that land.”

The parents glanced at each other and with united voices replied: “The land you see is heaven, is it not, my child?”

“Yes it is heaven.  I thought that must be the name.  O! let me go – but how shall I cross those mountains?  Father, will you not carry me?  Take me in your arms and carry me, for they call me from the other side and I must go.”

There was not a dry eye in that chamber and upon every heart there fell a solemn awe, as if the curtain which concealed its mysteries was about to be withdrawn.

O, mother – O, father! Do not cry, but come with me and cross the mountains – O come!”  And thus he entreated with a strength and earnestness which astonished all.  The chamber was filled with wondering and awe-stricken friends.  At length he turned to his mother, with a face beaming with rapturous delight, and stretching out his little arms for the last embrace, he cried: “Good-bye, mother, I am going, but don’t you be afraid – the strong man has come to carry me over the mountains.”

These were his parting words.  Upon his mother’s breast he breathed his last, and they laid the little fair body down again upon the pillow, and closed the lids over the beautiful blue eyes, over which the mist of death had gathered heavily, and bowing by the bedside they prayed with submissive, but bleeding hearts, and said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 1, 1862, p. 3

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