« PreviousContinue »
Del would look when they dragged them of the climbing sun, and dripped, as she out down below the machine-shop! had seen it drip before, with blood.
“Sene, are you cold ?” asked puz- The day broke softly, the snow meltzled Dick. She was warmly wrapped ed, the wind blew warm from the river. in her little squirrel furs ; but he felt The factory-bеll chimed cheerily, and her quivering upon his arm, like one in a few sleepers, in safe, luxurious beds, an ague, all the way home.
were wakened by hearing the girls sing About eleven o'clock that night her on their way to work. father waked from an exciting dream Asenath came down with a quiet concerning the best method of blacking face. In her communing with the sunpatent-leather ; Sene stood beside his rise helpful things had been spoken to bed with her gray shawl thrown over her. Somehow, she knew not how, the her night-dress.
peace of the day was creeping into her “ Father, suppose some time there heart. For some reason, she knew not should be only you and me —"
why, the torment and unrest of the “Well, well, Sene," said the old man night were gone. There was a future sleepily, — “very well.”
to be settled, but she would not trouble "I'd try to be a good girl! Could herself about that just now. There was you love me enough to make up ?” breakfast to get; and the sun shone,
He told her indistinctly that she al- and a snow-bird was chirping outside ways was a good girl ; she never of the door. She noticed how the teahad a whipping from the day her kettle hummed, and how well the new mother died. She turned away im- curtain, with the castle and waterfall on patiently; then cried out and fell upon it, fitted the window. She thought that her knees.
she would scour the closet at night,, " Father, father!
I'm in a great and surprise her father by finishing trouble. I have n't got any mother, those list slippers. She kissed him any friend, anybody. Nobody helps when she had tied on the red hood, me! Nobody knows. I've been think- and said good-by to Dick, and told ing such things - 0, such wicked things them just where to find the squash-pie - up in my room! Then I got afraid for dinner. of myself. You 're good. You love When she had closed the twisted me. I want you to put your hand gate, and taken a step or two upon the on my head and say, 'God bless snow, she came thoughtfully back. Her you, child, and show you how.'” father was on his bench, mending one
Bewildered, he put his hand upon of Meg Match's shoes. She pushed her unbound hair, and said: “God it gently out of his hands, sat down bless you, child, and show you how !” upon his lap, and stroked the shaggy
Asenath looked at the old withered hair away from his forehead. hand a moment, as it lay beside her on ~ Father!" the bed, kissed it, and went away. “Well, what now, Sene ? — what
There was a scarlet sunrise the next now?” morning. A pale pink flush stole “Sometimes I believe I 've forgotten through a hole in the curtain, and fell you a bit, you know. I think we 're across Asenath's sleeping face, and going to be happier after this. That 's lay there like a crown. It woke her, all.” and she threw on her dress; and sat She went out singing, and he heard down for a while on the window-sill, the gate shut again with a click. to watch the coming-on of the day. Sene was a little dizzy that morning,
The silent city steeped and bathed - the constant palpitation of the floors itself in rose-tints; the river ran red, always made her dizzy after a wakeful and the snow crimsoned on the dis- night, — and so her colored cotton tant New Hampshire hills ; Pemberton, threads danced out of place, and troubmute and cold, frowned across the disk led her.
room — a mere child -- was crying be- Sene. “I must be able to crawl. If tween her groans for her mother. Del you could get some of those bricks off Ivory sat in a little open space, cush- of my feet, Del!” ioned about with reels of cotton; she Del took off two or three in a frighthad a shallow gash upon her cheek; ened way; then, seeing the blood on she was wringing her hands. They were them, sat down and cried. at work from the outside, sawing en- A Scotch girl, with one arm shattrances through the labyrinth of planks. tered, crept up and removed the pile ; A dead woman lay close by, and Sene then fainted. saw them draw her out. It was Meg The opening broadened, brightened ; Match. One of the pretty Irish girls the sweet night-wind blew in; the safe was crushed quite out of sight; only night sky shone through. Sene's heart one hand was free; she moved it fee- leaped within her. Out in the wind and bly. They could hear her calling for under the sky she should stand again Jimmy Mahoney, Jimmy Mahoney! and after all ! Back in the little kitchen, would they be sure and give him back where the sun shone, and she could the handkerchief ? Poor Jimmy Ma- sing a song, there would yet be a place honey! By and by she called no for her. She worked her head from more; and in a little while the hand under the beam, and raised herself upon was still. The other side of the slant- her elbow. ed flooring some one prayed aloud. At that moment she heard a cry: She had a little baby at home. She “ Fire! fire! GOD ALMIGHTY HELP was asking God to take care of it for THEM, — THE RUINS ARE ON FIRE!” her. “For Christ's sake,” she said. Sene listened long for the Amen, but A man working over the debris from it was never spoken. Beyond, they dug the outside had taken the notion - it a man out from under a dead body, un- being rather dark just there — to carry hurt. He crawled to his feet, and broke a lantern with him. into furious blasphemies.
