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SILENT SISTERS. They had quaielled in girlhood and mutually declared their intention never to speak to each other again, wetting and drying their fore- fingers to the accompaniment of an ancient childish incantation, a.nd while they lived on the paternal farm they kept their foolish oath with the stubborness of a slow country stock, despite the alternate coaxing and chastisement of their parents, notwithstanding the per- petual everyday contact of their lives, through every vicissitude of season and Aveather, of sowing and reaping, of sun and shade, of joy and sorrow. Death and misfortune did not reconcile them, and when their father died and the old farm was sold up they travelled to London in the same silence, by the same train, in search of similar situations. Service separated them for years, though there was only a stone's throw between them. They often stared at each other in the streets. Honor, the elder, married a local artisan; two and a half years later Mercy, the younger, married a fellow workman of Jane's husband. The two hus- bands were friends and often visited each other's houses, which were on opposite sides of the same sordid street, and the wives made them Avelcome. Neither Honor nor Mercy suffered an allusion to the breach. It was understood that their silence must be received n silence. Each of the sisters had a quiverful of chil- dren, who played and quarelled together in the streets and in one another's houses, but not even the street affrays and mutual grie- vances of the children could provoke the mothers to words. They stood at their doors in impotent fury, almost bursting with the torture of keeping their mouths shut against the effervescence of angry speech. When either lost a, child, the other watched1 the funeral from her window, dumb as mutes. The years rolled on. and still the river of silence floAved between their lives. Their good looks faded. The burden of life and of their childbearing was heavy upon them. Grey hairs streaked their brown tresses, then browr hairs streaked their grey tresses. The puckers of age re-placed the dimples of youth. The years rolled on, and Death grew busy among :he families. Honor's husband died, and Mercy lost a son, who died a week after his wife. Cholera took several of the vounger children. But the sisters themselves lived on. bent and shrivelled by toil and sorrow even more than by the slow frost of the years. Then one day Mercy took to her deathbed. An internal disease, too long neglected, would carry her off within a week. So the doctor told Jim, Mercy's husband. Through him the news travelled to Honor's eldest son, who still lived with her. By the evening it reached Honor. As Honor entered Mercy's sick room, with pursed lips, a light leaped into the wasted, wrinkled countenance of the dying creature- She raj sea herself slightly in bed, her lips par- ted, then shut tightly, and her face darkened. Honor turned angrily to Mercy's husband, who hung about imputently. "Why did you let her run down so low," she said. "I didn't know," the old' man stammered taken back by her presence even more than by her question. "She was always a woman to say nothing." Honor put him impatiently aside and examined the medicine bottle on the bedside table. Isn't it time she took her dose?" "I dessav." Honor snorted rathfully. "What's the use of a man?" she inquired as she carefully mea- sured out the fluid and put it to her sister's lips, which opened to receive it and then closed tightly again. "How is your wife feelin' now?" Honor asked after a pause. "How are you now. Mercy?' asked the old man awkwardly. The old woman shook her head. "I'm a-goin' fast, Jim," she grumbled Avea.kly, and a tear of self pity trickled down her parchment cheek. "What rubbidge she do talk." cried Honor sharply. "What d'ye stand there like f1 tailor's dummy? Why don't you tell her to cheer up ?" "Cheer up, Mercy," quavered the old man oarsely. But Mercy groaned instead and turned fret- fully on her other side, with her face to the Avail. "I m too old, I'm too old," she moaned. "This is the end o' me." "Did you ever hear the like ?" Honor asked Jim angrily as she smoothed his Avife's pillow. "She was always conceited about her age. getting herself up aos the equals of her elders,a.nd here am 1. her elder sister, a-s carried her in my arms when I was five and she was two. still hale and strong, and with no mind for underground for many a long day. Nigh three times her age I was once. mind you. and now she has the imperence to talk of dyin' before me." She took off her bonnet and shawl. "Send one o' tlie kids, to tell my boy I'm stay in," here," she said. "And then just you get 'em all to bed—there's too much noise about the house." The children, who were orphaned grand- children of the dying woman, were sent to bed, and then Jim himself was packed off to refresh himself for the next day's labours, for the poor old