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Found In The Snow

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"Halloo! Tliis won't do. Move on." The speaker was a gigantic i man. Tbe object of his wrath was a boy j who nat on a low stoop, with his face ! buried in his hands as if crying. It was night and snowing fast. A bitter, bitter night, in which one would i not wish even one's enemy to be : less and shelterless. The boy did not i stir. " Halioo, I say !" cried the i man, angrily, advancing nearer. " No ■ j shamming, young 'un. Get up, and ' move on." But as the lad, even yet, did not rise, ■ the policeman stooped down and shook ' Mm. As he did this the boy feil over, , senseless, in the snow. " Great God !" cried the policeman. "He's dead. Frozen to death, too; perhaps starved. Poor little f ellovr ! An orphan, no doubt. Well, I must take ' him to the station, I suppose." But as he lifted the body, which he ; did tenderly - for he had chüdren of his j own at home, the seemingly inanimate form stirred. . " Fainted," said the officer, " but not dead yet. If the station house only wasn't so far off. Ah ! maybe they'll take himinhere." As he spoke, a close carriage had dashed up to the next house, a footman sprang from the box, the coach door was flung open, and an old man, wrapped in a fur cloak, stepped out and took the servant's arm, to be helped up the high : stoop. Seeing the policeman, however, j with the boy in his arms, he stopped abruptly. " What! what !" he cried. " A young ! tramp - a beggar ? Not dead " ."No, not dead yet, Mr. Ascot.," said the policeman, reppeetfully, as he i nized the speaker, well known as the wealthiest and most influential householder on his beat, " but I'm afraid will be beforo I reach the station. And he doesn't seem to be a common sort of beggar boy ." " Not the common sort, eh ? Neither is he," said Mr. Ascot, as he looked at the boy's clothes. " Have him in here - have him in here. John, ring the bell; why the deuce do you stand there gaping - don't you see the boy's dying from cold and hunger ? I can walk up ; the steps well enough alone ?" A moment more and Mr. Ascot himself led the way into a warm, spacious drawing-room. "There's a roaring fire ready," he said. " I always have one waiting for i me when I come home from dining out. Where's the housekeeper? Didn't I teil John to bring her at once ? Ah ! here Mrs. Somers comes. Something to revire him, quick ! Good heavens ! if he should die af ter all." "Poor little dear !" said Mrs. Somers, as sho poured a rostorative down his throat. ' ' There, Jane, give me the blankets while I wrap him up. Ah ! he's coming to. " The boy opened his eyes, looked in a far-off way at Mrs. Somers, and then glanced, dreamily, about the room. Evidently his senses had not yet quite come back. "Mother, mother," he murmured. " I can't flnd grandfather - and it's so cold. I'm so " His head dropped on her shoulder and his eyes closed again. One of his hands, which up to this time had been tightly shut, opened weakly, and a note feil to the floor. Mra. Someis did not see the note. Something in the boy's look had startled her. She gave a qnick glanco up at her master ; then she began to tremble all over. Mr. Ascot, who Lad been standing by her full of interested anxiety, did not observe this look, for his attention had been attracted by the note, which he now stooped to piek up. Then he proceeded to take out his glasses in order to read the suporscription. " Perhaps tliis may throw some light on the matter," he said. " The poor lad has been sent out on an errand and has fainted f rom cold, and perhaps huuger. What! wliat! GoodGod!" His hands were shaking like leaves in an autumn mud. In the deep stillness the paper rattled with startled noise. " It can't be- it can't be ! Mrs. Somers, your eyes are younger mine - read, read; is that address - is it - mine - Thornton Ascot?" As he spoke in choked, convulsivf j gasps, Mrs. Somers leaned forward to read. The motion roused the boy again, and he opened his eyes - this time with more of oonsciousnews in them - and he fixed a long, questioning, puzzled look on Mr. Ascott. "Merciful heaven!" the latter said, staggering like one struek with palsy, " it ík her eyes - her eyes " With these words he feil back senseless, tlie half-open letter fluttering from his fiagers to the Hoor. Fortunately the policeman was in time to catch him, and lay him on the sofa. For a moment the boy was forgotten, every one pressing around the master of the house. " Is it astroke f" asked the policeinan, anxiouly. " What does it mean ?" At any other time Mrs. Somers would have been reticent about family affairs; but she was too flurried to tliink eloarly. Surprised out of herself she took her udience, unconsciously, into her confidence. "No it's not a stroke," she aliswered, with the experience bf long years of nursing. " His face isn't awry, you see; and he's only limp, not paralyzed. ïhere, I've opened his cravat; and now, Jane, bring