The time came, before many days, when the last tie that bound Joan to her present life was broken. The little one, who from the first had clung to existence with a frail hold, at last loosened its weak grasp. It had been ill for several days,—so ill that Joan had remained at home to nurse it,—and one night, sitting with it upon her knee in her accustomed place, she saw a change upon the small face.
It had been moaning continuously, and suddenly the plaintive sound ceased. Joan bent over it. She had been holding the tiny hand as she always did, and at this moment the soft fingers closed upon one of her own quietly. She was quite alone, and for an instant there was a deep silence. After her first glance at the tiny creature, she broke this silence herself.
"Little lass," she said in a whisper, "what ails thee? Is thy pain o'er?"
As she looked again at the baby face upturned as if in silent answer, the truth broke in upon her.
Folding her arms around the little form, she laid her head upon its breast and wept aloud,—wept as she had never wept before. Then she laid the child upon a pillow and covered its face. Liz's last words returned to her with a double force. It had not lived to forget or blame her. Where was Liz to-night,—at this hour, when her child was so safe?