“For God's sake," a voice cried As consciousness came fully, agony from the crowd, “ don't stay there with grew. Sene shut her lips and folded her that light!” bleeding hands together, and uttered But while this voice yet sounded, it no cry. Del did screaming enough for was the dreadful fate of the man with two, she thought. She pondered things the lantern to let it fall, - and it broke calmly as the night deepened, and upon the ruined mass. the words that the workers outside That was at nine o'clock. What were saying came brokenly to her. there was to see from then till mornHer hurt, she knew, was not unto ing could never be told or forgotten. death; but it must be cared for before A network twenty feet high, of rods very long ; how far could she support and girders, of beams, pillars, stairthis slow bleeding away? And what ways, gearing, roofing, ceiling, walling ; were the chances that they could hew wrecks of looms, shafts, twisters, pultheir way to her without crushing her? leys, bobbins, mules, locked and inter
She thought of her father, of Dick; woven; wrecks of human creatures of the bright little kitchen and supper- wedged in; a face that you know table set for three; of the song that turned up at you from some pit which she had sung in the flush of the morn- twenty-four hours' hewing could not ing. Life -- even her life - grew sweet, open; a voice that you know crying now that it was slipping from her. after you from God knows where; a
Del cried presently, that they were mass of long, fair bair visible here; a cutting them out. The glare of the bon- foot there ; three fingers of a hand over fires struck through an opening ; saws there; the snow bright-red under foot ; and axes flashed; voices grew distinct. charred limbs and headless trunks
“ They never can get at me,” said tossed about; strong men carrying
covered things by you, at sight of So she said, “Go, Del, and tell which other strong men have fainted; him I sent you with my dear love, and the little yellow jet that flared up, and that it 's all right.” died in smoke, and fared again, leaped And Del at the first word went, out, licked the cotton-bales, tasted She sat and watched them draw her the oiled machinery, crunched the out; it was a slow process; the loose netted wood, danced on the heaped- sleeve of her factory sack was scorched. up stone, threw its cruel arms high into Somebody at work outside turned the night, roared for joy at helpless suddenly and caught her. It was Dick. firemen, and swallowed wreck, death, The love which he had fought so long and life together out of your sight, - broke free of barrier in that hour. He the lurid thing stands alone in the gal- kissed her pink arm where the burnt lery of tragedy
sleeve fell off. He uttered a cry at the Del,” said Sene, presently," I smell blood upon her face. She turned the smoke.” And in a little while, faint with the sense of safety, and with “How red it is growing away over a face as white as her own he bore her there at the left !"
away in his arms to the hospital, over To lie here and watch the hideous the crimson snow. redness crawling after her, springing Asenath looked out through the at her! - it had seemed greater than glare and smoke with parched lips. reason could bear, at first.
For a scratch upon the girl's smooth Now it did not trouble her. She cheek, he had quite forgotten her. grew a little faint, and her thoughts They had left her, tombed alive here wandered. She put her head down in this furnace, and gone their happy upon her arm, and shut her eyes. way. Yet it gave her a curious sense Dreamily she heard them saying a of relief and triumph. If this were all dreadful thing outside, about one of the that she could be to him, the thing overseers ; at the alarm of fire he had which she had done was right, quite cut his throat, and before the flames right. God must have known. She touched him he was taken out. turned away, and shut her eyes again. Dreamily she heard Del cry that the When she opened them, neither shaft behind the heap of reels was Dick nor Del, nor crimsoned snow, growing hot.
Dreamily she saw a nor sky, were there, only the smoke tiny puff of smoke struggle through writhing up a pillar of blood-red flame. the cracks of a broken fly-frame.
The child who had called for her They were working to save her, with mother began to sob out that she was rigid, stern faces. A plank snapped, a afraid to die alone. rod yielded ; they drew out the Scotch " Come here, Molly,” said Sene. girl; her hair was singed; then a man “Can you crawl around ?" with blood upon his face and wrists, Molly crawled around. held down his arms.
“ Put your head in my lap, and your “There 's time for one more! God arms about my waist, and I will put save the rest of ye, - I can't!” my hands in yours, – so. There! I
Del sprang ; then stopped, - even guess that is better, is n't it?” Del, - stopped ashamed, and looked But they had not given them up yet. back at the cripple.
