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spectacle that presented itself to her view -- 80 sad that even her strong nerves wellnigh failed her as she looked upon it!
The uncontrolled and angry grief of the wife found vent in loud hysterical screams, mingled with such fierce imprecations on the assassin, that those who stood around felt that the soldier would have a sharp struggle for his life should he venture within the grasp of those wildly-tossing arms. The sight thrilled its spectators with horror, for the "decency of woe" was wholly wanting, though prone upon the bed lay the wounded serjeant in his death agony.
A few minutes before he breathed his last, the poor man signed for his children to be brought to him, and one by one they were led within his reach, while the youngest, a child of some few months old, was held by Helen to the lips which were already whitened by approaching dissolution. For a moment it lay with its soft cheek pressed to that of the father who had loved it so well, and then, refusing to come away, its tiny fingers clutched at something vigorously. Helen loosed its hold, shocked and shuddering; for the accustomed plaything that the infant's hands had grasped was no other than the grizzled hair that fell over the lip of its dead father, the father who would never play with his little child again!
It was while busied in soothing the screaming infant that Helen became aware of the presence of a lady, whose soft lovable face was turned towards her, and who asked in the sweetest of low-toned voices if she could be of any use. To Helen, stealing as they did into the midst of that discordant din, the words sounded like music spoken - a blessed sound breaking
in upon a dream of horror and of agony. Yes; she could, indeed, be of use - that gentle woman
of use in soothing the children's sorrow, and in restoring order in that wretched room: but there were limits to their power of doing good, for the task of dealing with the widow's grief, or of mitigating the violence of her fury, proved to be wholly beyond them; and great was their relief when the entrance of the surgeon upon the miserable scene gave promise of some amelioration in the woman's condition.
"Good God!” he exclaimed. “Mrs. Vaughan! T Miss Owen! this is no place for you. Dead is he, poor fellow? I knew it, for there was not a shadow of hope from the first. But, ladies, I must advise you to withdraw, for this woman is not in a state in which you can render her any service. Come, be quiet at once and cease that howling," he added, turning to the woman, and speaking angrily and firmly.
"Oh! Doctor," interposed Helen, "speak gently to her, pray, for it is not well to be harsh with her. Think only of her great affliction, she cannot restrain herself, for she is crazed with grief." ;', ...
“Crazed with grief, madam!. not she; we know the symptoms better. Why, the woman is dead-drunk, and smells of rum enough to knock you down. And here's the bottle,” he continued, with a sort of melancholy triumph, as he drew the evidence of his sagacity from under the woman's cot. “Here's the bottle here's the curse;'
and he threw the noxious thing across the room with all the vigour of an angry man. It fell near the bed, and the sharp sound it made thrilled through the hearts of those who heard it, for against one who lay there dead the blow seemed le
velled. Poor, long-worked, humble soldier! No need to sympathise with your trials now, for life's hard hits fall short of you at last, and you are at peace! Yes; his wife's disgrace is misery no longer, and her drunken habits can anger him no more; while the children who were his solace are hers only now, hers to beat and swear at when the drop too much is taken,
hers to rear in habits as vicious as her own! Poor little wretched beings! Who on the wide earth is left to defend them
who to guide, and who to save them from pollution?
It was with words such as these in their hearts and on their lips that Helen and her new acquaintance left that dismal barrack-room together, each now knowing who had been her fellow-worker and her sister in charity and Christian love. To Mary Owen, Helen stood revealed as the lovely sinning woman of whom she had heard, but whose face (she having recently arrived in India) she had never seen,
and on whom the carefully-nurtured girl now gazed shyly and curiously, as good women are wont to do on those whose lives they cannot understand. But what were Helen's feelings when she learnt that it was the General's sister, the “Mary Owen” whose "people” lived near Thornleigh's home in distant England, with whom she had held converse as with a friend? Strange, indeed, it was, but true, that she, of whom Philip (so little given to respect what was good or reverence what was holy) had sometimes spoken as of one but "little lower than the angels,” should have thus come in contact with her, the erring and proscribed! And it was, therefore, with deep humility and an overpowering sense of her own unworthiness, that Helen felt her heart throb
with gratitude to the gentle being, who though herself "pure as snow” and “chaste as ice,” could yet be full of pity for the fallen, and who (and may God bless her for the deed!) had given her hand to Helen as though she had been a sister.
“I am a woman More sinned against than sinning."
“The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
"HARVEY, I made a new acquaintance yesterday one that I found in poor Serjeant Jones's room; and who do you think it was?”,
The question was asked by Mary Owen of her brother the General, as they two were riding out together in the cool evening air.
“Upon my life I can't guess, but some missionary fellow I should imagine. It is a great mistake, Mary, your going to such places, and I wish you would give
Caroline (he was speaking of his wife now) is very nearly as absurd, only just now she has something else to do."
“Yes, Caroline would have felt so sorry for the babies; and two of them were such little things. I wish you could have seen them, Harvey."
"I'm uncommon glad I didn't,” growled the General.
“Well — but, Harvey dear, I haven't told you the news yet;" and she glanced at him furtively, as though half fearing the effect her frankness might produce. "It was such a beautiful woman that I saw there; and you cannot think how good she seemed, and how tender. I could love her with all my heart.”