« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Harry, an embryo man, ran along the bridge, shouting “ Help! help !”
When Miss Eltham looked again, the water was so clear, that she saw Alice floating, or, she believed, rolling along towards the very arch upon which she stood. Again the poor girl rose, and extended her arms. Suddenly Miss Eltham's presence of mind returned : she called loudly for assistance, and rushed down the bank, so as to meet, as it were, the blind girl as the current bore her through the arch ; for the waters seemed to deal gently with their prey: but one stronger and more useful was there before her-even Mary Browne. She had waded the stream, and, holding by the strong arm of a tree, which bent most gracefully, and what was better still, most usefully, into the water, she caught Alice by her long floating hair; and in less than a minute the blind girl-ay, and her dog Beau-were on the bank. It was some little time before Alice was restored to consciousness, and knew who breathed upon her cheek—what warm soft hands chafed her temples, and wrung the water from her hair. The first thing that seemed really to restore her was her little dog placing his paws upon her shoulder, and licking her face all over with his little red tongue, as if requesting pardon for his rashness ; — she put her arm round him, and kissed his wet coat.
“And why did you go out by yourself, dear Alice, at this time in the evening ?” inquired Chatterbox, as the servants and some of the villagers were about to carry the blind girl to Eltham House, that she might have dry clothes, and be returned safely and comfortably to her mother, if possible, before the dame had been made aware of the danger she had
so providentially escaped. “Why did you venture out by yourself, Alice ?— why ?- tell me.”
The poor girl turned her blind eyes towards Fanny Eltham, and replied: “Why, Miss, you said my mother could not live
—and looked pale—and was more lame—and ought to have a doctor; and unless it was really so, I knew a child—a young lady— would not say it. I could believe you; and I knew they wanted, through kindness, to deceive me. My mother went to fold the kids ; I felt I should have no rest until the doctor saw her; and as night and day are alike to the poor blind girl, and Beau, I thought, was steady, and knew the way, I resolved to seek the doctor myself. That was how I came to be out, Miss Fanny-all through your words.”
Poor Fanny! this was indeed a serious lesson. The various warnings she had received as to what her chattering might lead to, rang in her ears : her head whirled round; she dared not look up, for she felt that every eye was fixed upon her: her thoughtless words had led almost to the death of a helpless innocent being, whom she had loved all her life, and who had heaped little gifts and acts of kindness upon her from the moment she was able to climb the blind girl's knee. Could it be that words—mere words—had done this?
“Oh Alice, Alice !” she exclaimed, passionately ; “ can you ever forgive me?”
Bitter as was the lesson, it was not brief. Anxiety for her mother, and the violent shock her delicate frame had sustained, threw Alice into a fever, from which she recovered slowly.
The last letter I received from Mrs. Eltham contains a passage which made me say, at the commencement of this