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23. CHAPTER TWENTY-THIRD.
Joe in a Fit of Rage.--The Death of a Good Man.--The Night of watching by the Body.--Barrenness and Drought.--The Burial.--The Quartz Rocks. --Joe's Hallucinations.--A Precious Ballast.--A Survey of the Gold-bearing Mountains.--The Beginning of Joe's Despair.
A magnificent night overspread the earth, and the missionary lay quietly asleep in utter exhaustion.
"He'll not get over it!" sighed Joe. "Poor young fellow--scarcely thirty years of age!"
"He'll die in our arms. His breathing, which was so feeble before, is growing weaker still, and I can do nothing to save him," said the doctor, despairingly.
"The infamous scoundrels!" exclaimed Joe, grinding his teeth, in one of those fits of rage that came over him at long intervals; "and to think that, in spite of all, this good man could find words only to pity them, to excuse, to pardon them!"
"Heaven has given him a lovely night, Joe--his last on earth, perhaps! He will suffer but little more after this, and his dying will be only a peaceful falling asleep."
The dying man uttered some broken words, and the doctor at once went to him. His breathing became difficult, and he asked for air. The curtains were drawn entirely back, and he inhaled with rapture the light breezes of that clear, beautiful night. The stars sent him their trembling rays, and the moon wrapped him in the white winding-sheet of its effulgence.
"My friends," said he, in an enfeebled voice, "I am going. May God requite you, and bring you to your safe harbor! May he pay for me the debt of gratitude that I owe to you!"
"You must still hope," replied Kennedy. "This is but a passing fit of weakness. You will not die. How could any one die on this beautiful summer night?"
"Death is at hand," replied the missionary, "I know it! Let me look it in the face! Death, the commencement of things eternal, is but the end of earthly cares. Place me upon my knees, my brethren, I beseech you!"
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