But the soft, lulling notes of the bird were powerless over the girl's ear, as the
light sunbeam over her face--still she never woke.
The child entered, and pausing in her song, climbed on to the side of the couch.
She held out one little hand for the dove to perch upon, placed the other lightly on
Antonina's shoulder, and pressed her fresh, rosy lips to girl's faded cheek. 'I and
my bird have come to make Antonina well this morning,' she said gravely.
The still, heavily-closed eyelids moved!--they quivered, opened, closed, then
opened again. The eyes had a faint, dreaming, unconscious look; but Antonina
lived! Antonina was awakened at last to another day on earth!
Her father's rigid, straining gaze still remained fixed upon her as at first, but on
his countenance there was a blank, an absence of all appearance of sensation and
life. The women, as they looked on Antonina and looked on him, began to weep;
the child resumed very softly its morning song, now addressing it to the wounded
girl and now to the dove.
At this moment Vetranio and the physician appeared on the scene. The latter
advanced to the couch, removed the child from it, and examined Antonina
intently. At length, partly addressing Numerian, partly speaking to himself, he
said: 'She has slept long, deeply, without moving, almost without breathing--a
sleep like death to all who looked on it.'
The old man spoke not in reply, but the women answered eagerly in the
'She is saved,' pursued the physician, leisurely quitting the side of the couch and
smiling on Vetranio; 'be careful of her for days and days to come.'
'Saved! saved!' echoed the child joyfully, setting the dove free in the room, and
running to Numerian to climb on his knees. The father glanced down when the
clear young voice sounded in his ear. The springs of joy, so long dried up in his
heart, welled forth again as he saw the little hands raised towards him
entreatingly; his grey head drooped--he wept.
At a sign from the physician the child was led from the room. The silence of deep
and solemn emotion was preserved by all who remained; nothing was heard but
the suppressed sobs of the old man, and the faint, retiring notes of the infant voice
still singing its morning song. And now one word, joyfully reiterated again and
again, made all the burden of the music--