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HAVE told you that little Lib was a delicate child, and
that she grew more and more fragile and weak as the summer
went on. In the hot, dry days of August she drooped
like a thirsty flower, and her strength failed very fast.
Her voice, though still sweet and clear, lost its
shrillness, and one had to draw very close to the little
speaker that he might not lose a word of the stories she
told. Aunt Jane York often came out to us now, anxious and
fussy, talking fretfully of and to little Lib, feeling the
small hands and feet to see if they were cold, and drawing
the shawl closer around the wasted form. I know she loved
the little girl, and perhaps she wished now that she had
 love more tenderly. She talked freely, in the very
presence of the child, of her rapid decline and the
probability that she would not "last long." Lib said nothing
concerning her own condition, and showed no sign of having
heard her aunt's comments. But one day, when Miss York,
after speaking very freely and plainly of the child's
approaching end, had gone indoors, Lib announced, in a low,
sweet voice, a new story.
The Boy That Was Scaret o' Dyin'
Once there was a boy that was dreadful scaret o' dyin'.
Some folks is that way, you know; they ain't never done it
to know how it feels, and they 're scaret. And this boy was
that way. He wa' n't very rugged, his health was sort o'
slim, and mebbe that made him
 think about sech things more. 'T any rate, he was terr'ble
scaret o' dyin'. 'T was a long time ago this was,—the times
when posies and creaturs could talk so 's folks could know
what they was sayin'.
And one day, as this boy, his name was Reuben,—I forget his
other name,—as Reuben was settin' under a tree, an ellum
tree, cryin', he heerd a little, little bit of a voice,—not
squeaky, you know, but small and thin and soft like,—and he
see 't was a posy talkin'. 'T was one o' them posies they call
Benjamins, with three-cornered whitey blowths with a mite o'
pink on 'em, and it talked in a kind o' pinky-white voice,
and it says, "What you cryin' for, Reuben?" And he says,
" 'Cause I 'm scaret o' dyin'," says he; "I 'm dreadful scaret
o' dyin'." Well, what do you think? That posy jest
 most cur'us little pinky-white laugh 't was,—and it
says, the Benjamin says: "Dyin'! Scaret o' dyin'?
Why, I die myself every single year o' my life." "Die
yourself!" says Reuben.
"You 're foolin'; you 're alive this
minute." " 'Course I be," says the Benjamin; "but
that 's neither here nor there,—I 've died every year sence I
can remember." "Don't it hurt?" says
the boy. "No, it don't," says the posy;
"it 's real nice. You see, you get kind o' tired
a-holdin' up your head straight and lookin' peart and wide
awake, and tired o' the sun shinin' so hot, and the winds
blowin' you to pieces, and the bees a-takin' your honey.
So it 's nice to feel sleepy and kind o' hang your head down,
and get sleepier and sleepier, and then find you 're droppin'
off. Then you wake up jest 't the nicest time o' year,
and come up and look 'round,
and  —why, I like to die, I do." But someways that did n't
help Reuben much as you 'd think. "I ain't a posy,"
he think to himself, "and mebbe I would n't come up."
Well, another time he was settin' on a stone in the lower
pastur', cryin' again, and he heerd another cur'us little
voice. 'T wa' n't like the posy's voice, but 't was a little,
wooly, soft, fuzzy voice, and he see 't was a caterpillar
a-talkin' to him. And the caterpillar says, in his fuzzy
little voice, he says, "What you cryin' for, Reuben?" And
the boy, he says, "I 'm powerful scaret o' dyin', that 's
why," he says. And that fuzzy caterpillar he laughed.
"Dyin'!" he says. "I 'm lottin' on dyin' myself. All my
fam'ly," he says, "die every once in a while, and when they
wake up they 're jest splendid,—got wings, and fly about, and
live on honey and things.
 Why, I would n't miss it for anything!" he says. "I 'm
lottin' on it." But somehow that did n't chirk up Reuben
much. "I ain't a caterpillar," he says, "and mebbe I
would n't wake up at all."
Well, there was lots o' other things talked to that boy, and
tried to help him,—trees and posies and grass and crawlin'
things, that was allers a-dyin' and livin', and livin' and
dyin'. Reuben thought it did n't help him any, but I guess it
did a little mite, for he could n't help thinkin' o' what
they every one on 'em said. But he was scaret all the same.
And one summer he begun to fail up faster and faster, and he
got so tired he could n't hardly hold his head up, but he
was scaret all the same. And one day he was layin' on the
bed, and lookin' out o' the east winder, and the sun kep'
a-shinin' in his eyes till he shet 'em up,
 and he fell asleep. He had a real good nap, and when he
woke up he went out to take a walk.
And he begun to think o' what the posies and trees and
creaturs had said about dyin', and how they laughed at his
bein' scaret at it, and he says to himself, "Why, someways
I don't feel so scaret to-day, but I s'pose I be." And jest
then what do you think he done? Why, he met a Angel. He 'd
never seed one afore, but he knowed it right off. And
the Angel says, "Ain't you
happy, little boy?" And Reuben says, "Well, I would be,
only I 'm so dreadful scaret o' dyin. It must be terr'ble
cur'us," he says, "to be dead." And the
Angel says, "Why, you be dead." And he was.
The story of the boy that was scaret o' dyin' was the last
story that little Lib
 ever told us. We saw her sometimes after that, but she was
not strong enough to talk much. She sat no longer now in the
low chair under the maples, but lay on a chintz-covered
couch in the sitting-room, by the west windows. The once
shrilly-sweet voice with its clear bird tones was but a
whisper now, as she told us over and again, while she lay
there, that she would tell us a new story "to-morrow." It
was always "to-morrow" till the end came. And the story was
to be, so the whisper went on, "the beautif'lest story,—oh,
you never did!" And its name was to be,—what a
faint and feeble reproduction of the old triumphant
announcement of a new title!—"The Posy Gardin' that the
She never told us that story. Before the autumn leaves had
fallen, while the maples in front of the farmhouse were
 still red and glorious in their dying beauty, we laid our
little friend to rest. Perhaps she will tell us the tale
some day. I am sure there will be "a Angel" in it,—sure,
too, that the story will have a new and tender meaning if we
hear it there, that story of the King and of the posy gardin'