In the still unburnt rubbish at the right Asenath at this sat up erect. The some one had wrenched an opening latent heroism in her awoke. All her within a foot of Sene's face. They thoughts grew clear and bright. The clawed at the solid iron pintles like tangled skein of her perplexed and savage things. A fireman fainted in troubled winter unwound suddenly. the glow. This, then, was the way. It was better “Give it up!” cried the crowd from so. God had provided himself a lamb behind. “It can't be done! Fall for the burnt-offering.
back!” — then hushed, awe-struck.
An old man was crawling along upon his hands and knees over the heated bricks. He was a very old man. His gray hair blew about in the wind.
“I want my little gal !” he said. * * Can't anybody tell me where to find my little gal ?”
A rough-looking young fellow pointed in perfect silence through the smoke.
"I 'll have her out yet. I 'm an old man, but I can help. She's my little gal, ye see. Hand me that there dipper of water; it 'll keep her from choking, maybe. Now! Keep cheery, Sene! Your old father 'll get ye out. Keep up good heart, child! That's it!”
" It 's no use, father. Don't feel bad, father.
I don't mind it very much."
He hacked at the timber; he tried to laugh; he bewildered himself with cheerful words.
“No more ye need n't, Senath, for it 'll be over in a minute. Don't be downcast yet! We 'll have ye safe at home before ye know it. Drink a little
more water, — do now! They 'll get at ye now, sure !"
But out above the crackle and the roar a woman's voice rang like a bell:
* We're going home to die no more." A child's notes quavered in the chorus. From sealed and unseen graves, white young lips swelled the glad refrain,
“We're going, going home." The crawling smoke turned yellow, turned red. Voice after voice broke and hushed utterly. One only sang on like silver. It flung defiance down at death. It chimed into the lurid sky without a tremor. For one stood beside her in the furnace, and his form was like unto the form of the Son of God. Their eyes met. Why should not Asenath sing?
“ Senath!” cried the old man out upon the burning bricks; he was scorched now, from his gray hair to his patched boots. The answer came triumphantly,
“To die no more, no more, no more !"
builders rejected. Under early ifest destiny, as they always will until Spanish rule, Florida, the Land of Flow- the tricolored flag shall stream over ers, was a vast, indefinite region, stretch- every acre from the North Pole to the ing north to the Canadian lakes, and Isthmus of Darien. westward to the “ Mother Mountains.” Men and women still under forty reTravellers described the portion of it member how their school geographies bordering the “great Yellow River of included much of Missouri in the Great the Massorites” as barren and inhos- American Desert, - just as Plutarch pitable.
relates that map-makers of his day deWhen it passed under French domi- picted the regions they knew nothing nation, all Paris, headed by famous about as “sand wastes, full of wild John Law, went mad over the fancied beasts and unapproachable bogs.” In gold and silver of “Upper Louisiana,” 1819 Thomas H. Benton was editing but held it worthless for culture and “The St. Louis Intelligencer.” The habitation.'
struggle for the admission of Missouri Seventy years ago, sanguine, warm- to the Union had already begun. hearted, red-haired Thomas Jefferson Young Benton was on the ground. He filled our executive chair. He was six-, was destined to become the champion ty; he was in power ; but he reversed of this embryo State, and of all Western the ordinary rule. Neither age nor interests. Yet even he wrote : official responsibility could make him “ After you get forty or fifty miles from timid or conservative. Indeed, they the Mississippi, arid plains set in, and increased his daring. As a candidate, the country is uninhabitable except he had been the narrowest of strict upon the borders of the rivers and constructionists. As President, he be- creeks!” came the broadest of latitudinarians. Uninhabitable! We shall see. But Alexander Hamilton was the bugbear first a glance at the geology and history of his life. Until the great Federalist of Missouri. lay dying on Weehawken Heights, with The ancient convulsions which mouldBurr's bullet in his breast, the greated and modified our great valley are Democrat always believed with horror Nature's romance, - her very Arabian that Hamilton meant to turn our gov- Nights' Entertainment. With unerrernment into a monarchy. Yet Jeffer- ing pen their history is written ; but son himself did an act which few con- where the unerring linguist to read it? stitutional kings would have attempted. Who can surely decipher the testimony He deliberately and confessedly went of the rocks, the hills
, and the prairies? outside of his legal powers ; purchased Relatively, the Rocky Mountains and Louisiana of Napoleon for fifteen mil- Sierra Nevadas are of recent origin. lion dollars, and more than doubled the Ere yet they had risen from the deep, area of the young Republic.
waves of the Pacific, rolling in from the Real estate has advanced in price far Orient, broke on the western footand receded in quality since then. Jef- hills of the Alleghanies. How immeasferson was lampooned mercilessly for urable the power which, upheaving the buying worthless regions which we did spinal column of the continent, drove not want, and had not the money to pay back the great ocean for twenty-five for, and nobody knew the boundaries hundred miles !