In Lexington apprehension battled with hope. The doctors remained confident, and Mrs. Lee talked of the time "when Robert gets well," but in her heart she was haunted by the look that had come into his eyes when he had tried vainly to answer her at the supper table and then had sat upright. "I saw he had taken leave of earth," she afterwards wrote. The superstitious whispered that his end was at hand because his picture had fallen down from the wall of his house; and when a flashing aurora lighted the sky for several nights some saw in it a beckoning hand. One Lexington woman took down a copy of The Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and pointed significantly to this quatrain:
"All night long the northern streamers
Shot across the trembling sky:
Fearful lights, that never beckon
Save when kings or heroes die."
~ Douglas Southall Freeman