some water. It's btlt a fainting flt; he often bas 'em when he s worried; ofíen, I raeah since his daughcer went away. She run off, yon know, ten years ago. He's never forgiven her, or rathgr she'snever - leastwayof late years -asked to be forgiven. The last time was when ehe came herself, just af ter she was married, on a night as bad as this." All this while Mrs. Somei-s was busy m trying to revive her master, chafing his hands, holding smelling salts to him, even ordering the window opened. "He turned her from his doors in a perfect rage - I never seed him so angry afore or since. But he's been sorry for it many and many a time, I know. I have heard him sigh so ! He was a-thinking of her. He'd have forgotten all, years ago, if she would have come again; but she was as proud as him; I don't know which was the prouder. She went to forrin parts with her husband - he'd been her music teacher, you see - that's what made Mr. Ascot so angry - and she has not been heard of for these years and years. There - he's coming to; what a sigh ! Stand aside, Mr. Policeman, please, and give him Bome air. Poor man ! but he's nobody to blame but hiniself after all. I don't uphold disobedience in children, of course; but a dearer, sweeter girl than Margaret Ascot never was. Many and many's the time I've carried her in my arms when she was a baby and her mother was alive. How are you feeling now, sir t" This last sentence was addressed to her master, who, with a deep drawn sigh, opened his eyes. " What- wbat is the matter?" he suid, looking vacantly from one to the other. " Yes, I remember," putting his hand to his brow, " Margaret " His eyes wandering about feil on the boy who, during this episode, had entirely recovered consciousnes and was now looking with a strange sort of wonder at Mr. Ascot. "Please, sir," said the lad, seeing he had attracted the old man's eye, " can you teil me where Mr. Ascot lives ? I was to go to him - only I lost my way - mother's very sick - and she's had nothing to eat to-day " With these words he broke down with a great sob, the tears streaming along his thin, wan cheeks. " Where's the note ? Order the carriage," fcaid Mr. Ascot, incoherently, rising to his f eet. "Is it from Margaret? Did somebody say she was starving?" His poor, weak, shaking hands vi inly tried again to unf old the paper which the policeman had handed him. " I - I am not strong as I used to be ; I think I am getting old ;" and he looked piteously at Mrs. Somers and sank again on the sofa. " Drink this," said the housekeeper, handing him a restorative. He drank it and rallied. "Ah! it is her- her writing," speaking to himself. " She is a widow, and her only child is named- after - after - me." He stopped reading ard turned to look at the boy. " Are you grandfather ?" said the latter, timidly. "I think you must be, for mother has a picture she looks at and cries over, and it's like you." The letter feil again to the floor. But this time it was because he opened his arms and the boy, catching the meaning, came to him. "You won't let her die, will you?" said the boy, looking piteously into his face. " Die, die V' criel the old man, rismg up ; and his voice and air were that of youth. " She sball not die. Where is the carriage ? I will go at once and she shall come home night. The carriage, I say," he cried, almost angrily, and he turned toward the door, where' the footman now appeared. "The carriage waits, sir," said the servant, obsequiously. ■ "Get your cloak and bonnet, Mrs. Somers, a few blankets- a bit of food - there's not a minute to lose. Good God! Margaret dying, and we wasting our time here ! No, my brave little fellow ; your mother shall not die." In a few minutes, during which the thoughtful Mrs. Somers had provided a biscuit and some hot tea for the boy, the little party set forth. While the carriage is rolling over the snow, its destination being one of the most obscure streets of the great metropolis, let us say a few words about the daughter. Margaret Ascot had been one of those sweet-tempered, sympathetic natures that everyboay loved. Beautiful, accomplished, wealthy and well born, she had crovrds of suitors, but at nineteen she turned from them all, and gave her heart to a penniless lover. This was not because she was foolishly romantic, like I so many others, but because her suitor was worthy of her in every way except riches. He was only a poor music teacher, an Italian exile - for this was in days now fortunately long ago, before Italy was free, and to be an Italian patriot meant bunishment or life-long imprisonment, or even death. Andrea Fillippo had, when hardly more than a boy, joined in the insurrection of '48, and 'had been compelled after its failure to fly the country. He nad come to America, and, being penniless had been compelled to take up the first pursuit that offered itself. In his own land nearly everybody has some knowledge of music ; bnt Andrea was an amateur of more than ordinary merit, and he naturally became