fellow still doddered a.bout the workshop. The silence of the sick room spread over the whole house. About ten o'clock the d.iet'ir came again and instructed Honor how to alleviate the patient's last hours. All night long she sat Avatohing her dying sister, hand a.n eye alert to anticipate every wish. No word broke the awful stillness. The first thing in the morning Mercy's married daughter, the ouly chiild of her's living in London, arrived to nurse her mother. But Honor indignantly refused to be dis- possessed. "A nice daughter you are," she said, "to leave your mother a. day and a night without a sight o' your ugly face!" "I had to look after the good man and the littie 'uns the daughter pleaded. "Then what do you mean by desertin' them no\?" the irate old Avoman retorted. "First you desetts your mother and then your hush: nd and children. You just go back to them as needs your care. I carried your mother in my arms before you was born, and if she wants anybody else now to look after her let her just tell me so. and I'll be o in a br, ce o' shakes." She looked defiantly at the vellow, dried up creature in the bed. Mercy's Avithered lips tAvitclied, but no sound came from them. Jim, strung up by the situation, took the word. "You can't do no good up here, the doctor says. You might look after the kids down stairs a bit when you, can spare an hour, and I've got to go to the shop. I'll send you a, telegraph if there's a change," he Avhispered to the daugh- ter, and she. not wholly discontented to return to her living interests, kissed her mother, linge- ed a little and then stole quietly away. All that day the old women lingered together In solemn silence, broken only by the doctor's visits. He reported that Mercy might last a couple of days more. In the evening Jim re- placed his sister-in-law, who slept perforce. At midnight she awoke and sent him to bed. n The sufferer tossed about restlessly. At 2.30 she awoke, and Honor fed her with some broth as she would have fed a baby. Mercy, indeed, looked scarcely bigger tha,n an infant, and Honor had the advantage of her only by being puffed out with clothes. A church clock in the distance struck three. Then the silence fell deeper. The watcher drowsed. The lamp flickered. tossing her shadow about the Avails as if she, too, were turning feverishly from side to side. A strange ticking made itself heard in the wainscoting. Mercy sat up -with a scream of terror. "Jim," she shrieked. "Jim Honor listened, her blood curdling. Then she went towards the door and opened it. "Jim," she said in low tones, speak in" to- wards tne landing, tea ner it s nonnu •- only a mouse. She was always a nervous little thing." And she closed the door softly* and pressing her trembling sister tenderly 11 ba.ck on the pillow tucked her up snugly jIl the blanket. Next morning, when Jim was really Pre" sent, the patient begged pathetically to have a grandchild with her in the room, dajr an night. "Don't leave me alone again," s"e quavered; "don't leave me alone, with not » soul to talk to." Honor Avinced, but sa1 nothing. The youngest child, who did not have to go to school, Ava-s brought—a pretty littxO boy with brown curls, which the sun, streanl- ing through the panes, turned to gold. The morning passed slowly. About noon Mercy took the ch:ld's hand and smoothed his curls. "My sister Honor had golden curls hke that," she whispered. "They Avere in the family, Bobby," Hono an,swered. "Your granny had them, toO, when she was a girl." There Avas a long pause. Mercy's Avere half glazed, but her vision Avas inwafa now. "The mignonette will be growing in the meadows, Bobby," she murmured. "Yes, and the heartsea-se," said Hon<>r softly. "We lived in the country, you know, Bobby." "There is flowers in the country," BobbY declared gravely. "Yes, and trees," said Honor. "I wonder if your granny remembers when we were larrupped for stealing apples ?" "Aye. that I do, Bobby. He, he the dying creature, with a burst of en- thusiasm. "We Avere a pair of tom-boy3* The varmer he ran after us, crying, 'Ye Ye but we Aveuldn't take no gar. He, Ilet lie Honor wept at the laughter. The nati^e idiom, unheard for half a century, made hef face shine under the tears. Don't let your granny excite herself, Bobby. Let me her a drink." She moved the boy aside. and Mercy's lips automatically opened to the draft. "Tom was wi' us Bobby," she gurtrlel, still vibrating with amusement, "and he tumbled over on the heather. He, he "Tom is dead this 40 year, Bobby," Avliin1" pered Honor. Mercy's head fell back, and an expression of supreme exhaustion came OA~er her face- Half an hour passed. Bobby was calle<- down to dinner. The doctor had been sent for. Suddenly Mercy sat up Avith a jer?' Mercy bent toward the side of the ted. "A?' is Honor still there? Kiss me. Bobhv." 11e hands groped blindly. the old women's withered lips met. Ac" in that kiss Mercy passed away into the greater silence.-L. ZangAvill, in "Outlook.