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LISA., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 330, 28 April 1881
CHAPTER V. Well for her she had had that whole good day, since there was trouble and grief under the mill roof that night Little Bebe was very ill.
No one knew what could ail the child, as he cried in his pain and rolled his little sick head on the coarse homespun pillow, while fretfully pushing away even Lisa’s gentle hands. Then he grew worse, ancTby poor candle’s light they /gathered round him in frightened bewilderment. The miller groaned aloud with ' every moan of the child, and rodked body to and fro, rubbing his face with one hand in the despair of af strong man, who could not help nor nurse like the weakest woman j who ibuld only be miserable. The other two children sat up awestricken in..,the big bed they shared with Mahon, their laces white as their tight little night-caps, while the old grandmother Ibewatfed their common unhappy lot," and tried at times to croon to quiet him, or else snuffed the guttering candle with, her fingers, muttering she sav death’s heads on it.
Still worse—and none of them cotild help him, only Lisa, paler ; thaiti ever, yet very calm, thought of everything, and tried all the poor remedies they possessed. ‘ Father, you must gq for the doctor, quick—quick ! ’ she cried at last, rising suddenly from her knees with the inspiration of despair. ‘ '
* But where—to the town ' ‘Evei| if I found my way through the forest, it could not be reached before moriiitig,’ answered the miller, though grasping instinctively for his stick arid'hat ‘No, no; go to Vaucourt, to the. strange young doctor who is still with our good Curd He is an Englishman, yet no doubt he has a heart, and will perhaps save the child.’ Her words and gestures were so entreating, so urgent in the terror which was fast coming over her also, that bid Armand ran out into the darkness, hut little Jean ran still faster. ' : Would the moments never pass? They seemed so long. At last, at last, after, perhaps, a .ter* rible twentg minutes more, men’s steps came into the kitchen.
The doctor was a young man, with a grave, kindly face; tall,?and fair haired like his countrymen. With one jjfance Lisa trusted him, and, springing forward, said in a low imploring tone, that the sick child might not overhear, putting out both hands, Oh, kind sir, help us, save out dear little Bebe.’ :j ' I will do my best,’ he answered, looking at her with surprised admiration and sudden respect. The English gentleman kept his word. When the white dawn began to break, Bebe was better. • Later on others had gone, td rest, while the children had fallen to sleep, so that only Lisa and the doctor stood consulting by the little window.* But the glad world outside was broad awake: sounds of cackling and of crowing came from the black-topped poultry in their roost-house, and the sun gave a promise of oppressive heat* he shone already with such royal strength. , .‘You did not send for me too soon,’ the young man was saying, looking-gravely in her tired meek face. 'The ehild must have swallowed something poisonous. Have you arsenic in the mill?’
‘But no! they had no such .thing,’ uttered Lisa, horrorstricken, but assured of what she said, for their cat waged deadly war against the ratf ginpe, ever since these had once eaten her new-born kittens. 5 ‘What are these bonbons which I found under the little one’s-pillow ? ’ he went on, showing the blue-glazed paper horn of sticky yellowish sweetmeats, slightly powdered with something white like sugar. And Lisa explained with a -blush how fiance had given them to Bebe, adding with a proud smile that to-moftlow was her wedding day. J ‘ The young Englishman wished her good luck, yet with a perplexed expression on his broad brow ; told 1 her'he purposed coming back when the boy might be awake, but took the" Greets with him, briefly observing’ they 'W]sre unwholesome for children. *, /
Most of that live-long,, djty-frjiisa watched by the child, whilst tbe terrible sun grew so hot that its glare oppressed all living things. Her head throbbed, and she grew very vveary* ‘ You look like a ghost, and you have broad black rings below your eyes ! ’ bluntly cried Manon, entering towards evening. ‘ Why, rest a bit, dr Jacques will think he is marrying a spirit tomorrow; and I have finished covering the cake all over with fine’ Sugar and almonds; we shall have a find wedding feast —but I shall be thin by then, J am melting so fast with this heat.’ ,-+
So. because Lisa had lain down awhile, the English doctor questioned little Bebe alone in the cool Of the evening—for Manon loved making much of her household cares, and was working hard now, preparing the supper. Bebe was not frightened by this big man, who stroked his , closecropped little fair head so kindly as Jacques, for instance, never did; ‘ And so he gave you those good sweets, did he—say ? But why did you only eat one of them, as you say* my brave little man?’ the English doctor wasasking. ' ' . ' Bebe put his finger in his mouth, and his eyes grew frightened at once, though he stared down at his patchwork quilt. But the doctor was fond of children, and also very patient. By-and-by, with coaxing, it alj ; c£me out; with a little fretful sob, too, for Bebe was afraid of being thought ungrateful. i / * They were Jacques’; and I did not like them because he was cross with me and said I must not tell—not even imy own Lisa ! But I ate one up, for. fear Lisa would say I was naughty.’* ‘ And what was it you were not to tell?’ asked the young Englishman, with keen interest.
Bebe’s half sobs grew now into a little howl.
‘ He did say he would cut my own neck; he did say he would cutpt 1 ’ repeated he in his childish fashion. Then in broken sentences the one let the doctor gather the whole',df his fearsome adventure in the fdreist. - * And what was it you saw slicking OUt?’
That terrible secret had been burning on the child’s tongue. He was so longing to get rid of it, and . rarely
Jacques’ bloody threat eould iwi ..., . to this stranger. He threw his fat little arms ro;>n the young man’s neck, whispering closely in his ear, whilst his blue eves stared with fright at his own tale. ‘ I saw an arm and a hand —all naked and dead, and a bit of blue dress and some long hair ! Jacques did say it was a dog, but it was not—it was not! (To be continued.)
LISA., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 330, 28 April 1881
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