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CHAPTER 37: The Reaper Whose Name Is Death
"Matthew--Matthew--what is the matter? Matthew, are you sick?"
It was Marilla who spoke, alarm in every jerky word. Anne came through the hall, her hands full of white narcissus,--it was long before Anne could love the sight or odor of white narcissus again,--in time to hear her and to see Matthew standing in the porch doorway, a folded paper in his hand, and his face strangely drawn and gray. Anne dropped her flowers and sprang across the kitchen to him at the same moment as Marilla. They were both too late; before they could reach him Matthew had fallen across the threshold.
"He's fainted," gasped Marilla. "Anne, run for Martin-- quick, quick! He's at the barn."
Martin, the hired man, who had just driven home from the post office, started at once for the doctor, calling at Orchard Slope on his way to send Mr. and Mrs. Barry over. Mrs. Lynde, who was there on an errand, came too. They found Anne and Marilla distractedly trying to restore Matthew to consciousness.
Mrs. Lynde pushed them gently aside, tried his pulse, and then laid her ear over his heart. She looked at their anxious faces sorrowfully and the tears came into her eyes.
"Oh, Marilla," she said gravely. "I don't think--we can do anything for him."
"Mrs. Lynde, you don't think--you can't think Matthew is-- is--" Anne could not say the dreadful word; she turned sick and pallid.
"Child, yes, I'm afraid of it. Look at his face. When you've seen that look as often as I have you'll know what it means."
Anne looked at the still face and there beheld the seal of the Great Presence.
When the doctor came he said that death had been instantaneous and probably painless, caused in all likelihood by some sudden shock. The secret of the shock was discovered to be in the paper Matthew had held and which Martin had brought from the office that morning. It contained an account of the failure of the Abbey Bank.
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