a teacher of singing. Margaret Ascot was his favorite pupil. He saw in her evervthing that youthful manhood in its highest type admires ; she saw in him a hero and a martyr. Oompared with the prosaic ! young men of business or the cold, calculating lawyers, or the idle men of fashion, who constituted the bulk of her admirors, he was a prince in disguise, a i young god ! Paren ts do not sufüciently make allowances for the imaginative elements j of their daughters. They faacy that at : nineteon girls can fced as their uiothers do at forty; that the dry husks of a uiatter-of-fact life are sufficient for them. It is not so, and Mr. Ascot, though a sensible man in other respects, oould not understand wliy his daughter was culd to her wealthy lovers and had given her heart to the exile. When Margarot, liopeless of altering her fathor's opinión, flnally eloped with her lover, his wrath knew no böuhds. He rëfused to answer her letter announcing the marriage; and ■when, a few weeks later, she came in person, he had her literally thrust from the door. After vainly trying to get some other employment - for Mr. Asoot's influenee deürived Andrea of all his pupiis- the yoiing couple went abroad. For a wliile they lived in London; but afterward Andrea returned to Italy andthere struggled On tintil he died. He left his widow penniless; she had only cioney enough tö pay her passage to America, whither she had resolved to come, in hopes by a last appeal to Boften her father's heart. It was a winter voyage and Margaret caught a violent cold, which threatened an inflammation of the lungs. She could only crawl feebly to the nearest lodging on the night she landed - a miserable attic. The next day Margaret wroto a note to her father, trusting to her boy to deliver it, as she was too ill to go out herself. Knowing that Mr. Ascot would be out during the day, she had deferred sending the lad until toward nightfall; but hardly had he left before she began to think of the perils he ran alone in that great city. Perhaps, she said to herself, he has faÜen down some open airea ; perhaps he sank cold and insensible in some bank of snow. When eight o'clock struck from a neighboring steeple, and still her boy did Kdt return, she became almost wild with fright. Ten o'clock came, but still no son. She listened intensely for the sound of his feet, but she heard nothing but the roar of the storm. At last hor anxiety and f ear rose to frenzy ; she was sure her boy was dead. Eleven o'clock struck. Her candle had burned down into the socket and was almost on the point of expiring. Suddenly the sound of carriage wheels, niufned by the snow, was heard ; the carriage stopped. Surely that was the opening of the street door ; there were steps ascending the stairs. Yes, she could not be mistaken, they were the steps of her boy ! The door of her room flew open and her son rushed in. " Mother, mother !" he cried, flinging his arm eagerlv around her, ' ' I came as soon as I could. And oh ! mother, I have brought graudfather with me. See!" She looked past her sou, scarcely believing her own eyes. There, just behind her boy, stood her father. She rose up in bed ; sne held out her arms. "Father !" she sobbed. " Margaret, my child !" And then they were locked ' in each other's arma, and both were in tears. "I can die in peace now,"she murmured, after a while, as she clung to her father's breast, " since you have forgiven me. You will promiseto take care of Thornton?" "Die!" cried the father, rising bolt unright and fairly lifting her from the bed, all the strength of his youth coming back in that supreme moment. "You shall not die. You are going home with us ; we have brought blankets, food, everything. The risk is not so great as remaining another night here ; physicians - the best - shall be called in. No, you shall not die ! You have not come home to die." Nor did she die. Our simple tale has already been too long in the telling, or ■we might nárrate how the sense of rest and peace that grew up in her now, the skillf ui care of the best physicians, and the knowledge that her boy's future was assured, all combined to work a cure that, otherwise, might have been regarded as almost miraculous. To-day there is no more beautiful wjoman of her years in that great city than Margaret. She lives only for her father and her boy ; they come, at least, before everything else. But she does not exclude herself entirely from society. To the select and cultivated circle of which she is the center and chief ornament, she gives freely of her varied accomplishments and of her exquisite charm of manner. But the memory of her dead husband is still green in her heart and ever will be ; and though men of high station and even world-wide celebrity would woo her, i f she would, to be the light of their home. they know, one and all, that her first and last love lies buried in that lonely grave on the blue shores of the Kiviera, to which, every year or two, she makes a pilgrimago.


Old News
Michigan Argus