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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Day Of Fate - Book 1 - Chapter 14. Kindling A Spark Of Life
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A Day Of Fate - Book 1 - Chapter 14. Kindling A Spark Of Life Post by :Kerie_Neves Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Payson Roe Date :May 2012 Read :3766

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A Day Of Fate - Book 1 - Chapter 14. Kindling A Spark Of Life


I soon had coffee made that was as black as the night without. Instead of calling Miss Warren, I took a tray from the dining-room, and carried it with several cups upstairs.

"Bring it here!" called the doctor.

I entered Mrs. Yocomb's room, and found that she had quite fully revived, and that Reuben had supported his father thither also. He reclined on the lounge, and his usually ruddy face was very pale. Both he and his wife appeared almost helpless; but the doctor had succeeded in arresting, by the use of ice, the distressing nausea that had followed consciousness. They looked at me in a bewildered manner as I entered, and could not seem to account for my presence at once. Nor did they, apparently, try to do so long, for their eyes turned toward little Zillah with a deeply troubled and perplexed expression, as if they were beginning to realize that the child was very ill, and that events of an extraordinary character had happened.

"Let me taste the coffee," said the doctor. "Ah! that's the kind-- black and strong. See how it will bring them around," and he made Mr. and Mrs. Yocomb each swallow a cup of it.

"Miss Warren," he called, "give some of this to Miss Adah, if she is quiet enough to take it. I cannot leave the child."

Miss Warren came at once. Her face was clouded and anxious, and she looked with eager solicitude toward the still unconscious Zillah, whose hands Reuben was chafing.

"I think Miss Adah will soon be better," she replied to the doctor's inquiring glance, and she went back to her charge.

"Take some yourself," said the physician to me, in a low tone. "I fear we are going to have a serious time with the little girl."

"You do not realize," I urged, "that Miss Warren needs keeping up almost as truly as any of them."

"You'll have to take care of her then," said the doctor hastily; "she seems to be doing well herself, and doing well for others. Take her some coffee, and say that I said she must drink it."

I knocked at Adah's door and called, "Miss Warren, the doctor says you must drink this coffee."

"In a few moments," she answered, and after a little time she came out.

"Where's your cup?" she asked. "Have you taken any?"

"Not yet, of course."

"Why of course? If you want me to drink this you must get some at once."

"There may not be enough. I don't know how much the doctor may need."

"Then get a cup, and I'll give you half of this."

"Never," I answered promptly. "Do as the doctor bade you."

She went swiftly to Mrs. Yocomb's room and filled another cup.

"I pledge you my word I won't touch a drop till you have taken this. You don't realize what you have been through, Mr. Morton. Your hand so trembled that you could scarcely carry the cup; you are all unnerved. Come," she added gravely, "you must be in a condition to help, for I fear Zillah is in a critical condition."

"I'm not going to break down," I said resolutely. "Give it to Reuben. Poor fellow, he was very wet."

She looked at my clothes, and then exclaimed:

"Why, Mr. Morton, don't you know you are wet through and through?"

"Am I?" and I looked down at my soaked garments.

"I don't believe you have a dry thread on you."

"I've been too excited to think of it. Of course, I got wet on the roof; but what's a summer shower! Your coffee's getting cold."

"So is yours."

"You have the doctor's orders."

"I would be glad if my wishes weighed a little with you," she said, appealingly.

"There, Miss Warren, if you put it that way I'd drink gall and vinegar," and I gulped down the coffee.

She vanished into Adah's room, saying, "You must take my word for it that I drink mine. I shall sip it while waiting on my patient."

Having insisted on Reuben's taking some also, I returned to the kitchen and made a new supply. Mr. and Mrs. Yocomb's extreme prostration, both mental and physical, perplexed me. Their idolized child was still unconscious, and yet they could only look on in wondering and perplexed anxiety. I afterward learned that a partial paralysis of every faculty, especially of memory, was a common effect of a severe shock of electricity. It was now evident that Miss Warren, from some obscure cause, escaped harm from lightning. The words I had employed to reassure her turned out to be true--she had merely swooned--and thus, on recovery, had full possession of all her faculties.

"I would be glad if my wishes weighed a little with you," she had said. In wonder at myself, I asked, "What weighs more with me? By what right is this maiden, whom I have met but to-day, taking such absolute control of my being? Am I overwrought, morbid, fanciful, deluded by an excited imagination into beliefs and moods that will vanish in the clear sunlight and clearer light of reason? or has the vivid lightning revealed with absolute distinctness the woman on whom I can lean in perfect trust, and yet must often sustain in her pathetic weakness? The world would say we are strangers; but my heart and soul and every fibre of my being appear to recognize a kinship so close that I feel we never can be strangers again. It is true the lightning fuses the hardest substances, making them one; however, I am beginning to think that my hitherto callous nature has been smitten by a diviner fire. If so, Heaven grant that I'm not the only one struck.

"Well, it's a queer world. When I broke down, last Friday night, and sat cowering before the future in my editorial sanctum, I little dreamed that on Sunday night I should be making coffee in a good old Quaker's kitchen, and, what is still more strange, making a divinity out of a New York music-teacher!"

A moment later I added, "That's a stupid way of putting it. I'm not making a divinity out of her at all. She is one, and I've had the wit to recognize the truth. Are her gentlemen friends all idiots that they have not--"

"What! talking to yourself, Mr. Morton? I fear the events of this day are turning your head." And Miss Warren entered.

"Speak of an angel--you know the saying." "Indeed! The only word I heard as I entered was 'idiot.'"

"Pardon me, you overheard the word 'idiots,' so can gather nothing from that."

"No, your mutterings are dark indeed. I see no light or sense in them; but the doctor came to Adah's door and asked me for more coffee."

"How is Miss Adah?"

"Doing nicely. She'll sleep soon, I think."

"I do hope little Zillah is recovering."

"Yes, Reuben put a radiant face within the door, a few minutes since, and said Zillah was 'coming to,' as he expressed it. Adah is doing so well that I feel assured about the others. Now that she is becoming quiet, I think I can leave her and help with Zillah."

"And you're not exhausting yourself?"

"I've not yet reached the stage of muttering delirium. Mr. Morton, will you permit me to suggest that you go to your room and put on dry clothes. You are not fit to be seen. Moreover, there is a mark athwart your nose that gives to your face a sinister aspect, not becoming in one whose deeds of darkness this night will bear the light of all coming time. It might be appropriate in a printing-office; but I don't intend to have little Zillah frightened. Oh, I'm so glad and grateful that we have all escaped! There, that will do; give me the tray."

"Beg your pardon: I shall carry it up myself. What on earth would I have done without you in this emergency?"

"Come, Mr. Morton, I'm not used to being disobeyed. Yes, you did look as helpless as only a man can look when there's illness; and there's no telling what awful remedies you might have administered before the doctor came. I think I shall take the credit of saving all our lives, since you and Reuben won't."

She pushed open the door of Mrs. Yocomb's room, and her face changed instantly.

Little Zillah lay on the bed and was still unconscious. Mrs. Yocomb had been moved into an armchair, and every moment comprehension of the truth grew clearer, and her motherly solicitude was intensified.

Reuben evidently was frightened, and the doctor's brow was knitted into a frown of perplexity.

"We thought she was coming to," said Reuben to Miss Warren, "but she's gone back worse than ever."

"Mr. Morton, I wish you to give to all a cup of that coffee and take some yourself," said the physician, in a quiet but authoritative voice. "Mr. Yocomb, you must not rise; you will be ill again, and I now need all the help I can get with this child. We must try artificial respiration, spraying the chest with cold water, and every possible means."

"Would to God that I could help thee!" cried Mrs. Yocomb.

"You can help by keeping absolutely quiet. Mr. Morton, in this emergency you must become as a brother or one of the family."

"I am one with them to-night," I said earnestly; "let me help you in any way."

"You three must rub her with flannel and spirits, while I lift her arms slowly up and down to try to induce respiration."

The poor limp little body--how sacred it seemed to me!

We worked and worked till the perspiration poured from our faces. Every expedient was tried, until the physician at last desisted and stood back for a moment in anxious thought.

Then, in a tone broken with anguish, Mr. Yocomb exclaimed:

"Would to God the bolt had fallen on my head, and not on this dear little lamb."

In bitter protest against it all I cried, "The bolt has fallen on your heart, Mr. Yocomb. How is it that God has thunderbolts for lambs?"

"Richard Morton, thee's unjust," began Mrs. Yocomb, in a voice that she tried to render quiet and resigned. "Who art thou to judge God? 'What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know--' Oh, my child, my child!" broke out her wailing cry, and motherhood triumphed.

Reuben was sobbing over his sister with all the abandon of boyish grief, but Miss Warren stood before the little form, apparently lifeless, with clasped hands and dilated eyes.

"I can't--I won't give her up," she exclaimed passionately, and darted from the room.

I followed wonderingly. She was already in the kitchen, and had found a large tub.

"Fill this with hot water," she said to me. "No! let me do it; I'll trust no one. Yes, you may carry it up, but please be careful. I'll bring some cold water to temper it. Doctor," she exclaimed, re- entering the room, "we must work till we know there is no chance. Yes, and after we know it. Is not hot water good?"

"Anything is good that will restore suspended circulation," he replied; "we'll try it. But wait a moment. I've employed a nice test, and if there's life I think this little expedient will reveal it." He held the child's hand, and I noted that a string had been tied around one of the small white fingers, and that he intently watched the part of the finger beyond the string. I comprehended the act at once, and recognized the truth that there would be little hope of life if this test failed. If there was any circulation at all the string would not prevent the blood flowing out through the artery, but it would prevent its return, and, therefore, if there was life a faint color would manifest itself in the finger. I bent over and held my breath in my eager scrutiny.

"The child's alive!" I exclaimed.

By a quick, impressive gesture the physician checked my manifestation of feeling and excitement as he said:

"Yes, she's alive, and that's about all. We'll try a plunge in the hot bath, and then friction and artificial respiration again."

We set to work once more with double zeal under the inspiration of Miss Warren's words and manner, but especially because assured that life still lingered. In less than a quarter of an hour there was a perceptible pulse. At last she was able to swallow a little stimulant, and the faint spark of life, of which we scarcely dared to speak lest our breath might extinguish it, began to kindle slowly. When at last she opened her eyes, Miss Warren turned hers heavenward with a fulness of gratitude that must have been sweet to the fatherly heart of God if the words be true, "Like as a father pitieth his children."

Mrs. Yocomb threw herself on her knees by the bedside, sobbing, "Thank God! thank God!"

Reuben was growing wild with joy, and the father, overwhelmed with emotion, was struggling to rise, when the doctor said, in low, decided tones:

"Hush! Nothing must be said or done to excite or surprise her. Mr. and Mrs. Yocomb, as you love your child, control yourselves. You, Mr. Morton, would seem strange to her, and, with Reuben, had better leave us now. Miss Warren will help me, and I think all will be well."

"Don't overtax Miss Warren," I urged, lingering anxiously at the door a moment.

She gave me a smiling, reassuring nod, as much as to say that she would take care of herself.

"God bless her!" I murmured, as I sought my room. "I believe she has saved the child."

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